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HISTORY OF THE SKINHEAD MOVEMENT

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Skinheads are not racists nor fascists. In this article one can see how the root of the movement started to grow with immigrants and the rest of the working class youth. Boneheads, the fascist/racist intruders, appeared afterwards trying to take over the movement.

The Beginning. 1960's

The Skinheads movement began in Great Britain during the 1960's. It was began by two movements of their own, both part of the proleteriat.


The first one was called the "Hard Mods". They belonged to the Mods movement. This was strongly influenced by the hippies. The main members of the Mods belonged to the ruling/middle class youth and were mainly concerned with spiritual matters. They talked about mystical experiences and peace but they did not pay attention to the problems of the country and those of the poorest of the poor. Therefore the Hard Mods separated. The other founder of the Skinheads Movement were the Rudeboys who were Jamaican immigrants that met them because they both lived in the working class' areas.

This encounter created the movement. So it was from the beginning with anti-racist ideas and a movement of the proleterian youth. There is no racist, nazi or fascist here. One of the main problem was that they were not political. Those with any feeling of class struggle were a minority. Among one of the main features was the dress code. What they wore was an intent to make of fun of the ruling class' youth. They also started wearing boots like Doc Martens to show that they belong to the "lower class".

The Punk and Skin Movements. 1977

In 1977 the Skinhead scene became more important because of Punk music. The Punk musical style hit the charts and the British youth started listening to it. But, like Hip Hop, the Punk culture was created by the poor youth and once it became too influential Capitalism used it to earn dollars. This type of commercial punk is famous for its nickname "MTV punk". This style remplaced the idea of revolt and class struggle with the appearance of a "rebel without a cause". Still there are a few bands that quit being so fake and became more political in defense of the proleterian movements. Also, around this time started the music"Oi!" which represents the expression "Hey You!".

Fascists/racists. 1978

As we saw around this period the Skinheads and the Punk culture began to become famous and popular. As well as this, we know the former was not too political, they just knew they were exploited and that made them rebelious. These two aspects allowed the extreme right, especially the "National Front" (political party), to influence the youth that wanted to fight the system of exploitation but didn't know how. This tactic is always used by the far right. They always intent to take the working class's associations, bands, minds... to better control and used them.

The Antira/Antifa Fight Back. end 1970's till start 1980's

The invasion of the extremists woke many skins up and they ,thus, decided to fight back. A new sub-movement starts with the return to Ska music endorsed by the 2-TONE trend. As a symbol they used the word "SKA" in black and white as a symbol of "racial" unity.
With this type of music appeared new anarchist, communist, anti-racist and anti-fascist Skinhead groups among the youth. Examples of this are "SHARP" -Skinheads Against Racial Prejudices- and "RASH" -Red Anarchsit Skinheads-. These groups want to fight for the end of Capitalism, a system founded on the exploitation of those that own nothing, but remplacing it with a fair and equalitarian system. Unfortunately the journalists prefer to focus only on boneheads in order to "scare" more the public and make tabloid-style articles, thus earn more money.

Main submovements

The Hard Mods. (mid 1960s - 67)

Members of the proleterian class, they used to be part of the Mods.

The Rude Boy. (1960 - 70)

A youth movement of Jamaican origin. It spread quickly among the Antillean groups in the UK. Together with the Hard Mods they create the skin movement.

The Skinhead. (1967 - 71)

It began with the rise of SKA and chose this Jamaican form of music to build their counter-culture movement. Nothing racist in this. Whites and blacks together.

The Suedehead. (1970 - 73)

They had longer hair, wore "nicer" clothes but had the identical spirit.

The Smoothie. (1971 - 74)

Longer hair, likes Black music and Glam Rock.

The Boot Boy. (1972 - 77)

Same clothing style as The Suedehead and The Smoothie. They will exist untill the Punk movement unites with the Skins.

The Trojan. (1978 - today)

Mainly influenced by the music SKA 2-TONE, they return to the sources of the movement as a reaction of the extremists invasion.

The Skin Oi! (1978 - today)

They can be found in the Oi! scene. This form of music carries the message of the rebel punk style with proleterian influence. Today, the Oi! and 2-TONE are very close together.

The Bonehead. (1978 - today)

It was part of the the Skin Oi! sub-group but got nazified. They invented their own music RAC (Rock Against Communism), as an opposition to RAR Rock Against Racism where the Clash played as well, and the clothes they wear are different than what Skins used to have. They gave up the immigrant side of Skins and therefore are not real Skinheads. So they dress differently, listen to different musical "tones" and, before anything else, they are racist/fascist! They are thus not Skins.

The Redskin. (1978 - today)

These Skins are communists. They have their own music but they tend to go back to the beginning of the movement.

The Skunk. (1978 - today)

They are inspired by the Skin and the Punk movement and now they can be found in the Hardcore musical style.

Conclusion

This short historical overview of the Skin movement shows that they aren't racistss nor fascists. The far right invaded the movement trying to take it over because it had a poor youth that was not political but rebellious against the system. But the movement was built on SKA music, of Jamaican origin, and the whole thing itself was "invented" by the Jamaican immigrant youth, the Rudeboy, together with the Hard Mods.
But the extreme right was met with a strong opposition. Associations part of RASH and SHARP came to life. But more important, I think, the Skins realized they had to become political in order to avoid racist/fascist tricks and because they want to change the system. Still, many Skins associations today are not political whatsoever but they are all against the extreme right and the Boneheads. Skins today are either apolitical, Anarchists or Communists.

The Skins have a lot of musical styles. The main influences are Rock and Ska music,especially.

Good Skinhead links

TradSkin International

Skinheads.Net. Non-Racist, Non-Political.

Hooligan Pride Skinhead Page

If you know of any others, or wish to opine, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . No, we will not link up to bonehead sites.

Responses

We anticipated a few responses to this article and we would like to post some of them here. Here is the first.

Dear One People's Project:

Despite having the proper haircut (which is much better than my alternative, a combover), I am not myself a skin. However, I agree that it is about time that it be shown that far from all skinheads are racists.

Still, if this is to be done one needs to get the facts straight. The person who wrote the History of the Skinhead Movement piece on your site obviously means well, but doesn't know what he (or she) is talking about.

On one hand, there is a blatant misrepresentation of historical subcultures. Mods influenced by the Hippies? No way!

On the other hand, there is the blatant attempt to ignore things like the fact that even though they were massively influenced by Black culture, the original skinheads were notorious for "paki-bashing" - random attacks on Asians on the streets of Britain.

This article commits the very same sin it is accusing the nazis of: The attempt to co-opt a subculture as an expression for its own politics by grossly misrepresenting its roots and history. This revisionism as bad as when the Resistance crowd tries to say that Skinhead is inherently racist. For if non-racist skins are to be taken seriously, they will have to be honest about their history.

With regards
Didrik Søderlind

Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 16:18  

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