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Hardline was a subcultural offshoot of the hardcore punk music scene during the late 1980s/early 1990s espousing a really strange mix of beliefs.


[edit] Beliefs

The roots of hardline were in straight edge, the segment of the hardcore punk scene which shunned drugs and alcohol. One group within straight edge tacked on veganism, shunning meat and other animal products in addition to drugs and alcohol. Out of that emerged "hardline", which tacked all of the following simultaneously onto the vegan branch of straight edge: hard green biocentric views, animal rights, pacifism, a consistent life ethic, and opposition to abortion, homosexuality, cigarette smoking, and any sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Some of them also opposed masturbation and pornography, shunned chocolate and coffee (the latter of which is also frowned on by Mormons) due to them containing caffeine, avoided sugar and tropical fruits out of opposition to Third World agricultural labor practices (which extended to chocolate and coffee), opposed modern medicine, and expressed their across-the-board militancy on everything by wearing camouflage clothing. In terms of religion, hardline claimed an Abrahamic foundation, though it also claimed syncretic influences from Eastern spiritual disciplines such as Zen Buddhism and Taoism. Some of them decided to start taking "direct action" against people they saw drinking, smoking, eating meat, or using drugs at hardcore shows.

In short, they were pretty much an unintentional parody of contemporary moral guardians and cultural critics on both ends of the spectrum, albeit born from the counterculture rather than railing against it from the outside. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that many of the leaders of the hardline movement eventually left the hardcore punk scene.

[edit] History

Hardline had its origins with Sean Muttaqi[1], the frontman of a hardcore punk band called Vegan Reich[2] — a name that pretty much sums it up. Vegan Reich were occasionally suspected of being a parody of straight edge along the lines of Crucial Youth[3], but they were quite serious, and were in fact espousing views more extreme than Crucial Youth in their heyday.[4] In the '90s, Tennessee (particularly Memphis) and Massachusetts became the centers of gravity for hardline, the former mainly due to the influence of the Tennessee-based hardline band Raid, and in 1994 Muttaqi founded the record label Uprising Records to support hardline bands.

Muttaqi eventually converted to Sufism after years of interest in the Islamic faith, causing him to leave the movement while leaving his 'zine Vanguard (the main outlet promoting hardline) in the hands of his followers. Soon after, the movement began to spurn the hardcore punk and straight edge scenes for being insufficiently activist. An attempt by a hardline group to establish a commune in Hawaii fell apart when they got into a dispute over whether or not cooking food was in line with the natural order. The movement's growing radicalization culminated in the formation of the "Hardline Central Committee" in 1998 to enforce ideological purity — a move that backfired when those who rejected its more extreme tenets realized that the movement had gone full-blown totalitarian, and abandoned hardline altogether for vegan straight edge and other, more moderate environmental and progressive activist movements. This left only a tiny core of hardliners (pun very much intended) who faded into irrelevance soon after; the Central Committee only lasted a year before it decided to vote itself out of existence.

Most other straight edgers considered "hardline" to be a huge embarrassment.

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[edit] References

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