‘Sober Living for the Revolution’ gives smart look at straight edge philosophy

Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics

By Mark Robison
Reno Gazette-Journal
April 9, 2010

“Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge and Radical Politics” was edited by Gabriel Kuhn, and despite the narrow subject of its title, it’s expansive in its discussions and will be valuable to anyone who thinks there’s got to be a better way for the world to be.

Straight edge is a philosophy of abstaining from drugs, alcohol, smoking, casual conquest-oriented sex and often meat.

Some straight edge scenes became “hardline,” turning macho-oriented and judgmental, even beating up kids who drink.

As London-based writer Laura Synthesis says in the book, “Some, like me, long ago stopped going to typical straight edge gigs since they had nothing to offer that one couldn’t get from a violent mugging by an anti-abortionist.”

Reno is mentioned in the book a few times as a straight edge hot bed.

It features essays and interviews from musicians and organizers, from Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy to lesser known feminist, queer and anarchist straight edgers. Scenes are covered in Israel, Poland, Sweden, South America, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Any politically minded person could benefit from the lessons won and lost that are discussed in “Sober Living.” Here’s a tidbit from the book’s final essay, written by Mark Anderson of Positive Force DC:

“As always, we need to be careful lest we listen to a far too narrow set of voices and find ourselves caught in an echo chamber that communicates little more than our own self-satisfaction.”

Visit for an interview with Kuhn.

Back to Gabriel Kuhn’s Author Page