Hardline (subculture)

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Hardline is a deep ecology subculture that has its roots in the vegan straight edge hardcore punk scene.[1] It is commonly seen as a more extreme version of straight edge.

From an initial founding statement the movement attempted a break with the straight edge and hardcore scenes. The founding statement and subsequent literature pushed a biocentric view of the world, anti-abortion stance and much more extreme version of straight edge. Many hardline bands existed, the most well known of which were Vegan Reich[2] and Raid.[3]


The hardline philosophy forbids its adherents from smoking or chewing any form of tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and using illicit drugs or employing medicine. Hardliners (as they are called) are expected to follow a strict dietary regimen based on the above-mentioned pillars of respect for innocent life and the "natural order". Hardliners eat only foods that are vegan and relatively natural (e.g. brown rice over white, evaporated cane juice over white sugar, organic produce over conventional, natural oils over hydrogenated). Human rights issues are also factored into the movement's food politics, and followers are urged to shun third-world cash crops such as coffee, chocolate, sugar, and most tropical fruits. Hardliners include caffeine in their stance on mind-altering drugs so the first two items are generally abstained from, but consumption of the last two is often given more leeway.[4][5]

In keeping with its Abrahamic view of the natural order,[citation needed] the sexual politics of the hardline movement are very conservative. Sex is not allowed except for the reason of procreation; thus homosexuality is seen as anathema,[citation needed] pornography and masturbation is abjured, birth control is avoided,[citation needed] and abortion is militantly opposed. Although the official hardline stance on sex is that its natural purpose is purely procreative, many hardliners justify recreational sex within the context of committed relationships as potentially procreative by opting not to use birth control.

Hardline has always been highly syncretic (over time absorbing influences from Islam and a host of other schools of thought) and initially claimed a Taoist[6] foundation for their sexual morals. This appeal to the orientation of the punk and hardcore scenes met with little success, and the topics of abortion and homosexuality have always been sources of tension between hardliners and their subcultural cousins.[4][5]


The hardline subculture grew out of the hardcore punk scene in the 1990s. Although one of the basic tenets of hardline is that it has existed in various forms since the beginning of time, the ideology was largely formulated by Sean Muttaqi of the band Vegan Reich. The hardline philosophy is said to be rooted in one ethic (the sacredness of innocent life), but in reality the ethos rested on that base and on an idea of an immutable natural order. Hardline can be described as a synthesis of deep ecology, straight edge, veganism and the animal rights movement.

Hardline began to attract followers shortly after the 1990 release of Vegan Reich's Hardline EP and the official founding of the subculture. Other bands soon formed; the most notable of them being Raid from Tennessee.

Sean Muttaqi, as editor of the zine Vanguard (hardline's official press organ), was able to exert ideological influence on the movement, and caused the center of its activities to become shifted to Tennessee. Many in the Memphis hardcore scene adopted Hardline stances and started editing magazines, organizing protests, engaging in direct action against industries that exploited animals, and otherwise acting on their new beliefs. Some of the most notable achievements of Memphis Hardline were organizing the movement's first annual gathering and founding the long-standing Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT).

Things began to fade in Memphis. Muttaqi left for Jamaica to explore Rastafari and decided to leave the hardcore scene along with hardline altogether. Editing was transferred of Vanguard.

Hardliners were instrumental in CAFT, the Animal Defense League, and Vegans For Life. Some were also involved in Earth First!, anti-imperialist organizations, and other leftist causes and groups.

Some Hardliners from Massachusetts set out to establish an intentional community in Hawaii. The effort quickly failed due to personality conflicts (especially the ongoing debate among group members as to whether or not cooked food was natural enough) and a distinct lack of required agricultural and engineering skills. This self-defeating arc reflects tensions in similarly idealistic communes of the 1960s and 1970s during the History of the hippie movement and the back-to-the-land movement.

Hardline grew out of straight edge. The original logo of the movement was an outline of a large "X" (a sign associated with straightedge) with two crossed M16 rifles inside it. Muttaqi has said that he was first exposed to the idea of fusing veganism and abstinence from drugs by an English punk named Rat. Rat had allegedly coined the term "vegan straight edge" by the mid-1980s.[citation needed] However, Rat was doing little to spread his ideology while Muttaqi was transforming and propagating it. Vegan Reich was for many in the hardcore scene their first exposure to ideas about militant animal liberation, and the controversy they aroused drew considerable attention to their positions. Those in the subculture who gravitated toward animal-related causes but disagreed with some of hardline's finer points found themselves becoming vegan straightedge. Vegan straightedge band Earth Crisis initially wanted Muttaqi to release their debut EP, All Out War on his record label, Uprising Records.

As hardline came into its own, many hardliners decided that their philosophy was so beyond the narrow scene politics of straightedge that the two were entirely different things. The "X" was removed from the crossed rifles logo, straightedge was harshly criticized, and hardliners were encouraged to leave the hardcore scene. Much of this sprang from the momentum being gained by the more activist-oriented elements within the subculture. Eventually hardliners came to consider their network wholly divorced from the hardcore scene. However, the nature of information dissemination in a mostly pre-Internet media environment made recruiting from outside the hardcore subculture next to impossible. Although hardline served to involve people heavily in political activity, the overwhelming bulk of new members were straight-edgers who would with time come to identify primarily as activists instead of hardcore kids.

In mid-1998 the subculture experienced a massive internal upheaval as Indianapolis Hardline member David Agranoff's attempts to weaken Hardline were sidelined by Boston Hardline. Vanguard number eight announced the reorganization of the movement under the authority of the newly created Hardline Central Committee (HCC) and castigated Agranoff and his comrades for softening the network's ideology through their refinement and development of it. This proved a wise decision as Agranoff later became a police informer. Chapters were instructed to report to the Committee for evaluation and were told in no uncertain terms that they would not be recognized as cells until they submitted to this review. Also in the issue was a document about the stages through which the Hardline revolution would progress which was presented as being from 1990, but had never before been seen and was suspiciously contemporary feeling.

Some chapters opted to leave hardline entirely and instead established a new activist network called Education For A Sustainable Future (ESF). ESF differed from its predecessor in that it took no stances.[6][7][8][note 1][note 2][note 3][note 4]

See also[edit]


  • Haenfler, Ross (2006). Straight Edge: Hardcore Punk, Clean Living Youth, and Social Change. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3851-3.
  • Kuhn, Gabriel (2010). Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics. PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-051-1.
  • Wood, Robert T. (2006). Straight Edge Youth: The Complexity and Contradictions of a Subculture. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-3127-8.
  • Pike, Sarah (2011). The Study of Children in Religion: A Methods Handbook. New York, N.Y.: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-7746-6.



  1. ^ XVX, Mittens. "Statement: From Anarcho-Punk to The Birth of Vegan Straight Edge". DIY Conspiracy.
  2. ^ Paul, Aubin (November 4, 2009). "Vegan Reich reactivating". Punknews.org. Retrieved June 17, 2013. According to their MySpace, the controversial hardline group Vegan Reich are writing and rehearsing for a new record.
  3. ^ xYosefx (January 3, 2009). "Raid Interview - Scribd". Scribd. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Gumbrecht, Jamie (April 18, 2006). "Life on the Edge". Sun Journal (Lewiston). Retrieved June 16, 2013. Hardline straight edge - An extreme version of straight edge that takes a strict stance against tobacco, drugs and alcohol, but also focuses on environmentalism, veganism and anti-abortion ideas. Some of the tenets have been criticized as being homophobic, racist and sexist.
  5. ^ a b Arciaga, Michelle (April 12, 2005). "Straight Edge". National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations. Archived from the original on December 16, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (February 10, 2011). "Vegan Jihad: A Conversation with Sean Muttaqi". Scribd. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  7. ^ Keynes Junior, Milton (September 10, 2010). "Interview with Sean Muttaqi (Vegan Reich)". 1000 Voices of Dissent. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  8. ^ "Interview with Sean Muttaqi of Vegan Reich". muslimsforjesus.org. May 12, 2003. Retrieved June 17, 2013.