The rebirth of 'true' Hardline is coming!
The Hardline philosophy is a movement which forbids its adherents from smoking or chewing any form of tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and using illicit drugs or modern medicines. Instead Hardliners are expected to follow a strict dietary regimen.
The Hardline movement grew out of the more politically conscious sections of the Southern California hardcore and punk scenes in 1990. Although one of the basic tenets of Hardline was that it had 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 was 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. Put in more specific terms, Hardline can be described as a synthesis of deep ecology, straight edge, animal liberation, leftism, and Abrahamic religion.
In practice, the Hardline philosophy forbade its adherents from smoking or chewing any form of tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and using illicit drugs or modern medicines. Furthermore, Hardliners (as they were called) were expected to follow a strict dietary regimen based on the above-mentioned pillars of respect for innocent life and the "Natural Order." To that end, Hardliners ate only foods that were vegan and relatively natural (brown rice over white, evaporated cane juice over white sugar, organic produce over conventional, natural oils over hydrogenated, etc). Human rights issues were also factored into the movement's food politics, and followers were urged to shun third-world cash crops such as coffee, chocolate, sugar, and most tropical fruits. Hardliners included caffeine in their stance on mind altering drugs so the first two items were generally abstained from, but consumption of the last two (and especially the final) was often given more leeway.
In keeping with its Abrahamic view of the natural order, the sexual politics of the Hardline movement were very conservative. Pre-marital sex was frowned upon, homosexuality seen as anathema, pornography abjured, artificial contraception avoided, and abortion militantly opposed. The official Hardline stance on sex was that its natural purpose was purely procreative, but many hardliners played fast and loose with that idea and justified recreational sex within the context of committed relationships as "potentially procreative" by opting not use artificial contraceptives. Interestingly enough, Hardline was always highly syncretic (over time absorbing influences from anarchism, Islam, the Rastafari movement, and a host of other schools of thought) and initially attempted to give its obviously Biblical sexual morals added credibility by claiming a Taoist foundation for them. This appeal to the anti-Western, politically correct, orientation of the punk and hardcore scenes met with little success and the topics of abortion and homosexuality were always sources of tension between Hardliners and their subcultural cousins.
Hardline's relationship to straightedge is a complex one of give and take. When Vegan Reich briefly reformed in 1999, Muttaqi credited the movement with the spread of vegan straightedge ideals in the 1990s. Partially true, vegan straightedge came from 'Hardline'. Hardline was undoubtedly heavily inspired from its inception by straightedge. The original logo of the movement was an outline of a large "X" (the sign most often associated with straightedge) with two crossed M16 rifles inside of it. Additionally, Muttaqi has said in the past that he was first exposed to the idea of fusing veganism and abstinence from drugs by an English punk named Rat (of the bands Statement, Unborn, Talisman, and others). Unknown to most, Rat had coined the term "vegan straight edge" by the mid-1980s. Those with an interest in the history of hardcore music should note that this was years prior to Ray Cappo (singer for the band Youth Of Today) grafting vegetarianism and straightedge after his exposure to Krishna Consciousness. However, Rat was doing little to spread his ideology while Muttaqi was transforming and propagating it. Vegan Reich was many in the hardcore scene's 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. Indeed, breakthrough vegan straightedge group Earth Crisis initially wanted Muttaqi to release their debut EP "All Out War" on his record label.
Essentially, vegan straightedge and Hardline had a co-genesis with the first birthing the second but the latter popularizing the former. But the complexity of Hardline's relation to straightedge does not end there. As the movement 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 behind the subcultural ghetto of the hardcore scene. Much of this sprang from the momentum being gained by the more activism oriented elements within the movement. Eventually Hardliners came to consider their network wholly divorced from the hardcore scene. The truth, however, was that the nature of information dissemination in a (mostly) pre-internet medi