Anarchy in the UK

The English dictionary defines anarchy as: “A state of disorder due to absence or non. Recognition of authority or other controlling systems” In a conservative England, this is exactly...

The English dictionary defines anarchy as:

“A state of disorder due to absence or non. Recognition of authority or other controlling systems”

In a conservative England, this is exactly the message that Sex Pistols wanted to get across. Panic, Mess, rebellion.

Anarchy in the U.K. is a song by English punk rock band the Sex Pistols. It was the band’s first single, released in 1976, and was later featured on their album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. The album was actually not released until a year later, because of distribution concerns: after hearing the song, many organizations refused to even ship the album.

Malcom McLaren, who managed the Sex Pistols, put them together because he knew they would stir up trouble and get a lot of media attention in the process. He definitely knew what he was doing. Having a lead singer like Johnny Rotten singing that he was an “anarchist” and “the antichrist” in those times was undoubtedly going to create a mess.

In the song, various references are made to political groups around the world. Here are some explanaitions:
MPLA: A political group in Angola – the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola.
UDA: The loyalist supporters in Northern Ireland conflict. The UDA (Ulster Defence Association) supported Britain and opposed unification of Northern Ireland.
IRA: The Irish Republican Army, who opposed Britain and were in favor of unification in Northern Ireland.

The lyrics portray a particularly sensational, violent concept of anarchy that reflected the pervasive sense of embittered anger, confusion, restlessness, economic frustration and social alienation which was being felt by a generation of disenfranchised youth amidst the declining economic situation and bland music scene of the mid-1970s. McLaren stated that the song was “a call to arms to the kids who believe that rock and roll was taken away from them. It’s a statement of self rule, of ultimate independence.”

Whilst many take the meaning to be a real call to arms, and the epitome of what anarchism is, other believe the song “is a sarcastic parody of anarchism as a code of ethics and philosophy from the most sarcastic and front man in history”.

Nonetheless, the song is still interpreted today as the epitome of rebellion and not giving a damn. The lyrics speak for themselves.

“Anarchy in the U.K.” is number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


Right now ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
I am an anti-Christ
I am an anarchist,
Don’t know what I want
But I know how to get it
I want to destroy the passerby

‘Cause I want to be anarchy,
No dogs body

Anarchy for the U.K.
It’s coming sometime and maybe
I give a wrong time, stop a traffic line.
Your future dream is a shopping scheme

‘Cause I want to be anarchy,
In the city

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best, I use the rest
I use the enemy.
I use anarchy

‘Cause I want to be anarchy,
Its the only way to be

Is this the MPLA
Or is this the UDA
Or is this the IRA
I thought it was the U.K.
Or just another country
Another council tenancy.

I want to be anarchy
And I want to be anarchy
(Oh what a name)
And I want to be an anarchist
(I get pissed, destroy!)

Sounds from the Bucket
WiB Team

Words in the Bucket provides a platform for local perspectives and informed views, giving a voice to students, researchers, concerned citizens, human rights activists and experts.
One Comment
  • mp3juice
    4 June 2016 at 4:06 pm
    Leave a Reply

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