D.O.A.'s "General Strike" and the Politics of Punk Rock in Late Twentieth-Century British Columbia

Hannah Roth Cooley


Within the realm of punk music, little attention has been paid the musical and cultural movement of political punk rock within the Canadian context. The Vancouver-based punk band D.O.A. has achieved recognition within the punk community both for their music, their political consciousness, and for their role in labour activism in the 1980s. Their 1983 song “General Strike” was written about, and produced as a benefit for, a group of leftists in British Columbia known as the Solidarity Movement, who were fighting against the provincial Social Credit Government headed by Premier Bill Bennett. Using the theoretical framework of Simon Frith’s “Towards and Aesthetic of Popular Music,” this essay analyzes the way in which punk music and leftist politics intersected during the 1983 Solidarity Protests and how D.O.A. contributed to the construction of a unified communal identity among protestors. Furthermore, in exploring mainstream and underground media coverage surrounding D.O.A and the Solidarity Movement, this essay examines the way in which the political events of 1983 have been viewed in years since and have become part of a national political narrative.


British Columbia; punk rock; social activism; Canadian pop culture; labour movement

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