Gurriers* was produced in 1969 and handed out at University College, Dublin and also at the anti-apartheid demonstration against the Springbok Rugby tour that year. It was produced by Phil Meyler and was heavily influenced by Raoul Vaneigen’s situationist pamphlet, The Revolution of Everyday Life. Phil was invited to visit the University President, and his mother had a visit from the Special Branch who wanted to question him. Phil declined both invitations.
In the Ireland of 1969 you could not publish writings like “The various images of Jesus, from the little underpants on the cross to the unbelievable Sacred Heart, all the martyrs, etc….what pickings for the sadists. For masochist; the suffering of hellfire, threats, and the whip actually permitted. For scapular fetishists, relics, Rosary beads, Mary’s garters, Saint Patrick’s shamrocks. Every perversion that one would ever desire..” without expecting a rather fevered response!
Situationism is a minor variant of libertarian Marxism, originally developed by ‘avant grade’ artists. Whilst not anarchist, neither is it hostile to anarchism. Perhaps the high point of its influence was among students during the 1968 revolt in France.
Phil Meyler (aka Phil Mailer) was born in Dublin in 1946 and has been a teacher in Portugal, the US and Ireland for many years. After living in London, where he was on the fringes of the ‘King Mob’ situationist group in the late 1960s, he went to Portugal in 1973 to teach English. There, he participated in the events following the Revolution of April 1974, become an editor of the newspaper Combate and managed a radical bookshop in Lisbon with other Portuguese revolutionaries.
He has been a long-time translator from Portuguese and has translated the song-lyrics and poems of José Afonso (whose song Grandola was a signal for the 1974 revolution). He is the editor of Livewire Publications, which has published Misfit, the autobiography of Captain Jack White. White was a founder of the Irish Citizen Army during the 1913 lockout, and one of the Irish who went to fight fascism in Spain in 1936, where he became a supporter of the anarchists.
Meyler is probably best known as the author of Portugal: The Impossible Revolution? After the military coup on April 25th, 1974, which saw the overthrow of almost fifty years of fascist rule and an end to three colonial wars, there followed eighteen months of struggle and change, which challenged every aspect of Portuguese society. That book is the story of what happened in those months after April 1974, as seen and felt by a deeply committed participant.
“Mailer portrays history with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader, the ‘home team’ in this case being libertarian communism. Official documents, position papers and the pronouncements of the protagonists of this drama are mostly relegated to the appendices. The text itself recounts the activities of a host of worker, tenant, soldier and student committees as well as the author’s personal experiences.” —Ian Wallace, Library Journal
*Gurrier: Irish synonym for hooligan or corner boy, usually applied to teenagers and younger children.