It is sweeter to wander with the wretched and outcasts than to sit crowned with roses at the banquets of the rich
Elisee Reclus

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

…The Revolution, Myths of...: LIsbon 1974 / 2013

Still from 'In The White City' by Alain Tanner, 1983

…The Revolution

The Ruinist had been fortunate enough to be able to return to Lisbon and then be able to do some roaming of the streets and hills, stairways and alleys. Earlier on, The Ruinist had in a similar but different incarnation trod the boards of ultra-leftism and probably been through the rites of passage this requires – finding and reading the canon from the 1980’s ultra-left publishing adventure, ‘Poland 1980 -1982’, ‘Wildcat Spain Encounters Democracy’, ‘Shake It and Break It. Class and Politics in Britain 1979/1989’. And so on. Although these books were never going to set the fire to finally abolish capitalism, they did lay in store and preserve moments of lived total critique that remain vital, energetic, passionate and instructive for now, for any futures. Such a heavyweight theory that seeks practice always did produce a circle of friends that are active til this day and who remain incredible as much as they can. Although, by no means were these people anarchists, this was the milieu and mode that was their natural habitat despite it’s many problems and contradictions. As always, what anarchism needs as a theory, practice and as a scene are such theories which push anarchism (anarchists?) one step further. The Ruinist will say no more on this right now.

One of the books that definitely was mouldering in radical bookshop shelves of the mid-80’s was ‘Portugal: The Impossible Revolution?’ by Phil Mailer. The Ruinist would see it for years and be both wary of it and yet entranced. The day of reading it was yet to come. On the day of reckoning when the book could no longer remain remaindered, The Ruinist began it and read it through in one go. It also remains vital and passionate. What is a revolution like? What happens when it happens? What happens when it’s SNAFU? Who does what and why? That book is one the best insider accounts that attempts to answer those questions.

The Ruinist has long been interested in the moment and meaning of that revolutionary moment that lasted from April 1974 until November 1975. A short period of much – factory take-overs, land take over’s, housing take over’s and so on. Re-inventing, experimenting, fucking up, being sweet, attempting freedom which is what revolution seeks (and we sometimes forget that in the working of it). What does it mean anyhow to wake up in the morning and find that the Army has overthrown the dictatorship? How can it held together under these circumstances where the revolution pushes and pushes further at the revolutionary power that has seized control without a fight? And that tense feeling throughout these events - how long would it take for the counter-revolution to triumph?

1974 is not so long ago. These events are not so long ago. These events, outside of Portugal, and sometimes within Portugal, have also withered into the dustbin. The Ruinist sets themselves the double task of time-travel to 1974 and to the city in tense upheaval and to time-travel to now to see what gives about this revolution and how it lives. Does it live on? Does it move? Does it make any sense in crisis-wracked Portugal of 2013?

'General Strike', 2011

 Parliament, 2012

Whereas once the city was full of murals and graffiti to mark April 1974 as a memory of what could come, and whereas up until a year ago or so, the city was again full of posters and graffiti about the crisis and about manifesting against it, the city at December 2013 is seemingly empty once more.Where did the 2012 pushing and shoving at the Parliament building go?

Myths of… 

Armed with a set of images of the movements on the streets of Lisbon throughout April 25th 1974, The Ruinist sought to reappear at these very sites and listen, be at, feel these sites in the here and now of 39 years later. The City itself feels very much like time has not moved fast here and only in certain quarters like Chiado does it feel like any urban re-jigging is going on and this even only as renovation of old buildings and less of a brutal displacing gentrification. It is in that feeling of something older that The Ruinist felt comfortable in Lisbon. Certainly doesn't move fast, people don't shout much, bars and cafes are either lonely or crowded yet the loners or the crowds seem mixed up and not exclusive. There feels like the City is shared and generous. The Ruinist doesn't know but this is how it felt.

1: Find image of April 25th 1975 that is likeable. Select from range of sites, known and unknown.
2: Identify location from memory or research. Research tools - walking, maps, Streetview, drift, intuition, chance, Internet searches for shop signs that appear in the 1974 photos.
3: Visit location and photograph as close as possible to the original photo. This done from memory means some re-photos are wonky. Be lazy and clip Street view twice when desperate.
4: Spend time at site and time-travel.

ABRIL 25th in 1974/ in 2013:

Calçada da Ajuda

Terreiro do Paço

 Largo Trindade Coelho

Calçada do Combro

Calçada do Sacramento


Rua Serpa Pinto / Rua Garret

Rua Garrett


Rua da Misericórdia

Rua António Maria Cardoso

Calçada do Carmo

Rua Almirante Pessanha / Largo Do Carmo

Largo do Carmo


NB: Too avoid hysteria and life compression, The Ruinist has inserted no links in this post.

Bye Bye Spoon Collection

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Feminist Graffiti on Rotherhithe New Rd, London SE16

The Ruinist spent some of their late 90's time living near this probably mid or late 80's radical feminist graffiti under the rail bridge on Rotherhithe New Rd, London SE16 by the Rotherhithe Industrial Estate.

Although The Ruinist would pass it by many times a week, The Ruinist now has now no memory of what it said. In looking again for it The Ruinist thought it was the classic 'Curfew On Men' feminist graffiti that was ubiquitous in London at this time (as common as the 'Republic Now' graf that also featured heavily round South London!). The Ruinist can see the word 'Feminist' in the remains of this classic white paint and brush slogan. Does anyone remember what it said?

The Ruinist was in those days also partial to the two other 90's graffiti's that appeared along Rotherhithe New Rd. The first on the then wooden fence before the coming of the retail park there that was put up on the night of 17th January 1991 when the US began bombing Iraq in what's now known (totally tragically) as the First Iraq War. The slogan ran (and also in two other places close by on Old Kent Rd): NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR. The second favourite was the green spraypaint KILL BNP SCUM that was on the white tiles of the railway bridge opposite the junction with Raymouth Rd. That was done at the time of the BNP / NF being active in The Blue in Bermondsey just up the road with regular paper sales for a short time. Soon seen off though:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


 Throw away the middle classes
Throw away your seeing glasses
And all go home
 Throw away your great disasters
Cut away the rafters
Throw away your father's ashes
Throw away your greener grasses
And all go home
 Throw away your homes and gardens
Throw away your hearts and minds
And all go home


Monday, January 06, 2014

Brixton Christmassacre

The Ruinist in their everyday travels often saunters gaily or slithers melancholicly down Barnwell Rd in Brixton SW9 on their way to no-one knows. In a kind of sick and obsessive fascination or morbid compulsive curiousity, The Ruinist observes the latest domestic knick kancks of style that come and go on the road. Once a road of much more proletarian-done-well terraced residences in neat and functional 'workers cottages' (some might say), Barnwell Rd has become over the last 20 years one the best views of gentrif(r)ied Brixton at it's most Yuk! The Ruinist oft refers to such roads in Brixton as 'The Colonies' as here is the gentrifrying colonising class in action.

Here follows a Christmas Photo Essay of one thing that could in fact be of another thing. Today The Ruinist observed on their usual rat race run through the place, an excessive number of dumped Xmas trees forlorn and no longer upholding 100% use-value. There were 13 evicted Xmas trees strewn along the road without a care to say 'We had one and now we don't and here it is!'. Instead, the tree, formerly alive before the Xmas chop, is now on its way to an early grave in the landfill. No longer Harking the Herald Angels. No longer the Season to be Jolly. Good King Wenceslas was no longer Looking Out. Not even to be chipped and re-integrate into bourgeois styles of overly-pruned rounded petite tree in glazed ceramic pot surrounding by grey granite slabs and grey chipped stones and wood chips straight outta TV aspirational reality gardening programmes. Zero maintenance.

The other thing this could be is a study of The Ruinist's much hated conspicuous overconsumption displays of stuff, of 'things', of too much. Nestled in the pictures are the very common Barnwell Rd feature, the front garden storage metal shed (not cheap! £300 to £400) or plain common wooden shed (very neat). Having bought your £600,000 three bedroom flat in New Brixton, you would need more storage space because you have TOO MUCH STUFF.

As some Surrealists had said before:

 'Having been found injurious to the human spirit these buildings have been condemned'