Phil Mailer (aka Phil Meyler) was born in Dublin Ireland in 1946 and is resident in both Ireland and Portugal. He has been a teacher in Portugal, the US (New York City) and Ireland for many years. After living in London, where he was on the fringes of the King Mob group in the late 60s, and in the US, he went to Portugal in late 1973 to teach English. There, he actively participated in the events following the Revolution of April '74, become an editor of the newspaper Combate and managed a bookshop, Contra A Corrente, in Lisbon with other Portuguese revolutionaries. Married to a Portuguese woman, he maintains a residence in Lisbon but has been teaching disadvantaged youth in inner city Dublin for fifteen years, a job from which he finally retired in 2010. 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 currently in the process of translating the work (including the detective novels) of the late Portuguese writer, Denis Machado, into English. He is the editor of Livewire Publications which has published Misfit, a Revolutionary Life, the autobiography of the enigmatic aristocrat Captain Jack White, one of the founders in 1913 of the Irish Citizen Army who went onto Spain in 1936 and became a supporter of the anarchists in the Spanish Civil war. Two other books, Science and Capital, Radical Essays on Science & Technology and a novel Kiss of the Chicken King were published by the same company in early 2011.
Portugal: The Impossible Revolution?
Author: Phil Mailer
Publisher: PM Press
Published: June 2011
Page Count: 288
Size: 9 by 6
After the military coup in Portugal on April 25th, 1974, the overthrow of almost fifty years of fascist rule, and the end of three colonial wars, there followed eighteen months of intense, democratic social transformation which challenged every aspect of Portuguese society. What started as a military coup turned into a profound attempt at social change from the bottom up and became headlines on a daily basis in the world media. This was due to the intensity of the struggle as well as the fact that in 1974–75 the right-wing moribund Francoist regime was still in power in neighbouring Spain and there was huge uncertainty as to how these struggles might affect Spain and Europe at large.
This is the story of what happened in Portugal between April 25, 1974, and November 25, 1975, as seen and felt by a deeply committed participant. It depicts the hopes, the tremendous enthusiasm, the boundless energy, the total commitment, the released power, even the revolutionary innocence of thousands of ordinary people taking a hand in the remoulding of their lives. It does so against the background of an economic and social reality which placed limits on what could be done.
“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
"A thorough delight as it moves from first person accounts of street demonstrations through intricate analyses of political movements. Mailer has handled masterfully the enormous cast of politicians, officers of the military peasant and workers councils, and a myriad of splinter parties, movements and caucuses.” —Choice
“What did it all add up to? Was the 'Lisbon Commune' the real thing: a popular revolution arising from the masses without leaders or parties or vanguards? Phil Mailer claims that it was, or could have been. In a vigorous book that is part blow by blow account, part vivid eye-witness reporting and part unashamedly polemical analysis, he stresses what he sees as the revolution’s most important feature—ordinary people spontaneously taking power for themselves. He presents a wealth of fascinating detail about workers’ committees and peasant cooperatives which is a welcome antidote to the tiresome journalistic assumption of the time that without a tank, a bomb, or a dispossessed British businessman what happened in Portugal wasn’t worth talking about.”
—Ben Pimlott, New Society
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
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