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Blessed & Blasted: Roots of the Anarchy Shirt part 1

//Comic Strip, Point-Blank!, 1971. Derek Harris Collection.//

My investigation into the multifarious strands which fed into the creation of the 1974 t-shirt You’re Gonna Wake Up has, in turn, ignited a convincing set of new theories about the genesis of another “manifesto” design, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s so-called Anarchy Shirt.

These have been developed by Derek Harris of Lewis Leathers, who has an abiding interest in the activities of the Situationist International and its affiliated agit-prop groups.

Harris argues that the appearance of the title “Point Blank” on You’re Gonna Wake Up is more likely to refer to the San Francisco Situationist cell Point-Blank! and it’s early 70s publications rather than John Boorman’s 1967 movie.

Given McLaren’s interest in, and involvement with, the London wing of the SI in the late 60s, this figures.

Among the literature produced by P-B! was a 1971 comic containing the above détournement (a familiar SI technique; here the characters in a True Romance-style cartoon strip pit Feminist thought against Situationist ideology)  .

As you can see, one frame has the speech bubble: “All the revolutionaries are pretty”.

//Detail, Point-Blank! comic strip, 1971.//

//Detail, Anarchy shirt. Photo: Hiroshi Fujiwara Collection.//

“Perhaps McLaren and Westwood’s riposte was: ‘Only anarchists are pretty’?” asks Harris, in reference to a slogan on one version of the couple’s Anarchy Shirt in 1976.

In the next two parts, Harris and I turn over the likely sources for particular text which appeared on both You’re Gonna Wake Up and the Anarchy Shirt, and he presents his ideas on the application of the various elements of the latter garment.

Roots of the Anarchy Shirt Part 2

Thanks to Derek Harris + Hiroshi Fujiwara for supplying these images from their archives.

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Author: / Published: Mar 1st, 2011 / Category: 430 King's Road, Blessed and Blasted, Design, London, Politics, Punk / Comments: 5

5 Responses to “Blessed & Blasted: Roots of the Anarchy Shirt part 1”


  1. Mondo
    on Mar 1st, 2011
    @ 9:52 am

    Good work – I’m looking forward to more exciting revelations. I was only chatting with Derek a couple of weeks ago at the Vive Le Rock photo preview, Bloomsbury way..


  2. David Jacobs
    on Aug 26th, 2011
    @ 3:42 am

    As a member of Point Blank! (and we always used an exclamation mark for emphasis in our name), I can assure that we were the ones McLaren was
    referring to.
    Furthermore, Jaime Reid stole OUR buses (Boredom and Nowhere) from our text, Space Travel, which was published in 1973! There weren’t no
    fucking punks back then!

    Anyone who would like to take this issue up with me, or learn more about]
    Point Blank, please contact me (David Jacobs) at:
    srosenstock@hotmail.com


  3. Paul Gorman
    on Aug 27th, 2011
    @ 8:37 am

    Hello David
    Thanks for your comments – what are you up to these days?


  4. David Jacobs
    on Sep 10th, 2011
    @ 5:07 am

    Thanks, Paul. I am still at it.
    You can find out more at:
    http://www.collectivereinventions.org

    or to get more recent info try
    libcom.org

    And do a search under my name
    and one for Collective Reinventions.

    We just did a demo today with some younger
    anarchists in San Francisco, a protest in support
    of the current rebellion in Chile.

    You can write me directly at:
    srosenstock@hotmail.com

    As they say, all will be revealed….

    Cheers,

    David


  5. My Anarchy Shirt archaeology at Dazed Digital « Paul Gorman is…
    on May 2nd, 2013
    @ 8:19 am

    [...] Roots Of The Anarchy Shirt: Part 1 [...]

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