Archive for the Polarisation of the classes Category

GRENFELL TOWER FIRE by Grenfell Action Group

Posted in Anti-Austerity, campaigns, Censorship, Collusion, Criminal, Grenfell Tower, Human Rights, LSL Property services, Polarisation of the classes, Proletariat, Solidarity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

Source: Re-blog from Grenfell Action Group

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  Source: Grenfell action Group

 GRENFELL TOWER FIRE 

Watching breaking news about the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe. Too soon (5am) to even guess at numbers of casualties and fatalities. Our heartfelt and sincere condolences to all who have perished, to the injured, to those who are bereaved or are still searching for missing loved ones.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC.

ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time. Below is a list of links to previous blogs we posted on this site trying to warn the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who own this property, and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation who supposedly manage all social housing in RBKC on the Council’s behalf:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/fire-safety-scandal-at-lancaster-west/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/kctmo-playing-with-fire/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/more-on-fire-safety/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/another-fire-safety-scandal/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/kctmo-feeling-the-heat/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/why-are-we-waiting/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/grenfell-tower-from-bad-to-worse/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/more-trouble-at-grenfell-tower/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/the-disempowered-of-grenfell-tower/

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/tmo-still-asleep-at-the-wheel

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KCC – Clear And Present Danger

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Back in April 2016 the Grenfell Action Group published a blog highlighting our concerns regarding the long term future of Wornington College. We provided a link to a RBKC Cabinet Key Decision report (KD04801R) that revealed that the Wornington College building had been secretly sold to the Council for demolition, after which the site would be privately redeveloped as housing.

The report was markedly vague on specifics, presenting instead a mish mash of options that ranged from selling the entire site (planning permission included) to a private developer or alternatively entering into a partnership with a Private Rented Sector (PRS) developer. The plans appear to have been conditional on retention of some unquantified educational component, provision of some ‘affordable housing’ by the developer, and possibly an option for the Council to to repossess  part of the finished development for use as decant housing for council tenants displaced from redevelopment elsewhere. Under this mish mash of half baked ‘planning’ many, perhaps most, Wornington students would presumably have to travel to Hortensia Road in Chelsea if they wished to access education.

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/wornington-college-threat-confirmed/

Rather than deal with the concerns raised by our blog, and by supporters of the Save Wornington College Campaign, the management at Kensington and Chelsea College attempted to demonise those trying to protect this much loved educational institute. Members of the KCC management team abused their power by attempting to intimidate our supporters, and shamelessly spread rumours that the Save Wornington College campaign was responsible for declining student enrolment numbers at Wornington and for endangering the future of adult education in North Kensington. When Interim Principal Michelle Sutton was invited to provide credible evidence that the Save Wornington Campaign was responsible for these negative effects she failed to do so.

Instead of working in partnership with the North Kensington community, acknowledging the management and financial problems at KCC, and the threat to the long term future of Wornington College following the departure of Principal Mark Brickley, the College opted instead for a disingenuous propoganda campaign. Using similar tactics to those employed by the neo-Cons at RBKC, when they sold off the North Kensington Library to their friends at Notting Hill Prep School, the KCC management claimed, in a Press Release in April 2017, that the Wornington building was no longer fit for purpose, was too large and could not meet the needs of those students and staff with disabilities. The KCC Press Release also sought to negate and dismiss the fears and concerns of the existing College’s supporters by stating that KCC remained committed to expanding its presence in North Kensington, claiming that it planned to replace the Wornington facilities on-site or nearby with modern state-of-the-art facilities for both school-leavers and adults, creating space for increased student numbers and potentially more courses.

http://www.kcc.ac.uk/news/big-plans-north-kensington/

We now understand that despite these promises the future of Wornington College and the provision of adult education in North Kensington is still very much under threat. Instead of securing the long term future of Wornington the KCC Board appears to have begun making existing staff redundant, pending a merger deal in which they will become the subserviant partner to a rival adult education college and in which they are unlikely to have any say in whether adult education will survive in any form in North Kensington.

In a serious and troubling development, it has come to our attention that members of the Wornington College teaching and auxillary staff have been issued with voluntary redundancy notices. These have been distributed to staff recently and cast doubt on KCC’s previous claim that staff numbers will be protected by virtue of an increase in student numbers and an expansion in the number of courses that the College will be offering.

It is our understanding that members of staff who might be tempted to accept offers of voluntary redundancy will not have their length of service or seniority taken into consideration as part of any financial settlement and will simply receive a statutory redundancy pay out. Any member of staff who accepts voluntary redudancy and is below retirement age will not be able to apply for social security payments such as unemployment benefit, housing benefit, etc if they fail to find replacement jobs, as they will be deemed to have made themselves intentionally unemployed.

It is also our understanding that the KCC Board were preparing to make a vitally important decision concerning the future of the College at a Corporaton meeting last Tuesday 6th June. We applied for permission to attend this meeting but were refused, ostensibly due to the sensitivity of the issues scheduled for discussion. It is a matter of record that major changes in adult education have been encouraged at a national and regional level following major cuts to government funding and a recent government review of further education which recommended that local colleges (such as Wornington) should merge with neighbouring colleges in order to protect their longer term prospects.

In line with this recommendation KCC and City Lit have conducted merger negotiations on two occasions since 2012. Both of these attempts failed, the most recent, earlier this year, because KCC failed a due diligence test performed by City Lit, apparently because of poor financial viability and poor Osted inspection results over the past three years. We have made a Freedom of Information request to City lit seeking access to the due dilignce report. We will publish this when and if we acquire it as it may shine some light on the management failings at KCC under former Principal Mark Brickley. The failure of KCC to satisfy this due diligence test has left KCC in an invidious position and vulnerable to a hostile take-over from either Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College or the recently merged North West London/City of Westminster College.

Ideally we would all prefer that KCC remain a fully independent college serving the specific needs of the local RBKC communities but we acknowledge that, in the present austere financial climate, a merger appears to be a necessary evil. With this in mind, we feel that it is a great shame that the proposed merger between KCC and City Lit failed. The benefits of a merger with City Lit have been explained in the minutes of previous confidential discussions by the Governors of KCC who stated that:

KCC students have good reason to fear the consequences of the failure of the City Lit merger. It has left KCC extremely vulnerable to a hostile take-over by either Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College or the North West London/City of Westminster College and we believe that such an outcome will greatly disempower and reduce the quality of our local education provision. There are concerns also that if either of the two aforementioned colleges are successful in a take-over of KCC the provision of adult education at the Wornington Centre, and in North Kensington generally, may cease altogether and adult educational courses may be halved at the Hortensia Centre.

These concerns are based on hard evidence obtained through Freedom of Information requests and access to supposedly confidential minutes of the KCC Corporation. We also have a copy of an email sent to RBKC councillors by Tony Redpath, a member of the KCC Board of Governors and a senior Officer at KCC in January 2017, that refers to Kensington and Chelsea College as some kind of tempting carcass that other ‘suitors‘, including Ealing Hammersmith and West London College and North West London/City of Westminster College ‘are already circling’ and waiting to devour. Redpath goes on to identify the predatory nature of such a take-over in that ‘KCC’s problem, put baldly, is that it’s attraction to other College’s is based on it’s assets rather than it’s activities’ and that following any take-over ‘a longer than anticipated period of change and uncertainty for the College beckons’. We believe that this statement from Tony Redpath unequivocably highlights the clear and present danger that faces the future of adult education in RBKC.

https://grenfellactiongroup.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/redpath-confidential-email-kcc-ofsted-result-etc.pdf

Redpath’s analysis is entirely consistent with minutes already quoted of a KCC Board meeting in 2012 when a hostile take-over by Ealing, Hammermith and West London College was characterised as an unwelcome but distinctly possible outcome. Confidential minutes from that Board of Governors meeting state the following:

www.kcc.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/KCC-BOC-minutes-111212.pdf

We have little doubt, based on the evidence above, that the kind of take-over that now seems inevitable will be extremely detrimental to the future of adult educational provision in RBKC generally, and North Kensington in particular. We believe that the failure of the proposed merger with City Lit has left KCC at the mercy of more powerful and predatory organisations that are primarily concerned with KCC’s financial assests and property portfolio rather than with providing the adult educational services our communities need.

The KCC Board of Governors and senior management team need to be held fully and properly accountable for their failure to secure a more propitious merger with City Lit. This failure has left KCC open to a hostile take-over by either Ealing, Hammersmith and West london College or City of Westminster/College of North West London. Both of these outcomes could best be described as worst case scenarios but have somehow become the most likely outcome we can expect. The KCC Board should be held accountable for this!

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KCC resignations – was there a cover-up?

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The Grenfell action Group have recently been contacted by the Information Commissioners Office regarding our appeal against the refusal of Kensington and Chelsea College to provide us with information we requested explaining the departure of former Principal, Mark Brickley, and his former sidekick Deputy Principal Fiona Ross. The correspondence between the Information Commissioners Office and the Grenfell Action Group must remain confidential for now as we do not want to preempt the appeals process which we hope will lead to disclosure of the information we are seeking. However, we can confirm that we have lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner in an attempt to obtain a full explanation from KCC of the departures of Mark Brickley and Fiona Ross from the College in such haste and in such opaque circumstances.

Following the sudden departure of Mr Brickley, at the end of October 2017, the College claimed that he had resigned for ‘personal reasons’, although the circumstances of his departure  have never been fully explained and were not recorded in the minutes of the relevant Board of Governors meeting. Following Brickley’s departure there have been persistent rumours, in College circles and in the local community, that the departure of the former Principal had less to do with ‘personal reasons’ and may have had much more to do with some form of serious misconduct in office.

It has become evident to the Grenfell Action Group that the interim Principal, Michelle Sutton is well aware of some of the allegations made against the former Principal and other  members of the College’s senior management team that surfaced through responses to a recent staff survey at the College. These concerns were recorded in the mintues from the KCC Governors Meeting held on 5th December 2016 and paint an alarming picture of low staff morale and poor leadership at this much loved educational establishment.Members of the Grenfell Action Group can only guess at the contents of the alleged ‘unprofessional responses’ made by staff members against various members of the senior management team but it hasn’t escaped our notice that the Interim Principal, Michelle Sutton, seems to have done her best to intimidate complainants into silence by strongly implying that their most serious allegations were ‘defamatory or libellous comments’.

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that the Grenfell Action Group do not normally publish content based only on rumour or hearsay and that all of our postings are backed up with authoritative corroborating evidence. For this reason we have not yet detailed the nature of the rumours that accompanied the sudden departure of Principal Mark Brickley and Deputy Principal Fiona Ross from KCC.  However, we have not shyed away from our efforts to reveal the truth behind the circumstances surrounding Mark Brickley’s departure from the College and we are now in a position to publish, with some confidence, further information that we have received in relation to this matter.

At a recent “Let’s Clear Some Air” community event organised by Rap23 at the Acklam Village a member of the Grenfell Action Group spoke with our local MP, Victoria Borwick, and a local Tory Councillor, Robert Freeman, who were both attending the event. We took this opportunity to speak to our elected representatives about the situation at KCC and asked Cllr Freeman to explain why the freehold for the College building had been purchased by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council and why the College appeared to be in crisis and facing such an uncertain future.

Cllr Freeman chose to answer these questions by stating that the College building was too large for it’s current student intake and that most of the students that now attend the College come from other London Boroughs and are no longer local. This response was then challenged by our representative who pointed out that the College is still vital to the educational well being of the North Kensington community and that the dire situation that the College finds itself in might be partly attributed to the behaviour of the ex Principal Mark Brickley. It was at this point that our MP, Victoria Borwick turned to Cllr Freeman and asked what was meant by this latter statement. Cllr Freeman responded thus; “Mark Brickley was the unfortunate man who put up those compromising photos”.

The Grenfell Action Group would not wish to overinterpret the statement above made by Cllr Freeman to our local Member of Parliament, and witnessed by others present at the event, but we would suggest that these words certainly hint that there might be more to the departure of Mark Brickley than has so far been revealed by the College.

We have been informed by KCC that Brickley resigned his position for ‘personal reasons’ but we strongly suspect that these ‘personal reasons’ may be related to the actions so tantalisingly referred to by Cllr Freeman at the Rap23 event. If we are correct, and KCC are attempting to cover-up serious professional misconduct by either Brickley or Ross, or even both, then we can be confident that the Information Commissioner will order KCC to release the documents that we have requested, and which they have so far witheld.

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The Ta Power Document Examined by Alex McGuigan

Posted in Polarisation of the classes, Primacy of politics, Ta Power, Ta Power Document on October 19, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power

This article is a brief analysis of the Introduction section and Part One of Ta Power’s dissertation on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, which is now widely known as the Ta Power Document. It is hoped that this article will be of help when discussing Ta Power’s critique of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM.)

What Is The Ta Power Document?

We hear a lot about the Ta Power Document but what exactly does it contain? Certainly, one could probably read Ta Power’s critique in an afternoon, but arguably the best way to appreciate fully what is contained in his critique, is to take the time to read it as one would approach a serious study. This is because there is so much data compounded into those pages, that a quick reading will not do justice to Ta Power’s project, which was so comprehensively written under the most difficult of conditions, partly in a cramped prison cell.

It is also helpful to acquaint oneself with the life of Thomas Ta Power as the INLA guerrilla and the Revolutionary Socialist theorist. Ta Power’s life was very closely associated with the earlier years of the nascent Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Contained within the pages of the Ta Power Document is the genuine, early history of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, written by an INLA Guerrilla who knew only too well, that as a committed revolutionary, he was simply, as he fearlessly stated, a dead man on leave!

James Connolly, Ireland’s first Marxist Revolutionary, wrote 89 years before Ta Power’s assassination that:

“Apostles of Freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when alive.”

They were prophetic words both for Connolly, Ta Power and all those who have sought to bring revolutionary change to Ireland, defy Imperialism and fight for a Socialist Republic.

Who Was Ta Power?

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power was an INLA guerrilla fighter and an Irish Republican Socialist Party activist from the Market area of Belfast, whose revolutionary military actions were backed up with an insightful analysis of the age old struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland. The Republic that Ta Power believed was worth fighting for was one that guaranteed economic liberty for the Irish working-class, not just an exchange of one ruling class for the homegrown Gombeen variety, which successive one-dimensional Nationalists have repeatedly eventually settled for throughout Irish history. Ta Power believed in the Workers Republic of Marxist revolutionary James Connolly, who rejected traditional Nationalism espoused by the likes of Sinn Fein, just as vehemently as he opposed British Imperialism.

Ta Power’s Legacy To Contemporary IRSM members

Ta Power’s legacy to contemporary Republican Socialism was his insightful analysis of how the Irish Republican Socialist Movement needs to be structured along democratic centralist lines, to become the effective vanguard for a Socialist Republic. The Ta Power Essay could arguably be described as being as important to Irish Republican Socialism, as VI Lenin’s ‘What is to be Done’ was to the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century.

Contemporary comrades of Ta Power will have their own personal and revolutionary memories of one of Irelands most outstanding Republican Socialists, who by all accounts was very much cut from the same cloth as the late Seamus Costello. It is glaringly apparent that British imperialism and their lackeys in the Gombeen Free State feared Ta Power’s Republican Socialist ideology and that they viewed him personally as a dangerous revolutionary foe. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) held him in de facto internment without trial in prison for nearly 5 years, on the word of 5 separate bribed ‘supergrass’ paid perjurers!  When Ta Power was assassinated in January, 1987, along with his comrade, John O’Reilly, at the Rosnaree Hotel, by members of the counter-revolutionary IPLO, we can be sure that Imperialism uttered a sigh of relief.

Before his tragic assassination at the young age of 33, Ta Power spent part of his lengthy time in prison, held without trial, conducting a root and branch analysis of the revolutionary forces involved in the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland and the IRSM in particular. Ta Power recognised the leading role of Republican Socialism’s most outstanding advocate, Seamus Costello and the nearly ‘incalculable loss‘ the movement faced by his assassination at the hands of an Official IRA gangster. Power pulls no punches in his critique of the IRSM’s varied fortunes but his analysis points out that at the heart of any excesses and contradictions in the movement were structural defects, which made those mistakes not only possible but inevitable..

Ta Power’s historical analysis of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement

Power begins by plotting the course of the Republican Movement pre-1969 split and again pre-1974:

“the Republican Movement at that time, as indeed throughout its history was a monolithic movement, ideologically united and disciplined in its strategy and tactics.”

He rightfully asserts that even at that time, within the monolithic pre-1969 Republican Movement, a distinct reformist tendency was gaining in strength, in tandem with the more traditionalist Republican strand and an overtly more Socialistic strand. A smaller, more radical trend, centred round Seamus Costello, sought to marry the need for both National Liberation and Socialism, correctly treating them as intrinsically linked. The Official IRA leadership was at variance with the more militant grassroots and Ta Power cites the friction between the militant Belfast OIRA leader, Joe McCann and the reformist Official IRA leadership. Costello was of the same militant ilk as McCann and similarly was victimised by the Official’s leadership, culminating in his eventual expulsion at the 1974 Official Sinn fein Ard Fheis. Ta Power correctly states that:

“the dismissal of Costello formalised what was already a fact…’the parting of the ways’ of a revolutionary & reformist strategy on the National question!”

The Birth of the IRSM

In the gaols and all over Ireland, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) grew out of the militant grassroots, disaffected membership of the Official Republican Movement. In Belfast the Officials’ leadership ordered immediate armed pogroms against the fledgling IRSP, which initially left 3 dead and many more wounded. When counter-revolutionary attacks on the fledgling IRSP, ordered by the Official IRA leadership were concerned, Ta Power points out ironically that:

“the arms the officials had starved and denied their own membership to confront Imperialism had been delivered in plenty!”

Power was just as scathing of the Provisionals, as he was of the Officials’ leadership in his critique. While he viewed the reformism of the Stickies, as ignoring the proverbial elephant in the living-room of partition, he viewed the Provisionals as being hopelessly elitist. Ta Power correctly saw the Irish Republican Socialist Movement as the only vehicle to:

“stand for the unity of the anti-imperialist struggle & the class struggle.” (4)

The IRSP and the Broad Front?

He saw that a movement which placed genuine equal emphasis on the struggle for both Socialism and National Liberation, was ultimately capable of leading an anti-Imperialist Broad Front, while the IRSP retained the clear understanding that there could be no reformist ‘parliamentary road to socialism‘. However, their political agitation was not to be restricted by any elitist, traditional republican principle of ‘abstentionism’ (although in some circumstances that would be acceptable as a tactic.) The anti-Imperialist Broad Front would adhere to core progressive Republican Socialist principles.

Ta Power rounds off his recounting of the complicated birth of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, by recalling that by mid-1975, the worst of the Official IRA attacks had ended and by later in the year the IRSP had a politically healthy membership of 800 activists in Ireland. The party had a quarterly internal theoretical bulletin, plus the monthly newspaper The Starry Plough.

Basically by this stage, Ta Power states that, the IRSM had survived the counter-revolutionary Official IRA attempts to strangle it at birth and Republican Socialism was on the road to party political stability, progress and growth.

The IRSM and concerted state repression

Ta Power continues with his historical analysis of the IRSM by stating that after a brief period on the road to party political stability, following the early attacks on the fledgling movement, the party had a healthy active membership. The southern Free State government then set out to systematically smash the Republican Socialist Movement. By April 1976, after the Sallins Train Robbery, the Gardai’s Heavy Gang conducted systematic repression and brutality on IRSP members, culminating in the framing of 6 party members, including Nicky Kelly, for the mail train robbery. Amnesty International were partly responsible for exposing the brutality of the Garda Heavy Gangs habitual tactics of torture and perverting the course of justice, to frame those they perceived to be ‘Enemies of the State’.

In the north of Ireland, the IRSM were involved in all facets of the anti-Imperialist struggle which included armed guerrilla actions against the British occupational forces. The IRSM also took a leading role in the nascent agitation on the streets against the criminalisation of Republican POW’s both inside and outside the gaols, which included the earlier INLA successful mass escape from Cage 5 in Long Kesh concentration camp on the 5th May, 1976.

The impact of Costello’s assassination

Ta Power stressed the massive blow to the Republican Socialist Movement caused by the assassination of Seamus Costello in 1977:

“the sheer stature of the revolutionary Seamus Costello is too great for what can be expressed in feeble words, yet words are the only (way) to express and convey this stature albeit in a feeble way” (5)

He goes on to list many of the testimonials to Seamus Costello’s outstanding Revolutionary character from the likes of Nora Connolly O’Brien (James Connolly’s daughter), Fr Piaras O’Duill, Sean Doyle and Dr Noel Browne. He recounts the lengthy list of elected and appointed positions held by the  Indefatigable Seamus Costello from 1964 until his tragic murder in October 1977 in Dublin’s North Strand as he sat unarmed in his car by a Sticky hitman, allegedly the ‘bagman’ Jim Flynn.

The Struggle in the H-Blocks

Ta Power admits that the IRSM were the main beneficiaries of disillusionment within the Official IRA in Long Kesh, in the early 1970’s, which produced a ready made reservoir of recruits, but at the time it was in a volatile state. At first the gaol authorities did not grant recognition to the IRSP prisoners, but after the correct pressure was applied, they did give in.

Shortly after this, the infant IRSP had the morale boost of 5 prisoners escaping from Newry courthouse and then the first ever mass escape from Long Kesh by 9 INLA prisoners from via a tunnel in May, 1976. However, by this stage political status was being phased out by the British as part of their ‘Ulsterisation‘ aka “Normalisation” counter-revolutionary strategy. The H-Blocks of Long Kesh concentration camp then became the main focus of the anti-Imperialist struggle for the Republican Socialist Movement and indeed the entire Irish Republican community:

“suddenly, captured republicans were thrown back to an active role & again to the forefront of the struggle. Their courage, resolve & mettle would be tested to the full. The tremendous responsibility, which was imposed on them, was a heavy burden to carry but carry it they did!”

As well as invigorating the Republican Socialist Movement, the campaign for political status was a double edged sword:

“with the end of [political] status came the end of segregation. The effects of this on our movement was more profound than are sometimes realised. Because of our numerical weakness we were always a minority within the broad republican family & this created further problems for us. The IRA always set the tempo & pace but we always retained our seperate organisational structures, independence & identity .” (7)

What is to be done?

From page 14 Ta Power begins his ‘What is to be done‘ and quotes Seamus Costello:

“..we must make no secret of the fact that we are a Revolutionary party, prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers & that we are out for a revolutionary state.”

Ta Power’s sentiments in this part of his critique echo those of Seamus Costello, in that he advises a multi-faceted Revolutionary Socialist approach. For instance, agitation both on the streets and in elected bodies, bluntly emphasising that there can be:

“no easy way to the Socialist Republic, no shortcuts!”

Power bluntly states that neither can the IRSM fool the Irish working class, as they know only too well ‘who the phoneys‘ are.  Power prophetically states that:

“we must be vigilant that we dont sink into the morass of sectarianism, mixing, pettiness etc. We must not get involved in unprincipled slagging matches etc or into positions that are sectarian, anti-revolutionary, morally damaging that give succour to the enemy & that confuse & divide the working class” (10)

Power states that an important facet of Irish Republican Socialism is that it should be able to describe it’s vision for a Democratic Irish Socialist Republic, not just limit their vision to the transitional stages and the process to achieve it. He again echoes James Connolly, in his belief that it is only by the actions of the Irish working class that the age old project of Ireland’s liberation from British imperialism can be achieved. Bourgeois parties will always compromise with Imperialism, which VI Lenin accurately described as the most advanced stage of Capitalism.

Ta Power writes that the might of the pro-Imperialist forces can only being defeatable by a Broad Front of progressive anti-Imperialist forces. Power advocated the convening of a conference of anti-Imperialist parties. This is very relevant in today’s context where Irish republicanism is very much splintered, despite various half-hearted calls for Republican Unity. He criticizes Stalinist Stage-ism, as adhered to by the likes of the Officials, as a deflection from the National Liberation struggle:

“it is only by strengthening ourselves ideologically, inculcating in ourselves the values & ideals of the struggle and building up the ranks of the revolutionary party that we will make it! Finally, we must constantly review, criticize & self criticize all aspects of our actions, policies, tactics etc. Keep appraising the whole situation & keep striving to raise the class consciousness, spirit & capacity to fight & win of the working class.”

The Primacy of Politics

As Ta Power indicates, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement followed what is known as the ‘party/army model’ and Ta Power critiques the ‘contradictions’ in that relationship.Ta Power utilises Marxian dialectics to explain the relationship between the political activities of the IRSM, which he refers to as:

‘A’ the party (IRSP) and: ‘B’ the military wing, (INLA.)

He states that ‘group A’, the party, should guide ‘group B’, the army, but due to structural defects that Ta Power identifies, group B ended up being the dominant element and therefore a very retarded form of Marxian Praxis existed. He states that for many within group B, overtly political work was viewed as being unimportant, unfashionable and a distraction from armed struggle:

“therefore there arises a definite trend of spurning “A”[political] type work as being beneath their standing, style etc; there arises contempt for those involved in “A” type work ” 

He questions why political work came to be looked down upon as a lesser form of revolutionary struggle, despite there being so many extremely intelligent individuals involved. This one dimensional militaristic political culture within the IRSM at that time led to factionalism and power-base building:

“Are we amateurs & not professionals? We know the lessons of history, we know the mistakes & we either act accordingly or collapse. Salvation lies in clarity & the courage to implement change!”

Ta Power states that doing things in half-measures will only prove to be counter-productive, as he states that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions!’

He then uses Lenin’s polemic against the myopic, cordite soaked Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) in Russia, to critique the purely militarist tendencies within the then IRSM. (It is worth noting that Lenin and therefore Ta Power, are using the term ‘terrorism’ in the strictly sociological sense here, not the bourgeois subjective sense)

“their terrorism is not connected in any ways with work among the masses……it distracts our very scanty organisational resources from their difficult & by no means complete task of organising a revolutionary party “

Conclusions

Although this article deals primarily with Part One of the Ta Power Document, the central theme of his dissertation is to assert the principles of Politics in Command‘ as the only salvation for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Power is fearless in his critique of one dimensional militarism within the IRSM and how that culture of disdain for overtly ‘political work’ led to such tragedies as the emergence of the IPLO counter-revolutionaries, power-base building by individuals and a general ‘running down’ of the role of the party.

Unlike the Irish Republican Socialist Movement’s various detractors who spend their time sniping from the sidelines, Ta Power’s critique came from within and therefore his essay should be studied, discussed and itself critiqued and indeed added, to if need be, in light of today’s political climate which has changed significantly since 1987 when the only ‘Republican’ groupings were essentially the Provisionals, the IRSM and the Officials, whereas in contemporary times there are a variety of Provisional movement splinter groups competing for primacy.

However, Ta Power’s critique of the IRSM still retains it’s resonance, even after a quarter of a century and it’s final prophetic lines are as apt today as in the late 1980s:

It will take a resolute leadership and the use of a firm but fair hand to drag this movement back onto the rails. Those who stand in the way of development and progress must be cast aside, no one or group will dictate solely the pace and path this movement will take to overcome its difficulties.

Those who seek to impose shackles must be cast aside without hesitation. We either go forward or backward.

Finally let us return to what we said in the first page of part one. There we said our objective in this draft, was an attempt to UNDERSTAND THE PAST so that we may ANALYSE THE PRESENT in order to INFLUENCE THE FUTURE. This is a bold claim to make, and an even bolder one to succeed with!”

Ta Power’s final words of his essay pulls no punches and is stridently honest and relevant  in the tasks facing the Irish Republican Socialist Movement in contemporary times if they are to grow as a viable revolutionary movement and not fall into the sad guise of a commemorative body, a one-dimensional nationalist grouping or a reformist movement far removed from it’s revolutionary raison d’etre but continue on as Ireland’s most progressive and revolutionary movement as envisioned and encouraged by Costello, Power, Bunting and Gallagher into the political and economic realities of the 21st Century.  Thankfully the IRSM continues to be involved in the struggle against imperialism, builds links and often leads the most militant elements workers’ movement in the struggle against Gombeen Capitalism, has created links in solidarity with revolutionaries abroad and continues to spread what Connolly described as ‘the divine gospel of discontent!’

Alex McGuigan,

Belfast

The Polarisation Of The Classes

Posted in Bourgeoisie, Internationalism, Karl Marx, Polarisation of the classes, Proletariat, Thatcher, Weber with tags , , , on September 9, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Even a casual glance at the world news tends to vindicate Marxism’s concept that class polarisation is becoming much more visibly apparent.  One need only examine the near obliteration of the American middle-classes as a prime example of this class polarisation where the populace is increasingly divided between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat.  Neo-liberalism confirms Marxism’s critique of Capitalism that  not only is it a social and economic system but also a political ideology.  It is of course part of the ABC of Marxism that:

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles“.

 As a less than serious aside, it is a pity that more  of the ‘end of days’ millenarian groups, cults and movements did not adopt Marxism, as it would be a more concrete ideology to base their belief systems on!

Imperialism

In real terms when we see the Western super powers led by the prime Capitalist bandit,  the USA, gearing up for a war on Syria, it is only those of less than sound mind who believe that the highly possible conflict is about ‘exporting democracy’ rather than the Leninist concept of imperialism, where the country’s means of production are to be seized by an oil hungry cabal of Capitalist brigands.  In fact ‘imposing democracy’ has become a code word and less aggressive way of describing imperialism.

Destruction of Communities

Capitalism by it’s dynamic and polarisation of classes has largely destroyed what were once communities.  How many times have we heard people, especially city dwellers and economic commuters describe their isolation.  In many areas of our cities inhabitants do not even know their neighbour’s name, despite the fact that they may very well live within a few feet of concrete or brick of each other?  Capitalism and the pursuit of profit does not need communities, they are superfluous to it’s needs.

The Death Of Thatcher

The timely death of the old Finchley Tyrant was a prime and recent example of Marx (and arguably Weber’s) polarisation of the classes.  There was literally no middle ground on the death of Europe’s most rabidly right-wing former Prime Minister.  Those who venerated the milk snatcher and attended her over the top de facto state funeral were unanimously from the Bourgeoisie or the landed elites.  Likewise, the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh working-class celebrated  a holiday in their hearts, demonstrated against the massive waste of millions of pounds on the funeral and held parties celebrating her death.  A more prime example of the polarisation of the  classes would have been hard to find in Western Europe.

Of course Marx’s polarisation of the classes is an historical process and it would be premature to claim that we have fully arrived at that position.  However, with so-called ‘austerity’ offensives taking it’s tole on the waged and unwaged proletariat, it would be seriously short-sighted to not see the polarisation of the classes becoming more and more pronounced.

Alex McGuigan
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