A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market

It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO.

— Grenfell Action Group Blogsite – November 2016

These people at the top who own the tower blocks, they’re far too focused on money, that’s the main thing. This is not the only place where this situation has happened. I know a lot of different people in different areas of London that have gone through regeneration and what not and it’s a joke. Imagine in Grenfell Tower they had the cheek to almost make people say thank you that we’re regenerating your block and then they didn’t put functional sprinklers in, or fire alarms, are you lost?

— Piki Seku, Resident, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

This cuts right to the heart of how the state views the poorest people in society. We have sprinklers in society; we don’t have them in high rise council blocks. Because they are too expensive?  Because it would be disruptive? I mean it really does make you ask questions about how the state values lives and which lives it values.

— Seraphima Kennedy, employee until early 2016, of The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, (KCTMO) managing Grenfell Tower

The prescience of the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) as a community organisation so tragically instanced in above quote published months before the catastrophic event of Grenfell Tower as tragedy is difficult to appreciate without tears precipitate.

Tears of sorrow over the as yet unknown number of deaths including of children; tears of anger over families told to ‘stay put’ as part of  ‘Fire Safety Policy’ while flames approached  , tears of rage over the cheapening of life which become so prevalent throughout the Western World – and is as the real ‘terrorism’ in our midst?

The GAG community blog site as hyperlinked above essential reading for those who would understand how life for those deemed to be poor ‘across the pond’ is, and can be, cheapened, instanced to point of epitomic – how community voices can be and are being silenced towards a deadly pandemic of orthodoxy – and this to point of a transfer of resources as realizes austerity as would be ‘Global’?

The GAG blog as a community ‘Counterpunch’ reveals how Kensington and Chelsea Council threatened a resident of Grenfell Tower with legal action over blogged concerns about Fire Safety. The blog a voice of real people, – not that of corporate entity represented or part of ‘the establishment’ instanced  as to acting in public relations capacity – and it is a voice which fell  so manifestly on deaf ears, and  will continue to do so, such the hegemony as would be?

Because under austerity as orthodox it become ‘the poor do not matter anymore’ – and this not just a ‘London thing’ – but rather part of a ‘Global thing’?

‘Silence is Golden’ such the control and issue of currency, and as deaf ear turned accordant as pragmatic?

That there underlying socio political and economic factors concerning the tragedy of the inferno of Grenfell Tower, London, as occurred on 14 June 2017  as undeniable as the austerity which so many  people  experiencing now; this  to the mantra of orthodoxy from ‘Decision Makers’  in the free market and as to which  ‘there is no alternative’? The term ‘Decision Maker’ being borrowed from ‘Universal Credit’ as part of the Welfare State as remaining in the UK, as ‘I Daniel Blake‘  illustrates cinematographic  concerning syndrome –  sense of power of ‘life or death’ wielded over the poor, such the ideological ‘cladding’ as can burn way of inferno by way of a ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ externalized?

This, as much as untold numbers of suicides of sanctioned ‘undesirables’ in the UK parallel the tragedy of Grenfell Tower as aspect of free market but part of such despicable syndrome?

– How many, such the ‘SNAP’, such the syndrome, such the Geopolitics, such the accretion, dying in the US now as of would be ‘untold’ as ‘supplemental nutrition’ denied?

There has to be alternative to burning the poor to death, or starving, or causing suicide such the austerity – as in the UK Grenfell Tower, Food Banks and Benefits Sanctions respectively illustrate?

The tragedy of Grenfell Tower not, alas, ‘ isolated’?

Geopolitically, Grenfell Tower now, alas,  part of the syndrome of free market terrorism – as a tragedy incorporating the devaluation of life as divided by way of economic apartheid and ‘conquering’ by way of privatisation – and as causing death to the poor upon the altar of orthodoxy as would be ‘Global’ commensurate?

For to read the blogs of the Grenfell Action Group in retrospect of the tragedy of Grenfell Tower is to experience an incredulity: that so many warnings could have been made and ignored; it is to stare economic apartheid which become ‘state sanctioned’ and as would be ‘Global’ ‘ in the eye; it is indeed to be caused to question, as Seraphima Kennedy puts it above paraphrased: ‘how a state values lives and which lives it values’?

Those  many innocents who burned to death in the urban tower block inferno in London ‘just the other day’ were not wealthy, they were ordinary working people who relied, such the austerity, on social housing as tenants; they were people whose voices so clearly did not count as the GAG blogs demonstrate so clearly; they were as the people which economic policy driving from London to a background of ‘property speculation’  and ‘gentrification’, such the economic cleansing.

To free market orthodoxy ‘they’ did not matter as were undesirable, such the tragic tombstone as remaining in the burnt out shell of a towering wreck as indictment now offers to the heartless profiteer as ‘rider on the storm’ of neoliberal orthodoxy no more than ‘outstanding development opportunity’ instanced – and for such ‘economic cleansing’ as detailed above to be furthered?

Already Theresa May as Prime Minister UK has done a ‘U-turn’ on promise to re house the survivors of Grenfell Tower in Kensington and Chelsea as London’s richest Borough.

‘Nasty’ is as nasty does, such the orthodoxy, such the Party?

Last year most property sales in Kensington and Chelsea in which Grenfell Tower located involved flats which sold for on average one point seven five million dollars. Terraced properties sold for an average price of almost five and a half million dollars, while semi-detached properties fetched eight point seven million dollars. This while average earnings in the UK some thirty five thousand dollars. These figures approximate and subject to currency fluctuation such the ‘ball park’ – but the picture clarified of the anomaly which social housing such as Grenfell Tower represents, or rather represented, in the ‘Royal Borough’?

Fifty years of ‘average earnings’  such the ‘free market’ become would not buy even a flat in Kensington and Chelsea – saving up for a ten percent deposit alone would take five years assuming no other costs and taxation avoided while ‘running on empty’, such the austerity.

The people who lived in Grenfell Towers, despite their honest labor, did so because they could not afford to ‘buy’ – and the real tragedy to dominant view as expressed in neoliberal orthodoxy, and as to quote by Piki Seku above, that they should be ‘thankful’ for such as they had – even though they knew it a slum way of being a ‘firetrap’ – and tried telling as warning of same repeatedly by way of a community blog as ‘Counterpunch’?

Thankful to have a roof over their heads, thankful as not to point out any concerns for their safety, not to protest, thankful for there to be a tolerance of them to live in such an ‘exclusive area’, thankful to trust authorities as ‘established’, thankful enough to pay up and look cheerful as they can still afford the ‘Vig’ – because rent but usury?

They should have been thankful to have a job – no matter that it could not permit them, such the ‘currency’ indeed, to buy a home, but rather to rent a firetrap as built around them despite their protests ignored?

Amongst the reasons contending for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in 2016 were ‘aesthetical’; the Tower a 24 storey high rise landmark in the midst of the most prosperous region in London as reflected in average property value detailed above. Built in 1974, 120 homes were packed in, made up of one and two bed roomed flats. The recent refurbishment consisted primarily of external cladding, new hot water systems and new boilers.  Under free market conditions of tender prevailing, contract went to the cheapest bidder. This from The Daily Telegraph:

After the building work was completed in June 2016, nine out of 10 tenants said they were dissatisfied with the way the improvements works had been carried out, while 68 per cent said they had been lied to, threatened, pressured or harassed by the tenant management organisation.

Drilling down to gory detail as Globalization explicated sense of painful ‘peel of an onion’: Tenant Management Organisations (TMO’s) such as the Kensington and Chelsea TMO as managed Grenfell Tower are aspectual of the privatisation by way of the private/public partnership and private finance initiative so enamoured of by Margaret Thatcher and ‘New Labour’ under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

By way of what Tenants themselves think of TMO’s the community website ‘No TMO’ explicates – but the main point: they replace Council (as an electable body) management of tenancies with private companies which are not subject to direct local Electoral Control i.e. election – and which operate in the ‘free market’  as concerns ‘private interests’; a market prevailing as in case of the tendering process for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

For ‘private interests’ must prevail, such the neoliberal orthodoxy as would be ‘Global’?

Given the undeniable tragedy of Grenfell Tower, details of the tendering process to come under close scrutiny in the UK by Public Inquiry, and as will incorporate the companies as ‘private interests’ which were awarded the contract.

What is known concerning Grenfell Tower refurbishment is that the initial tender was for 11.27 million pounds sterling: this was deemed to be too high by the Council and was put out to re tender in the free market and was awarded to a different company at 8.7 million pounds sterling, saving the Council 2.5 million pounds sterling.

– It  a terrifying thought that part of such ‘cost savings’ could have contributed in any way to the tragedy; that privatization can lead to ‘monetization’; that life can be so reduced as to being cheapened by way of ‘corners being cut’ to ‘externalization’?

A ‘terrifying thought’ as in GAG quote above?

Final part of this reflection on a tragedy of the cheapening of life as state sanctioned in context of the free market at work concerns ‘tenanted habitation’ amplifies the point made by Piki Seku above concerning ‘people at the top’, in particular his perspicacity concerning ‘focus on money’; this being the appalling fact of the vote down of The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill on 24 June 2015 in the UK?

According to the UK Parliament’s register of interests, 72 of the MPs who voted against the amendment themselves landlords who derive an income from a property.

– Not that all the wealthy across the pond  are against State Intervention when it comes to housing, especially when it comes to stately homes they own being given ‘restoration grant’  – as in case of 365 room Wentworth House owned by the in laws of Jacob Rees-Mogg, recently given a 7.6 million pound restoration grant such the State Intervention as approvable.

This;  the same Jacob Rees-Mogg who voted repeatedly for the ‘Bedroom Tax’, which punished the poor with one extra room.

While the absence of Regulations as ‘red tape’ may be good for profits as contended by neoliberal orthodoxy as would be ‘Global’ this only as much as austerity consequent and the cheapening of life ‘growing’ -commensurate to the ‘yellow tape’ of crime scene to be more required – for surely tragedy as predictable as was Grenfell Tower must cause some measure of doubt in even the most hardened of ‘free marketeers’?

Or are the one percent driving such Orthodoxy beyond ‘redemption’ such sense as have no Humanity?

Grenfell Tower yet another altar to the free market of neoliberal orthodoxy, such the divide et impera as entailing ‘death to the poor whom do not matter’, such the divide as can be precipitate of an inferno?

How many more sacrifices on such altar shall it take before ‘austerity’ seen as the obscenity it is?

In memory of all those who died at Grenfell Tower, London, 14 June 2017. May they Rest in Peace.

Stephen Martin can be reached at: stephenmarti@yahoo.com