Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Ernie Tate’s “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s”

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Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s, Volume One, Canada 1955-1965By Ernie Tate268 pages. Resistance Books. $15.00 Revolutionary Activism in …

Ernie Tate’s “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s”

Ernest (Ernie) Tate was born in 1934 in the Shankill Road, heart of Protestant Belfast. In 1955 at the age of 21 he migrated to Canada and within a year had become a member of the Canadian Trotskyist organisation, the Socialist Educational League.

Louis Proyect writes a wonderful tribute to Tate, one of the founders of the British International Marxist Group and the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign in the 1960s, who has died from cancer at the age of 86 at his home in Toronto. He played a vital role in a campaign that would re-shape the British far left.

Ernie Tate and Jess McKenzie

Proyect highlights this tale of a disagreement between Tate and the famous Polish biographer of Leon Trotsky, Isaac Deutscher

I remember once when he made a few disparaging comments in my company about the Fourth International, that I took to be a questioning of its very existence and which got my back up a little, I faced him directly on the issue, sort of poking fun at what he was saying. I posed a hypothetical situation to him, that of an imaginary apolitical young worker, who after reading a Deutscher book, for example, might become convinced of the need for socialism and shows up on Deutscher’s doorstep to ask him advice about what he, the young worker, should do to help bring about this fundamental change. For me, I said, I wouldn’t hesitate a moment because from what I knew from history, without their own organization, workers won’t get anywhere and I would tell the young worker to join my group as the first step in trying to build such an organization which could help lead workers in transforming society. What would you tell the young worker? I asked him, and I knew I was appealing to his background as an active revolutionary leader, of which I knew he felt proud. Momentarily, he looked a little bit non-plussed, probably thinking that I had a bit of a nerve challenging him like that, but he came back, surprisingly, saying he would recommend the same thing. Better that than nothing, he said, in a sort of backhanded compliment.

See also Phil Hearse’s tribute to Tate https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7029

Ernie Tate (left) during 1989 Toronto Hydro strike

Several reviews of Ernie Tate’s writings are here : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?page=mot&id_mot=9917&lang=fr

Fare thee well, comrade: A tribute to Ernie Tate :

Fare thee well, comrade: A tribute to Ernie Tate

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