An Honest Look at Margaret Thatcher
As Glenn Greenwald points out, it’s rather hypocritical for the same forces that had no problems with attacking Hugo Chavez upon his death to suddenly get all “let no one speak ill of the dead” in the wake of the demise of a person who unlike Chavez, helped only her own fellow elites and did great damage to the majority of people in her country. I have come to bury Thatcher, not to praise her. The evil that she did lives after her; The good was so minimal as to be nonexistent.
Let’s lead off with a portion of an excellent summing up of Thatcher, done by Seumas Milne:
Not only in former mining communities and industrial areas laid waste by her government, but across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatisation and social breakdown. Now protests are taking the form of satirical e-petitions for the funeral to be privatised: if it goes ahead, there are likely to be protests and demonstrations.
This is a politician, after all, who never won the votes of more than a third of the electorate; destroyed communities; created mass unemployment; deindustrialised Britain; redistributed from poor to rich; and, by her deregulation of the City, laid the basis for the crisis that has engulfed us 25 years later.
Thatcher was a prime minister who denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, defended the Chilean fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, ratcheted up the cold war, and unleashed militarised police on trade unionists and black communities alike. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister, but her policies hit women hardest, like Cameron’s today.</bl
… Average growth in the Thatcherite 80s, at 2.4%, was exactly the same as in the sick 70s – and considerably lower than during the corporatist 60s. Her government’s savage deflation destroyed a fifth of Britain’s industrial base in two years, hollowed out manufacturing, and delivered a “productivity miracle” that never was, and we’re living with the consequences today.
What she did succeed in doing was to restore class privilege…
Here’s some of what Thatcher biographer Hugo Young had to say about her before he died in 2003:
What happened at the hands of this woman’s indifference to sentiment and good sense in the early 1980s brought unnecessary calamity to the lives of several million people who lost their jobs. It led to riots that nobody needed. More insidiously, it fathered a mood of tolerated harshness. Materialistic individualism was blessed as a virtue, the driver of national success. Everything was justified as long as it made money – and this, too, is still with us.
Thatcherism failed to destroy the welfare state. The lady was too shrewd to try that, and barely succeeded in reducing the share of the national income taken by the public sector. But the sense of community evaporated. There turned out to be no such thing as society, at least in the sense we used to understand it. Whether pushing each other off the road, barging past social rivals, beating up rival soccer fans, or idolising wealth as the only measure of virtue, Brits became more unpleasant to be with. This regrettable transformation was blessed by a leader who probably did not know it was happening because she didn’t care if it happened or not. But it did, and the consequences seem impossible to reverse.
Sounds rather like what’s been happening in the US since Reagan, Thatcher’s soul mate, came to power and in essence never left, his evil like Thatcher’s living after him.