Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Undead Wrongs

I can't really add anything to the political post-mortem of the late Margaret Thatcher that Pierce and Lemeiux haven't already laid out in detail. She really was no more than Churchill without his gift for rhetoric
(and I should comment here that Churchill the politician tends to get subsumed within Churchill the Battle or Britain, but get him away from his old enemy Adolf and the man turns out to be a rather mean, narrow-minded, intolerant, harrumphing fusty old imperialist. His refusal to accept that white Britons weren't designated by God to rule the "lesser Breeds without the law" doomed the Empire to a decade of nasty anticolonial wars and rebellions. Thatcher's Irish and South African policies were as bad as anything Winston imagined without the redeeming defiance of a looming fascist empire.)
and I was never able to summon much more than contempt for her whilst alive. I have no more affection for her now that she is food for worms.

But I will give her this; she managed, along with her counterparts in this country, to turn the tide of social and political opinion that had been running strongly against "her sort" since the trainwreck of the Great Depression. She liberated the malefactors of Great Wealth from the social and political exile and made it acceptable to be a greedy, selfish, irresponsible bastard. She revived the notion of the Unworthy Poor, that same vile screed that excused the brutality of Victorian capitalism and fired the rebellions of communism and anarchism. She made it acceptable to not care about anything but your own greed for gain and that has not changed, and that may well be her greatest victory, the guerdon she carries down to her grave.

And that is at the same time her darkest evil.

For if the industrial democracies are to mean anything more than scraps of colored cloth flying over splotches of land and sea, more than just empty words in lawbooks and histories, they are and should represent the greatest hope for a decent life for the most people. They must stand for those freedoms that FDR talked about; freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, and freedom of - and from - worship and those freedoms must extend to every citizen from the wealthiest and proudest to the poorest and humblest.

The freedoms cannot be simply the privilege of the wealthy and the well-born. And they cannot be mere words that can be set aside by "the free market"; the breaker boys and match girls, the poor broken on the wheel of labor and cast aside to die destitute are and should be a shame and a hissing to any society that calls itself a "republic" or a "democracy".

The deepest evil of Thatcherism is that it comforted the comfortable and reassured the wealthy and powerful that the hardships their actions visited on their fellow citizens were not sins and shames but merely happenstances.

And though it were in another country, and besides, the wench is dead the evil that she did lives after her. Because of that I cannot but hope that there is indeed a Hell.

And that when I arrive there I will find Baroness Thatcher chained, far below me in its direst pit, so that even in my own torment I may still savor the sweet sound of justice; her screams of unbearable agony.


Podunk Paul said...

You have reservations about Mrs. Thatcher?

FDChief said...

Did that come across clearly? Oh, good.

I wasn't very sophisticated politically in the Eighties and I could see what she and Ronnie were doing - trying to tear down the structures that the WW2 generation erected to control the oligarchies in their countries and put the wealthy and well-born back on top.

And I knew even then that this would be bad for me and people like me.

All the other stuff; the love for despots like Pinochet, the financial shenanagains, the pure political poison like Iran-Contra for Reagan I didn't understand until later. But I like to think that I "got" the central evil of Thatcherism (and Reaganism) at the time, and time hasn't mellowed my opinions...

Ael said...

Actually, she (along with Reagan)were spectacular at the art of technical political innovation.

They were the first to deliberately adopt policies and rhetoric which were sufficient to obtain the votes of a minority of citizens, but nonetheless obtain power.

In order to reliably calibrate this, they needed elaborate knowledge of actual voting behaviour (people who don't vote, literally don't matter). They also need to be able to segment actual voters and target enough of those segments to obtain power, but not to appeal beyond those segments as this dilutes their appeal.

Again, it is only the swing votes that matter (those that will never vote for you don't matter and neither will those who will always vote for you, unless you do something completely stupid)

Once you have decided on these segments, you must pursue them with absolute dedication and forget everything else (which typically means you are free to gore the majority of the citizens of your country).

As a side effect, this approach is incredibly divisive and can be considered a feature and not a bug. It sharpens the dividing lines between voting segments and makes targeting the ones you want much easier.

FDChief said...

Won't deny that she and her U.S. counterparts could win elections. And if winning elections were all it took to governing then I would have to admit her genius for politics.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much ALL they were "good" at. Once in office they proceeded to use their "genius" to beaver away at destroying the polities they were supposed to be governing; destroying the hard-built works that had helped produce the widest-spread prosperity in the history of their nations, destroy the comity of their supposed-fellow-citizens, destroy the checks and balances that had been set in place to beat back the greed, foolishness, and self-destructive natures of the oligarchs.

And in THAT, too, they were spectacularly successful.

However, in that they were also rather like nutria. Are you familiar with these South American rodents? Similar to beaver and muskrat, they have been imported to the U.S. as a fur animal and have established sizeable feral populations.

Nutria a very successful animals; adaptable, resourceful, and prolific.

But they are also ridiculously destructive and worthless for anything an average human needs or wants. They burrow into levees and tear the hell out of good wetlands. They're not even good to eat and more costly than it's worth to trap.

Nutria; fucking swamp rats. That's all the damn Thatcherite nonsense was and is.