Monday, April 8, 2013

The Iron Lady and the Cult of Hypocrisy...

"There should be no dancing on her [Thatcher's] grave but it is right there is no state funeral either. Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free." "Margaret Thatcher: The Lady and the Land She Leaves Behind", the Guardian, 8 April 2013.

So Margaret Thatcher, TBW, Ebenezera Scrooge, she who was the prime minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990, she who led the neo-liberal reaction to the post WWII welfare state into austerity and pain, at least for those who weren't part of the one percent to whom she was devoted, is dead.

It has been fascinating to see and hear, as the day has gone on and the media have tried to come to grip with Thatcher's passing, some of the whitewashed praise of Thatcher flooding through the media today. BBC America World News has devoted most of its half hour to heartwarming stories of Mrs. Thatcher particularly those having to do with her and her American disciple President Ronald Reagan thanks in part to Michael Deaver, Reagan's former deputy chief of staff. Damn that left wing socialist BBC. Republican political oldies but not so goodies George Schultz and James Baker are engaging in a Thatcher love fest and former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell is talking about how the lovely but tough Thatcher gave women around the globe hope that they too could dream of achieving political power and how the middle class born Thatcher, shook the class based British political world on PBS's News Hour as I type. The gaggle of commentators on PBS's Charlie Rose--Tina Brown, Martin Amis, Henry Kissinger, Harold Evans, Amanda Foreman--seem, with the exception of Amis, to be in a contest to see who can sing the praises of the "Iron Lady" the most. Damn that Eastern Establishment Liberal Media PBS. One of the most alice in wonderlandish of them all is that which has come from the mouth of Tory babe, David Cameron. Thatcher, said Cameron, didn't just lead Great Britain, she saved it.

I guess one shouldn't be surprised and taken aback by such messianic and Christian language, language some might find heretical or near heretical. Thatcher, after all, sometimes threaded Christian themes, in an utterly hypocritical way, like this one from St. Francis of Assisi, into her messianic, self-righteous, and ultimately narcissistic public speeches. Nevertheless, I for one, still find this messianic language of Cameron shocking. I guess I shouldn't for by now I should know just how ideologies of self-righteousness undergirds so much that politicians say and provide them with the ideological justification for and rationalisation of the nastiness they oftentimes do particularly to the most vulnerable and most "common" in our society.

I realise that Thatcher was a complicated person. She was born into a middle class family of grocers while being educated at posh Oxford, thanks, no doubt, to the expansion of that university after World War II in part due to governmental actions. She broke the class ceiling in British politics and preached the gospel of opportunity and meritocracy while being aided in her pursuit of political power by the wealth of her millionaire husband and her policies helped maintain inequalities of privilege in the UK grounded in what is finally a gospel of wealth or social Darwinist, the secular version of the gospel of wealth, conceptualisation of merit. She supported the legalisation of abortion, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and a ban on hare coursing (hey, perhaps she was influenced by St. Francis here) while supporting capital punishment, birching, and keeping divorce laws strict. She preached the gospel of democracy while waging a war on unions and democracy in the workplace speaking often about the tyranny of workers unions but never once, that I can recall, speaking out about the authoritarian tyranny of the bosses that unions reacted against. She claimed that she wanted to give everyone a voice in British politics but, thanks particularly to her defeat of the unions, she left Britain, or at least England, once a society with a healthy degree of public square activism, a largely acquiescent mass society. She said she wanted to bring hope to the many while what she actually did was enable the one percent to increase their wealth and income. She decried and derided socialism and communism for taking away human freedom while she created a paternalistic conservative nanny state to teach the masses the right way to act and behave according to her gospel of middle class moral and sociological superiority in the brave old new world of Margaret Ebenezera Scroogism. So I, in the end, come not to praise Thatcher. I come to see what she actually did. And what she left us as her legacy, as the Guardian editorial that I posted at the beginning of this brief essay rightly notes, is a Britain and an America that magnified public division, lionised private selfishness, and created a sacred cult of economic greed. Margaret Thatcher, in other words, resurrected the Ebenezer Scrooge society.

So Goodbye Margaret Thatcher. I hope that in death you will be as you were in life and that your state funeral, should you have one, will be paid for with private funds, including your own and those of your well heeled disciples, and not with citizen taxpayer pounds. I realise, of course, that in reality, you, the "Iron Lady", were like virtually all right wing leave it to the private sector types, you, like they, drank quite heavilly from the public trough over the years. And I suppose that makes you despite your background, and the posh populists who followed in your footsteps the right wing equivalent of those champagne socialists right wingers so love to condemn for their hypocrisy. Perhaps we should call toff neocons who take public wealthfare and welfare beer sipping bah humbugers even if the beer sipping they mimic is largely only for publicity purposes. If being wealthy and socialist is hypocritical than surely decrying the size of government and its welfare programmes while serving in government, lobbying government for favours, and taking handouts from government for personal benefit (including taxpayer funded ceremonial funerals) is also hypocrisy of the highest order. So again, goodbye Mrs. Thatcher and thanks for all the fish.

No comments:

Post a Comment