On the argument that it is never right to celebrate the death of a human being:


By Patrick Lee

Margaret Thatcher is dead. Act appropriately. My first reaction to her death was to think “lucky she did not die closer to the next election”, when Tory pride and eulogizing would be at a sickly peak, while the bitter arguments on “the Left’s” inappropriate street parties following her death would be tarnishing Labour’s election preparations.

The simple fact is that she is dead, and her death invites us to, like all deaths, analyse the life’s work. Let’s analyse:

Thatcher was friends with General Pinochet, a man who was charged with human rights violations, who murdered his political opponents; a man who, according to a governmental commission, tortured and murdered up to 30,000 people. Thatcher was a friend with Royalist, paedophile, and general inappropriate political fiddler, Jimmy Saville. She spent billions building nuclear weapons (Cold War aside, surely a negative thing). She blamed football fans and “hooligans” for the Hillsborough disaster. She and Reagan, in response to the oil crisis and rising inflation, deregulated major banks and welcomed in the age of neoliberalism. She destroyed inner city communities and trade unions. She widened the gap between rich and poor. She was PM while millions in the North of England were unemployed. She swapped the rule of the Trade Unions with the rule of the banks and private wealth.

Anti-welfare; anti-state; pro free-market; pro Murdoch; privatisation and, above all, introduced, perhaps irreversibly, a culture of greed and individualism.

While she was PM rubbish (literally trash) was piled up high in Trafalgar Square and there was a point when undertakers stopped burying bodies. Please take a second to absorb this image: there was a point when undertakers stopped burying bodies and Trafalgar Square became a rubbish dump.

 For anyone else still not convinced, I recommend investigating her record on apartheid (unlike the majority of European countries at the time, it is not great); and her record on Northern Ireland, where she allowed inmates on hunger strike to die.

 Still, it is easy now she is dead to remember her less than ideal record as PM. She did, indeed, create a surge in Tory support in certain areas of the country, in particular South East England, which they still enjoy today.

What maybe more relevant is to see how she has changed the world irreversibly, and to ascertain whether this is for the better or worst. And then, maybe then, we can think about whether it is morally right to celebrate the death of another human being.

It was Lenin who first posited the idea of dependency theory, disagreeing with Marx in his opinion that it would be a global revolution, not a national one, which would ultimately overthrow capitalism. Thatcher and Reagan are the King and Queen of the new, free, global market. According to sociologist Colin Crouch, Thatcher’s version of limited government became the “example which elites throughout the world, including those in countries emerging from communism, could embrace with open arms. […] concepts of democracy increasingly equated it with limited government within an unrestrained capitalist economy [and] reduced the democratic component to the holding of elections.”

Bottom line: Emerging from The Cold War the Thatcherite and Reaganite governments were the examples to which other countries saw and crawled towards. In his book, Post Democracy, Crouch chooses to focus on the consequences of this limiting of the state on the democratic process in general, noting that the more draconian, less egalitarian state suffered weaker democratic participation. And still does today.

According to Lenin the dominant state in a global capitalist market inevitably and fundamentally must have states it can rely upon for exploitation; in short, for one country to be wealthy, another must be poor, and imperialism must rule. Not only this, but according to Francis Fukuyama, the bandleader for free market Western hegemonic rule (and a convincing bandleader at that) this hegemonic rule of Western free market global economics is irreversible. Once the benefits of free trade, technological growth and investment, and technological revolution have been seen by another country, the benefits are such that no country will decide to operate in a more industrialised, socialist form again. Industrialisation can only take a country so far in a global market dictated by technological growth, free information and deregulated banking industries.

Consequence: The West does, whether you as a reader agree with the reasons behind it or not, have an imperialist presence in certain parts of the world. Lenin’s dependency theory was correct. As a digression I would argue that it is better that ultimately free-thinking, democratic states control the major oil lines on Earth rather than a psychopathic theocrat like Suddam Hussein, but nonetheless, there is a Western imperialist presence concerning oil in the world today. What am I trying to say here? I think boiled down to its skeletal form it is this: I keep hearing people argue that whether I approved of Thatcher as a politician or not, it cannot be argued she was perhaps the most influential post-war politician of our time. I am arguing that this is true because she irreversibly introduced global, free market economics. This system fundamentally, as Lenin saw, relies on the subjugation and domination of weaker states, and, ultimately on imperialism, often by force. Thatcher’s global economy encourages war, imperialism, masochistic relationships between states, and relies on imperialism for resources such as crude oil and for trade benefits.

Do we, as a Western society, not celebrate free market economics? Are we not all together in the neoliberal project of the self, in the ultimate and constant goal of achieving and of constant economic growth without end? More, and more and more growth and wealth, is the aim and intention of our collective society; and we as participants encourage this. We are, as has been recently excellently written about, discouraged from protest by an increasingly reactionary State but whether we like it or not, we are now participants in Thatcher’s exploitative, imperialist free market which, whether we like it or not, relies upon and consequently celebrates the death and destruction and exploitation of other nations. Our armies continue to grow, our technology for producing weapons gets better, and our presence in the World grows, at the expense of the lives and cultures of others. And yet still we argue over the death of the lady that started it all: Is it ever morally right to celebrate the death of another human being?

 

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