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Author Topic: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.  (Read 2189 times)

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Offline Kythia

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Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2013, 12:06:54 PM »

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2013, 12:19:07 PM »
As a UK person who grew up during her time in power and ended up with lefty inclinations as a result, this link here sums up my feelings towards her: http://scriptonitedaily.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-alternative-eulogy-to-thatcher-dead-in-body-alive-in-spirit/

In my view, the street parties are quite understandable.

Offline Silk

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2013, 01:16:07 PM »
Can't say I agree with her policies, she did just as much good as bad, but the street parties, grave dancing and bashing of a old woman who died of a stroke is not only shameful, but downright disgusting and insulting to her remaining family and people should be ashamed of themselves for it.

Offline Bandita

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2013, 01:28:17 PM »
Virulently mixed. The closest comparison in the US is likely Regan.

At its most basic if you're on the left and/or from the north/Wales you hate her for removing the state subsidies from industries and breaking the militant unions which led to many communities and towns based around those industries being devastated.

If you're on the right and/or from south then you praise her for breaking the militant (and incredibly powerful) unions, opening up the economy and moving it away from relatively low skilled manufacturing to a more service based economy, creating a vast number of new jobs in the South, allowing people to buy and own their own home and generally praising individual achievement.

Don't forget that she deregulated a lot of industries, in the model of Reagan too.  She was one of the contributing factors of the banking crash that affected both the US and England. 

And agreed, Silk... That's pretty disgusting.

And no, I'm not a fan.  Just because she has a uterus doesn't mean I liked her in any way.  But at least, being British and intelligent, she was better than Sarah Palin.  That's about as much as I'll give her though.

*note: the 'British' praise I give is because I like accents other than my own.  Not a commentary on people.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 01:29:32 PM by Bandita »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2013, 04:02:25 PM »
You know.. I didn't have to a lot of direct fall out from the Thatcher governement when I lived in the Republic of Ireland.. but I think that some of her union breaking was needed. Can you imagine going for NINE months without a service like the mail? I don't have to.


For NINE months. no mail or phones in my home when we moved to Newtowneforbes, Republic of Ireland. That was the sort of unions that the Thatcher governement faced. Big. Powerful.

Granted the converse can be argued that she did a lot to build the disparity between the rich and the rest of us too. She did a lot that could be considered good and bad. I do find it interesting more people are happy about her death than Hugo Chavez's death. Which kind of depressing to me.

I do think, like her peer Ronald Reagan, she will ALWAYS be a divisive figure.

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2013, 04:15:39 PM »
Can't say I agree with her policies, she did just as much good as bad, but the street parties, grave dancing and bashing of a old woman who died of a stroke is not only shameful, but downright disgusting and insulting to her remaining family and people should be ashamed of themselves for it.

I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to those gay and lesbian kids who had to grow up and feel less than human because of her support of Section 28; I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to those families who had a loved one commit suicide or suffer a breakdown because of the massive debts resulting from her deregulation of the financial sector; I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to the homeless, on account of her housing policies which saw so many council homes fall into the hands of greedy landlords and property developers.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh on the old cow. After all, don't attribute malevolence to what could be stupidity, right? In which case, I must wonder if Thatch honestly believed that poor people were some sort of urban myth cooked up by the left.

Offline Silk

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2013, 04:29:35 PM »
I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to those gay and lesbian kids who had to grow up and feel less than human because of her support of Section 28; I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to those families who had a loved one commit suicide or suffer a breakdown because of the massive debts resulting from her deregulation of the financial sector; I'm sure she was every bit as empathic to the homeless, on account of her housing policies which saw so many council homes fall into the hands of greedy landlords and property developers.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh on the old cow. After all, don't attribute malevolence to what could be stupidity, right? In which case, I must wonder if Thatch honestly believed that poor people were some sort of urban myth cooked up by the left.

And you're proving yourself better by kicking the fresh corpse of a dead old woman?

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2013, 04:34:15 PM »
And you're proving yourself better by kicking the fresh corpse of a dead old woman?

So you're saying I should lie, and pretend to like her for an interim period between her death and some arbitrary time in the future when it's okay to dislike her again?

Why?

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2013, 04:36:55 PM »
My feelings about the woman are mixed.  The fact that a woman  was able to gain, hold and wield that much power for so long without  the sort of semi-dynastic support that Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto received is  still kinda mind-blowing.

And I will believe until the day I day that holding the Falklands against the Argentine Junta shortened said Junta's life by five to ten years.

But... she is on record as saying that she believed that society did not exist.  Which, as one commenter put it back in the day, "If she does not believe that there is such a thing as a society, what does she think she is Prime Minister of?"  That was from memory, desite the quotes,it may not be verbatim.  I think that statement is one of the most chowder-headed things I've ever heard, and as a bartender for may years, I heard some wild and crazy crap.  If she truly believed that there was no such thing as a social bond between non-family members, well, I sure as hell would not want somebody like that running my country.

DeMalachine,

Disliking someone and figuratively  dancing on her grave are not the same thing.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2013, 04:41:22 PM »
I don't like the woman, but the "no such thing as society" quote is out of context:

Quote
They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation"

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2013, 04:46:36 PM »
DeMalachine,

Disliking someone and figuratively  dancing on her grave are not the same thing.

Disliking someone and 'kicking the fresh corpse of a dead old woman' are not quite the same thing either. And all I did was express my dislike of her. A dislike which hasn't magically changed just because she died recently.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2013, 05:18:21 PM »
Demalachine,

Point well taken.

Kythia,

I am aware of the context, and I still think it was chowder headed.  "There is no such thing as society."    Those are seven extraordinary words to string together when talking about the way  the Homo Sapiens East African Plains Ape pack hunter organizes.

 How about "There are no such things as families." Which are themselves small society. 

The clientele of the local bar and grill is a society.

 An army is a society.  And a very damned big one.

And of course, so is a nation.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2013, 05:22:54 PM »
Yeah, thats kinda the point.  They're seven words strung together, out of hundreds of thousands she spoke, as part of a much wider point.  If you can honestly say you've never put a collection of words together that would look bad in isolation then a tip of the metaphorical hat to you.  I know I have.

Offline DeMalachine

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2013, 05:23:30 PM »
On reflection, I think I owe an apology to Silk for being a little too sharp, and not seeing how my language could be excessively robust on this matter. Sorry, Silk.

Alas, the subject of Thatcher has a habit of bringing out my more abrasive side. In any case, I've expressed my point, so I think it's best I leave it now.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2013, 05:25:18 PM »
I have no mixed feelings about this. Thatcher being dead doesn't fix any of the things she did. I can see why people who were deeply affected personally would celebrate, even if, as I said, it doesn't actually fix anything.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2013, 05:33:11 PM »
My feelings about the woman are mixed.  The fact that a woman  was able to gain, hold and wield that much power for so long without  the sort of semi-dynastic support that Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto received is  still kinda mind-blowing.

Australian PM Julia Gillard went to the same (if you're American "Public"/ if you're British "State") high school I did, she made it to head of state without any dynasty.

Plus how many heads of state would record this announcement:

PM Julia Gillard Addresses the End of the World

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2013, 05:41:09 PM »
Kythia,

Oh we've all said boneheaded things, the list of my howlers is long and distinguished, I have no doubt.

the distinction here is that Mrs. Thatcher acted like she meant it, and did so consistently.

Caehlim,

I think I'm crushing on her....

Christine Whitman, to name just one American state governer is another that comes to mind.  Woman with executive plitical power I mean.  I'm not crushing on her.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2013, 06:04:51 PM »
For NINE months. no mail or phones in my home when we moved to Newtowneforbes, Republic of Ireland. That was the sort of unions that the Thatcher governement faced. Big. Powerful.

Even given all the caveats from my earlier convo with consortium11, the basic lesson of the latter twentieth century is that wanting to live without big, powerful unions tends to put you in the hands of big, powerful corporations. It's really not a close contest as to which is worse. (The point of striking is of course to illustrate the value of paying workers what they worth once you discover the cost of not having them, and in the case of essential services as if their workers are actually essential to society, rather than outcastes that can be exploited and taken for granted. The society that tries to unlearn these lessons will, as we are discovering, pay a steep price.)

Offline BCdan

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2013, 10:53:24 PM »
When I first heard about Thatcher years ago when I was a lot more liberal, I didn't like her at all.  Now that my opinions have changed a lot and I read more about the context of when she came into power she really was amazing.  Britain was getting bailed out by the IMF and was looking very much like Spain does today, but maybe even worse.  I took this information from a poster on reddit's neutral politics subreddit who talks about thatcher in broad terms. 

Quote
During the 70's the UK was in the process of imploding. Some of the highlights of this included;

* The UK had a 3 day work week for most of 1974 as the miners union was striking so electricity was only available for transport and businesses 3 days a week.
* The top rate of tax reached 98%. There was nearly no investment activity in the UK as a result and so no growth.
* Inflation was out of control. The highest yearly average was 24.2% (in British history it has only been higher once) but in July 1978 it hit 38% (the highest monthly average in British history). As a result no one was saving, pay was having to be raised weekly and prices in stores would change daily. At gas stations people were paid to stand outside with big chalk boards and a radio so the price could be updated hourly.
* By 1979 a very large percentage of the country was on strike. Half of the hospitals were closed to non-emergencies, [trash was piling up](http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01390/winter-of-disconte_1390846i.jpg) around the country as service was reduced to monthly and most of the public transport system was operating with a 10% schedule.
* While unemployment was very low there was massive job duplication in the public sector, in some cases there was 5 people filling what would have been a full time role for one person.
* There was huge resistance against economic modernization, when you left school the opportunities to go in to a skilled field were extremely limited as a result. As an example of this by 1979 the UK was consuming or exporting only about half of the coal that it mined but as a result of the political power the miners union wielded it was impossible to close down mines and the labor force used in mining was actually increasing despite improved equipment.
* [These](http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/High_Rise_%27council%27_flats_-_geograph.org.uk_-_7571.jpg) hideous blocks of identical housing which were rife with crime. During the 60's and 70's government housing policy was attempting to push as many people in to these blocks as possible on the premise that if people were all forced to live in the same kind of housing then society would become more equal.
* The end of the Breton Woods system meant the GBP was massively overvalued. The loss in value collapsed the import market, it was to expensive to import new technologies from the US so the UK behind to bag behind in technology development hugely.
* By 1976 the UK was months away from bankruptcy. An IMF bailout was secured which would have kept the country running until 1981 but that would be the only credit available, no one was buying British bonds because the continued fall in GBP value, Europe had already turned down the UK for a loan and the IMF had stated they would be unwilling to extend further credit.

if the government had continued operating in the same manner then when 1981 rolled around and the government ran out of money to operate there would have been the largest economic depression in British history which would have eviscerated about 55% of output (the US great depression peaked at a 38% drop for comparison) followed by a recovery to a much lower average industrial output.

Edit:

If someone likes her or loves her is going to come down to politics but those suggesting she "destroyed" the country are ignoring her policies from 1979 to 1984 are the only reason they have the opportunities they do today.

The policies which usually are controversial are;

* She put a cap on education related spending and created a funding agency for schools which had the power to shut down or cut funding for poorly performing schools.
* She cut social services and social housing. The speech see gave which is often quoted ("There is no society")  was in relation to this, the policy set was designed to give people tools to help themselves rather then have them rely on government services.
* Her most unpopular policy was reforming the property tax to a resident tax (AKA the Poll Tax). Instead of your local services (Trash pickup etc) being funded based on the value of your property it was based on how many adults lived in a household.  This caused rioting all over the country. The current council tax system is a fusion of  this and the previous system, the amount of council tax you pay is based on the value of your home and the number of people who live in it.
* She crushed the unions. There were very few restrictions on industrial action until her premiership so unions could call action without even a ballot of their members, the political effects of this over the previous few decades had been devastating with the large unions able to bring down governments at any time they chose. The head of one of the miners union (NUM) called a strike in 1984 without calling a ballot (as he had been unsuccessful three times in the past). The strike was declared illegal, broken up by the police and she ended up closing down 150 mines to break the back of the NUM.
* Adopted a policy allowing individuals to buy their state housing with government backed mortgages.
* About 60% of what had been public sector jobs in 1978 became private sector jobs by 1990. Gas, Electricity, Water, Steel, Airlines, Telecoms and anything else that didn't seem appropriate for public ownership as spun in to a GSE and then either sold or floated.
* Draconian security restrictions while dealing with the IRA, if you had an Irish accent in London during the 80's it wasn't unusual to be detained by the police for hours. The IRA tried to assassinate her twice despite the fact she was pro-unionization, the population of Northern Ireland did (and still do) poll more unfavorably to unification then Britons as a whole so this was never really pursued.
* Lots of military spending, too much for a relatively small country. The Falklands dispute could have been resolved with the threat of nuclear action against Argentina but she wanted to build British morale by kicking the crap out of a third world dictatorship.
* She supported South Africa, Khmer Rouge and a number of other very questionable regimes around the world.

My personal view on her is somewhat mixed. I, and indeed most other economists, would agree with most of her economic policy (but perhaps not the sequence or the timetable for it) but her social & foreign policy was extremely "old fashioned" and really out of place. I hugely respect her fortitude and political avoidance though even when I disagree with the policies she was supporting, the quality to stand up for what you believe in even against your own party is a quality that's sadly lacking in most politicians around the world (famously when her approval rating dropped to 23% and the conservatives were pleading with her to pull back on some of her policies she stated "To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!")

Edit 2:

A couple of positive aspects of her premiership;

* She was a huge advocate of evidence based policy and was renowned for her hatred of those attempting to use morality to justify a political position. Drug policy was removed from political control and placed it with the hands of Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which instituted the worlds first general needle exchange program to control HIV spread and moved from enforcement to treatment. If subsequent administrations had maintained this policy of a hands-off evidence based approach to drug policy then the only drugs that would still be illegal in the UK today would be Heroin, Meth, Crack and Coke as these are the only drugs the council continues to recommend prohibition for.
* Prior to her premiership the conservatives were hostile to both abortion and homosexuality. She had voted against her party to decriminalize both going back to the 50's and she provided the momentum for the cultural change which transformed them in to a party that supports both today.
* Her distrust of the EU and the joint currency is primarily what kept the UK out of the Euro thus avoiding the current Euro crisis. One of the reasons she was removed from power by her party was her opposition to the ERM (predecessor to the Euro), the UK joining the ERM caused [Black Wednesday](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Wednesday) which brought on a recession (as well as earning George Sorros ~$2b) and led to the political infighting which caused the conservative loss in '97.
* She was one of the first world leaders to seek an end to the cold war when the Gorbachev reforms started. She considered the cold war over in 1986. Both Reagan and Gorbachev credit thatcher with laying down the foundations that led to the eventual summit and official end of the cold war.

"They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation"

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #44 on: April 09, 2013, 11:49:09 PM »
There is more detailed information on Seventies UK economic history here. The UK did indeed face some severe shocks and problems during that time -- some of which, like the mid-Seventies energy crisis, was really outside its control -- but pro-Thatcher memorialists are apt to exaggerate some of it (such as the IMF loan -- the full amount of which the country in fact never needed to draw -- or comparisons to European economies made insolvent by the current economic crisis that stemmed ultimately from financial deregulation).

Offline BCdan

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #45 on: April 10, 2013, 12:16:14 AM »
Well granted the loan was supposed to keep Britain afloat into 1981, but by then Thatcher was at full blast and major economic reforms were happening.  Europe was actually unwilling to extend any loans to the UK at that time due to the financial situation.  Also I wouldn't say the current problems in the EU are caused by deregulation, but by a system that is fundamentally flawed.  You can't have a monetary union without a stricter fiscal union, like in the EU.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #46 on: April 10, 2013, 01:07:22 AM »
Even given all the caveats from my earlier convo with consortium11, the basic lesson of the latter twentieth century is that wanting to live without big, powerful unions tends to put you in the hands of big, powerful corporations. It's really not a close contest as to which is worse. (The point of striking is of course to illustrate the value of paying workers what they worth once you discover the cost of not having them, and in the case of essential services as if their workers are actually essential to society, rather than outcastes that can be exploited and taken for granted. The society that tries to unlearn these lessons will, as we are discovering, pay a steep price.)

You know.. I agree that unions are a powerful balanced against companies and the governement. Unions brought about fairer wages, safety measures and even a hand in consumer safety. I also think they should be watched carefully. I got to suffer without a phone/mail for nine months in the republic..then got to spend  59 hours trying to get home on our last trip back from Ireland due to the Aircraft Controllers strike. Most of those nearly 3 days trying to sleep in 70s era airport furniture in Dublin and Shannon International, then Kennedy, La Guadia and Boston here in the states before being dumped in Raleigh Durham rather than Charlotte. And we had to wait 10 days for our clothing..and another 14 days for my dad's checked briefcase and mom's makeup gear.

I've seen the good and bad points of unions. I got to meet folks in my mom's hometown that benefited from Unions.. textile town.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 01:09:16 AM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #47 on: April 10, 2013, 06:56:40 AM »
The confusion this question evinces probably starts from my confusion -- I erroneously confused the creation of the noveau-riche City class dependent on deregulated investment banking with the policy that established deregulation, which of course is what the term "Big Bang" refers to. We regret the error.

No worries.

What I object to about the Big Bang is the Big Bang. It's not just about my opinion; the overwhelming analysis of the modern financial crisis is that it stemmed from Eighties financial deregulation -- the Big Bang was Thatcher's version -- which essentially made the criminalization of the financial sector possible. Being determined to "compete" in a financial sector that had decided to discard safeguards known to be necessary was little better, in terms of a long-term strategy for prosperity, than being determined to found one's economy on heroin smuggling. (It of course benefited the City nouveau riche and those tied to them in the short term, but that doesn't change the fact that the financial crisis that ultimately resulted was orders of magnitude worse than any crisis of the Seventies. Therefore positing that it was all worth it on account of the advent of "Mondeo man" (or "Essex man" before him, for that matter) is on rather shaky ground at best.)

Do you know what the biggest practical change of the Big Bang was?

Allowing people to trade by computer and/or phone as opposed to having to shout on the trading floor itself.

People who talk about the abolition of the distinction between stockjobbers and brokers weren't aware of the system at the time. While technically a stockbroker couldn't be a market maker in reality they were. Each firm of stockjobbers had deals with the stocktraders, commission arrangements and the like. The reality was they acted as a singular whole just with different names on their articles of association. In reality all the Big Bang did was codify what was already happening and remove some incidental costs. Likewise the abolition of strict fixed commission charges opened up the market to smaller parties and individuals; as percentage commission was allowed it meant that a smaller party didn't have to pony up huge commission fees that made trading an unrealistic prospect.

The other aspect of the Big Bang that made a difference was to open up the City and make it a place based on merit, not bloodline and education. Prior to the Big Bang the city was very much as closed shop with someone's role and prospects being decided far more on who their parents were and where they went to school rather than how good they were at their job. It was the haunt of the upper and, at best, upper-middle class and nothing had changed. With the Big Bang suddenly there was an emphasis shift away from established privilege and towards talent. Now, people can disagree with this and say it was better when it was the upper class in charge; after all the banks and traders least affected by the recent crisis were the ones still in the hands of the aristocratic elite and compare that to say the banks Bob Diamond, the working class son of two teachers, or the Yorkshire born James Crosby, the son of a teacher Andy Hornby, the comprehensive educated Stephen Hester or the working class Stuart Gulliver had major roles with all suffered. I can see that argument but I find it repugnant.

Yes, I know that. The question you're rather casually skipping past is whether the industrial actions were justified. There are arguments for and against, but it's certainly not a question you can just skip over.

My argument isn't whether the union was justified in forcing the government to a three day week. It didn't want its members pay to be capped and didn't care about inflation, ergo it was justified. Unions are a special interest group for their members; what is in the interest of their members is justified.

The question is whether it was right or wrong for the country to allow Unions to be so powerful that without balloting their members they could force the country to a three day week. It's not whether they were justified in doing so or not. It's whether they should have that degree of power in the first place.

I don't believe you are genuinely confused about whether personal power and belief in the rights of the working class are interchangeable.

You're accusing a working class woman of not wanting the working class to have power. You're accusing a working class woman who mentored a number of working class politicians into senior roles in the stereotypically aristocratic Tory party of not wanting the working class to have power. If you're right and what Thatcher did led in a large part to the current financial situation then you're accusing the working class woman who made it possible for working class individuals to hold senior positions in major financial institutions to have power.

Moreover, again, if she wanted to end collective bargaining then why didn't she? Post miner's strike she could have done. She could have completely destroyed the union movement instead of merely breaking its firebrands. She could have smashed it utterly. She didn't. She reigned it in.

Once again, your argument was that Thatcher prevented working class people from becoming middle class. She didn't. If anything her policies allowed far more working class people to become middle class... hence my frequent references to Essex and Mondeo Man. Her policies were horrible for the working class outside London and the South East... but they did nothing to screw the middle class.

But... she is on record as saying that she believed that society did not exist.  Which, as one commenter put it back in the day, "If she does not believe that there is such a thing as a society, what does she think she is Prime Minister of?"  That was from memory, desite the quotes,it may not be verbatim.  I think that statement is one of the most chowder-headed things I've ever heard, and as a bartender for may years, I heard some wild and crazy crap.  If she truly believed that there was no such thing as a social bond between non-family members, well, I sure as hell would not want somebody like that running my country.

With regards to "society" in the context of her quote (about the welfare state), at the end of the day what is society other than a collection of individuals? And what can the government do for "society"? How can the government do anything to "society" which isn't based on doing something to individuals? The government cannot do anything for "society"... it can do things for individuals and they from there can form society. But it starts with individuals and it is individuals that the state can deal with.

Her argument was that what the government had done was offer a safety net to individual people. What she objected to was what she saw as individuals using the safety net as a hammock and then demanding that "society" offer them more, forgetting that at its heart society was other individual people and by demanding more from society they are in effect demanding more from individuals. That "society" wasn't some nebulous term... it was individuals acting together.



I don't think we can be too self-rightous about the people celebrating and dancing on her grave however. While she may have not have had any political power for decades, she was someone who tore communities apart, ended the way of life of a large part of the country and undoubtedly caused them vast amounts of misery. I can perfectly understand how those from mining villages which suddenly experienced near 100% unemployment or from the industrial cities which found their hearts ripped out want to celebrate her death. Even though I believe she essentially did what needed to be done with regards to the unions and moving the UK away from a non-competitive industrial sector there is no doubt she did it harshly and without much care for the consequences of those affected. She may technically have rejected the proposed "managed decline" of Liverpool but in reality across the country she essentially left millions to rot, ripping away their pride and their prospects.

I'm not going to condemn those people for celebrating even if I find it a bit tasteless.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #48 on: April 10, 2013, 08:15:01 AM »
Consortium,

I am reluctant to cross swords with you.   In part because I agree with much of what you write - in this thread and elsewhere - and in part because you are just so damned well prepared to support your positions.

So I view this as more of a fencing match than a duel to the death.

But. (you knew that was coming)


What can government do for society?  Government is an expression of the will of a society - either passive acceptance  to one degree or another - of oppression, or at best, active participation in governance by the members.  Different elements of that society have differing degrees of power as to how the society works of course.  The expression is incomplete, only partially accurate, slow to react at times, but  government is how any society gets things done on a large scale basis.

I largely agree with your analysis of what she meant... but not completely.  I understand that she was objecting to the abuse of the safety net - but I think she objected to the existence of said net, to the existence of a larger scale society on a very deep instinctive level.  I suspect that her deeper meaning was that there should not be a society in the larger sense, a net of obligations and duties and benefits - of favors owed by one's self to strangers and owed to one's self by other strangers.

Her view of society as being,  more accurately put as properly being limited to who one actually  knew - which is what the broader context of her statement causes me to infer what she means, well, I understand the feeling, but that went out with the rise of cities, the social model works very well with communities of two hundred or less, but breaks down fast with larger groups.

In short, the view that society is nothing more than individuals acting in concert is true so far as it goes, but I do wonder if she saw strangers as being part of the society she thought of herself as belonging to. One of the implications of belonging to a society is that the individual members give up a (hopefully) small portion of their individual freedom of action, and I think she rejected that part of the bargain.

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #49 on: April 10, 2013, 09:04:15 AM »
So I view this as more of a fencing match than a duel to the death.

Duels to the death are messy and full of blood... and death.

I view all political debates as at worst sparring matches... and at best an exchange of ideas where hopefully everyone involved (and observing) can gain a better understanding and see new perspectives, even if all that does is reinforce their original position.

What can government do for society?  Government is an expression of the will of a society - either passive acceptance  to one degree or another - of oppression, or at best, active participation in governance by the members.  Different elements of that society have differing degrees of power as to how the society works of course.  The expression is incomplete, only partially accurate, slow to react at times, but  government is how any society gets things done on a large scale basis.

I largely agree with your analysis of what she meant... but not completely.  I understand that she was objecting to the abuse of the safety net - but I think she objected to the existence of said net, to the existence of a larger scale society on a very deep instinctive level.  I suspect that her deeper meaning was that there should not be a society in the larger sense, a net of obligations and duties and benefits - of favors owed by one's self to strangers and owed to one's self by other strangers.

Her view of society as being,  more accurately put as properly being limited to who one actually  knew - which is what the broader context of her statement causes me to infer what she means, well, I understand the feeling, but that went out with the rise of cities, the social model works very well with communities of two hundred or less, but breaks down fast with larger groups.

In short, the view that society is nothing more than individuals acting in concert is true so far as it goes, but I do wonder if she saw strangers as being part of the society she thought of herself as belonging to. One of the implications of belonging to a society is that the individual members give up a (hopefully) small portion of their individual freedom of action, and I think she rejected that part of the bargain.

I guess the key point is this:

Is government expressing the will of society or is it expressing the will of a collection of individuals? "Society" didn't vote for it, didn't protest against it. Individuals did. Can there be such a thing as "society" without individuals? And what exactly do we mean by "society"? I'd say we use the term as shorthand to describe a collection of individuals. When people talk about say "society's moral standards" they are not talking about some moral agent called "society" they are using it to describe the roughly similar moral standards of a collection of individuals. Individuals who think roughly the same things and may work with a single purpose but still at the end of the day individuals. I actually think she was wrong to specify out the family unit. In my view when everything is boiled down to its root there is nothing but individuals. That does not mean those individuals cannot help each other, cannot work with each other and cannot agree. It doesn't mean we cannot use the term "society". But it is a term, a shorthand, a rhetorical fiction. You cannot separate society from the individuals that make it up.

On your later point, to quote from the interview where "no such thing as society" appeared (emphasis mine):

But it went too far. If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.

It's also worth noting that  the enterprise allowance scheme she set up allowed anyone who was on benefits to receive a guaranteed income of 40 a week (which wasn't a bad sum in those days) if they set up their own business. It was basically an example of her principles in action; "society" (i.e. a collection of individuals) would provide a safety net through benefits if you fell and then give you a better safety net if you attempted to spring up again in the sort of entrepreneurship manner she favoured. It may not have been entirely successful and most of those who used it may have been sole traders but I think it shows her principles in action and rather renders any criticism of her wanting to remove the net entirely moot.