By Patrick Farnon
HAVANA TIMES — Throughout Britain these last few days hundreds of thousands of people are celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher, in their hearts or on the streets. They were drinking champagne today Saturday in Piccadilly Circus, London and elsewhere in the towns and cities throughout Britain that Thatcher left blighted by her policy reforms and her desire to crush the unions.
Over two million unemployed was her legacy, one peaceful demonstrator said on CCN news tonight. As the commentator sadly said, thousands had waited for this day, for the day of her death, as it had become the justification for the lives she had ruined.
Yes Margaret Thatcher, dead at last, of a stroke in her suite in The Ritz in central London at the age of 87. Reportedly sitting up in bed reading, despite her dementia.
The first person I heard say Thatcher was evil was Anne Scargill who pronounced the e-word in a video in The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday. Anne Scargill, the former wife of Arthur Scargill who led the miners’ strike in 1984-85. She said it against the backdrop of a desolate industrial landscape in the mist.
She was very happy to hear about Thatcher’s death, she said. She smashed the unions and the country when all they were doing was fighting for survival, not even a wage increase.
“She called us the enemy within, but there was only one enemy and that was her…She wasn’t a woman, she was evil.”.”
On Wednesday earlier in the week parliament was recalled for a seven and a half hour sessions of tributes, an unprecedented gesture normally used for national emergencies and engineered by Prime Minister David Cameron.
And there they were all gathered together for the nation to see, the honorable members, not braying as like jackasses across the floor of the house of Commons as usual in a country that deludes itself it invented democracy, but falling over themselves to praise the dead Caesar in the run up to the imperial funeral next Wednesday.
A last spasm of the mind set of a moribund British Empire to put to rest the bucking bronco, to pay homage to its spirit, if such a word can be used, so it will depart without further ado on the funeral carriage normally reserved for great generals and royalty. The queen, it is reported, is aghast.
And there is no holding back the enthusiasm of the honorable members: the good men as well as the clowns, the knaves and the fools that are the elected representatives of a dysfunctional, tortured nation, lauding her praises, some of them mindless of the fact they were recently caught cheating on their expenses.
And Ed MilIband is there too on the other side of the house from the gushing Tories. Not the bravest of Labor leaders, he’s sniffing the air for a whiff of the public mind to tell him which tone to adopt when the punters go to the booths in 2015, an election the Tories, with never much more than a third of the vote, are sure to lose.
Maybe that’s what was on Ed’s ,mind when he tells his fellow MPs to play it low key, a bit of respect, lads, don’t rock the boat and pay due homage to the bronco buster, the grocer’s daughter with the economic vision of a tin of Heinz’s beans, a philosophy of individualism cemented by self interest. Concocted and attuned to Reaganomics across the Atlantic but still, a home grown variety seeded more in the grocer’s shop than on the prairie where the big boys know better, don’t they?
Intended to transform the nation into a powerhouse of unfettered growth by wiping out its industries, closing down its mines and getting tourists to come and look at its ancient castles and heirlooms, her policies created a paradise for some and condemned the rest to the poor house. Having gorged on toxic assets from the US and local junk food, the economy is now in intensive care after the doctor was called in and put it on an infusion of public blood.
The honey is not flowing from everyone’s lips in the house, though and not everyone is observing the niceties. Glenda Jackson, former actress and now MP is standing noticeably apart in the back benches on the other side of the house. She is trying to say all Thatcher brought was a culture of greed. Where was the dignity? Where was the respect for the spirit, Jackson asks.
And the jackasses on the right, returned from grazing like happy bunnies in dreamy Elysian Fields, bray their protests. They did all right. They and their friends and their families did all right. Everyone they know did all right, so what’s the fuss all about? Everyone got rich for God’s sake, didn’t they? So what’s this woman ranting on about?
Ian McEwen, celebrated English novelist made a nice comment about the protests in The Guardian of 9 April. Referring to the countless demonstrations and riots against her throughout the 1980s when crowds chanted “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. Out!Out!Out!,” he says, “What bound all opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s programme was a suspicion that the grocer’s daughter was intent on monetizing human value, that she had no heart, and, famously, cared little for the impulses that bind individuals into a society…”
And so over a period of thirty years, from the 1980s onwards, society, which Thatcher posited did not exist as an entity but only in its individual parts, was monetized by whatever the money people could get their snake scaled claws on. They monetized sport and popular entertainment. They monetized joy, grief and death too, to a new degree to coincide with the refinements and algorithms that bubbled up in sulphorous gases from the belly of the beast into Moloch’s mechanical brain.
And when they had exhausted those wells in the search for gain and profit, they monetized love. Or as far as they understood how it could be transfigured into products. And they monetized the populace, trained them like Pavlovian dogs to desire objects and physical gratification to such a degree you could wake up and feel at home in Gomorra with the air reeking of sulphur and believe you were happy because the papers were telling you everything was alright in the best of all possible worlds.
Today we have reality shows with horny teenagers with the moral compass of rooting hogs, humping each other under blankets for the entertainment of a populace high on fear and anxiety about where the next penny is coming from. Society has been sexualized and pornolized. Fine, as it goes, had they also legitimized drugs too so you could feel even happier.
But for those who had it, for those who with the wherewithal and free to fly the globe to go shopping, it was no fun either especially in the stockbroker belt. Elbowed aside at the end-year sales at Harrods’s in London by hordes of rich Chinese, Japanese, Indians and other sun-tanned peoples, snatching up the bargains there was not an Englishman or woman in sight to do their civic duty and buy Louis Vuitton bags for the nation.
Something weird was happening, an invasion of immigrants from the EU looking for work or benefits combined with a takeover of the capital’s choice properties by well healed foreigners turned London into a cosmopolitan capital within a few years and created a strange disjuncture.
You shifted your view from the streets of the capital, filled with shopping foreigners to villages in the country with road signs in Polish for the juggernaut drivers over from the continent who spoke no English, or towns on the east coast where immigrant Rumanians had hole up.
The world outside had changed radically but on the green benches of parliament the same old order prevailed and the white honkies were braying at each other as usual in the shameful spectacle across the floor, one presumes has been going on for hundreds of years, one MP ping ponging an accusation of selling off the national patrimony for a pittance and the MP other ping ponging back accusations of handouts to work shy benefit fraudeurs living in mansions with their many progeny at public expense.
The labor government under Tony Blair, more generous in public handouts granted, continued the Thatcher legacy. It was the only way forward it said. And the Thatcher legacy is carried on today by the Liberal-Conservative coalition. In even more dire form, if that is possible.
The Cameron cabinet of 23 millionaires out of 29 which recently voted itself a tax cut for millionaires. And to make sure no one was left out of consideration it introduced a bedroom tax for the poor, cutting housing benefit by 14 or 25 per cent for those with one room or two rooms too many in their rented house.
Yes, evil. And how did it start. Or where?
A few years ago I was working on an article on the current financial meltdown for a Dutch-Indonesian economist. As an econometrician he is also fond of creating charts. To get the financial crisis into perspective after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, he investigated financial market cycles over the last two hundred years. Approximately from Napoleonic times, say 1815 the date of the battle of Waterloo, to the present day.
Prior to the present crash, the last great crash was the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Black Thursday October 1929. Corruption and insider trading was rife. Banks borrowed customers money and gambled it on the stock market.
In 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president. In 1933 the Glass-Steagall Act was introduced separating investment banking from retail banking. The period from 1945 to 1971 was a golden age for the US economy and the longest period of financial stability in two hundred years.
And it continued like that till Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher came on the scene and decided that rules and regulations were an impediment to the magical flow of capital and wealth creation.
And it was credible too as they threw the rules overboard. Because, look, wasn’t the money flowing, and weren’t buildings going up all over the place? And wasn’t it marvelous, you could get a mortgage on a castle by filling in an income self assessment form when you lived in a hole in the wall and earned a pittance flipping hamburgers?
Yes these were great times indeed. A new age of mankind had broken out. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 till 1996, was referred to the frenetic activity on the financial markets as irrational exuberance. He shook his head in bemusement till the market collapsed, forgetting that he was the main author of the insanity. Then the bill was presented. And the rich passed the cheque to the poor.
The fight between the haves and the have nots for a fair share of the national cake, is the recurring cancer of Britain. The poor get fed better when labor are in power and when the toffs get their snouts to the trough, they need more objects to satisfy their material hunger.
It is an indecency. Ian McEwan makes an interesting observation in terms of Margaret Thatcher.
“There was always an element of the erotic in the national obsession with her. From the invention of the term sado-monetarism through to the way her ministers seemed to swoon before her, and the constant reiteration by her critics of her femininity, or lack of it, she exerted a glacial hold over the (male) nation’s masochistic imagination. This was heightened by the suspicion that this power was not consciously employed.”
Sado-moneterism, now there’s a good one. It is a strange and disturbing observation when we consider Thatcher’s bedfellows Ronald Reagan and general Pinochet. Ronald Reagan, Hollywood actor and FBI informant, thrilled her with the spirits of voodoo economics. But what did her good friend General Augusto Pinochet do for her? Sadist and torturer, implicated in over 300 criminal charges what did Darth Vader summon up for Margaret Thatcher? Was it the cold touch of the Evil One? The rasping sound of the voice from the bowels of hell that sent shivers down her spine? We can only speculate.
”When ye fly wi the craws, ye git shot wi the craws,” they say up in Glasgow. History has already spoken.