Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thatcher Dead But Thatcherism Very Much Alive

The most interesting aspect surrounding the debate after the death of the former PM has been  the reason behind how polarising a figure she was. I suspect that much of that is because of the increasing erosion of political identity among the British electorate that have had to endure an evolving but diluted version of Thatcherism for the past 30 years. Under Thatcher people could still define themselves by their politics in a way that is no longer possible. Under Thatcher you were either a socialist with a capital 'S' or subscribed to the 'nasty' party which was very much winning the ideological battle on a global level given the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the context of the Cold War, politics was very black and white. If you had any romanticised notions of the merits of Marxist ideology,
you could just visit East Berlin and enter a deprived parallel universe where the people's desperate
and poverty stricken lives begged for the very clothes you walked around in. Those days are gone
and so too with it have the justifications for the most intolerable aspects of Thatcherism. In economic terms Thatcherism was the implementation of the teachings of Milton Friedman and the Monetarist school of thought. Britain was the first major industrialised country in which this experiment was conducted and its legacy much like that of Thatcherism is the failed catastrophe of unrestrained capital markets that have led to the current economic mess. Thatcher's standout error was to assume that heavy industry could be replaced with a service economy without any long term consequences.
Deregulation was a mere consequence of trying to make the financial sector more attractive.
With greater dependency came greater deregulation and the opportunity for a kleptocratic elite of financial institutions to privatise profit and socialise loss. Market manipulation suited Thatcher's short term approach as it allowed her to manipulate highs and lows in the economy to suit the British electoral cycle. This manipulation got hijacked by big financial situations to such an extent that they could buy out British and American politics to a large extent with the vast profits that they were accumulating.
 In Thatcher's time 'The hallowed ground of the centre' in British politics due to Labour's intransigence
was only occupied by joke parties such as the SDP. Changing times and the evolution of Blair blurred everything. Socialists took the bait as well as everyone else in a way that no socialist will feel comfortable voting Labour again probably in the same way that no conservative or liberal will feel comfortable voting Tory or LibDem again after the current lot are voted out. Why? Because people now see politicians for what they have become; a glorified civil service to meet the needs of the corporations, banks and any other lobby that will indulge them in their self advancement at the
cost of society.