Maggie, out

John Ranelagh writes of Margaret Thatcher’s remark at a Conservative Party policy meeting in the late 1970’s, “Another colleague had also prepared a paper arguing that the middle way was the pragmatic path for the Conservative party to take .. Before he had finished speaking to his paper, the new Party Leader [Margaret Thatcher] reached into her briefcase and took out a book. It was Friedrich von Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. Interrupting [the speaker], she held the book up for all of us to see. ‘This’, she said sternly, ‘is what we believe’, and banged Hayek down on the table.”

It was magnificent, but (as we now know) it was nowhere near enough.

ADDED: In 1990, when Mrs. Thatcher was evicted from office by her ingrate party’s act of matricide, the difference she’d made was such that in all the political panel discussions on TV that evening no producer thought to invite any union leaders. No one knew their names anymore.
That’s the difference between a real Terminator, and a poseur like Schwarzenegger.

And, getting all Outide in about it: “A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation’s bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution.”

ADDED: WRM

ADDED: The arguments on the right start here.

ADDED: ‘Spengler‘, who admits: “If we [Americans] become a nation of takers, as Nicholas Eberstadt titled his 2012 book on the explosion of state dependency, we will emulate our mother country in its decline. I don’t want to go to London any more. It frightens me.”

ADDED: Zizek (!)

April 8, 2013admin 54 Comments »
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54 Responses to this entry

  • Mark Warburton Says:

    Left-Feminists must be torn here. One of the most powerful women of her day – yet a Hayek lover. Haha.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    I would have thought most feminists would be at least mildly positive in evaluating the contributions of Salma Hayek.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Haywire Reply:

    Feminists do not like her. In fact, they are even harder on her than they are on men. Their hypocrisy is astounding with this.

    Powerful women are great unless they are powerful in a way that you disagree with politically. Burn the witch!

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 8th, 2013 at 6:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    @Mark Warburton

    No comment! I’ve already made the natives restless with my base, agony auntism!

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Don’t worry – I’m by no means a native (and I was only joking).

    P.S. You’ll also need to work on your dominant/master thing 🙂

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    The way I see it is that I’m a guest here, so I’m going to come across as Clark Kentish. Most people here are neo-reactionaries who have been around these blogs for sometime. I’ll try to post more substance and less about my sex life! Damn, I’ve even got people using emoticons here…

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 8th, 2013 at 10:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    I asked you a little while ago about how you would map the US political/economic situation to that of the UK (“The UK is so over” was the best I got, but I’ll blame my phrasing/build up). Margaret Thatcher’s death has reminded me what I was getting at. The conventional understanding of the New Labour project is that Tony Blair and co. moved labour to the centre ground and UK politics has ever since been a grab for the middle-class voter. So accepting that this centre-ground is nonetheless shifting ever leftward, this still implies that there is a limit to the speed with which societies are comfortable making this move (a limit Kinnock and Smith’s Labour party were considered likely to exceed (unless it was just a problem of presentation?)). I’m sure this has been covered elsewhere (if so links would be great), but how do you explain this? Is it measurable/predictable? Is it constant or does it accelerate (accepting inevitable left-right corrections from government to government)? Currently successive governments seem more constrained by inertia (bureaucratic; PC etc.) – so do you get to the stage where the very movement left begins to act as its own restraint? (The car agonisingly rolling over the cliff in neutral with a busted handbrake rather than Thelma and Louise style?)

    The other major difference in UK/US comparisons is the extreme polarity in the US. Here we just seem to have an indistinguishable mush. If the (leftward-headed) centre ground is the key to electoral success why are the two systems not similarly mushy? Is the US just starting from a greater range of diversity? Yet it seems more polarised now than ever before..?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    First stab at this: Jim’s Left Singularity model, when generalized into a recurrent historical pattern, predicts accelerating leftward ‘progression’ interrupted by catastrophes, and reboots. In the case of the UK, the nadir was the Winter of discontent — a sufficiently dramatic example of social collapse to jolt the political dynamic into a new phase. It wasn’t the Great Leap Forward, but society was unmistakably broken. Hence Thatcher. After she was putsched by her despicable party, the leftward trajectory recommenced. This pattern was very closely echoed in the US (Carter stagflationary / America-as-the-world’s-bitch meltdown, then Reagan, then anti-rightist restoration with the Bushes, also accompanied by revised — ‘neoliberal’ — opposition from the big government party, under Clinton, before full-throttle surge back to the left with Obama). The UK is, for sure, more far-gone into leftism than the US, but the main reason it seems ‘mushy’ is that the ‘right’ party is in power — the US seemed mushy as hell under Bush.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I’m not totally persuaded that things were less mushy under Blair or that there would have been significant differences in policy had the Tories got in at any point, but I accept it’s hard in opposition to pinpoint where you would e.g. spend less, and also the conservatives were in a mess for a lot of Blair’s premiership (and New Labour had a tendency to pinch any appealing policy).

    I still struggle to perceive the left political trajectory though beyond the obvious and distant (Henry VII; French revolution; 1832 reform act; abolition of slavery; suffrage – and morally I still need convincing on each of those even if I acknowledge the broader, cumulative point and the resultant dilemma). For every NHS or creation/expansion of the welfare state there’s a privatisation (or PFI) you could point to and I don’t see either as truly reversible – there is entrenchment on both sides. But then I suppose that’s what makes drift difficult to notice within a short-term range.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Public spending trajectories are the most objective indicator.

    Posted on April 9th, 2013 at 12:07 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    She lost me with the “there’s no such thing as society.”

    Well there sure isn’t now.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Given the prevalence of such magical expressions as ‘social justice’, ‘social spending’, ‘social work’, and ‘social activism’, I don’t find it hard to sympathize with the Thatcherite line.

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    I’ve always been deeply suspicious of ‘social justice’. A quick look at the wiki article shows your mate Hayek at it with a jack hammer. I imagine you have already read this: http://mises.org/daily/5099/The-Injustice-of-Social-Justice

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I think it would have been smarter to reverse-engineer the social cult into making a conservative society where you don’t eat if you don’t work, for the common good (as happens in this part of the world) than just say that oh individual families know what’s good for them.

    They don’t. You can’t just give up on social engineering and think things will turn out ok.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Maybe true, but what is that if not Movement Conservatisvism? Cons have all but cornered the market on Rightism here in the US — how’s that working out for them? CPAC seems to reveal the GOP moving to capture more voters by (surprise!) moving Left. Left singularity is inexorable.

    admin Reply:

    I agree with Thales.
    The problem is, no one can be trusted to do social engineering. (Public Choice theory explains why.) Within a decade or so, any administrative machinery assembled to engineer society towards the Right will have been transformed into an anti-capitalist weapon.

    Posted on April 9th, 2013 at 7:46 am Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin's Severed Penis Says:

    Mozza would beg to differ: http://pitchfork.com/news/50256-morrissey-releases-new-statement-on-margaret-thatcher-yesterdays-was-from-an-old-interview/

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    That guy is a cretin. Ken Loach and his name sake, Livingstone have been even more vitriolic. I’m getting inundated with FB hatred from people who were not even 10 when she left office. I’d argue that it’s to do with the sort of indoctrination Dawkins talks about in relation to religious ‘child abuse’, ironic seeing as he’s a leftist-secular-humanist par excellence.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 9th, 2013 at 10:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    The hate does her credit. It’s a sign that she was an unusually effective enemy of the Left.

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Thoughts? What you mean by her being ‘no where near enough’ I imagine!

    “Thatcherism is all too similar to Reaganism: free-market rhetoric masking statist content. While Thatcher has engaged in some privatization, the percentage of government spending and taxation to GNP has increased over the course of her regime, and monetary inflation has now led to price inflation. Basic discontent, then, has risen, and the increase in local tax levels has come as the vital last straw. It seems to me that a minimum criterion for a regime receiving the accolade of “pro-free-market” would require it to cut total spending, cut overall tax rates, and revenues, and put a stop to its own inflationary creation of money. Even by this surely modest yardstick, no British or American administration in decades has come close to qualifying. ”

    Full article here: http://mises.org/daily/6403/Mrs-Thatchers-Poll-Tax

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The Lew Rockwell crew tend to be rigidly purist.
    The very least that can be said for Thatcher and Reagan is that they forced the practical left to detour through neoliberalism on their way back to the old time religion. I think they also expanded Exit options (by de-nationalizing capital), even when they were unable to hold the line against the decay of the core Anglosphere societies.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    Yeah, that’s also why they hated Bush Jr. so much. Give me a break.

    What were the consequences of Thatcher’s rule? He broke the trade unions? Big deal. Today Britain is dead. That’s the only thing that matters.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The main consequence of Thatcher’s leadership? Defiance. She was a heretic against the Cathedral, bravely and wittily dismissing many of its central pieties, and thus demonstrating that progressive teleology — the idea that leftward social transformation was natural and uncontroversially good — would not be greeted with universal deference. Unlike little Bush, she never bent the knee to the reigning faith by qualifying her conservatism as ‘compassionate’. They hated him because they didn’t believe him, but they hated her (far more venomously) because they knew she meant what she said, and the decadent ‘conservative’ establishment hated her almost as much as the left did.

    Of course, she was no more than a moderate reactionary, but she was certainly a reactionary, appealing to the culture of a pre-socialist past. No one had heard the word ‘privatization’ until she took office, but ‘nationalization’ was familiar to everyone. Pre-Thatcher, ‘market forces’ were considered morally equivalent to fascism. You’ve no idea how much courage her inner circle displayed: Keith Joseph toured British universities attempting to explain classical liberal principles to student mobs (and getting pelted with eggs). It was heroic: a refusal of the ‘mixed economy’ became thinkable. Smashing the unions was just gravy.

    It was also international — privatizations broke out all over, and the Soviet Union was dead within a decade. Yet more progressive teleology in ruins.

    “Today Britain is dead.” — Thatcher is probably the only post-war leader who didn’t contribute to that.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    My point is that it doesn’t matter. Britain is dead, and if she pissed of the Left so much that after she left they redoubled their efforts to destroy the country, well in a way she did contribute to it. Neoliberalism was refreshing, I used to support it to when it came to my country. But what happened after it? 7 million barbarians that is.

    As bad as it was, Britain would have been better off with a Union Leader soviet thug running the country than a Jamaican British Obama which will certainly afflict you in the next decade.

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 12:35 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    @admin

    We die quite a lot – post WWII; in the 70s; probably with Victoria as well. We keep having (cultural) rebirths as well – including under both Thatcher and Blair – most recently during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony where we apparently presented a fresh, young, self-confident identity to the rest of the world, comfortable with our idiosyncrasies… All of which is to say maybe the rhetoric needs toning down on both sides. If we’re really dead this time it certainly isn’t a peculiarly British affliction.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “most recently during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony” — that would be the orgy of progressive teleology that depicted British identity culminating in the National Health Service?
    “Britain is dead” means it isn’t going anywhere dynamic before breaking into pieces, but there’s no reason why (some of) the pieces couldn’t re-ignite productive cultures.
    “maybe the rhetoric needs toning down on both sides” — or escalating to the point of creative disintegration.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    that would be the orgy of progressive teleology that depicted British identity culminating in the National Health Service?

    Yes, that’s the one (I wasn’t implying support; the phrase ‘Cool Britannia’ was equally horrendous).

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 8:36 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    “Britain is dead, and if she pissed of the Left so much that after she left they redoubled their efforts to destroy the country, well in a way she did contribute to it.” — Oh, come on!

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 9:06 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    @admin
    I’ve long toyed with the idea that if the left are so hell-bent on holding on to power perhaps we shouldn’t contest it. They always get it back anyway.

    “but there’s no reason why (some of) the pieces couldn’t re-ignite productive cultures.”

    Oh, come on!

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… if the left are so hell-bent on holding on to power perhaps we shouldn’t contest it.” — That thought works much better when coupled with geopolitical disintegration.

    The historical record of geopolitical fragments and micro-states is excellent. Why the skepticism?

    [Reply]

    Spandrell Reply:

    The historical record of actually surviving microstates is scant.
    My new post is tangentially relevant.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 9:18 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    If the ‘let the left do it’s stuff’ idea is a version of ‘let’s get it over with’, then it might be quite helpful to poke them with a stick until they go completely insane.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    heh.
    ‘Tonight is party time. I’m drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.’

    like he hasn’t been drinking every day he’s been unemployed.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Scarcely imaginable that productive labor power of such obvious quality could be unemployed, isn’t it?

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Spandrell,

    Is the reason why you have sights set on social-engineering because you don’t know of any way to reverse the flow of ‘brazilination’? Anecdotal, sure, but I thought Brazil was doing pretty well these days (in comparison to when I was there in the early 90s).

    I liked your post, it delineates the positions as well as possible.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/27/brazil-economy-centralbank-idUSL1E8KR0Q020120927
    Growth slows, inflation picks up. You tell me. Brazil can only go so far with the population it has. Although selling iron and soy to China is always profitable.

    The only way to stop Brazilization is to stop the plutocrats from importing cheap labor. You have to act on them, and make it worthwhile by making the natives productive. Japan manages OK. It’s also been called Communism that works.

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Still, I don’t see what the rut has got to do with Brazil’s long time mixed-race composition.I do think you have singled out a problem with the capital-reaction position (of the three, the closest one I am to). The plutocratic nature of advanced capitalism IS a quandary. It would all be fine if these billionaries were mirrors of Peter Thiel. advancing research into seasteading/singularity studies etc. etc. etc.. but it simply isn’t the case.

    spandrell Reply:

    Well Brazil sucks. It’s a violent, dirty, corrupt, dumb country. The fundamental reason being that the mass of the population is violent dirty, corrupt and dumb. That’s mostly because of their race composition.

    The problem with plutocrats is that their interest compels them to insist in changing the populations of western countries to resemble Brazil, with the predictable outcome of becoming violent, dirty, corrupt, dumb countries.

    There’s this old point most of the population of Rome being descendant of foreign slaves by the late 1 century AD. We know what happened later.

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    In the South (Rio Grande de Sul, Santa Caterina) it is neither violent nor ‘dumb’ (compared to Sao Paulo/Rio).It is more euro-centric in the South, but still mixed racially. I’m really not feeling this ‘race/ethnicity’ problem as the fundamental problem. I guess this is the rub.

    fotrkd Reply:

    The wicked witch is dead dance is an important part of the left’s narrative. ‘Britain is dead’ could be construed as a parallel but no less fictional narrative (which i think was my initial objection) – everything is hopeless, it’s already over. You’re using it in a very different way which ties in with the outside, alien time – ‘creative disintegration’ (so consciousness too). So Britain is currently dead in a static or degenerative (and full of zombies) way? So we have conventional death; zombie death and beyond this (and the range of this discussion) intensive death? Is that a helpful or muddled way for me to understand it?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’ve thought it through further than I have.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 10:02 am Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    @fotrkd

    “that would be the orgy of progressive teleology that depicted British identity culminating in the National Health Service?”

    I agree 100% – It isn’t subtle at all. There was something circus-freak grotesque about that ceremony. The multi-cultural family watching Channel 4/BBC in that cardboard house was equally disturbing n’ sacharine. It’s as if the whole think was written/directed by a pseudo-working-class-chip-on-his-shoulder type..hang on.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 10:29 am Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin's Severed Penis Says:

    “I was so astonished I don’t think I could think of an appropriate reply.” – BobbCarr, Australia’s Foreign Minister.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22087702

    So typical of BBC Left: invoke an instance of perceived sacrilege against the prevailing Narrative; whittle away at the legitimacy of the mouthpiece based on their non-adherence to progressivist doctrine; apparently refute said argument, without ever actually addressing any of it’s substantive content, based on the grounds that it is the opinion of an anti-Leftist heretic (well, doh!).

    Isn’t is these niggling little, almost incidental articles, that do so much more than the open vitriol of KL, Mozza (come on MW The Smiths are still good!), etc, to advance the process by which the left closes the down the opportunity for any serious thought / discussion about, well, anything?!

    In the UK it has become illegal to think outside the Leftist-box.

    100 hours of community service to anyone who doesn’t follow mutely into the arctic wasteland… sorry, the New Jerusalem.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    This ‘Asian’ label is deliberately and infuriatingly mystifying, as if mass importation of inbred Jihadis from Kashmir is indistinguishable from honoring the UK passports of Hong Kong Chinese, or even (guess which the b******* did?), obviously preferable. The one truly disgraceful legacy of Thatcher’s Tories was the perpetuation of that nonsense. Unsurprisingly, The Economist is also a persistent and cynical offender.

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    The Alex Massie article you ADDED to this post uncannily mirrors pretty much my core views. Even the insight I garnered from Wendy Brown: that social conservatism just doesn’t sit well with the loosening of capital. I’ll keep an eye out for his posts in the future,

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It will confirm the suspicions of many (most?) right-wing extremists that any self-respecting reactionary needs to be solidly anti-capitalist. The hard laissez-faire hyper-minority can only realistically aim for a few pirate islands (ocean-bed refuges, asteroids, or whatever …)

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    The Smith are quality, certainly. I just ignore the fact that he was there singer.

    “In the UK it has become illegal to think outside the Leftist-box.”

    Tell me about it, have no idea how I’m going to navigate Goldsmiths.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 2:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • SDL Says:

    The main consequence of Thatcher’s leadership? Defiance. She was a heretic against the Cathedral, bravely and wittily dismissing many of its central pieties, and thus demonstrating that progressive teleology — the idea that leftward social transformation was natural and uncontroversially good — would not be greeted with universal deference.

    Beautifully put.

    I can understand where Spandrell is coming from–free market ideology does unleash the Cheap Chalupas of the world, after all. So, yes, if the point he’s trying to make is that the seeds of Britain’s death were planted even in Thatcherism, then I suppose he’s partially right.

    But that’s 20/20 hindsight. Classic liberalism, Austrian economics, these were the best cards she could play in the circumstances. It was a start. And if there’s one thing that the “Thatcher was wacist!” link proves, it’s that Thatcher herself would have liked to engineer immigration, if nothing else.

    As a side note: even here in America, the student conformists are cheering Thatcher’s death. These are people who had likely never heard of Thatcher before they entered grad school a few years ago. One cannot speak reasonably to these people.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 10th, 2013 at 4:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Vladimir Says:

    Spandrell,

    The only way to stop Brazilization is to stop the plutocrats from importing cheap labor.

    I think you’re very much wrong when you persist in this misdiagnosis. When it comes to questions like mass immigration, economics and even financial interests are basically irrelevant, except insofar as they can serve as material for nonsensical mass-consumption ideological propaganda. The modern advocates of open borders are driven by the desire to signal and feel moral superiority — either by being eager leftists or, in case of the Beltway libertarians, WSJ-type Republicans, etc., by finding an issue where they can be lefter than mainstream leftists.

    It is the desire for status and sanctimony, not profit, that determines the key ideological and (consequently) political trends of our age.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I won’t say it’s all there is, or even that’s it what’s most important, but you can’t deny that there is a big corporate constituency pushing for cheap labor because they want cheap labor. See Farmer’s complaining at Steve Sailer’s. The farmers don’t want status, they want wetbacks to pick their fruit.

    I am on the record of saying that open borders is a way for the upper class to fix their superior status by becoming a South American-style upper caste who has nothing to fear of upward mobility from the mestizos. Still not about sanctimony, but I don’t think sanctimony is what runs the game at the end of the day. Somebody has to profit.

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I realize that Bryan Caplan is deservedly persona non gratis around here, but I feel obligated to put in a plug for _The Myth of the Rational Voter_. Vladimir is right. As Caplan put it, lobbyists and other fat cats can only affect policy along the voters’ “margins of indifference”. I think of political movements as consisting of “officers” (professionals) and “enlisted men” (voters and other amateurs). Spandrell’s profits are important to the officers, but these officers can only lead where the enlisted men are willing to follow, and the enlisted men are driven by sanctimony.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Caplan gets some things crazily wrong, but he get more right, and even when he’s wrong he’s educational and entertaining. His pro-natalism obsession is especially worthwhile and does a lot to cancel out his immigration nuttiness. TMotRV, as you say, is excellent.

    Posted on April 11th, 2013 at 4:54 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    I know it’s late but I couldn’t help noticing this pal of yours explaining what I meant better than I could express myself:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100212493/margaret-thatcher-took-on-the-unions-the-next-thatcher-will-need-to-take-on-the-establishment-itself/

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    No dissent from me.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 18th, 2013 at 9:44 am Reply | Quote

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