John Hilley reflects on the neoliberal legacy of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who has passed away.
Many million words will now be delivered in reflections and testaments to Margaret Thatcher. Much of it will range from outright establishment admirations to queasy apologetics of the ‘you may not have agreed with her, but she was still a great/conviction/decisive/female-inspiring leader’ type.
Others will, of course, reflect upon the savagery of her actions, recalling the staggering economic and social dislocations she and her associates caused. Others, still, will cheer and openly celebrate her death.
I’ve no notion to partake in any party celebrations of Margaret Thatcher’s passing. I’ve no inclination to welcome anyone’s passing or personal suffering.
Other than removing someone from positions of power and influence, hopefully with suitable indictments before a high criminal court, the taking or passing of their actual lives assists the greater cause of progressive humanity, including theirs, in no meaningful way.
A good deal of human suffering, past and ongoing, is directly attributable to Margaret Thatcher’s wicked neoliberal and warmongering policies – the decimation of industries, the crafting of unemployment and despair, the breaking of miner communities, deregulation, privatisation and the cultivation of greed, the protection of Pinochet and other dictators, the promoting of hunger strike deaths, the murdering of innocents aboard the Belgrano, the encouragements to hateful media jingoism and much, much more.
Yet those same policies and worse have continued relentlessly on, uncaringly and unsparingly executed by those, like Blair, Thatcher’s natural heir, and Cameron, current enforcer of the same cruel ‘philosophies’. Both are, of course, lining up to commend her as an ‘iconic’ leader.
As will a dutiful, power-serving media. On this and coming days, observe the reserved and reverential treatment accorded to Thatcher – for all her ‘faults’, still, like Reagan, one of ‘ours’ – compared with the ready demonisation of ‘mad’ foreign others, like the recently-departed Hugo Chavez.
While BBC and other journalists wax hysterical about the dark ‘lunacies’ of Kim Jong-un, what kind of insane state media could still hold an historic criminal like Thatcher in such thrall?
All of which may cause us to reflect more particularly on the actual system, notably its ideological arm, which still rationalises and excuses the Thatcherite brutalisation of people, society and planet.
The remains of Margaret Thatcher will, like every other mortal, pass to nature. What still remains is the pernicious system she and those like her have helped build and impose on humanity.
One retains quiet hopes of a day when we might better celebrate the serious demise of that great evil.
Glasgow-based Dr John Hilley, a contributor to Aliran, is the author of Malaysia: Mahathirism, Hegemony and the New Opposition (London: 2001). He blogs at johnhilley.blogspot.com