Now that the dust has settled two weeks after her death, perhaps it is time for a more general reassessment of Baroness Thatcher - of her administration by itself as well as her legacy and historical significance. Few politicians within living memory aroused such different and passionate reactions during or after their lifetime. As we know, for the omniscient progressives and socialists she is regarded as the destroyer of the idyllic post-war Keynesian welfare state in which all people, however humble of origin or abilities, were being taken care of, and economics was still the science of how to spend wealth, not of how it is produced. It is no exaggeration to say that for many on the right she was a kind of long-awaited messiah who would finally come to overthrow the neo-totalitarian order of the welfare state, and thus reverse the trend toward ever more centralization, state control, and thus economic and cultural decline. Some even went so far as to proclaim her the greatest statesman of the twentieth century, both in terms of moral greatness and of influence on the course of historical events. Of course, we can immediately brush aside the by now incredibly childish socialist accusations directed toward Thatcher in the press these days; but in this commentary I would like to analyze the phenomenon of Thatcher in the light of conservative aspirations and objectives. Was she really a “great politician”, in both senses? Did she accomplish as much as she is so often credited for by right and left alike? And: What did she achieve in the long run for the right in Europe and America?
Popular sovereignty and threatened elites.
Lately, “Duly Noted” has discussed the Left’s efforts to strangulate “majority rule” whenever the majority that can be had fails to support its leadership.
Leftist revolutionaries might openly admit to their program or they can pose as “reformers”. Whatever the banner the pirates fly, the real program –not the avowed one- implies changing the way of life of the “masses”. The change is intended for those to be saved without these evincing a desire for their worldly salvation. The plan responds to the higher truth held by the tribe that holds esoteric degrees. Diplomas earned for walking on the clouds but not on the common man’s ground, elevate these redeemers above the crowd mired in its shortsighted materialism.
Undermining majority rights in the name of democracy.
After his escape from the Soviet orbit, the writer began to study Political Science in Oregon. Past decades have left the experience vivid. Living freedom, instead of being a “class alien” with no right to more than an eight-grade education, made a system that did not threaten my physical existence exhilarating. Therefore, the study of “government” seemed as exciting as the shoot-out in a western.
As a new arrival, I craved knowledge of my new home. I wanted to discover why the system works and how the success of individuals correlates with the framework “my” people have created. Luckily, I surmised by then that success and failure are not accidental but represent man-made factors.
The AP Stylebook has opened a new chapter on the non-"offensive" Engllsh-language lexicon to parse the war on the world waged by Islam. The wire service bible (can I say that?) has decreed that "Islamist" is out as a "a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals."
Hallelujah. I long ago learned to loathe the mongrel term, which is not to say it wasn't sometimes imposed on me by copy editors who didn't know better until they received, gratis, a piece of my mind. At the same time, this is not to say that the AP and I have to come to this aversion for the same reasons.
I have always found General De Gaulle an intriguing figure. Or perhaps mysterious is the better word. To the present generation that has not know the politician from his many public appearances and his famous charming manner, he is necessarily something of a cardboard figure; I presume many people only consciously recognize the name as that of a Paris airport. Yet De Gaulle was one of the most important European politicians of the post-war period; in many ways, his policies were even the decisive shaping influence on the new Europe, and he certainly was the most ambitious European politician of that era. So how has it come about that the memory of this statesman, desperately striving to recapture the grandeur of France, has almost been buried under the sands of history in the public consciousness.? I believe this has certainly not happened by any coincidence, but that, on the contrary, De Gaulle was a symbol of the morally declining Europe of his times – concerning manners, policies, as well as ethics. And if the current presidential administration of the United States does not steer another course quickly, his story might presage the decline of America as well.
Your correspondent has arrived to inconvenient conclusions.
- Often, the mainstream media lies. Most troubling is that it does so even when it is unaware that it does so. Ascribe this to the input of trusted “experts” that grind the axe that will decapitate the misled public.
- Even non-conforming individuals are influenced by “official” versions even if they realize that the non-PC treatment of censured topics reveals reality. The decision of what is debated is often predetermined by the Left.
- This condition reflects a fault of the media and its consumers. They might think that they are “independent” even while they are victims of manipulations that exploit the weakness of an imposed worldview.
Lunacy is no guarantee against its translation into action.
Inadvertently, the last issue of Duly Noted, by handling the “Coming Conflict”, landed in the realm of current affairs. The unexpected updating came about through the newest tantrum of latest issue of Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty. Although accustomed to the inelegant performance of the regime, the latest trick to get attention has topped an impressive record. Deservedly, the tearing up the 1953 armistice, then the promise to reduce the successful South to a desert, finally threatening the USA with nuclear annihilation, has raised eyebrows. It also put embarrassed smiles on faces. This bashful reception of the frog blowing itself up to match in size the oxen is understandable. On the short-run, it might even justify the shrug of shoulders. Nevertheless, disbelieving amazement is not a reasonable reaction to the threat of annihilation. Those that threaten are a threat. Fancies and fantasies have a proven way to become realities.
An unkind reminder of what is ignored by common consent.
New documentaries are about to hit us. Some of these are already running. What is the occasion? We prepare to remember the outbreak of World War One, for long known as the “Great War”. That nametag did not outlast the eternal peace naively proclaimed after a conflict waged to make the “world safe for democracy”.
While you smile, remember an unpleasant circumstance. It is that the follow up encounter, which we call “WW2”, has also been about freeing the world from servitude, itches, twitches and other bad things. With the destruction of Nazi tyranny in Germany and Fascist authoritarianism in Italy, the stated war aim of the Anglo-Saxons was fulfilled. Due to the real goals of Stalin, -Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s totalitarian partner-, the crucial completion of the project failed. At least what concerns ridding the world of totalitarian dictatorship in general. Because of the war, the leftist-national version of totalitarianism expanded over what had been German-occupied central and east Europe. There, with the help of the new occupier, the Red Army, communism filled the vacuum left behind by the crash of national socialist rule. Almost concurrently, in the Far East, the areas exposed to Japan’s conquest followed the example set in Europe’s center and became “People’s Democracies”.
Classical liberals, and especially the current of thought we today call “libertarianism”, accept as an article of faith the notion that peace and well-being are brought about through economic developments. The pattern of thinking is very understandable in itself: since capitalism and free trade are the only internal and international economic and political systems capable of preserving propitious circumstances for the great mass of people, classical liberals tend to believe that all beneficial economic and political developments have indeed been brought about by commerce and free trade, and secondly, that all people in all situations inherently strive towards the establishment of a free society, and will readily adapt the moral assumptions needed to bring it about. Primitive moral and economic codes, in this view, are simply the product of corrupt institutions, the coincidences in history, or repressive foreign intervention. Lift these restraints on human development, and it is only a matter of decades before the world will live in the unlimited peace of a universal free market.
There is a connection between political and material advancement.
In its last posting, Duly Noted reacted to a new catchphrase of the Left. The words that provoked the riposte were “can democracy survive capitalism?”
The response emphasized that the suggested incompatibility is a verbal trick. Freedom, as a system, cannot prevail without a matching economic order. That means laissez faire. Attempts to abolish the capitalism of individual holders will not produce a capital-free order. State capitalism is the achievable alternative. With the added economic means that order will complete total dictatorial control. Elites convinced of their moral superiority are tempted to welcome such an arrangement.