She launched a corporatist revolution. She headed Britain down a slippery slope toward unfettered predatory capitalism.
She transferred public wealth to private hands. She privatized British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways, British Steel and other state enterprises.
She force-fed deregulation. She cut social benefits. She enacted corporate-friendly tax cuts. She cracked down hard on non-believers. She waged war on labor.
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In 1984, she unleashed thousands of truncheon-wielding riot police against striking coal miners. Doing so sent a message. Worker rights no longer mattered. “New realism” became code language. Free market fundamentalism was policy.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron twisted truth saying:
“Margaret Thatcher’s government was defined by taking the side of the people against the powerful, the vested interests – those whose survival depended on keeping things as they were.”
Wall Street Journal editors called her “Maggie the great….The woman who save Britain with a message of freedom.”
New York Times editors said she was “a pathbreaker from the moment she took office.” She “sparked” a “capitalist revival.”
According to Washington Post editors, she was “in every sense a leader.”
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John Pilger was right saying:
“Margaret Thatcher’s government was defined by overseeing the greatest ever transfer of wealth from the bottom of society to the top.”
“In the name of little people, she handed billions to the richest in tax cuts and de-regulation, a theft from which Britain has never recovered.”
Indeed not. Millions of ordinary Brits today are worse off than ever in modern times. What Thatcher began, Tories and New Labour continue. Robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul is policy. So is allying with America’s imperial wars.
In 1975, Thatcher rose to Conservative Party leadership. She was prime minister from May 4, 1979 to November 28, 1990. She was Britain’s longest-serving PM. She was the only woman to serve in that capacity. She waged war on social democracy.
She was called “The Iron Lady” for good reason. On October 10, 1980, she told parliament:
“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the ‘U-turn’, I have only one thing to say: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”
Saying it defined her ideological harshness. It became a Thatcherite motto. She never looked back. She was unapologetic. She cared little about ordinary Brits. It showed and then some.
On January 31, 1976, she said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you tonight in my red chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up, my fair hair gently waved – the Iron Lady of the Western World.”
“Me? A Cold War warrior? Well, yes – if that is how they wish to interpret my defense of values of freedoms fundamental to our way of life.”
On March 31, 1982, she said:
“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
To this day, she remains a polarizing figure. She was hardline, unbending, divisive, bellicose and heartless. She influenced South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.
After release from prison he said:
“I am a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress. I am therefore in full agreement with all of its (social justice) objectives, strategies and tactics.”
“There must be an end to white monopoly political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratized.”
He quoted his own 1964 words, saying he was prepared to die for “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”
On May 10, 1994, two weeks after taking office, he addressed parliament. He endorsed ANC Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) socioeconomic issues.
They included democracy, growth, development, reconstruction, redistribution and reconciliation. Specific concerns were housing, healthcare, land reform, jobs, education, public works, clean water, and electrification.
He called RDP principles the “centerpiece of what this Government will seek to achieve, the focal point on which our attention will be continuously focused.”
As president, he reneged. He surrendered to finance capital. Thatcherism became policy. Promised social reforms were abandoned. Long-suffering apartheid victims were spurned.
Thatcher’s Britain became a cutthroat capitalist laboratory. She believed markets work best unfettered of rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, and human interference.
The best government is none at all. Whatever it can do, business does better so let it. Public wealth should be in private hands. Profit-making should be unrestrained.
Corporate taxes should be cut or abolished. Social services should he curtailed or ended. Economic freedom is an end in itself. It’s indispensable toward achieving political freedom.
Union busting became policy. Waging war on labor followed. She called unions “the enemy within.” She revived jingoism. She waged war to control Argentina’s Las Malvinas.
She championed colonialism. She supported apartheid. She called the African National Congress a terrorist organization. She supported Chilean despot Augusto Pinochet.
She unleashed death squads against Northern Ireland’s Republican separatists. She let hunger striker IRA activist/British MP Bobby Sands and nine other prisoners starve to death. She didn’t give a damn if they lived or died.
She launched a neoliberal revolution. She began what’s now broken. She turned Britain into an industrial wasteland. It became deindustrialized. She helped financialize it. She initiated a process of transforming it into a low-wage service economy.
Britain today is troubled. It’s headed for tyranny and ruin. It’s a testimony to her legacy. Her ideological extremism caused widespread human wreckage.
She opposed market-interfering democracy, egalitarian principles, government-provided social services, workers free from bosses, citizens from dictatorship, and countries from colonialism.
She endorsed economic freedom as a be-all-and-end-all. She believed limited government and unrestrained profit-making refects the essence of democracy.
She called social democracy, collectivism, socialism, and welfare state economies the road to serfdom. It produces “bondage and misery.” It’s “coercion,” not “freedom.”
It was hokum. It’s what today’s ideologues profess. Exploitation is the price of “economic freedom.” It’s the flip side of unfettered capitalism. It creates horrific human wreckage.
Living standards are lowered. Vital benefits are lost. Poverty and unemployment rise. So does human misery.
Thatcherism is unforgiving. Corporatism subverts democracy. It’s the best money can buy. It’s more fantasy than reality. Free market fundamentalism alone matters.
Social decay follows. So does growing human need. Rule of law principles, human rights, and other democratic values erode. Wealth extremes become unprecedented.
Poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and deprivation grow. Out-of-control militarism rages. Corporate and government corruption flourish. Ordinary people lose out.
Checks and balances are abandoned. Money power rules. It’s unchallenged. It has final say. Media scoundrels don’t explain. They substitute managed news misinformation for truth and full disclosure.
Thatcher remained unapologetic to the end. Never have so many suffered from the ideological flimflam she endorsed.
Neoliberal poison ravages world economies. It’s globalized injustice. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It’s worse today than ever.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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