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France, Italy, Spain, Women

Margaret Thatcher: the architect of Europe’s crisis

Thatcher introduced to Europe the economic and political model that is now destroying it. Here’s some dedications from critics (from the European mainland) of the late British prime minister, who has received such lavish, and unwarranted praise, in recent days. 

French Communist Party:

For some she put an end to the “monopoly” of the unions, she fought the IRA, she was firm in her defence of the empire in the Falklands, she rejected the acceleration of European integration, she privatised like no prime minister before her … For a larger number of people in Britain it was her arrogance, the certainty of being right, it was her inhumanity against striking Welsh miners, or IRA hunger strikers.

Few politicians have unleashed so much passion. If the retrograde and conservative fringe of the English population had its heroine for more than a decade, the vast majority of British suffered from her economic and social policy. The miracle of a successful and isolated Great Britain has passed. Thatcher turned this country into a centre of service industries and stock markets, sacrificing the traditional economy. If there is now more manufacturing industry, if all the “jewels” of the kingdom were sold to foreign capital, this is thanks to Mrs. Thatcher. Like Reagan she invented an uninhibited Right, which also inspired Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French Communist Party is on the side of those who in raction to Thatcher’s excessively neo-liberal policy are inspired to build a new Britain.

Humanite

Vincente Navarro, Economist and Political Scientist, Spain:

‘There is a fairly widespread perception in conservative circles that what is needed in these difficult times of crisis is a leader of a government that dares to make the necessary changes, facing up to powerful groups, responsible for the crisis. Among these, unions are regarded as among of the most guilty of high unemployment. In their supposed “selfish defence” of their own interests (a tunnel vision attributed to the exclusive focus on workers who already have jobs-the famous “insiders” -), unions are hindering the market integration of young people working, women and other groups-known as the “outsiders”. We are told that what is required, among other measures, is a weakening of unions and an easing of rules governing the firing of workers with permanent contracts, making it easier for the “insiders” to become “outsiders”, which, paradoxically, they argue, facilitates a fall in unemployment. In this interpretation of the world, high unemployment in Spain is attributed to the excessive power of unions which no one dares curtail.

What is needed is someone with the guts to bring them into line, reducing labour and broader social rights, dismantling the welfare state because not only does it consume resources that the country does not have, but the availability of many social benefits softens citizens and leads to a loss of their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Someone to reduce the allegedly excessive social protection to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit of the people. Competitiveness and dynamism have to replace cooperation, solidarity and security.

During these years of crisis we have seen the domination of this ideology in the financial, business, media and political centres of countries on both sides of the North Atlantic. The deterioration of the economic situation that the implementation of policies that derive from this conservative and neoliberal thinking are generating the calls by these same centres of power for a political figure (which used to be called Caudillo, and now is defined as “a person whose hands don’t tremble”) to deal with the “powerful” such as the unions, public officials, the popular classes and a long list of sectors of the population that are not characterized by having large economic, financial, media or political power.

An example of this supposed political courage is the so-called Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, the political figure in Britain who has been the most docile and subservient to the most powerful groups in that country (from the City to large corporations). This “leader” was a mere instrument of such powers… Margaret Thatcher was a product of that establishment, promoted by it. Great Britain (a country where I lived for several years) is a country where social class is very marked in the daily life of the population. The British establishment has always been concerned with the image that their political instrument (the Conservative Party) had in the population. The image deriving from the social background of their leaders worried the establishment. Hence, at a time of social upheaval, such establishment leaders need not come from the ruling classes, thus breaking with this image. Thatcher, daughter of shopkeepers, and Major, son of an unemployed man, were chosen to break with that image that despite these changes the Conservative Party continues to have (David Cameron is the son of a wealthy family).

Thatcher was a figure promoted by the establishment in order to destroy the unions, among which the central and most radical group was the miners’ union. She also reduced social protection, to the point that mortality in most popular sectors … grew during her tenure, including rates of suicide, homicide, and alcoholism, problems that had disappeared re-emerged: hunger, especially among children, and particularly in the poorest regions, such as Yorkshire, Scotland and Wales… Thatcher, like Reagan in the U.S., tried to create a culture in which all the victims of the Darwinian system that she was trying to create, felt responsible for their own situation.

….Thatcher cut women’s rights more than any leader in Britain. Her own contempt for feminists and cuts in labour and social rights extensively damaged British women. Her deeply reactionary politics also led her to supporting reactionary dictatorships in the world, including that of General Pinochet – she was one of his greatest advocates. And her neoliberal policies were the cause of the crisis we are seeing these days in Europe.

But her cynicism went so far as to create the Falklands War to try to regain popularity,…

Today, conservative and neoliberal establishments, whether British, American or Spanish, among others, long for Mrs. Thatcher, one of the most negative and destructive figures-along side Ronald Reagan-that has existed in the twentieth century.

El Publico

Claudio Gnesutta, communist Il Manifesto newspaper, Italy:

“I have given you back the right to manage.” With this statement the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made his debut at an annual dinner of the Confederation of British Industry

Her goal was a society of owners – supported by a liberalized mortgage market – which supported a conservative vision of society. The abandonment of the state’s role in direct and indirect control of the economy was particularly important not only for internal liberalization and deregulation of industry, but especially international financial relations…. De-industrialization was accompanied by a rapid expansion of the service industry, in particular activities linked to national and international finance: the City was the main beneficiary of this model.

The Thatcher project was not just a new model of economic policy…It lead to a long process of reforming the welfare state (health and education) with the aim of replacing a social logic with that of the market…

…A vision of a society based on the overcoming of welfare institutions and union bargaining power to create a system of social relations in the interests of private capital instead of progress for all….Best summed up by her statement that “There is no such thing as society”:

It lead to a “common sense” view that market forces are a “natural” part of everyday life and their outcomes are no longer open to critical reflection or moral, ethical or political considerations. That there is no viable alternative to market capitalism: It is the clear affirmation that “There Is No Alternative’…In essence we are at the “end of history.”

But it is precisely this historical vision that has been shown to be incorrect. The hypertrophy of the financial sector, financial speculation, the productive employment crisis that we are experiencing today shows that this vision generates instability and inequality.

Il Manifesto

Jean Luc Melenchon, presidential candidate 2012, Left Front, France:

Margaret Thatcher will discover in hell what she did to the miners

Twitter 

Pierfranco Pellizzetti, Political Scientist, Italy

We saw in the belly of Western societies, starting with the UK, an unthinkable development: the seizure of power – under the banner trumpeted by Thatcher – of a class that in the past was totally marginalised, the petty bourgeoisie… The conquest of protagonism… accomplished with a minimal ideology full of resentments and fears: against the idlers, who thanks to public subsidies drained the fruit of their labours siezed by the taxman, against the experts and educated snobs who scoff at the simplistic solutions of popular wisdom from which they draw guidance and comfort, against the mediation of a subtle policies when the stick would be best used …

That’s to say, the clichéd dross of the patrons of the pub, raised to the level of hegemonic thought, to the spirit of time. That middle class populism until then kept at bay by working-class culture (solidarity and collective rights) as well much as the regulatory practices of management teams selected through co-optive processes based on good eduction, exclusivity and intellectual meritocracy. Replacing the catastrophe of the previous hierarchy was a system of poor values, ​​inherent in the make-up of the new kids on the block: social egoism, acquisitive greed, possession as the sole determinant of gratification, the impatience with rules [seen as] unjustly imposed on their own individual advancement.

This happened because the balance achieved in the industrial phase of capitalism was dissolving. Together with the protagonists of the old order: organized labor, business and government elites of managed capitalism. It was the days of the disorder, the nineties of irresponsibility. The irresponsible era of desertification of any approach to mediate, to reach agreement, the paradigm of which the highest point was represented by the so-called “Keynesian-Fordist historic compromise”.

And – as a result – any attempt at seeking an inclusive consensus on the creation of a new balance was dismissed as impractical. Rather than social peace, it was the settling of accounts that became the leitmotif of decisions, exemplified by the frenzied attack of Margaret Thatcher and her followers against the trade unions, starting with the miners. Not the rationalization of public presence in the economy and in services, but rather the sell-off public assets to allow hordes of speculators, supporters of the Iron Lady, to make super profits at the expense of the population. A folly, not only for the disasters it produced, but also (and especially) for the unilateral denunciation of the social contract on which the peaceful coexistence after the war and the consequent creation of expanding social buffers against hardship and marginalization…

In retrospect it can be seen that the rise of petit bourgeoise Thatcherism has not resulted in the emergence of a new “general class”, the incarnation and the engine of an alternative universal model, but rather the unleashing of the worst social Darwinism, which has undermined the very foundations of Western civilization.

Micromega

Pedro Luis Angosto, historian, Spain:

I cannot say and will not say, because it would be an exercise in hypocrisy that I’m unwilling to assume, that I feel the death of Margaret Thatcher. Her disappearance is a great joy for
me, but it would have been much more enjoyable if she hadn’t existed at all.

As Jacques Le Goff wrote in his biography of Saint Louis, men are the children of their parents, but also of their time, and in that context the figure of the British Prime Minister is
paradigmatic since it is the source of the involution that in all senses the way of the world has changed since she come to power.

Thatcher was profoundly anti-European…

Mitterand and other European leaders wanted at all costs for Great Britain to form part of a Europe to which it did not want to belong, acceding to her demands to become the Trojan horse of the United States in what would become the European Union; the United States never wanted a strong Europe, with its own model of democracy that was radically different from its won, and that’s why it did its best to destroy the Balkans and to obtain military bases in the countries of the East, but this goal would never have met at all without the invaluable help of Thatcher …

When she came to power in 1979, the West was in the most acute crisis since the end of World War II. It was called the oil crisis because producing countries decided to coordinate their bids and raise fuel prices, but in reality it was something else…

Both military and economic analysts in the U.S. and the UK knew that the USSR was on the verge of collapse and that, therefore, the Red menace that both were “scared” of during the Cold War was about to disappear. It was the right time, after thirty-five years of development of the social democratic model in Europe, for a counter-revolution to turn the clock back to where they were at the beginning of the century. To meet her objectives, Thatcher, daughter of her time and her parents decided that she had to first dump the traditional British politics of compromise, and implement a new model, which, in alluding to past imperial glories, effectively meant winner, principally, Thatcher herself, takes all.

Her confrontation with the miners, who would not have been possible at other times because they would have had the full solidarity of workers and English society, was the starting point. After the defeat of the labour movement from exhaustion and lack of solidarity, a new era started in which Britain returned to the past by removing all the social gains of workers and citizens made in the UK, and in Europe.

Anyone who visited Britain before 1980 or has been informed of its welfare system, knew that its health system was exemplary, public rail transport the best in the world, and schools were in a magnificent state, that the protection of unemployed, the old, the unfortunate left no room for social exclusion.

Well, Margaret Thatcher, noticed that and, famously advised by the most barbarous economists in the land, decided that there was a huge business opportunity for her class. She privatized and destroyed everything hitherto achieved, leaving no stone unturned, gave all the assets of the British nation to friends inside and outside of the UK, and implemented social egoism, selfishness as an absolute neoliberal dogma for the future of the Empire.

The pursuit of self-interest, as Adam Smith said, would lead to universal happiness thanks to the invisible hand that moves the market, as long as the state was exclusively dedicated to have a well-armed police to beat up dissidents and the unruly. Happiness was not attained, however, and the United Kingdom, and like now in the rest of the European Union, became a polarised society with a rich minority and growing number of excluded. She cared not a jot about this, nor about her embrace of Pinochet when he took refuge in London.

As a reward for the magnificent work done in Britain and in Europe, the United States decided to compensate its odd ally by giving the City its blessing , and since then London has become the world’s main business centre for abominable trades. A centre for most of the world’s tax havens, weapons trafficking and laundering huge amounts of dollars from the drugs trade, for short selling by major investors, speculation allowing the free movement of capital…

Yes, Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of her time and of her parents. She introduced in Europe the political and economic model that is destroying it and an interpretation of democracy in which nothing is done for the people, but all is done for the enemies of the people. She ruled for the wealthy, but with the vote of the people…

Nueva Tribuna

Communist Refoundation Party, Italy:

The Wall Street Journal said that [Italian prime minister Mario] Monti is like Thatcher, able to educate Italians. It is right: Monti is exactly like Thatcher, an epitome of reactionary policies seasoned with authoritarian paternalism that deems the people must be educated like children. The classic figure of the sovereign authoritarian ancien regime that democracy and workers’ struggles had blown away.

Controlacrisi.org

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

Discussion

One thought on “Margaret Thatcher: the architect of Europe’s crisis

  1. I enjoy reading this blog but that is an extremely poor compilation of views about the Thatcher years.

    Posted by roughseasinthemed | April 17, 2013, 5:32 pm

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