Thatcher Dead!

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commiegal
Thatcher Dead!
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I haven't been to the site in a while but didn't see any news about this happy occasion. Is anyone going to any parties this weekend? When we heard the news my bf and I shared a bottle of wine :)

Alf
I can understand why people

I can understand why people feel that this is a 'happy occasion' and there is no doubt that Thatcher was widely hated in the working class; I can also understand that celebrating her death is one in the eye for all the nauseating Thatcher-worshippers but for me there is a problem with demonising Thatcher which was very prevalent in the left' during the 80s. Thatcher acted on behalf of capital, and if she hadn't carried out those ruthless attacks on the working class demanded by the crisis, the ruling faction of the bourgeoisie would have found someone else, just as they got rid of her when she was no longer useful. We will be publishing something on this soon however. 

Demogorgon
It also allows the left

It also allows the left bourgeoisie to avoid the rather uncomfortable fact that Thatcherism was actually an evolution from the plans of the previous government. It was Labour who ditched the state commitment to full employment and who introduced monetarism (i.e. targeting inflation through control of the money supply). Ironically, it was Thatcher's government that was forced to abandon the right fantasies about monetary targeting because of its own policy of removing exchange controls.

More to the point, although Thatcher's reign was certainly one where mass unemployment became permanent (even if unemployment still fluctuates), rates of poverty were far higher under Blair's government than they ever were under Thatcher's. The gap between richest and poorest also expanded dramatically under the latter.

Thatcherism was certainly part of an important change of strategy for the bourgeoisie in the late-70, but one that has been carried on by all governments since.

jk1921
You'd think Thatcher was an

You'd think Thatcher was an American given all the tears shed on news of her demise in the U.S. media. Mitch McConnell--the Republican Senate Leader, offered this quip," Thatcher's legacy demosntrates the transformative power of conservatism." Isn't that an oxymoron?

baboon
thatcher

I don't need such an excuse to open a bottle of wine. The best joke I've seen is on Press TV, reproducing a slogan written on a wall somewhere in England: "Iron Lady? Rust in peace!"

I agree with the sentiments of Alf above. But Thatcher was specifically chosen for a major broadside on the working class with the role of the secret services in her promotion to leader of the Tories and then Prime Minister, showing the intelligence and machiavellianism of the British bourgeoisie. The same two "qualities", plus its ruthlessness, were also evidenced when she and her clique were cut down and marginalised by the British state.

As Demo says, the rise of Thatcher and her establishment as PM was in complete continuity with the policies of the previous Labour government, just as the following Labour government of Blair was in seamless continuity of the main thrust of the Thatcher period.

There's a myth that she "destroyed the unions" but the opposite is true. The Thatcher clique knew how to use the unions and their corporate and internal divisiveness against the working class and also knew how to use the union's legal status in order to bolster them in their action as policemen of the workers. The unions largely hold their position today as the result of the machinations of Callaghan's Labour policy, Thatcher's regime and the ensuing Blair administration. The unions weren't destroyed but strengthened and the result of this was that the working class, though it fought back tenaciously during the 80's,  could not find a way to answer the questions posed and thus found itself somewhat weakened and adrift.

The legacy of Thatcher in the strengthening of the unions as state agencies against the working class is also one of leftism who have done all they can to defend the unions and present these state agencies as "defenders of the working class".

Demogorgon
"I don't need such an excuse

"I don't need such an excuse to open a bottle of wine."

Reserving alcohol consumption for special occasions is no doubt a concession to bourgeois ideology

jk1921
Fault?

baboon wrote:

I agree with the sentiments of Alf above. But Thatcher was specifically chosen for a major broadside on the working class with the role of the secret services in her promotion to leader of the Tories and then Prime Minister, showing the intelligence and machiavellianism of the British bourgeoisie.

 

Whose fault was it when British impeiralism was caught with its pants around its ankles when the Argentines took the Falklands, or was this more Machiavellian maneuovering? Wasn't there a series of defense cuts preceding this, including removing assets from the South Atlantic?

Demogorgon
At the time we said it was.

At the time we said it was.

I think there were certainly elements of machiavellianism, on the part of each bourgeoisie, but I think the article overestimates the level of cohesion within the bloc which implies the entire episode was somehow scripted from beginning to end.

The decisive UK victory and collapse of the Galtieri regime seems to suggest this was not the case, unless we think the Galtieri clique entered war knowing that they would lose and willingly sacrifice itself for the bloc bourgeoisie ...

commiegal
thatcher

thanks for the replies. Do you mean that there is a danger of blaming all of Thatcher's policies on one individual? If so I agree, I was reading something today which stated that the period of neo-liberalism actually began in 1975 and thatcher merely carried it on and intensified it.

However I do think it is important to celebrate her death and so so publically, so that people who feel the same way know that they are not alone (coz they might think they are due to the sickening coverage in the media at the moment), and also publicise why people are opposed to thatcherism. I agree about the Labour government however most Labour politicians are warning people to be "careful" what they say about thatcher's death on twitter and so forth, ed miliband condemned it despite once being seen in a photo with a guy who had thatcher's grave stone on his tshirt!

 

I agree about the reformism thing but I still think it's a special occasion!

baboon
It was planned

The entire episode was planned and put into effect - there was a script as there always is with these imperialist military adventures. The "scripts", the planning and machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie, don't always go to plan. The working class came close to a greater unification around the miners' strike and the outcome, even if we could see the elements of failure early on, was not ordained. A more efficient and successful Argentine military effort around the Falklands could have seen Britain lose this war.

I think that there is a certain over-machiavellianism in the article referenced above but basically the article is sound. The primary aim of this war, which was set up by the British bourgeoisie, was to be a massive ideological attack on the working class. The "script" of the Falkland's War was in continuity with the slew of economic and political attacks on the working class in Britain. There's no doubting the overall concern of the British bourgeoisie (in this case) with the persistence and some of the  developments of the class struggle over the 80's.

Of course Galitieri wasn't in on an "act". He was acting in the imperialist interests of his own country. The article makes clear the collusion of the British with the US administration.

baboon
A bottle and a cork

I've opened a bottle of wine anyway.

jk1921
Poll Tax

baboon wrote:

 

I think that there is a certain over-machiavellianism in the article referenced above but basically the article is sound. The primary aim of this war, which was set up by the British bourgeoisie, was to be a massive ideological attack on the working class.

This attack worked, but was undone when the Thatcher clique got too agressive at the end of the 80s vis a vis its provacations in the class struggle thus necessitating her dumping? Or was the entire Poll Tax business a Machiavellian maneover as well? I am sorry this history is a little before my time, although I am sure there are some good WR articles on it all.

 

P.S. I read the Falklands artitcle above and I do think it overplays its hand a bit on the Machiavellianism. It seems it retrospect possible to view the conflict as one of the first examples of the decomposition of the Western Bloc. Of course, the analysis of the way the war was used against the working class is sound.

Fred
commiegal wrote: However I do

commiegal wrote:
However I do think it is important to celebrate her death and so so publically, so that people who feel the same way know that they are not alone (coz they might think they are due to the sickening coverage in the media at the moment), and also publicise why people are opposed to thatcherism. I agree about the Labour government however most Labour politicians are warning people to be "careful" what they say about thatcher's death on twitter and so forth, ed miliband condemned it despite once being seen in a photo with a guy who had thatcher's grave stone on his tshirt!

I don't know if it's age, or Meryl Streep's amazing portrayal of Thatcher's later years when she was very sick, but I suddenly find myself feeling sorry for poor old Thatcher in a way I would never have thought possible only a few years back.  And I also find the idea of CELEBRATING the poor old pathetic creature's death a bit unpleasant. (What's wrong with me?)  It's not as if she is the only bourgeois politician ever to attack the working class is it, just that she was perhaps more open in her attacks than are many, and some would say a lot more successful?  She was only doing her job wasnt she? And of course she was a woman. A risky thing to be in public political life. 

If her death has re- awakened feelings of anti-Thatcherism, then what use is this if these feelings haven't matured into something nearer to feelings of anti-capitalism, and the identification of the true and real enemy of the working class?  Just hating her and her policies, and thinking that the other party, not the Tories,  will be more sympathetic for suffering workers,  even today, merely reinforces the sickening mystification of bourgeois democracy. Isn't this exactly what Cameron intends? A reinforcing of bourgeois democracy; the invocation of Thatcher's  now hallowed name in the cause of austerity and war;  a general mobilization of the working class and leftism in hatred of her, rather than the system she served so well; and a glowing confirmation of the importance of "great leaders" in our moribund society. All of this is good anti-working class propaganda.  The people who can really and genuinely celebrate Thatcher's  death, and profit from it and open the wine, are not the working class at all, but the bourgeoisie. That's why she's getting the marvelous funeral - complete with aging Queen in attendance.  Any workers who celebrate are being conned yet again; a victory for Thatcherism round 2, and the bourgeoisie in general. 

   

KT
ooh i feel sooo conflicted

ooh i feel sooo conflicted (we used to call it centrist!) about this celebration issue: it's true, as commie girl has said, that the mainstream media are going to sickening lengths to portray this woman as the patron-saint of england, including its working class (thanks for the council house and the shares, dear). so we should have something to say to the people who quite rightly reject this tide of vomit and what's wrong with a street party or several, with wine or beer. This is certainly the argument an anarchist mate put to me last night. But I think Fred's post #13 is fundamentally correct. So I'm settling for a raised glass to "one less" and leaving it at that.. 

On the Falklands, I tend to agree with Baboon: the coordination (not to mention weaponry) supplied by the US to GB was proof of a relatively harmonious relationship at this point rather than an early sign of bloc  disintegration.

However the Poll Tax issue is another matter. JK is correct to intuit that WR indeed presented this as a manouvre to strengthen the 'left in opposition' and drive the w/class into the hands of the leftists, the unions and labour. And it's true that, to a certain extent, it did both these things.

However, in retrospect I have come to feel that this was a result not an intention; that there was a powerful movement of anger amongst the w/class and other exploited strata against this measure (we shouldn't just fixate on the London 'riot' - there were mass refusals to pay in proletarian centres like Glasgow) and that if the working class couldn't exert itself on its own terrain, this doesn't mean that the whole issue was a set-up job. Anyway: enough revisionism for one day...

ernie
Fred is right to say the

Fred is right to say the bourgeoisie want us to either idiolize or hate thatcher because either way we are falling for their ideology of individualization of social forces. Thatcher would not have been able to do anything without the existence of the labour party and the trade unions. Faced with the rising tide of struggle in the 70s, which went along with an increasing questioning of the role of the Left, and the trade unions, combined with the deepening economic crisis the bourgeoisie had to respond in order to maintain the Left and union bulwerks of the capitalist state and to try and break the elan of the class. The division between a right wing hate figure (who could have played the role better than Thacher !) and Left and unions battling to "defend" the class was the best option to trap the class in a pinzer movement between Left and Right. It was not Thatcher or the Tories who defeated the steel workers, miners, shipyard workers, car workers, print workers etc but the combination of them and the unions and the Left. If Thatcher had gone to the miners' flying pickets who had nearly closed down the whole industry and told them to wait for the Nothingham miners to have had a vote she would have been lucky to get out alive but the NUM offices did just this and thus  trapped the miners in a year long crushing defeat. And when the dockers came out twice it was not her who told them that their struggle was not that of the miners it was the unions. Thatcher and the Tories may have provided the police but it was the NUM or the print unions tlhat channaled the workers into hopeless pitched battles at Orgave or Wapping. After a decades of being caught between the anvil and hammer of Left and Right the proletariat is Britain was left decimated, disorientated and lacking the historical confidence they had at the beinning of the decade.From being one of the central battalions of the international working class known for its militant traditions and history, by the end of the 80s it was held up as an example of a class that had been "tamed".

One of the main reasons for the unprecedented level of media circus around Thatcher's death is to remind the proletariat of its extremely weak situation and to warn it about any ideas about believing it can defend itself.It also seeks to drive home the message that the workers enemies are the Tories or the Blairites, whereas the unions and Labour party though "pale shadows of their fomer selves" are all that there is for the class to use to defend themselvs. And of course any idea that the capitalist system is the true enemy of the proletariat is burried very deep under a mountaining of nausiating endless media chat about the "Thatcher legacy". No wonder the state is spending a small fortune funding all of this!

Along with Fred I acutally felt sorry for Thatcher when it was announced she had Alzhiemers, it surely has to be one of the cruelest diseases. But at the same time, it also drove home the class division in society, Thatcher and her family were not going to be faced with having to try and care for her on ever reducing benefits or seeing her thrown into some care home where any sane society would not place a dog.

radicalchains
http://ianbone.wordpress.com/

http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/blimey-im-double-booked-for-dayb...

 

Here's your chance to go on television and tell the proles what to feel about the subject.

baboon
thatcher and the left

Good posts from Fred and Ernie. After her usefulness, Thatcher was ruthlessly and completely destroyed by her allies in the Tory Party, which makes their celebrations even more sordid and in line with what Ernie suggests above: a continuing campaign against the working class with the aim of driving home its disorientation and reinforcing the role of the unions and the left.

As I said above, there was nothing pre-ordained about the defeat of the working class by the end of the 80's ( a defeat particularly emphasised by the collapse of "communism and the victory of capitalism" in 89). The class struggle was growing from the early 70's, workers' struggles were showing more and more elements of self-organisation which, at the same time, was bringing them into more open conflict with the unions and the position of the latter was weakening. The plan of the Thatcher clique and the provocation of the miners' strike with the strengthening and concentration of the forces of repression was, as Ernie says, only half of it. It was the unions that delivered the hammer blows on the class and, despite attempts to the contrary (dockers, car workers, railways, steel and power workers) kept an iron lid on class solidarity and struggle and kept the workers divided and under threat - explicitly with the steel, power and railway unions.

Take a look at the libcom site today on this question and one can see all the old anti-Thatcher "hatred" that was used by leftism at the time in lieu of the obvious proletarian postions of the need for self-organisation and the need to confront the trade unions. There's nothing much - if at all - about the complicity of the unions with the Thatcher regime, ie, the complicity of the left and right of capital in attacking the working class (there's one lone voice who wondering whether he's mad or not). There's a certain depressing, if unsurprising quality to this, which tends to support what Alf says elsewhere about the tendency of this milieu towards trade unionism, even if it's on the "syndicalist" side.

Even though the game wasn't up, the Falklands and the class defeat over the miners' strike was of great international significance to the clearer elements of the ruling class across the globe, particularly after Poland in 1980. That's why there is this international resonance from the bourgeoisie today and that is why there is a campaign on this scale from the British bourgeoisie.

commiegal
Surely the campaign against

Surely the campaign against the poll tax and the resulting defeat of thatcher over this was a good thing as it increased the confidence of the class and led to her being forced to retreat over it?

Fred that was a really good post. I cant bring myself to feel much sympathy still. I agree how Labour and the trade unions have blamed all the attacks on the working class on one individual, however if you watch the news today Labour as well are paying tribute to her too.

I still don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating and a lot of my friends will be at the moment. And I think that babboon and ernie you definitely have a point about how they want us to either love or hate thatcher, as if one person was responsible for all of it. Nonetheless she was a symbol of capitalism and a very powerful one at that.

Demogorgon
At work, although many are

At work, although many are very critical of Thatcher's historic role, there is great unease about celebrating her death. One colleague said his first thought was "yes, the bitch is dead" and then felt guilty about it. I think the class as a whole is caught in a contradiction on this issue:

  • On the one hand it seems hard to feel much sympathy for the class enemy;
  • On the other, the essential defining element of the proletariat is the impulse of solidarity, compassion, and basic humanity.

The ruling class are playing on these for all they're worth. It uses the latter to paint those critical of Thatcher as vengeful, heartless monsters while simultaeneously indulging in a highly provocative hagiography of St Maggie that is designed to provoke such a reaction.

What is clear is that in her death, Thatcher is performing her last service for the bourgeoisie.

commiegal
yeah i also feel slightly

yeah i also feel slightly guilty about it, i think many people do.

that's a really interesting point demogorgon. where do you work?

jk1921
Speaking Ill of the Dead

My mum always told me not to speak ill of the dead, but in Thatcher's (and her best pal Ronnie's) case; I think she'd make an exception.

Fred
communists don't celebrate death

Communists don't celebrate death, we celebrate life.  That Mrs. T. spent her whole life defending and fighting for the inhuman mechanisms of capitalism; defending its deadly requirements over and against the needs of human beings; only goes to show what a hopeless and misguided figure she was. Even crazed you might say.   We should feel sorry that someone could be so misled and unfortunate in their understanding  of the social world. Didn't she once say "there is no such thing as society"?   Unhappily of course she isn't the only person around with a messed up understanding of the social world and the appalling effects that decadent capitalism exerts. In fact there's a whole host of them around. They're called the bourgeoisie; and they'll all be turning out in their Sunday best on Wednesday for her funeral; hoping this will help contribute somehow to the perpetuation of the futile childish system that she wasted her life defending, and to the further confusion of the working class. The sooner we all understand this and remove these pathetic self-seekers the better. They're all dead inside anyway. Rust in peace! 

jk1921
Fred, didn't you once say you

Fred, didn't you once say you wanted to launch the bourgeoisie into the sun on a rocket or something to that effect?

Seriously though, you are right, death is no joke and it should not be taken lightly regardless of who is the unfortunate person to suffer it. Having had my own brush with death recently, I can only describe it as an existential horror of the worst kind. Someone once said that, "Death is only a series of preventable diseases." My hope is that communism can make that promise a reality in some way.

That said, we certainly should not shy away from an honest analysis of Lady Thatcher's legacy, her role within the British bourgeoisie and the importance of her personality in the unfolding of the massive attacks against the world proletariat over the last three decades. If this requires that we portary her in a less than flattering light at times, so be it.

Fred
jk wrote: Fred, didn't you

jk wrote:
Fred, didn't you once say you wanted to launch the bourgeoisie into the sun on a rocket or something to that effect?
 

 

I don't remember saying it, but I wish I had!  ( Is that the right answer?)  As to anyone wanting to present Thatcher in a flattering light - nobody's doing that are they, not even Meryl  Streep?  

 

jk1921
Fawning

Fred wrote:

As to anyone wanting to present Thatcher in a flattering light - nobody's doing that are they, not even Meryl  Streep?

 

The entire U.S. news media has been fawning over her all week.....

Fred
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, goes the song. But is it true? Don't get jubilant too soon! In fact the real witch, the Bloodiest, Bitchyest, Witchyest Witch of them all - I mean CAPITALISM itself  -  is still around. Its stockings may be tattered, its pointed hat dented and bent, its broomstick worm eaten and losing its bristles, but its still a force to be reckoned with, and can still cast spells that cause the greatest deprivation and misery for the mass of humanity.  Mrs. Thatcher was only its handmaiden!  So Ding Dong the Witch isn't quite dead yet.  It needs an additional push!  Give us a hand!