April 11, 2013
Another win for the little people. And this was Maggie Thatcher, Milk Snatcher, the heartless tool of moneyed interests?
Three. My grandparents on both sides were coal-mining people. It was filthy, lousy work, but when everyone else in the village was doing it and there were babies to be fed, it was what the men did. By bearing the hardships together, people drew strength from each other and found meaning in their lives.
The socialist government nationalized the coal mines in 1946, with inevitable results. By the early 1980s the industry was over-unionized and under-productive. It needed some dramatic downsizing.
That, however, meant the destruction of those old mining communities, the ones in which my grandparents had lived and labored. I could see the necessity of it, and I supported Mrs. Thatcher in the great miners” strike of 1984-5.
Not all my relatives agreed, and there was civil war in the family. My favorite aunt”she died just a few days ago at age 95″took up placards on behalf of the striking miners. I, meanwhile, had become an enthusiastic Thatcherite. I had actually joined the Conservative Party and was out on the streets campaigning for them. My aunt was derisive, calling me “Terrible Tory Twit.” We kissed and made up eventually, but it was painful at the time. She”d been a second mother to me in my childhood.
Now my aunt’s gone, closely followed by the woman she hated. A great many other people hated the Iron Lady, too. They have been holding celebratory street parties in Britain’s leftist precincts. It seems nasty and vindictive to mock a dead person like that. We”ll all be dead some day, don”t they know? They I suppose would say that Mrs. Thatcher was cruel when she gutted those old close-knit communities.
The two things don”t balance, though. In romantic relationships, as every cheerleader knows, you have to be cruel to be kind. Political leadership works the same way. Capitalism, like dentistry, is a matter of creative destruction. There is nothing creative in the Thatcher-haters” cruelty. It’s just purposeless malice.
Still, I understand. There is a sense in which human beings are natural socialists. (Karl Marx called the condition of prehistoric man “primitive communism.”) Properly run, though, capitalism under a sensible political order”monarchical or republican”maximizes human fulfillment and liberty. Margaret Thatcher was its champion. May she rest in peace. You too, Auntie.