Skip to comments.Thatcher vs. Decline (We can still learn from the Iron Lady today)
Posted on 01/01/2012 8:05:49 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Margaret Thatcher is on the cover of Newsweek, or the next best thing Meryl Streep is on the cover as the former British prime minister in a new biopic.
Thatcher is a rich theme. If the types who expound on such things didnt so hate her politics, shed launch a thousand dissertations on those inexhaustible academic themes of class and gender. As the daughter of a grocer, she was looked down upon as the personification of, in the words of one highfalutin critic, the worst of the lower-middle-class. As a woman in a mans world, she was venomously attacked by her opponents as a bitch or the bag.
At this moment in our history, though, it is Thatchers central purpose that is most important: her unyielding rejection of British decline. She rejected it with every bone in her middle-class body, even though sophisticates scoffed at such a naïve nationalism. She rejected it even though the grandees of her own party said it was inevitable. She rejected it even though she knew reversing it meant forcing a wrenching political and economic crisis.
The acrid whiff of decline is in the air in America, in the enduringly weak employment picture, in the spiraling debt, in the persistent pessimism about our prospects, and in the intellectual preparation for a post-American world. Part of the volatility in the Republican presidential field is the unfulfilled hunger for a Thatcher-like figure. She had the urgency of an emergency-room surgeon, the rhetorical subtlety of a blowtorch, and the conviction of a desert monk. Tory MP John Biffen called her a tigress surrounded by hamsters. But she matched her fearlessness with sound judgment and a positively Prussian work ethic. Needless to say, Thatchers arent often on offer. The country she wanted to save was, by the late 1970s, an embarrassing wreck. After World War II, Britains leaders had run the ship of state aground on the shoals of socialism. The country was broke and beset by maliciously powerful unions. Humiliatingly, it had to go to the International Monetary Fund for a loan. In 1975, Henry Kissinger told President Ford, Britain is a tragedy it has sunk to begging, borrowing, stealing.
Claire Berlinski, author of the book-length study of Thatcher titled There Is No Alternative, quotes Michael Howard, a subsequent leader of the Tory party: The air of defeatism which was the prevailing climate of the time was the economic and social equivalent of Munich.
It took considerable moral courage for Thatcher to insist that practically everyone else was wrong including the accommodationists in her own party and that Britain could take an entirely different path. In 1979 she ran on a party manifesto that excoriated declinism. She had been elected to reverse Britains decline, writes John OSullivan, the former Thatcher aide and author of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister, not to explain it smoothly away like virtually every other political leader.
It wasnt enough to rage against Britains fate without correctly diagnosing the source of its sickness. As Berlinski notes, Thatcher made an unsparing and comprehensive case against socialism. In the end, she thundered, the real case against socialism is not its economic inefficiency, though on all sides there is evidence of that. Much more fundamental is its basic immorality.
Bold but never reckless, Thatcher as prime minister undertook a comprehensive free-market program to tame inflation, restrain spending, cut taxes, privatize industries, bring unions to heel, and deregulate the financial industry. At one point, her approval rating dipped to 23 percent, but her vindication was a sustained return to dynamism and growth. Her victory in the Falklands War represented a turning point in national pride. She was Ronald Reagans partner in defeating the Soviets. By the end of her career, she had accomplished what Britains consensus had once deemed impossible.
In todays America, the circumstances are very different, but the basic challenge is profoundly the same. Thatchers lesson is that decline is inevitable only if its self-fulfilling prophets prevail.
― Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.
Thatcher’s autobiography is inspiring.
We miss you, Baroness.
Little wonder that she and Reagan were such close friends.
Such a great lady.
Why can’t we find a candidate 1/10 as good as Thatcher? Why do we have to put up with with the choices we are given...jeese...
If Lowry truly believes what he writes in the first phrase of this sentence, then he surely must know that, in order to restore America to its foundations in liberty, a leader must emerge who, like Thatcher, has an inner core that is firmly fixed in America's founding principles, coupled with a fierce ability to defend those principles of liberty against what Obama has called "a righteous wind" of his version of "change."
Does anyone remember this remark from early November 2008? "At a Virginia rally - 'If youll stand with me, then I know that we can win Virginia and we can win this election and we can finally bring the change we need to Washington,' Obama told the estimated crowd of 35,000. 'I feel like we got a righteous wind at our backs here.'
Inasmuch as the term "righteous wind" has not been a staple phrase in American politics, and, upon further research, one finds these words from Chairman Mao:
The ill wind of opportunism is falling, the righteous wind of socialism is on the rise.
Four years later, in 2012, the "wind" has brought what Lowry here describes as "the acrid whiff of decline" and "persistent pessimism about our prospects."
So-called "progressives," sometimes reveal the roots of their beliefs in their easy use of words and ideas from those they have studied.
Which potential Republican candidate has studied, and is likely to call up the ideas and words of Jefferson or Madison in a debate?
Which is most likely to be able to expose, rebut and rebuke the counterfeit ideas of "redistribution" which have led America to the brink of "decline" with the "self-evident" truths of the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence?
OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST! And just like all socialists, he will destroy the Nation that he leads - if he is allowed to continue to lead it. Call the ‘ism’ what you will, that is not my point, he is the ism of The Left. Destructive. Immoral. Arrogant. Vindictive. But ultimately, Self Destructive like the Titanic, taking all those that depend on him down in the final chapter.