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Anarchists should be mourning Margaret Thatcher's death, not celebrating. She did more to roll back the frontiers of the state than any other prime minister

Started by AnarchistNews.org, April 11, 2013, 07:03:03 pm

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Anarchists should be mourning Margaret Thatcher's death, not celebrating. She did more to roll back the frontiers of the state than any other prime minister

From the Telegraph http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100211668/anarchists-should-...

According to Conor Burns MP, Baroness Thatcher would have regarded Saturday's forthcoming demonstration in Central London by the anarchist groups Black Bloc and Class War as "utterly and completely absurd". I'm sure that's true and one of the more absurd aspects of this "protest" is that Margaret Thatcher did more to reduce the size of the state and dismantle the English class system than any other British Prime Minister. Shouldn't anarchists and opponents of the class system be lining up to pay their respects, rather than "celebrating"?

The state Margaret Thatcher inherited in 1979 may have been sclerotic and enfeebled, but its tentacles reached into every nook and cranny of British life. I'm not just talking about the nationalised industries, but about wages policy and the Price Commission and a top tax rate of 83 per cent ? the whole ghastly panoply of a command and control economy. Had Labour won the election, the powers of the state would have become even more draconian. Among other things, the party wanted to introduce a wealth tax for everyone worth over £150,000, abolish independent schools and grant the Price Commission the power to force shopkeepers to cut prices.

By the time she left office in 1990, Thatcher had made good on her promise to roll back the frontiers of the state. Public utilities had been privatised, the economy had been deregulated, the top rate of tax had been reduced to 40 per cent and, in partnership with Ronald Reagan, she had seen off the threat of Communist dictatorship and helped liberate Eastern Europe from the yoke of Soviet tyranny. As Matthew Parris said in his excellent tribute in the Times (££) earlier this week, she was a "warrior" ? a warrior for freedom.

She also presided over a huge transfer of wealth from the state to individuals, laying the basis for a property-owning democracy. In doing so, she empowered large swathes of the working class in a way that no Labour government has done before or since. She was also much more radical than any of her predecessors or successors, stripping the ruling class of its power and influence in the trade union movement, local government, the City of London, the media and the arts, among other citadels of the Establishment. This is the theme of Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary, a documentary by Martin Durkin that Channel 4 is broadcasting at 7pm this Saturday, and it's an argument I touch on in my latest Spectator column about why Thatcher was so bitterly opposed by the liberal intelligentsia.

I don't want to push this point too far. I'm not claiming Thatcher was an anarchist or a class warrior. She was, in her own words, a laissez-faire Gladstonian ? a Classical Liberal rather than a libertarian. And one of the great paradoxes of her premiership is that in order to reduce the size of the state she had to exploit the powers vested in her as Prime Minister more fully than anyone since Churchill.

Nevertheless, her political philosophy is far closer to that of Black Bloc and Class War than Ed Miliband's or the current crop of Communist trade union leaders like Bob Crow or Mark Serwotka. It's a source of genuine bafflement as to why these so-called anarchists make common cause with groups like the Socialist Workers' Party at anti-cuts demos. Any genuine anarchist should be supporting the "cuts" and this government's efforts to reduce the size of the public sector. Indeed, it was my own anarchist beliefs as a 16-year-old punk rocker that led me to embrace Thatcherism in 1979 ? and I'm pleased to see that Johnny Rotten has condemned Saturday's "protest" as "loathsome".

I suppose it's not surprising that the leaders of Black Bloc and Class War have so little grasp of the philosophy they claim to be inspired by. For them, "anarchism" is just an excuse for a riot. But as someone who still sets some store by the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin, I will be raising a glass to Lady Thatcher on Saturday, not joining this infantile "protest".


Source: Anarchists should be mourning Margaret Thatcher's death, not celebrating. She did more to roll back the frontiers of the state than any other prime minister