The Thatcher legacy is complicated, to say the
least. On the one hand, her Labor predecessors had made a big mess, and the UK was in bad shape. In particular, they were in favor of nationalizing British industries. This is so radical that the U.S. Democratic Party has never even suggested it, even under LBJ, who was the most liberal president of the 20th century. She put an end to that foolishness. Like Reagan, Thatcher also gets a lot of credit for stopping high inflation. She also fought bravely against the adopting of the Euro, which has been a total disaster for the continent.
the other hand, the decision by Thatcher, and her successors, to
uncritically embrace extreme neo liberalism has left Britain in a tight
spot. Unlike Germany, which has worked hard to nurture a strong
manufacturing sector – which supports a relatively
large private sector middle class – Britain’s economy is based on low
wage services and high finance. As a result, the UK is like a giant
version of New York state. The kings of finance in London – like their
counterparts in nyc – are rolling in dough. And like NYC, London has
been able to lure a lot of super rich people from all over the world. As Professor Mead has noted, the value of the land in London’s ten wealthiest boroughs is now worth
more than all of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together.
Many of the UK’s other cities, however, haven’t recovered from the loss
of heavy industry. The majority of what might be called “middle middle”
class jobs in the UK are now primarily in the government sector, which
is not stable due to the high debt level.
You conflate the failings of social democracy with Thatcher’s
inability to end them. Like it or not, unions are largely responsible for the
decline of low tech manufacturing, by pricing out competitive industries
through monopolistic control of labor. Germany isn’t known for their large
plethora of low quality consumer items, but for their high tech and chemical
manufacturing that require extensive expertise and not easily replicated in a
preindustrial economy. The lesson to be learned, is simple. Free markets and ending
government centric economic policy provides prosperity for the larger population.
“There were giants in the earth in those days ….”
It will be a long time before we see such again.
Excellent. The Nephilim don’t get enough love.
They so mysterious. I think they’re actually another species.
In a room full of men, sometimes it turns out that it is the woman who has the balls. Such was the case with Mrs. Thatcher in the British parliament.
Seems to me that one could write a rather similar analysis substituting Reagan for Thatcher. The point, surely, is that democracy requires a leader with principles.
“Modern Britian’s greatest leaders are deeply disliked, often as much by their own party as their opponents” – parliamentary system and elite establishment convergence vis-a-vis prime minister dislike. Can it really be tied to Glorious Revolution? Also, how does one ascribe outsider status to both Churchill and Thatcher? (unless we’re limiting it to party politics or England’s class distinctions – and then Churchill American ancestry may be held against him).
“But what Thatcher found was a problem – not a solution. She didn’t unite her country, she polarized it.”
If the only solution is unity what leader has truly succeeded? Count many with lasting legacies as failures. After Washington retired to Mount Vernon two parties sprang from one.
Thatcherism and Reaganism envisioned a country of a free society in which people would be responsible for themselves and in doing so opened the opportunities who were once chained to poverty by the entitlement state. With the help of Pope John Paul millions living under communism experienced freedom for the first time.
Quite a solution.
Since Via Meadia has resumed comments, there is another Anthony posting; however our writing styles are definitely different and I trust distinguishable as read (Today, I led with Modern….)
I agree with Joel, and sadly I think the professor is a victim of the conventional wisdom that “discord = failure”.
By nature of her reforms, which you agree were necessary, the establishment naturally fought tooth and nail against them.
Thatchers policies were right for her time. Unless we praise and defend those who made the correct decisions in their time, we won’t come close to finding the right ones for ours.