Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Monday, April 08, 2013

Margaret Thatcher - Class Warrior


[Rejoice! Rejoice! By way of marking the news of Thatcher's passing in a slightly more political manner, I have decided to re-post extracts from a short piece by Paul Foot from Socialist Worker in 1985 entitled 'Margaret Thatcher: Class Warrior'....and then go and celebrate...]

Thatcher-worship, which goes on all the time in a continuous Mass in T, will rise to a crescendo in the next few weeks ... Grateful and sycophantic press barons will be eager to impress on their readers that Mrs Thatcher is a wonder woman, her political intelligence and grasp far greater than anything else seen in Britain (or any other country) in the postwar period. Above all, she will be heralded for her convictions and her passions, which, it will be argued, contrast magnificently with the dull pragmatism of her two predecessors, Heath and Macmillan...

Mrs Thatcher's real skill comes from her deep sensitivity to the ebbs and flows in the fortunes of her class. She is a class general, who knows no sentiment in the struggle.

The old aristocratic leaders of the Tory Party believed they were superior to the lower orders chiefly through divine intervention or God's will. They were therefore inclined to dilute their class passions with occasional bouts of compassion, doubt or hesitation.

Margaret Thatcher and her arrivistes, people whose parents had to hang on by their fingertips to stay in the ruling class at all, believe that they are superior because they are superior. There is, therefore, in their class war strategy not a hint of doubt or guilt. They have a better sense of the state of the battle, and a stronger will to win it.

Unlike Macmillan, Thatcher was deeply suspicious of the Keynesian economics and full employment of the postwar years. She sensed that although these things could not be reversed at the height of the boom, they were fundamentally corrosive of her class. Long before most Tory leaders she sensed an ebb in that confidence, and she seized the time.

She knew that mass unemployment breeds despair in workers, and that that despair would breed its own confidence among her people. She knew that trade union leaders were only powerful as long as they were allowed to seem so. She sensed the union leaders' special weakness, their suspension between the two classes, and their unwillingness to side with either. She reckoned that if the union leaders were expelled from the corridors of power, they would be reduced to pleading to be allowed in again.

Mrs Thatcher is not an intellectual giant, nor has she risen to such heights through her beauty or her oratorical skills. She is a new-fashioned two-nation Tory who understands the simple truth, which evades far too many of us: that class confidence comes out of class strength, and that her class can win only if the other class loses.

Edited to add:
Alex Callinicos: A brutal ruling-class warrior is dead
John Molyneux: The Meaning of Margaret Thatcher
Tom Mills for New Left Project

Edited to also add:
 SWP Public Meeting in central London on the evening of Thatcher's funeral:
Wednesday 17 April, 7pm, Upper Hall, University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
Also: Get your special edition celebratory T-shirt from  Philosophy Football - delivery in time for the funeral if you order quickly!



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