Celebrating Thatcher’s Death: Comment

This is a comment I left on a piece in the Irish Times titled Iron Lady was a self-serving anti-feminist, by Clara Fischer, dated Friday April 12th.

I agree on the whole with the characterisation of Thatcher in this article but there are a couple of points of disagreement. First, Madeline Albright’s dictum needs qualification. Since Madeline Albright made the case that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying in pursuit of US foreign policy goals, then the question ought to arise: a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women – to do what? I don’t think anyone should be helped to ascend to the pinnacle of political society so as to ruthlessly defend capitalism and imperialism. 

 The second point is the suggestion that celebration and mocking of Thatcher’s death attributes far too much agency to her and distracts from structural, systemic reproduction of evil. I think a great deal of people laughing and joking about Thatcher’s death are only too aware of the structural violence of Thatcher’s regime and of those regimes it inspired, whether in Britain or elsewhere.  

 Thatcher didn’t create neoliberalism all by herself nor was she uniquely responsible for British policy in Ireland but she did inject both with a surplus of cruelty and contempt, a particular cultural attitude, and she relished doing so. At the same time, she became a symbol and inspiration for big-time and small-time workplace despots everywhere. These facts are things millions of people have had to live with every day of their lives as a factor in many of their own personal humiliations, at work, at home, and socially, and on the whole I think it’s not only understandable but healthy that such people should now be expressing relief at having outlasted her, and in so far as the celebrations get up the nose of people who admired her or who are indifferent to the suffering she caused but now feel the need to spring into action to maintain decorum, well, slap it up them. As a friend remarked, it is a triumph to outlive someone who wanted to destroy you. 

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