(originally published on 09/04/2013)
I am one of the many who want to say something in light of the death of Margaret Thatcher. But it’s not particularly her death, or even her life that I want to talk about.
Her death and the subsequent outflow of articles, documentaries and opinions – some of which I was privy to and part of – got me to thinking about a few things.
Those are the things I want to talk about.
I was born in 1980, at the start of the Thatcher/Reagan-run-reshaping of the modern world. Two of the most dominant powers in the western world sought to create a new type of elite based on the monetisation of, well, everything. And they succeeded.
By the time I achieved cognizance of the world at large, their new world order was a well-established constant. Like many others who were born around this epoch or after, it is all I have ever really known.
The world before that was far from perfect. But this super-monetised world, micro-managed by the excessively wealthy is a relatively new turn for the worse, historically speaking.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
When I was young I was intellectually aware of the vast range of cultures other than my own, and the different modes of thinking. The multitudinous ways of life happening in various locations across the globe are staggering in variety. I knew it, I’d encountered pockets of it in my native England and it helped guide my reasoning when dealing with close-mindedness domestically. But it wasn’t until my early twenties when I took a backpack and wandered around Europe for a while that I experienced it, and really knew it. I had an epiphany at that time, and realised that I would never again have to be the unwilling subject of parochial Yorkshire thought (my own previous yoke). What before had been an oppressive status quo in my mind, something that was at times terrible and wrong, and yet ever-present and dominating, (including: racism; sexism; smug-faced bully culture; cultural drink and/or drug dependency; hopelessness in regards to future careers (for the poor) etc, suddenly shrank in size, leaving me room to abandon it and move out of its shadow. Like the little girl who faced The Goblin King in The Labyrinth I could cry “You have no power over me!” and that world shattered around me.
So, maybe you’re wondering what my point is. My point is that although we can know something intellectually, it is the experience of it that gives us the real knowledge, that empowers us with regards to nigh-on any topic.
Let’s bring that back to Thatcherism and the modern western world.
The vast majority of people in this western world don’t actually want the top 10% to own 85% of the wealth. People, by-and-large from my experience, don’t want to work in unfruitful jobs, struggling to pay their way for themselves and their children, often not having enough spirit or energy left to put in to raising their families properly or take care of their own emotional/spiritual/intellectual sides (the real poverty in our times). They’re not particularly keen on the degeneration through the generations that is the inevitable result of this way of life.
So, why does it seem so hard to change? In a time of relative transparency, after heavy exposition of the super-wealthy’s prerogative to use and abuse the little man, in light of the depression and bank-led corruption, why are the protégés of Thatcher in power in Britain cementing those nefarious policies her government put into motion over three decades ago?
I believe the problem relates back to my problem with the Yorkshire brand of parochial thought. Neo-conservatism (or neoliberalism) seems to be all-pervading because it’s something outside of which most of us have had no experience. A lot of us have railed against it intellectually. But it is impossible for us to defeat as long as it remains a constant, an inevitability in our minds. What we need is to mobilise ourselves to step out of these past 30 years or so and shrink the free market capitalist epoch to its correct size – an uncomfortable blip in the history of mankind from which we learnt a lot.
The death of Margaret Thatcher and the data suddenly available on her impact upon my world personally gave me a little insight. Her passing, symbolically, allowed the imagination – almost experience – of a world and a mode-of-being outside of her nefarious influence (and I don’t mean communism. Left/right wing politics is one-dimensional, but we live in a three-dimensional and vast universe. You ask me which side of the border I’m on and I can reply “I’m sat on Mars, buddy. I’m swimming under the ocean. I’m in a helicopter over the Arctic.” That breed of politics is again something we can shrink down to size, step out of and reject).
So what do I mean? What kind of world could we create outside of a capitalist-led one? The world we create together is always based upon our collective wills, aspirations and dreams. I can only offer you my personal, perhaps slightly crazed, version of that. It is for you to add your own into the mix to define where we go.
For me, I dream of a world where not only the few have the lives of princes, but everyone does. Not princes of excess like today – the hollow acquisition of too much material wealth would be a poor offering to the citizens of a future ideal. No, my future princes would simply have access to pleasant living-spaces, good healthcare, fantastic education. My future princes would be mobilised to work to fulfil themselves; today, only those among us who work thus achieve the great developments of mankind. Imagine a society in which everybody was working in that way. My future princes would be given unquestioning and non-judgemental support if they fell on difficult times. My future princes would have the light and freedom and space to follow their inner natures, regardless of social background, race, age, sex, colour, gender, sexuality or any superficiality that still leads to prejudice in these times. My future princes would have equal access to the resources they needed to achieve what it is in them to achieve.
In short, I would want you to all go out there and build what is already within you to build.
All of these goals, when you think about it objectively, are well within the reach of mankind when we step out of that shallow and stagnant pool that is neoliberalism. An upward mobilisation of human fulfilment would work like a chain-reaction. The more people fulfilling themselves, the more enabled are the people around them to fulfil themselves. Fulfilled and happy people shape a better society allowing for more fulfilled and happy people. It’s hardly rocket science. All we need is a people – and thereby a government – for whom these are their goals.
In conclusion, I urge you to take the death of Thatcher symbolically and run with it. Set aside any struggles for your financial space within society. Tear yourself, painfully if necessary, away from that battle, listen to what’s in yourself, and follow that instead. In a world that has stepped out of the shadow of Thatcherism there are few limits to what we can achieve.