The death of Margret Thatcher has (predictably) been met with a celebratory tone from much of the left-of-centre, with social media immediately reacting to the news (such as the hashtag #nostatefuneral). But, far from this being a victory for the left, this demonstrates nothing but a shameless joy at the death of an old lady: seemingly suggesting that a stroke was somehow what she ‘deserved’.
It could be said that this reaction is pretty typical of a liberal left who see the current failings of the system as inherent within a few individuals (such as Cameron or Osbourne) rather than within the entire structure. For example, when we went through the MP expenses scandal or the financial crisis, the finger was always pointed at a few corrupt individuals rather than at a system which encouraged/allowed those persons to be corrupt. In fact, far from challenging the system, this kind of reaction simply allows other in power (who were found not guilty) to scapegoat those supposed ‘rotten apples’ and then simply carry on with the system just as it was before.
The celebration of Thatcher’s death shows how naive some people on the left really are. People don’t seem to realise that Thatcher isn’t the same as, say, Stalin (whose death was widely celebrated because he personified and embodied the very soviet system whose purges killed millions). There is a crucial difference: Stalin literally was stalinist Russia; Thatcher literally was nothing but the face of an ideological structure.
Margret Thatcher was not to blame for the current mess our country (world?) is in. She was not a bad apple, but part of an orchard of ideology which justifies inequality on national and international scales and proposes a shallow version of freedom that is based solely on those who have the resources to exercise that freedom.
If anything, as Simon Winlow has argued, Margret Thatcher could be said to be nothing but the last true politician. Whether you agree or disagree with her society-destroying ideology, at least she stood for something. At least she had a worldview of how society should be and set about to change it, which is a far cry from today’s politicians who, as the 2010 election TV debate demonstrated, are simply candidates who are trying to convince the public that they are the right person for the same job. Indeed, it was clear that Brown, Cameron and Clegg all intended to implement the same system (tax cuts for the rich, austerity measures etc) – none of them were distinct from the other.
No death is worth celebrating. But even if one decides that this morbid reaction is a good one, they should realise that this is actually counter-productive in bringing about any change to the legacy left to us by so-called ‘Thatcherism’. Sorting out the bad apples is a myth – it is the system which is rotten to the core.