April 17, 2013

Ed West on hate for Mrs. Thatcher

Ever notice how some kinds of hate are A-OK?

Ed West writes in The Telegraph:
What’s striking about all this is that the hatred does not come from the northern towns ruined in the late 20th century, but the London public sector classes, who did well under Mrs T. 
Great leaders ensure that they control the propaganda. The reason history remembers Alfred the Great and has entirely forgotten his grandson Athelstan, who actually unified England, is that Alfred employed a chronicler called Asser.

Seems to be a theme lately.
Therefore Alfred wrote his own history. Today there are plenty of kids called Alfie, but there aren’t any Athies. Mrs Thatcher’s enemies wrote the history of her times, in television, theatre and fiction. 
In a wider sense her profound failure was to lose the culture war, or not even fight it. As Tim Montgomerie reminded us on Monday, conservatism cannot triumph in economics while it remains totally beaten in the cultural sphere. 
While she destroyed an opposition base when the manufacturing industry shed its jobs – with terrible human cost – she actually helped to build up a far bigger and more powerful enemy class, led by local government and the administrators of the welfare state that flowered during her reign. She destroyed lots of unproductive working-class jobs and created lots of unproductive middle-class ones. She was responsible for New Labour and Tony Blair in more than one way, and this makes it harder for Conservatives to ever win again.... 
Among my contemporaries, huge numbers of talented people work in areas where there is an institutional hostility to conservatism, for the simple reason that conservatives do not believe their work should be professionalised and run by the state. Younger conservative politico types tend to move in these circles and know these people from school and university, so any Tory leader who takes them on will have to accept huge personal unpopularity and social death. 
When I criticised Thatcherism the other day what I specifically meant was Thatcherism as it has now become: libertarian and self-centred. 
Libertarians think they can get a Victorian-sized state without Victorian attitudes, but they’re deluded. If you really want a small state that doesn’t tell you what to do and gobble up half your income then start going to church, get involved in voluntary activities, tell the vicar or priest to stop droning on about the cuts and climate change and tell him to start shouting about sin and fornication. Repress yourself, you’ll find it’s good for your wallet. 
Were that to happen, then the need for an enormous state apparatus managing vast areas of our life would be reduced. As it is the blob gets bigger and bigger every year and will help to bring down Cameron, not the least because the powerful state broadcaster is very much part of it. 

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The bit about Ethelstan>Alfred is overkill. The reason Alfred is venerated is because he stopped the Danes before they overran Wessex. Alfred is the reason Britain is an English-speaking country today. His place in British history is more or less the place Charles Martel holds in French history, despite the fact that it was only in the 19th century that France ruled over the Arab peoples.

Marlowe said...

Victorians established the welfare state. 19th c. Christians formed a significant part of its support.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that conservatives began to venerate raw capitalism, including the financial industry, only as a way to defend against a worse evil - communism. But capitalism has its own evils, and with communism gone it is time to begin recognizing them, because now it is ignoring those evils (like the shenanigans that lead to the housing bubble) that leads to a larger welfare state. Unrestrained capitalism is not conservative. It will destroy anything in its path, countries and cultures included, on its way to a profit. That was part of Thatcher's failure.

Anonymous said...

It's true, a lot of the hatred directed at her is from pampered middle-class (i.e. wealthy) kids who in many cases aren't old enough to remember her.

She did real damage to industrial communities up and down the country, took delight in doing so as they were solidly Labour-supporting regions that were never going to vote for her anyway, and made no effort to help any kind of transition to new employment.

These communities are wastelands today and their hatred for her is entirely justified. Yes, the Unions were too powerful, and yes, the industries were inefficient and probably moribund. But there was no mistaking the glee she took in taking an axe to them.

All previous post-war prime ministers, and most of the pre-war ones too, had seen themselves to at least some extent as national leaders and unifiers, representing even those who opposed them politically, whereas she was the leader of a radical faction, whose prime directive was crushing the enemy rather, and revelled in it.

She was good at deconstructing/destroying, but built remarkably little. Her tangible legacy is trivial.

carol said...

Haha, go to church, right. Never happen. why, we're not *joiners* you know. At least we don't join old familiar institutions we think we know all about already.

Seriously, the Anglican church is a waste of space anyway. Pity.

Baloo said...

That makes sense. Also, like Palin, Thatcher is a
Rorschach test.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2310309/Thatcher-family-comforted-Queen-steps-St-Pauls-Iron-granddaughter-gives-pitch-perfect-reading.html

Her brother Michael, a successful high school football player, is a committed Christian and conservative, who graduated from Texas A&M University in chemistry, the same subject Baroness Thatcher studied at Oxford.
He works at a store and pharmacy in Texas, handing out prescriptions as well as snacks and cosmetics, but has been tipped to one day follow his grandmother into politics.
He has previously worked for a Republican-aligned political group that aims to 'educate and empower the Hispanic community with conservative values'.


Egads. Maybe he learns the futility of it all and joins our side?

Anonymous said...

All through the seventies, socialism wasn't working for England any more. Socialists were touchy about this. Thatcher came right out and said, 'Your kids are bastards, your wife is ugly, your teeny pecker is limp and socialism isn't working'. They took offense.

Anonymous said...

West is onto something. I think living in London, which is basically NYC and DC rolled into one, gives him a very good perspective of the social pressure that confronts conservatives.

I used to live in DC and worked around government and media folk. You simply will be not be a part of that society if you are an old-fashioned conservative, i.e. personal responsibility, religious, willing to call out bad behavior, extraordinarily reluctant to use military force, etc. So what happens is that true conservatives tire of the hate directed at them and leave. What remains is faux conservatives that play the straw man to the liberals.

Anonymous said...

Alfred employed a chronicler called Asser.

Seems to be a theme lately.


What is the theme? Was Asser Scots Irish?

Anonymous said...

"His place in British history is more or less the place Charles Martel holds in French history, despite the fact that it was only in the 19th century that France ruled over the Arab peoples."

Well, sure. But being conquered by the Scandies wouldn't have made such a huge difference, probably less than the Frenchified Scandies who conquered them later on.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

Good point: Conservatives are as likely as liberals to prattle about their regard for "single mothers." If you can't tell people that they shouldn't have kids they can't support, you're in effect endorsing the welfare state.

Conservatives lose the "gay marriage" debate when won't talk about the advantage of marriage to women because they are afraid of getting the Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown treatment. Its not just children who are protected by marriage, its women. Marriage is good for women because they have a protector in the home. If you can't say that, then you get Kagan's questions about older infertile people maybe shouldn't be allowed to marry.

""Something we were withholding made us weak, until we found it was ourselves." - Robert Frost

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Alfred, we'd all be speaking Danish.

Anonymous said...

Libertarians think they can get a Victorian-sized state without Victorian attitudes, but they’re deluded.


Libertarians exist so that the question "Is it possible to be more stupid than communists?" can be answered in the affirmative.

It's probably not a coincidence that a great many libertarians have been former (or "former") communists.

deconstructingleftism said...

>>Libertarians think they can get a Victorian-sized state without Victorian attitudes, but they’re deluded.<<

Sexual license, including easy divorce, was the consolation prize middle-class whites got for losing out with the civil rights revolution. The social collapse created by these things keeps liberalism in business. Will "conservative" whites give this up to get their culture back? Only time will tell.

jgress said...

I think West nails it over the cultural aspect of conservatism. Interesting that Charles Murray comes to the same conclusion. Free markets can't be the end-all of conservative ideology.

What West might have elaborated on is how the left-wing miners were culturally far more conservative than the white-collar bureaucrats that replaced them.

Steiner said...

West is right about the triumph of the historians, but his example is weak. Nobody remembers Alfred the Great either, much less his grandson. You would think the name of the king cited by Churchill as the greatest Englishman who ever lived would be foremost in the thoughts and writings of the "conservatives" who extol the virtues of the Anglosphere, but you would be wrong.

As for boys named Alfred instead of Athelstan, good luck finding either these days.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the geography of Thatcher hate, but the people voting for her party are in strongly concentrated in the greater London region. Wales, Scotland, NI, and the industrial cities in northern England have around 0 conservative MPs total.

The quote looks like standard issue elite bashing unsupported by facts. England differs from the USA in that the rich central areas of big American cities like Manhattan and West LA are strongly left, while conservatives have large portions of central London.

Anonymous said...

Often its not the winners who write the history, the winners are those who write the history. Control of the narrative is all!

Anonymous said...

A very historically flawed analysis, in other words, big government is inevitable. If the author had bothered to look across the English Channel he would found contradictory evidence as well. France when it was the most Catholic country in Europe had Europe's biggest government, it also had it after it was the most secular society on the continent as well. Big government was loved by the Church and by Socialists alike, today urban anti-religious people and rural religious people both love the nanny state. French politics is fought over socialistic vs. nationalistic issues, not over the size of government. Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries had a small, decentralized government that was super religious and quite authoritarian like the Mullahs of Iran, likewise Geneva of the same period. Hong Kong was quite secular and libertarian, whereas France is secular and big government loving, the Swiss are religious and small government loving, whereas Iran is big government centered and religious. The author needs to look beyond his home country of Britain to check if theory holds up, it clearly doesn't.

Anonymous said...

West writes--

"Repress yourself, you’ll find it’s good for your wallet."

He misses the point here. Modern elites do repress themselvs. They live like Victorians; and they compel their children to live like Victorians. What they object to is anyone else saying that it's proper and virtuous to live like Victorians.

What makes modern elites, especially libertarians, so insufferable, is that everything they live and preach to their own children ("work hard," "no drugs") they criticize if someone dares suggest it for others. It's easier to get into Princeton, of course, if your kids are piling up AP classes and smart kids in Kansas are getting high. Modern elites are the opposites of hypocrties: they live the virtuous life, and espouse, or at least condone, the life of sin.

Anonymous said...

Various quibbles aside West talks an awful lot of sense for someone allowed in the MSM.

Anonymous said...

"In a wider sense her profound failure was to lose the culture war, or not even fight it. As Tim Montgomerie reminded us on Monday, conservatism cannot triumph in economics while it remains totally beaten in the cultural sphere."

But you can't win the culture war politically. It has to be won intellectually and creatively, but good luck with that on the right.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid 11:05 AM: Modern elites are the opposites of hypocrties: they live the virtuous life, and espouse, or at least condone, the life of sin.

Hunsdon: That's not the opposite of hypocrisy, it's just a slightly different flavor.

Whiskey said...

Conservatism is impossible as Women are opposed to any and every restriction on their sexual freedom and behavior, while most men approve of it. Already feminists are calling for legalized polygamy in the wake of gay marriage, arguing that it is good for women and children to share a fraction of an Alpha male, than all of a beta male. Plus, Muslim friendly! [Most women would probably prefer Islam for that reason -- only a big shot can have four wives and that's really all women care about. The dog that is not barking is women and Islam.]

No conservatism is possible without a massive shock that leads women to abandon their sexual needs for more immediate physical ones: safety, food, shelter, clothing, etc. [Besides women LOVE LOVE LOVE telling other people how to eat, pray, and love etc. see Oprah, "the Help," pretty much any "affirmative" chick flick.]

Whiskey said...

Marriage is on the contrary, bad for women because they give up their sexual freedom to bed Alpha males. As GBFM (Great Books for Men) on Heartiste has dubbed it, women want "Alpha f**** and Beta bucks" and that works out well for them, as the State can provide and protect, mostly.

Until or unless the state collapses and can no longer provide protection and provision, women will prefer sex outside marriage and single motherhood.

And no, modern elites do NOT live virtuous lives. Rupert Murdoch, second wife? Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford, Anthony "Package" Weiner, John Edwards, 90% of Hollywood, Hillary Clinton, most of the Fortune 500 (ex CEOs of HP, Best Buy, and a few others were bounced for affairs) all come to mind. All live lives of ultra privilege and exemption from the rule for the rest of us, from Al Gore's drugged up son to the Kennedy Family dysfunction.

Elites don't have kids out of wedlock as much nor do they divorce quite as much as non-elites, but that's it.

Anonymous said...

"You would think the name of the king cited by Churchill as the greatest Englishman who ever lived."

Churchill has incentive to say that because he destroyed Britain's own Empire to assist in the defeat of Hitler. A question: Was Britain better or worse off for either the Roman conquest or the Norman conquest? At least in the Norman conquest, it certainly wasn't good for the nobles as most were dispossesed of their land.

Maybe Churchill was right.

Dennis Dale said...

...the hatred does not come from the northern towns ruined in the late 20th century, but the London public sector classes, who did well under Mrs T

Did you ever nail it:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/margaret-thatcher/10005253/Margaret-Thatcher-protest-ring-leader-cashed-in-on-right-to-buy-scheme.html

Politics is about self-interest? So Twentieth Century. Politics is about status.