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THATCHER, REAGAN, JOHN PAUL: WHAT REAL 'HOPE AND CHANGE' LOOKED LIKE

Posted by on Apr. 9, 2013 at 8:23 PM
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In his tribute to the late former Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher, conservative host Rush Limbaugh said:

Some people call it a coincidence -- I think it's more than that -- that at the same time in the world we had Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher. During those years were the only time in my lifetime where the left was actually turned back. Not just stopped, but defeated and turned back. It was the only time in my life. Poland, Berlin, Moscow, the United States. Wherever. Those three leaders on the political stage, the world stage at the same time, did more for freedom and liberty for people all over this world than any three people since the founding of this country -- and they all served at the same time, overlapping.

John O’Sullivan, author of The President, the Pope, And the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World, provides an additional lens into the effects of the intersection of these three world leaders.

During the early 1970’s, the three talents were still “middle managers,” taking stock of their own faltering institutions.

O’Sullivan writes:

Karol Wojtyla was the cardinal-archbishop of Cracow, Poland’s second city, in a Church still dominated by an Italian pope and Italian clerical bureaucrats. Margaret Thatcher had just entered the cabinet of Edward Heath’s new Conservative government in the middle-ranking position of minister of education. Ronald Reagan was in his second and final term as governor of California.

“All three had strong personalities, great abilities, and loyal followings,” writes O’Sullivan. He notes, however, that with Reagan “already dangerously close to becoming an elder statesman,” his prospects for advancement were questionable, and Thatcher and Wojtyla were also peaking too short of the top spots in their respective places in the world.

O’Sullivan observes:

It was not hard for any intelligent observer to explain why these three, with such high abilities, had obtained only limited success. All three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear, and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply, Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative, and Reagan too American.

Yet, Limbaugh’s comment is reflected in O’Sullivan’s remark: “It was a time when historical currents seemed to be smoothly bearing mankind, including the Catholic Church, Britain, and America, in an undeniably liberal and even progressive direction.”

O’Sullivan embarks on a recitation of the “revolutions of every kind- sexual, religious, political, economic, social,” as the three leaders were still not yet in the positions necessary for the potential of their synergy. Sexual liberation, feminism, abortion rights, the attempt to reconcile faith with secular forms of “liberation,” the rise of labor unions, the entrenchment of the welfare state- and its expansion from Europe to America, the new “clout” of the United Nations and, of course, the rise of communism- all awaited the three leaders.

“This new order might have been called Liberaldom,” writes O’Sullivan. “Wojtyla, Thatcher, and Reagan all embodied such fading virtues as faith, self-reliance, and patriotism—which the modern world seemed to be leaving behind.”

Regarding Thatcher, O’Sullivan states:

Wherever she went in Eastern Europe before the fall of Communism, she received a warm, indeed passionate welcome because she was regarded by ordinary Eastern Europeans as a symbol of opposition to Communism.

O’Sullivan describes the roles each leader naturally assumed to bring about greater freedom and liberty for all peoples of the world. They worked in tandem- John Paul, the “orthodox rebel,” and his campaign for religious liberty and support for dissident movements; Thatcher with her economic incentives for communist governments to encourage liberty, her conditions for assistance getting tougher as time went on; and Reagan and his consistent insistence on freedom, and his personal attributes that allowed a direct relationship with Gorbachev.

According to O’Sullivan, when Reagan left office in January of 1989, his last official act as president was a letter to Thatcher that “marked the end of a great political partnership.” O’Sullivan observes that this “extraordinary partnership” worked because the leaders’ personalities were so different: “Reagan’s relaxed self-confidence” and “Thatcher’s stern abilities.”

As for the world leaders’ thoughts about their other partner, John Paul II, O’Sullivan describes a scene in 1979, when Reagan stopped short a discussion with foreign policy adviser, Richard Allen, so the two could watch news coverage of the pope’s first visit to Poland. Amazed by the vast crowds surrounding John Paul, Reagan reportedly was “gripped” by the scene unfolding, and deeply moved. O’Sullivan states that Allen was “convinced that Reagan, like himself, had seen the papal visit as a first, massive crack in the impressive façade of Soviet power.”

In 2009, National Catholic Register reported that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher laid flowers, for a second time, at the tomb of Pope John Paul II. According to those who were with Thatcher the first time, she affirmed clearly and loudly that “it was thanks to John Paul that Soviet communism was brought down.”

by on Apr. 9, 2013 at 8:23 PM
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erika9009
by Silver Member on Apr. 9, 2013 at 9:56 PM
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What's ironic is that Ms Thatcher was put in office to fix the mess the Progressives got Britain in. 

There seems to be an odd parallel her on what Obama is doing and Britain back in the 70's.   Government in private industry???????????   Yeah, that was Britain back then.  Now with Obama Care and GM (with GW's help) we are in the car industry, banking.....

Where is our "Iron Lady" to pull us out of this tailspin?

____________________________________________________

Erika..

Children are a blessing and are never inconvenient.............

Pema_Jampa
by 2HotTacoTini on Apr. 9, 2013 at 10:36 PM

Not Sure How to Remember Margaret Thatcher? Look Around You

Posted: 04/09/2013 3:40 pm

"She is not dead, she doth not sleep. She hath awakened from the dream of life. 'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife ..."

Margaret Thatcher's death raises a difficult etiquette question: How do you write about a person whose policies you opposed, whose philosophy has been discredited by history, and who by many accounts was not a very likeable human being?

The poetry lines, slightly paraphrased from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Adonaïs, may help. But the question remains: How should we remember Margaret Thatcher? That depends on which Thatcher we're remembering. Most of us didn't know her as a human being, the way we know our neighbors, friends, or family members.

The human being, the woman who reportedly cooked breakfast for her husband every morning, has passed away. The fiercely ambitious politician who rose to power with the help of that husband's wealth and power is gone, too, moved on to what Shelley called "that high Capital, where kingly Death keeps his pale court in beauty and decay."

The Thatcher we knew was the world's Thatcher. She was a profound political force, the first -- and possibly the most powerful -- transformative symbol for a new kind of conservatism which was unfettered by any pretense about social responsibility. Thatcher was the first world leader to freely and publicly express the private sentiments of like-minded people everywhere: that some people don't deserve help.

That Margaret Thatcher was the Avatar of Avarice. Long before Mitt Romney sneered at the 47 percent, Thatcher was dismissing Britons in need as parasites and wastrels:

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand 'I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it' or 'I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!' 'I am homeless, the Government must house me!' ... They are casting their problems on society," Thatcher continued, "and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families ..."

Thatcher's credo of unashamed greed transformed the global economy. That meant transforming our culture and our politics -- and she did. Before there was Ronald Reagan, before there was Lloyd Blankfein, before there was Gordon Gekko, there was Margaret Thatcher. They all walked in her footsteps.

That Margaret Thatcher is alive and well, and she shows no sign of leaving us anytime soon.

" ...till the Future dares Forget the Past, her fate and fame shall be an echo and a light unto eternity!"

I've recently returned from South Africa, where Thatcher's primarily remembered as one of the apartheid regime's staunchest allies and defenders. She fiercely opposed the sanctions that helped bring down that regime, while condemning Nelson Mandela and his colleagues as "a typical terrorist organization."

Thatcher cheered Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of democracy in Chile and his regime of torture, murder, and suppression. Thatcher did aid in the process of glasnost, so there's that. But she was an enthusiastic supporter of the American neocons as they misled the country into war. She opposed the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Her intransigence and ferocity prolonged the Northern Ireland conflict, which was only resolved after she left office.

And yet it's is her economic legacy that will last the longest. Thatcher's economic policies ended Great Britain's long period of relatively full employment and promptly triggered a severe recession. Joblessness soared under Thatcher and never recovered. A brief period of economic growth soon led to runaway inflation and another recession.

Inequality also skyrocketed under Thatcher. The GINI coefficient, a measurement of economic equity, rose dramatically while she was in office. The gulf between the wealthiest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent grew by 60 percent.

Thatcher's policies live on today in the Conservative-led coalition government of David Cameron, whose austerity-economics policies have plunged Great Britain into a triple-dip recession, fueled higher unemployment and created financial uncertainty for all but the wealthiest members of British society.

The Thatcher legacy, as Juan Cole notes, can be found in the UK's latest statistics: The top 1 percent have more than doubled their share of the national income (from 7.1 percent to 14.3 percent). Fourteen percent of the British population lived in poverty when Thatcher took office, and 33 percent now live in financial insecurity.

When Thatcher took office, 5 percent of the British population couldn't afford to heat their homes all the time. That figure is now 29 percent.

You could say Thatcher's economic philosophy transformed Charles Dickens from a historical novelist into a British writer with contemporary relevance.

It shouldn't be hard for Americans to remember Margaret Thatcher. Her deregulatory philosophy, quickly adopted by American conservatives, led directly to the financial crisis of 2008 and theLong Depression which has followed it. We can remember Thatcher every day: in our unemployment figures, in tales of unpunished bank crimes, in the privatizing of publicly-created resources for private benefit, in the soaring numbers of Americans struggling with intractable debt or mired in hopeless poverty.

She is not dead, she doth not sleep ...

What accounted for Thatcher's transformative power? Her greatest rhetorical strength lay in her unashamed advocacy for brutal self-interest. That gave her words a force and clarity which is denied to more equivocal political speech. Sometimes people really do respond to a "strong man" -- a phrase she rendered obsolete, forcing the forging of a new one: The Iron Lady.

Thatcher's rhetorical force unleashed generations of conservatives. It freed them to come out of their closet, to display their naked self-interest for all the world to see. Not long afterwards, Joan Rivers offered this funny (because it's so truthful) line to her fellow Republicans at the 1984 GOP convention: "We don't care. We don't have to."

True, the Thatcherite musings of today's Republicans can sometimes get them into trouble. Romney's "47 percent" remark was pure Maggie, and it may have cost him the presidency. But this utterly self-confident (if misguided) vision has also enabled the right to construct an entirely mythical but internally coherent view of the world -- one which, when argued with conviction, has a persuasive power that their opponents are often unable to match.

The media is now eulogizing this harsh and divisive figure, often in rosy terms, which presents her critics with an etiquette problem which Glenn Greenwald has pondered twice -- first afterChristopher Hitchens' death, and now after Thatcher's. They're well worth reading.

Those two deaths aren't entirely unrelated. Both Thatcher and Hitchens seemed utterly driven by self-regard and self-interest. Both were supremely -- and excessively -- self-confident. Hitchens even told an inappropriate sexualized anecdote which purportedly involved himself and Thatcher. To read it is to understand that Hitchens remade all gods, even Eros, in his own image.

That narcissistic self-regard, which sees the world as nothing more than a pale reflection of oneself, is Thatcherism too.

It should go without saying that any human death is a loss, that any prolonged suffering is a tragedy, and that every family's grief is humanity's grief. That's as true of Margaret Thatcher as it is of those who have needlessly suffered as a result of her philosophy. But hers in a family of privilege and position. Too many other families must labor at "unprofitable strife" in an increasingly hard world. To use the words of Shelley's poem, it has become a world ruled by "invulnerable nothings," a world where "cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay."

This is the world that Margaret Thatcher did so much to bring into being, the world which her shade continues to inhabit. Margaret Thatcher may have "awakened from the dream of life," but too many of our leaders still haven't awakened from the dreamlike illusion that was her economic philosophy. Until they do, this world will remain Margaret Thatcher's world in far too many ways.

If you feel the need to mourn, mourn for those who are still living in it.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 12:11 AM

Not Hillary. She's only ironic instead of iron. 

It would be great to have a woman mano a mano. THAT would be interesting.  But doesn't have to be - whomever is best.


Quoting erika9009:

What's ironic is that Ms Thatcher was put in office to fix the mess the Progressives got Britain in. 

There seems to be an odd parallel her on what Obama is doing and Britain back in the 70's.   Government in private industry???????????   Yeah, that was Britain back then.  Now with Obama Care and GM (with GW's help) we are in the car industry, banking.....

Where is our "Iron Lady" to pull us out of this tailspin?



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 12:15 AM

Well - You opposed them, we didn't. I suppose you ar one who celebrated? That s a disgraceful way to act toward someone who died. It's like desecrating the dead.

Liberals have a really bad habit of this.  it is barbaric and inhuman. Hope you are not in that infamous bunch.


Quoting Pema_Jampa:

-Celestial-
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 1:25 AM
1 mom liked this

An end of an era?

Not so much.

the damage is still all around

On both sides of the pond.

The crushing inequality.

The over-lordship of the bankers.

The grinding destruction of the middle class.

The austerity fiasco of the present.

I come not to mourn an era

But to bury it.

Since after all

We have the bill

Rather than investing in the countries they lead,

They have been stripped

To fuel the greed of the few.

The youth of Europe and at home

Should know who they were

All the false praise

Of this day

Should be rejected

Since they started

This decay.

I've come over

All Edscan

damn.

By LaFeminista

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 2:14 AM

A liberal complaining. I get it.


Quoting -Celestial-:


SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 2:16 AM
1 mom liked this

Please stop. if you want to make a comment or reply, do so.

If you want to post a novel - please, start your own post.

I've never done that to you.

Thank you.


Quoting Pema_Jampa:
Clairwil
by Gold Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 6:21 AM
1 mom liked this
Quoting SallyMJ:

John O’Sullivan, author of The President, the Pope, And the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World, provides an additional lens into the effects of the intersection of these three world leaders.

He is missing the fourth and, perhaps, most important leader to the changes in Russia.

Gorbachev.


Clairwil
by Gold Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 6:23 AM
Quoting -Celestial-:


An end of an era?

Not so much.

Capitalist democracy isn't perfect.

But don't underestimate the importance of the break up of the USSR, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.   That most definitely did mark the division between two distinct eras of world history.

Clairwil
by Gold Member on Apr. 10, 2013 at 6:28 AM
Quoting erika9009:

What's ironic is that Ms Thatcher was put in office to fix the mess the Progressives got Britain in. 

There seems to be an odd parallel her on what Obama is doing and Britain back in the 70's.   Government in private industry???????????   Yeah, that was Britain back then.  Now with Obama Care and GM (with GW's help) we are in the car industry, banking.....

Where is our "Iron Lady" to pull us out of this tailspin?

Sorry, but you don't know what you're talking about.   I am British and lived through that winter of strikes.   The temporary buying of shares in some car companies in America, as a stabilisation measure (and the subsequent selling them back at a profit) is nothing like the situation in Britain where entire industries (eg the postal service, the phone service, gas, electricity, railways, etc) were wholly owned and run as government departments, and everyone thought that was the way things ought to be, on a permanent basis, they they should never be sold off once things stabilised.   The labour party described those government owned industries as "the family silver".

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