Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thatcher's funeral - the greatest disrespect

Margaret Thatcher will take her last journey today. And, as Thatcher's earthly form is finally given up, we've seen that even in death her effect has been one of great conflict and animosity across the land and beyond these shores.

One might have thought the mood and response would have been more solemn and respectful, much more compassionate in marking the passing of human life. Alas, the sad and disappointing truth is that Mrs Thatcher's victims have barely even been mentioned, let alone marked, by the BBC and the state network it so dutifully serves.

Along with traducing North Korea's closed media, Britain's own state media have been busy this past week censoring the 'shocking offensiveness' of the Ding-Dong song rather than highlighting Thatcher's dark crimes, like those 323 Argentinian sailors aboard the Belgrano murdered on her direct instruction.

And there has been all the minutiae of the funeral service itself to cover, leaving little space for what should have been headline discussion of the mass murderers Thatcher supported: Reagan with his crazed Star Wars and global aggressions; Pinochet and other Latin America death regimes, genocidal killers like Suharto and Pol Pot and every Saudi-styled tyrant that ever strutted the Middle East.

For all those here who suffered the economic and social devastations of Thatcherism, there's also anodyne words from senior politicians, notably Miliband and Clegg, gushing that she was still a 'great leader' who deserves our special regard, crudely disregarding the feelings of a wide public who thought decidedly otherwise. 
Potential protesters at Thatcher's service have been warned not to disrupt or express themselves over-contemptuously. Back-turning on the cortege will, however, be tolerated. It's a token permission from a state which has turned its own back on Thatcher's victims and the mass of public sentiment opposed to this unwarranted ceremony. 

All told, the establishment have, as Seumas Milne notes, "only themselves to blame" for the protests.

So, contra these political obfuscations, state insensitivities and media panderings, what kind of reasonably compassionate view might we take of this funeral day?

What it shouldn't be: a celebration or gloat-fest over her actual death. Why? Because, not only is it hateful and inhuman to wish death and suffering upon another, it's more usually and insidiously done by those politicians and a media indifferent to others' mass suffering; those more prepared to celebrate the death of 'our' enemies than talk about the victims of Thatcher and her dictator friends. The real point of compassionate reaction is to rise above that kind of hate-speak and callous indifference.  And, of course, partying over Thatcher's passing does not end the spectre of Thatcherism, an ongoing set of forces which still hunts as well as haunts us.  Should we speak ill of this dead person? No need when all we have to do is speak honestly about her, in death as in life.

What it should be: a dutiful remembrance, a commemoration, a conscious marking of all those victims of Thatcher, Thatcherism and the system she/it served. Most of those crimes are absent from view, omitted, airbrushed and otherwise ignored. So, it should be a robust denunciation of media protection and all that elite closure. As George Galloway has defiantly argued, it should be a popular rejection of the attempted "canonisation" of someone who did all she could to destroy society. Indeed, it should be a demonstration against the British state itself which, so eager in its military-panoplied, clock-stopping £10 million-plus death celebration at a time of mass austerity, has shown, by far, the greatest distaste and disrespect.

Senior palace figures have apparently been anxious about permitting militarist ceremonial for such a divisive figure, supposedly concerned about popular reaction:
"It is understood that there were fears that the British tradition, in which the monarchy rather than politicians are associated with ceremonial aspects of the military, could be called into question."
One will struggle to recall any such royal 'misgivings' over the Falklands or any other of Thatcher's aggressive campaigns - including Britain's dirty war in Northern Ireland.

That closing of ranks is the real "British tradition", understood and steadfastly observed by every colluding part of the British establishment.

A last small reflection and anti-eulogy from someone who, like other millions, lived through the harsh excesses of Thatcher and Thatcherism: it wasn't just its wicked violence, its gross economic injustice, its political virulence, it was also its ideological and cultural mediocrity; it invoked nothing creative, inspiring or philosophical, only a bland, hostile landscape of Saatchi-sponsored spivdom where petty greed and mammonic narcissism sought to crush anything redolent of hope, love, solidarity or real communal feeling. It was utterly bereft of compassion. And the greatest tragedy of Thatcher's passing is that Thatcher herself will never now be held to account for any of those crimes against humanity.

Those crimes have continued unabated, dutifully executed by an unapologetic line of warmongers, welfare robbers and coalition collaborators, all, in true Thatcherite spirit, party to the ongoing evisceration of society. And, like the media sanitising of Thatcher's death, such crimes will go on being 'respectfully' concealed in her wake.

That's Thatcher's disrespectful legacy and the disrespectful conduct of those who think we should respect it. In paying our proper respects to Thatcher's victims past, we also express concern for those victims present, all, unlike this fraudulent ceremonial, part of a compassionate, truthful and just remembrance.


Anonymous said...

and Thatcher was pursuing a course she believes will give greater benefit to her nation. and she had the mandate to do so by her people.

if there had been victims of her misjudged decisions, it is the people of Great Britain to be blamed for electing her, albeit she was the team leader.

so, while one may protest against her, even as her body takes the last parade - don't forget to protest against the very same people who elected her in causing the disdain you mentioned in your article.

John Hilley said...

Hi, thanks for your comment.

Remember, firstly, that Thatcher's mandate only amounted to around 40 percent of the vote. But even aside from the electoral flaws, appeals to greed and all the propagandist messages that helped keep her in office, do we primarily blame voters for politicians' crimes? Many may still have to examine their conscience in supporting Thatcher/ism. But the principal culpability lies with her and all those who conspired in that ghastly, inhuman project.


Anonymous said...

>> those 323 Argentinian sailors aboard the Belgrano...<<
Would you say something like that about Sir Winston Churchill?

What a cheap load of alter-cr**

M. Radakovic

John Hilley said...

"Would you say something like that about Sir Winston Churchill?"

Yes, of course, why would he or anyone else be exempt from criticism over the wanton taking of human life?

Should Churchill evade criticism for the wanton destruction of Dresden?

Should Truman not be criticised for wantonly dropping nuclear bombs on Japan?

Thatcher wantonly took the lives of 323 sailors aboard the Belgrano as it was sailing away from the 200mile 'Total Exclusion Zone' - top secret information later confirmed in leaked MoD documents by civil servant Clive Ponting.

Thatcher's criminality extended much further in her support for murderous tyrants around the globe.

Here's a fine discussion of such matters:

"What a cheap load of alter-cr**"

If you post here, please stay with actual points and argument rather than abusive dismissals.


Anonymous said...

Well said John. Good solid writing, i note also you take a strong interest in anti trident. i was at the protest last saturday, bbc are shameless, trying to say there were only 300 protesters.

But maggie very frienly with some of the worst of them, Pol Pot, She was a steadfast defender of Augusto Pinochet, whose unspeakably brutal dictatorship of torture and repression terrorized Chile from 1973 to 1990. an ugly list it is

AAMVN said...

Very much enjoyed the article. It sets out the subtle point missed or rather evaded by the main stream media festivities.

I'm not glad the old, sick, sad woman is dead, though I'm sure it came as a release. She was a very clever woman who must have seen through her own failings given time to reflect on them.

John Hilley said...

Thanks bS.

Yes, I thought the anti-Trident turnout was excellent and also got a great feeling of hope being there. Wouldn't it be something to rid ourselves of all that inhuman ugliness on the Clyde?

Thanks also AAMVN. Yes, no need to revel. It's more encouraging to think that Thatcher's passing has helped inform many more, notably younger people, on the brutalities of her policies and their ongoing application.


Anonymous said...

I am not interested in politics per se, so my opinion might be ignored I accept that!

Any leader makes an easy target. Yes, the fact that they have chosen leadership means that they also have to accept the responsibility that comes with it. One thing I always ask myself is whether in their position I would be able to do any better; given the unimaginable stresses and influencing factors of being in such an extremely influential political position.

It is made to sound like she enjoyed 'killing' those sailors on the Belgrano - I'm sure (hope) she didn't. Yes, there may have been victims of 'Thatcherism' with negative effects passing down to the next generations. However, holding onto resentment and hatred against Thatcher is surely not constructive. There has to be a place for forgiveness and this is likely to give more freedom and respect to Thatcher's haters than anything else.

John Hilley said...

Anon, your opinion is equally valid.

I'm not suggesting that Margaret Thatcher 'enjoyed' taking that decision or seeing those sailors die. Who can actually say for sure what's in a person's mind in such circumstances? The key point concerns the illegality and immorality of such actions.

Actually, I don't hate Thatcher - or Blair, or anyone else, for that matter. Harbouring hateful feelings is ultimately corrosive. But that doesn't mean we forget or ignore their crimes. If there is to be 'a place for forgiveness', it must be preceded by acknowledgement and just accounting of those crimes. Understandably, many can never forgive. But that's another issue.

The main point here is to remember Thatcher's victims, something which all this establishment ceremonial has served to whitewash.

It's not about resentful hatred, but speaking and acting compassionately for those at the receiving end of power.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply John. I take all those points on board which really help me to clarify your position much better. Yes I agree with you on the issue of accountability and acknowledgement of wrong in relation to forgiveness.
Kind regards.

John Hilley said...

Thanks for your kind reply.