April 09, 2013

Thatcher Is Gone: May We All Rest in Peace

I am a product of Margaret Thatcher’s United Kingdom. I served as guinea pig for every educational experiment she launched during her Premiership, and lived within sight of the pithead at Cadley Hill, which finally closed in 1988. I saw friends risk their liberty over the ill-fated Poll Tax and stood on the sidelines of a culture marked by the bleakness of strikes, the violence of football fans, race riots, class division, and the immanence of the IRA. My England of the 1980s was a grim, knee-capped, hopeless era in which Thatcher brandished a political crowbar. I have no fond affections for her, her ideology, or her political legacy.

 Cadley Hill, 1984

That being said, and with Glenn Greenwald’s important intervention in mind, I see no humanity in dancing on Thatcher’s grave, or on anyone else’s for that matter. I do not understand how so many characteristically reasonable people – people who spend their lives looking for intellectual angles on everything with an ever-refining insistence on nuance – can take pleasure, and I am discerning an abundance of genuine heartfelt glee, from the death of a person. This kind of people bemoaned the crass triumphalism of Joe Public in America on the death of Osama Bin Laden, but happily celebrate the enfeeblement and subsequent miserable demise of a compatriot. If Thatcher was criticised for commodifying the individual, de-humanising society in the process, then the vacuous danse macabre instigated by her death seems to testify to the depths to which that de-humanisation went.

Schadenfreude is, quite obviously, not typically a particularly English quality. At the moment, however, one wouldn’t know it. By all means speak ill of the dead, but in the name of humanity stop raising a glass to death. It is unbecoming of the dignity that so many people who detested Thatcher claimed to wish to uphold.


  1. Thank you. What I've been thinking needed to be said.

  2. My sentiment exactly.. Cheers to that!


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