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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tramping the dirt down?

I'm not exactly a huge Russell Brand fan, so that's why I was so surprised to read his cogent recollections of growing up in Thatcher's England that doesn't devolve into sheer vitriol. And he latches onto something that the people who hero worship Thatcher seem to forget. Thatcher might have dismantled what she saw as a socialist government, but she also dismantled any relationship between the British people, their state, and their society, without building a new relationship. People were willing to die for the England Churchill ruled, but does anyone want to sacrifice anything at all for post-Thatcher England?

Maybe that's the reason for the Cult of Diana. She's the one person, post-Thatcher that the English people felt a personal connection with. Now you have a bunch of unappealing Royals who are either unpleasant or doddering.

I know Helen Rittelmeyer, at one point, wrote an article that touched on this (which I can't find the link to), but Brand sums it up rather well:
If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't [...] All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.
And in a few sentences, Brand sums up the core contradiction of modern Conservatism: the pull between Free Market selfishness and the yearning for the bonds of a traditional, connected society. But if you say that everything must be bought at market prices, then "traditional society" is at best a hobby for privileged people, the Live Action Role Playing of a society.