Άρθρο του Νίκου Μόττα φιλοξένησε η εφημερίδα «New Worker», όργανο του Νέου Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος Βρετανίας, με αφορμή την συμπλήρωση δέκα χρόνων από το θάνατο της Μάργκαρετ Θάτσερ.
Στο εκτενές άρθρο, που φέρει τον τίτλο «Μάργκαρετ Θάτσερ: Σύμβολο καπιταλιστικής βαρβαρότητας», ο Ν. Μόττας αναφέρεται στον κομβικό ρόλο που έπαιξε η «Σιδηρά Κυρία», πρωθυπουργός της Βρετανίας από το 1979 έως το 1990, στην καπιταλιστική ανασυγκρότηση της χώρας έπειτα από την οικονομική κρίση της δεκαετίας του 1970.
Θύματα της πολιτικής της Θάτσερ, η οποία έμεινε στην ιστορία για την άγρια καταστολή με την οποία αντιμετώπισε τις απεργιακές κινητοποιήσεις των μεταλλωρύχων τη διετία 1984–85, την πολιτική των σαρωτικών ιδιωτικοποιήσεων και τον ιμπεριαλιστικό πόλεμο στα Φώκλαντ, υπήρξαν η εργατική τάξη και τα λαϊκά στρώματα της Βρετανίας.
«Η “Σιδηρά Κυρία» πολέμησε λυσσαλέα το απελευθερωτικό κίνημα της Βόρειας Ιρλανδίας, συμμάχησε με αιμοσταγείς φασίστες όπως ο Χιλιανός δικτάτορας Αουγούστο Πινοσέτ και απάνθρωπα, ρατσιστικά καθεστώτα όπως το νοτιοαφρικανικό Άπαρτχάιντ. Για την Θάτσερ, αγωνιστές της ελευθερίας όπως ο Νέλσον Μαντέλα και ο Μπόμπι Σαντς ήταν “τρομοκράτες”», σημειώνει μεταξύ άλλων το άρθρο.
Ολόκληρο το κείμενο του Νίκου Μόττα στη «New Worker» έχει ως εξής:
The 8th of April marked the 10th death anniversary of the so-called “Iron Lady”, Margaret Thatcher. Following the announcement of her death, on 8 April 2013, spontaneous celebrations erupted in numerous working class neighborhoods throughout Britain.
The fact that thousands of Britons, old and young, welcomed happily the news of the Iron Lady’s death wasn’t a coincidence: Throughout her political career Baroness Thatcher made everything in order to establish herself as a fierce enemy of the working class.
Prime Minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990, Thatcher is mostly remembered for her steadfast adherence to the politics of extensive privatizations, the brutal suppression of worker’s strikes and the imperialist war in the Malvinas, also known as Falkland Islands, in 1982.
In order to understand the Thatcher phenomenon, we must first examine the political and social context within which it was developed. The rise of Thatcher to power came as an outcome of the intra-capitalist restructurings that occurred in 1970s in Britain and Europe as a whole. These restructurings were the prelude to the policy of neoliberalism that followed in the next decades, which included an escalation of the capitalist system’s savage attack against the working class rights.
In the post-World War II period, mainly as a result of inter-imperialist realignments and given the fact that it was on the winner’s side, Britain experienced a period of relative capitalist development. Despite the wounds of the war, the 1950s and 1960s provided an opportunity to the British capital to regroup and maintain stable levels of growth. In the late 1960s, British imperialism showed the first symptoms of decline, as the once mighty colonial superpower appeared to be the weak link in the global capitalist system, with declining growth rates and high inflation. By the early 1970s, the country was in the most significant economic crisis of the post-war period. With unemployment reaching high levels, the working class movement responded with strikes and mobilizations while the governments attempted to shift the burden of the crisis to the working people’s shoulders.
1972 was marked by major strikes organized by seafarers, dockworkers and miners, with the latter leading massive strike protests two years later, in 1974.
As the position of the British bourgeois class in the global imperialist system worsened, the crackdown on workers’ mobilizations became increasingly violent. At the same time, important changes were taking place within the U.S and international capitalist establishment, focused on the crisis of over-accumulation: The monetary theory of the so-called “Chicago School” was replacing the Keynesian model of capitalist development, something that would eventually lead to the dominance of neoliberal policies.
As long as the Labour governments (Wilson, Callaghan) were unable to provide a solution to the economic impasse, the British bourgeois class began to oriented towards an alternative option that would ensure the recovery of her profits, without any major side effects for her interests. In 1976, James Callaghan’s government appealed to the International Monetary Fund for a loan, a decision that had major implications: The Labour government had to implement a tough fiscal policy, to cut much of public welfare benefits and pass new anti-worker measures, something that brought it in direct conflict with the trade unions. The supposed “progressives” of the Labour Party openly attempted to revive the economy in favor of the British capital by placing the burden on the working class.
Having severed its ties with a major part of the working class movement, the Labour government’s policy caused a wave of strike mobilizations that reached a peak in 1979. This situation provided a golden opportunity for the Conservative Party to return to power. With a new leader, 54 year-old Margaret Thatcher, the Tories “stepped” on the anti-popular Labour policy, blamed the unions for the chaotic situation and began a process to get the British capital out of the crisis by saving its profits at all costs.
Winning the elections of 3 May 1979, Thatcher launched a relentless war against Britain’s working class, aiming to impose a new, more aggressive model of capitalist management that included: Extensive privatizations, restriction of the state’s role in the economy so that monopolies were absolutely free to speculate and boost their profit-making, destruction of the social welfare state, anti-worker reforms for the benefit of the big employers and escalation of imperialist aggression against Northern Ireland.
A fundamental strategy of “Thatcherism” was the systematic effort to dissolve the trade unions. After all, how else would the policy of capitalist profitability triumph if the resistance strongholds of the working class were not completely weakened? The Tories government began with the weakest unions and gradually declared the war on the most powerful trade unions, such as the ones of Britain’s miners. Thatchers’ policy led the country’s popular strata to impoverishment, thus forcing a large part of the working class youth to revolt, as it happened in Liverpool, Manchester and London in 1981. At the same time that Britain’s monopoly groups were recovering from the crisis, the working masses in large industrial cities were sinking into poverty, misery and uncertainty.
The antidote to the wave of popular discontent was found to the imperialist war in Falkland Islands; a war that was covered under a “patriotic cloak” and aimed to disorient the masses from the internal problems. The military conflict with Argentina, but also the unbending, tough stance of Thatcher on the issue of Northern Ireland, were used in order to awake the petty bourgeoisie patriotism of Britain’s population. Throughout history, numerous deeply reactionary and anti-popular governments used imperialist wars to disorient the people from the brutality of the internal class attack. In her effort the “Iron Lady” found a valuable ally with whom she shared a common ideology, U.S President Ronald Reagan.
Thatcher’s government suppressed the massive miners’ strikes of 1984–85 with unprecedented ferocity. The message that she actually wanted to deliver was that she would show zero tolerance towards the working class struggles. “We understood the Conservative government’s determination to use the state machine against us. In order to dismember the welfare state, they had to break the trade union movement and they needed to break the miners first”, Mick McGahey, Vice President of the National Union of Mineworkers 1972–87, had once said. The goal was none other than the creation of a political, social and economic environment that would ensure, in the maximum possible way, the profitability of monopoly groups. Within this context, the profits of the London City bankers skyrocketed while the working class strata were rapidly impoverished.
For the defenders of capitalism and free market economy, Margaret Thatcher is without doubt an inspiring personality and a successful political leader. And, indeed, she was successful. Not for the people, but for the British capital, the bourgeois oligarchy. The “Iron Lady” was a pioneer in boosting the profitability of the capitalists, dismantling the welfare state and imposing a political and economic model that prioritizes the exploitation of man by man. After all, she herself had declared that “there is no society, only individuals”.
For the British people, the outcome of a decade of Thatcherism was certainly painful. Social inequalities wideled significantly, the economy became a pray for the monopoly groups and bankers, while unemployment rates increased. Crime and widespread drug trafficking rised in poor, working class neighborhood, as a result of the broad impoverishment brought by Thatcher’s policies.
In 1979, 13.4% of the population lived below 60% of median incomes before housing costs. By 1990, it had gone up to 22.2%, or 12.2m people, with huge rises in the mid-1980s. During Thatcher’s administration, numerous state companies were sold to the large private business groups. Here are some examples: Britoil (1982), Associated British Ports (1983), Enterprise Oil (1984), Jaguar (1984), British Telecom (1984), British Gas (1986), British Airways (1987), Rolls-Royce (1987), British Steel (1988), Thames Water (1989), London Electricity (1990).
From their side, the leaders of the Labour Party, which had been defeated in 1979 and 1983, were “washing their hands” like modern Pontius Pilates when Thatcher was attempting to dissolve the trade unions and sell public property to the big monopolies. During the legendary 1984–85 miners’ strike, Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party refused to support the workers’ mobilizations.
British social democracy was proved a useful tool of the capital in disarming and disabling the working class movement; it is no coincidence that after coming to power in 1997 Tony Blair followed the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher whom he publicly admired. The so-called “Third Way” has been a light, social democratic version of Thatcherism.
Baroness Thatcher was a genuine political representative of the British bourgeoisie. Her policies, both in internal and foreign issues, had their own impact in the developments than shaped the global imperialist system in the 1990s, including the triumph of counterrevolution in the Soviet Union under Thatcher’s political ally Mikhail Gorbachev, the EU Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the U.S‑NATO imperialist intervention in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the deregulation of U.S financial system by the Clinton administration which actually lifted all restraints on the operation of large monopoly groups.
The “Iron Lady” fought fiercely against the Northern Ireland liberation movement, allied herself with bloodthirsty fascists like Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet and inhumane, racist regimes like South Africa’s Apartheid. For Thatcher, freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela and Bobby Sands were “terrorists”.
In the end of the day, if there is something that “Thatcherism” symbolizes, that is the relentless class enmity of the bourgeoisie for the working class. The people of Britain and Northern Ireland shall never forget, nor forgive, the gruesome, inhumane legacy of Margaret Thatcher; a legacy that actually reflects the barbaric nature of capitalism.