The Daily Gamecock

Contemporary policies ought to focus on present global climate

Current politics cannot rely on historical record to confront modern-day problems

The world’s social media sphere erupted in praise and lengthy obituaries Monday for Margaret Thatcher, the first and only female prime minister of Great Britain, and her often controversial policies. To commemorate her memory, videos of and famous quotes by the former prime minister were circulated by all those still mentally stuck in the age of Alan Greenspan, Ronald Reagan and Francis Fukuyama.

We live in a society with a double paradigm for the political process — one we apply to those obstructing our global vision, and one we apply to ourselves. We deride the Kim regime in North Korea for using Korean War–era wounds, inflicted by the United States and its allies, and the “heroism” of Kim Il Sung in propaganda to justify ridiculous policies and actions within their suppressed nation.

Nevertheless, today’s Western reactionaries cling to neoliberal figures of the past as bulwarks of a 21st-century, jungle-capitalist model. Worse still, many millennials glorify political and economic persons who lived and ruled before they were even born or making sense of the world around them.

As a result, a perverse form of idolatry and nostalgia for a bygone era has emerged in the political arena, even among those who never lived in fear of a nuclear Armageddon amidst the Cold War. Grassroots support exists for leaders today, in a time of uncertain progress for our country, who prefer to order unneeded F-35 fighter jets and name every federal building in America after former President Ronald Reagan, rather than fund innovative energy projects and educational initiatives that will allow the country to regain its economic competitiveness.

When Thatcher was prime minister, she bolstered a disillusioned Britain in 1982 by launching a defensive attack on Argentinian forces that sought to capture the Falkland Islands. But the attempts to mirror the noble efforts of the late ’80s by waging war on Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations has proved to only discredit America’s world vision and values.

In addition, Thatcher once proclaimed the growing socioeconomic rift between the rich and poor in British society was irrelevant when taking into account that all levels of income had risen during the decade of her rule. Today, however, most middle-class workers in developed economies face stagnating wages and no increase in standard of life compared to the 1970s and 1980s, while corporate leaders preside over record-breaking income gains.

It is not appropriate to justify the continuation of policies that produced ephemeral positive results 30 years ago if our current societal malaise indicates otherwise. You may quote Thatcher’s famous words, but the problem with that is you risk failing to relate those words to current events.

And while this column is not meant to be a rebuke of a lifetime of public service, Thatcher’s policies should be viewed within the historical context of its time and not as a guide for the present day.


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