In the column that this journalist wrote last week, he opened up by stating that “The time period of 1981 through 1991 was a time of breath-taking change.”
(There might be those who did not like the conservative nature of that change that transpired in the 1980s, but that is another story to be explored at another time.)
In the United States, former Governor Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States.
At the Vatican in Rome, Italy, Pope John-Paul II was inspiring a new generation of Roman Catholics to cheerfully embrace their faith as “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
And in 1979 in London, England, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher – affectionately referred to as “The Iron Lady” – arrived at 10 Downing Street as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain. Mrs. Thatcher was the first Conservative leader of England since Sir Winston Churchill’s second tenure which ended in 1955.
Prime Minster Thatcher came to 10 Downing Street with a resolve to reverse much of the policies that had been initiated by the British Labor Party from 1945 to 1978. This was a daunting task!
The preceding 35 years right after the Second World War (WWII) marked a watershed moment in how most of Europe began to see their relationship to their federal or “centralized governments.” Prior to the end of the WWII most of Europe was still dominated by the economic writings of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” (1776).
Adam Smith postulated that the “natural system of liberty” (what we currently refer to as the free enterprise system) was by far and away the best means of producing goods, commodities, and national prosperity. From 1776 through the late 19th Century, Smith’s seminal work on economics was taken as a reliable authority on economic subject matter.
In the early 1900s Great Britain along with many other European nations underwent a paradigm change with regards to their views of how wealth should be “equitably distributed.” The emphasis moved away from economic / wealth creation to wealth redistribution. The new mantra of the day was government was responsible for the welfare of its citizens from the “cradle” to the “grave.”
Sir Winston Churchill was a brilliant War Time Prime Minister; however, the citizens of Great Britain rejected the domestic conservatism of Churchill for what was perceived to be the cheery liberalism of Clement Atlee’s Labor Party.
Mr. Atlee proceeded to nationalize Health Care, embrace Keynesian economics, provide for greater governmental control over the economy and strongly back labor unions. Mr. Atlee and his Labor Party scored impressive electoral wins with both the changes that they enacted and with public opinion behind them it seemed that the era of “progressive politics” meant that their momentum could continue indefinitely.
Well, as the late Paul Harvey would say, “And here is the rest of the story.”
Through the 1960s and 1970s, it appeared that the nation’s taxes continued to expand and that there was no end to “labor shortages” and crippling “labor strikes” that imperiled the spiritual, moral, and economic health of Great Britain.
Yet, through this time of “cradle to the grave” Governmental expansion there arose in Mrs. Margaret Thatcher – the leader of the Conservative opposition – a call for the British people to remember that not all of their problems could be nor should they be solved by their central government.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a conservative in the mold of the late British philosopher Edmund Burke (please see his 1790 masterpiece “Reflections On the Revolution In France”) who believed that people should pursue their duties and pleasures in a multitude of “little platoons.”
Little platoons would be units of organization such as the family; the extended family; Churches; Synagogues; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts – 4H Clubs; Rotary Groups; et cetera. It is in these little platoons that values, principles and belief systems are transmitted and reinforced.
The health and freedom of a society depended on having many little platoons or intermediating structures that act as a barrier to too much central governmental power grabbing over the lives of the citizenry.
Mrs. Thatcher brought her Judeo-Christian and cultural conservative belief system to her country and helped her nation undergo a spiritual, economic, and cultural redivivius.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her people once again became important actors on the world scene – and from an economic perspective the country’s Gross Domestic Output began to grow, expand, and accelerate. People began to experience a boon in their pocketbooks.
Finally, Europe and the rest of the world owes Mrs. Thatcher a debt of gratitude in the fact that she like President Ronald Reagan across the Atlantic Ocean was a tireless champion of freedom who stood strong against Communist oppression and the expansion of the Soviet Union expansion in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Edmund Burke once stated that “the easiest way for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing.”
Mrs. Thatcher was a principled-centered stateswomen who stood athwart against the forces of evil, tyranny, and economic stagnation. She surely deserves her own Profile in Courage.