Thursday, 11 April 2013

Another View of the Anti-Thatcher Castor Oil


Yesterday, I wrote this piece in which I opined on why many on the political Left - particularly, the sort of Champagne Socialists like Glenda Jackson, a Labour MP and former actress who represents a like-minded constituency in Hampstead.  Hampstead is one of those in-a-bottle sort of "villages" that are adored by neo-urbanists.

Think of Marin County, California, or perhaps Westchester.  The sort of place where the well-heeled, self-identified "Creative Class" can go to live close to the city, but not so close that the "irritations" of city life actually touch them in any real way.  And they're expensive enough that the sort of people folks like Glenda Jackson mawkishly speak of in their noblesse oblige speeches are priced out of.

From Wikipedia:
Part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London, (Hampstead)  is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. It has some of the most expensive housing in the London area. The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.
In my experience, people like Glenda Jackson like "the people" in theory, and like "the people" significantly less in practice.

Looking over the varied media today, I came across the following quote from famed British physicist Freeman Dyson
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class.…I learned to look on the commercial middle class with loathing and contempt. Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher, which was also the revenge of the commercial middle class. The academics lost their power and prestige and the business people took over. The academics never forgave Thatcher….
 It's an interesting, somewhat orthogonal view.  And it holds a certain sway for me.

One reads frequently of "the creative class" - almost always inclusive of writers, musicians, actors, professional intellectuals, and interestingly, commercial people from the right professions.  The heads of various internet companies (Google, Facebook, and Twitter leap to mind), while the heads of more traditional industries (Ford, BP) typically do not.  The leaders of my industry - pharmaceutical research - most certainly fall beyond the Pale.

The French emperor Napoleon famously dismissed the English thusly
L'Angleterre c'est un nation de boutiquiers (England is a nation of shopkeepers)
That ethos is alive today in pop culture.  In film and book, the protagonist of the story will invariably be the guy who runs the neighbourhood coffeehouse - decidedly quirky, and most assuredly not Starbucks; the 20-ish woman who runs a collective nonprofit; the couple (unmarried, no kids) who head a small furniture store making and selling chairs out of reclaimed wood.  The middle-aged guy who owns a factory or works in a bank will nearly always turn out to be a malign character.

Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a grocery store owner, most assuredly non-creative.

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