Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Aristocracy is Dead, but the Corpse Twitches Still

Mrs Thatcher Takes Power

Fruity, absurd dinosaur of the conservative English right, Peregrine Worsthorne,
reviews Anthony Sampson's latest installment in the four-decades long Anatomy of Britain series in the New Statesman.

Who Runs this Place?

The review embodies everything I dislike about Britain's conservative right as compared with its Reagan/Bush counterpart - cranky antiquarianism, anti-modern, convinced, for no particular reason, of its unique virtue and indispensability.

While the old aristocracy was at least evolved out of an ethic separate from, and ideally superior to, the current capitalist triumphalism, today's meritocracy, which is the product and beneficiary of that capitalist triumphalism, is enslaved to it body and soul.

Well, whatever it's many failings the overthrow of the aristocracy by the the working-class bruisers like Tebbitt, bourgeois triumphalists like Mrs T. and their heirs in New Labour have done something the old elite has not - kept Britain together.

Perry forgets in his aspirational nostalgia for the old "ethic" that the older ruling class proved itself monumentally incompetent in its management of that dirty thing called capitalism.

This week saw the twenty-fifth anniversary of the election of the first Thatcher government. The century just past was one long catalogue of the utter failure of the elites of the government, industry and the civil service to diagnose or prevent Britain's decline. The whiff of accomodation with Hitler, abysmal performance of the war economy and the endless humiliations afterwards, culminating in the visit of the IMF and the Winter of Discontent - all this happened on their watch. It took Thatcher and her cabinet "with more old Estonians than old Etonians" as Nicholas Ridley put it, to steer the ship of state away from the rocks and build an active base of support for the right among the newly-empowered Essex men. If this is moral failure, then more power to it, I say!

Peter 笔德