The latest podcast in a series of discussions between Racecraft author Karen Fields and The Academic & the Artist hosts Sergio Muñoz and Dr. José Moreno is now online. In this episode, Fields is joined by Vanderbilt University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, Tiffany Patterson. Together, they delve into the ever-fascinating subject of race in the United States, with a soundtrack of songs by Cassandra Wilson. To listen to their conversation online, click here, or you can download the podcast from iTunes (search the Academic and the Artist).
‘Margaret Thatcher is Dead: This lady is not returning!’ is one way of the calmer statements celebrating Thatcher’s demise on my Facebook page. I can’t join the clamour singing ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’, trailing as it does its horrific historical sexism. More sadly, I can’t see anything to celebrate. Whilst this once formidable Tory trailblazer is dead, her ideas are more resurgent than ever. Neither Cameron nor Osborne will ever be damned as a warlocks or necromancers – this rarely happens to men – yet it is thanks to them that Margaret Thatcher dies triumphant. Thatcher’s success, like that of her pal, Reagan, was that through a combination of shrewdness and luck she could ride the high tide of corporate capital’s determination to increase profits by rolling back all the popular gains of the postwar settlement. She was neoliberalism’s willing tool, rather than something unique, evil or otherwise.
The virulence of the denunciations of Scargill and the miners during and long after the 1984–5 strike went far beyond the established boundaries of modern-day mainstream British politics. It reached a peak in the summer of 1984, when the Prime Minister compared the struggle with the miners to the war against the Argentine junta over the Falklands/Malvinas islands two years earlier. ‘We had to fight an enemy without in the Falklands,’ she declared at a gathering of Conservative back- bench MPs. Now the war had to be taken to ‘the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty’. A few months later, Margaret Thatcher would return to her theme in the Carlton Club, the clubland temple of High Toryism:
At one end of the spectrum are, the terrorist gangs within our borders and the terrorist states which finance and arm them. At the other are the hard left, operating inside our system, conspiring to use union power . . . to break, defy and subvert the laws.
Her senior ministers were no less extreme. Thus Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary responsible during the strike for overseeing Britain’s largest and longest-running police mobilization ever, fulminated:
Mr Scargill does not just hate our free and democratic system and seek to do everything he can to discredit and damage it; he also feels equal hatred and contempt for those miners whose servant he is meant to be but whose tyrant he has become.
The message conveyed by these remarks by Thatcher and Brittan was unmistakable, down to the use of the words ‘conspiring’ and ‘subvert’: this false prophet and his bands of untamed red guards and coalfield sans-culottes should be treated as outlaws. They were enemies of the state. By branding the miners ‘the enemy within’, the Prime Minister was giving a calculated signal of unambiguous clarity to all government agencies that the gloves should come off in the war with the NUM.