Margaret Thatcher is Dead; Capitalism Lives On

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” This is a famous quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher which alludes to the mind-set of an individual who is able to single-mindedly exert an opinion and get things done in a particular way, regardless of what others think or the obstacles that they may put in her way.

In an ideological leader, as Margaret Thatcher was, this is certainly a very commendable attribute since it allows a person to make things happen on the basis of an ideological viewpoint without making compromises that dampen the effect of the initial idea.

In this light, the collective policies that Margaret Thatcher imposed, and that have been termed Thatcherism, could best be described as an attempt to implement Capitalism without having to compromise to Socialists, trade unionists or indeed anybody else who happened to hold a differing view.

For this reason, a look at the policies that were implemented by Margaret Thatcher provides an insight into the effect of Capitalism on society, and further illustrates the emphasis that Capitalism places on economic indicators for growth, and the few people that this benefits, at the expense of the effects on the whole of the population upon which it is imposed.

The example of Margaret Thatcher taking on the trade unions is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Margaret Thatcher’s rule. The trade unions definitely needed to be reined in, since they exerted so much of an influence that they could easily stall production in factories and leave kids without schooling for days on end, but the more significant motive that made them targets for the full force of the ire of Margaret Thatcher was so as to remove them as obstacles that they were in the way of making the labour workforce a more fluid entity that could respond better to the whims of the financial markets and other economic pressures.

Key planks of this thinking were that it was a necessity to be able to get more productivity out of workers, reduce their entitlements and to make it easier to fire them when they were not needed. The resulting changes were initially mostly felt with the destruction of the large mining communities in the North of England, leaving many thousands of workers idle and unproductive and areas that once flourished with activity desolate.

The flipside to this was that where there was money to be made by the most profitable business sectors, and those closest to the leading political party the path was greased to allow the financial accumulation to occur by removing such perceived unnecessary obfuscations as regulations, responsibility and common sense.

Whilst it is correctly argued that the current economic downturn in the United Kingdom is directly attributable, at least in part, to the financial deregulation that occurred during the Thatcher years, it is telling to note that it occurred with such ease and was largely unopposed. The odds are stacked against skilled industrial workers whose talents are suddenly deemed economically unfashionable and who will find it difficult to re-skill and find employment elsewhere but for those who had the ear of, and provided financial support to, the leading political elite it was much easier to get a concession or two in their favour.

The right-to-buy of council houses provided an opportunity for the aspirational to buy from the social housing stock. There is nothing wrong with being aspirational, but couple this with individualism and greed then the formula turns nasty; community spirit breaks down and the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. By the time of her resignation 28% of the children in Britain were considered to be living below the poverty line, this is despite Margaret Thatcher being credited with reviving the British economy, a revival which was greatly helped by windfall profits from North Sea oil and privatisations.

Regardless of the impression that people have of Margaret Thatcher as a person there is a unanimous conclusion that can be reached which is that in retrospect there are a few aspects of her tenure that can objectively be seen to be detrimental to the wellbeing of the needs of people. These aspects, such as financial deregulation, destruction of industrial communities and the elevation of individualism and greed, had a huge and lasting detrimental effect on large swathes of the British population. These aspects are also intrinsic and necessary aspects of Capitalism.

Given the single-minded capitalistic ethos behind Thatcherism perhaps it is fitting that today she should be afforded a £10 million pound state funeral instead of allowing that money to go towards 322 nurses, 272 secondary school teachers, or 320 fire officers or some other utility that would benefit larger numbers of people and contribute more towards the well-being of society?

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful!

Like all Muslims, I want to contribute positively to the well-being of my family, the community within which I live (here in the United Kingdom), to the Muslim Ummah all around the world and to the whole of humanity at large.

This may sound like a lofty opening claim of intent but when one considers the very least that this may entail I think that one recognises that this is not an outlandish, unattainable aim but something that can be achieved quite tangibly with a little focus and effort.

For example, if a person were to make a phone call to an elderly neighbour to enquire about her health and ask if she needs anything then this action alone is making a real difference to a vulnerable person living in the area, regardless of any follow-up actions that may arise from it.

Similarly, if a person were to seek out a local community initiative such as, for example, an organisation consisting of group of volunteers that clean up the neighbourhood around a masjid and volunteer his or her spare time to contribute to the initiative then, again, one is supporting the local community and hopefully gaining ajr (reward) for joining in with this activity.

The challenge, though, is to seek out and take on the tasks that are the best use of a person’s time, that allow a person to ensure that one is moving towards the best aims in life whilst also fulfilling responsibilities to one’s family, to the community, to the Ummah, to humanity and, fundamentally and crucially, to Allah (swt).

Defining what a person wants to be in life and what aims to reach for is a challenge in itself! Therefore, I have set up this blog to hopefully help me to focus on what is important in life, to reflect on my achievements (or lack thereof) and on how to refine my thinking and my actions so that I may achieve what I decide is important and to not waste my time on distractions and trivialities.

This blog will be anonymous in nature. I feel that this anonymity will enable me to write more intimately about my progress and my challenges so that I can understand my thinking and actions better and in a deeper way. Whilst this blog is primarily to help me to keep my thoughts and actions on track, maybe this approach will also allow me to potentially reach anybody who is reading the blog at deeper level and help me to relate to the reader better.

I will be reading some books that I believe will help me on this journey and so you can expect reviews of books that I read as well as abridgments of sections of books that I find particularly interesting, and that have been contextualized and shaped into an Islamic perspective as I see it, insha’Allah.

I am also a big fan of the Islamic productivity website so expect also my experiences of trying out the various bits of advice, worksheets and suggestions that are presented on that site (may Allah (swt) reward immensely all those who are associated with it).

I am far, far away from being an Islamic scholar or any kind of Islamic person of note. I will be extremely careful to not give any advice that is not appropriate for me to provide. Rather, this blog is a way for me to simply provide my personal experiences and thoughts, issues that I experience and my take on the Islamic way to think about certain issues.

I am presenting my thoughts and experiences in a public way, albeit anonymously, such that insha’Allah they may be of benefit to others and allow me the prospect of crystallizing my own thoughts. I look forward to being corrected and for my thinking to be refined in a public way such that all readers of this blog will benefit from any discussions that may arise.

Insha’Allah, I hope that this thinking, doing and writing process may be of benefit to the readers of this blog, to those dear to me and to those that Allah (swt) asks of me to help and support. Not that He (swt) needs for me to help Him but so that I may attain His (swt) Mercy though my intentions and actions.