Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Margaret Thatcher, my favorite modern political figure,
has died. Tom Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute notes that she was influenced by
Ayn Rand, something I do not recall hearing about before. Here is part of what
Ayn Rand said about the matter, as supplied by Bowden:
A story on Margaret Thatcher, the new leader of the British Conservative party (The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 1975), stated that her "'think tank' of intellectuals" is studying and popularizing "the theories of"--and there followed a hodgepodge of so-called rightist names, ending on "Ayn Rand." I did not pay much attention to that story--but, later, I was told privately that my ideas actually do have an influence on Mrs. Thatcher's group.The full context of the quote, like Thatcher did at times, provides hope and inspiration: Rand herself had laughed about a New Republic column titled "The Ayn Rand Factor". And yet, here was a major political figure taking her ideas about government seriously.
Today, as Bowden points out, Rand's name is everywhere just a few decades later. Bowden notes that, "The passing of Margaret Thatcher gives us occasion to pause and reflect on the time required for genuinely new ideas, such as those of Ayn Rand, to percolate through a culture."
Bowden's observation reminds me of a thick-headed criticism I was on the receiving end of recently. Being preoccupied and without a snappy comeback, had to let it slide, but it bothered me that I did. I was basically criticized for my political views being too far from "the way things are". That is something I am sure that Thatcher -- and every other person interested in making things closer to the way they should be -- has had to hear. Were we all, unlike Thatcher, resigned to the way things happen to be, our civilization (if you could call it that) would still be saddled with such evils as slavery, state-sponsored religion, and a lack of civil rights for women.
I am grateful to Margaret Thatcher for demonstrating, especially through her famous decisiveness and her unwillingness to compomise on her principles, that one person can make a big difference for the better, even in a day and age that one could understandably write off as hopeless. I will not allow myself to forget that again, even for a moment.