Anatomy of Thatcherism

Thirty years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher came to power, lending her name to a set of ideas that inspired policies to free markets from government interference. Three decades later, with world is in a slump, many on the left attribute the global crisis to these very ideas, but not all of them should be discarded.

London – Thirty years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher came to power. Although precipitated by local conditions, the Thatcher (or more broadly the Thatcher-Reagan) revolution became an instantly recognizable global brand for a set of ideas that inspired policies to free markets from government interference. Three decades later, the world is in a slump, and many people attribute the global crisis to these very ideas.  

Indeed, even beyond the political left, the Anglo-American model of capitalism is deemed to have failed. It is held culpable for the near financial meltdown. But 30 years of hindsight enable us to judge which elements of the Thatcher revolution should be preserved, and which should be amended in the light of today’s global economic downturn.

Most obviously in need of amendment is the view that minimally managed and regulated markets are both more stable and more dynamic than those subject to extensive government intervention. The Thatcherite assumption, in other words, was that government failure is far more menacing to prosperity than market failure.

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