February 22nd, 2013

Thatcher quotes, Thatcher style

Today’s the day for Margaret Thatcher quotes.

Most of us have become intensely aware of what I think might be her most famous saying, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” And in recent years we’ve certainly become more aware of it, not less.

It strikes me that one of the great things about the quote is its bumper-sticker-readiness. For the most part, other conservatives seem to lack the ability to master this sort of catchy, compressive language, although Thatcher was a champ at it. I wonder why. Was it because her conservative principles were so firmly rooted and well-thought-out? I doubt it was just that. Was it because Brits are more used to the give-and-take of Parliament, and have to hone their skills in developing the economically-worded and well-placed riposte? That’s certainly part of it, too. But Thatcher had a special gift, even among the British.

She was no slouch in the delivery department, either. Watch nearly any YouTube video of her (there are tons of them) and you’ll see her combination of steeliness, biting intelligence, and wit.

Here are some other Thatcher quotes, both short and longer:

There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.

What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner ‘I stand for consensus’?

We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.

There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

The Labour Party believes in turning workers against owners; we believe in turning workers into owners.

Communist regimes were not some unfortunate aberration, some historical deviation from a socialist ideal. They were the ultimate expression, unconstrained by democratic and electoral pressures, of what socialism is all about. … In short, the state [is] everything and the individual nothing.

Freedom is not synonymous with an easy life. … There are many difficult things about freedom: It does not give you safety, it creates moral dilemmas for you; it requires self-discipline; it imposes great responsibilities; but such is the nature of Man and in such consists his glory and salvation.

I have a suggestion for the Republican Party (doesn’t everyone?—not that they’re taking any of the advice): borrow some of the shorter, catchier ones and use them. Thatcher’s not going to sue you for plagiarism.

12 Responses to “Thatcher quotes, Thatcher style”

  1. holmes Says:

    Jesus she was good.

  2. Roman Says:

    Lady Thatcher has been one of my Heros for years. I miss her too.

  3. G Joubert Says:

    The biggest problem about conservative bumper stickers is it’s a good way to get your car keyed.

  4. George Pal Says:

    Ms. Thatcher must have been equally adept in administering the private ‘touche’ and ‘coup de grâce’. When in conversation with Chris Hitchens about some political point, Mr Hitchens had conceded to a minor point she had made with just a hint of a bow, she commanded “bow lower”. The power of her charm and the charm of her power when recognized by such as Hitchens makes all the attacks against her, to this day, seem more than childish – they are infantile. Here is the link to Hitchens’ great piece The Iron Lady’s Sex Appeal (and a good word for Jeanne Kirkpatrick, not politically, of course, but intellectually).


  5. Ann Says:

    There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

    Not heard that one before; it’s especially good because it’s clear as a bell and sticks.

    Besides being smart as a whip and having deeply understood and held beliefs, I think Thatcher’s secret was her actorly flourish. Which requires great ego, as well as practice.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann: I didn’t put this in the post, but I also think she had the courage of her absolute conviction of her own correctness. She believed she had thoroughly thought it through, and she believed she was absolutely right (as in, “correct”). No relativism for that lady!

    So many of our conservative leaders don’t have that sort of confidence—or it they have confidence, it comes across as obnoxious arrogance. Of course, many found Thatcher to be obnoxiously arrogant, but I don’t think she was. Or maybe she could just carry it off because of, as you say, her actorly flourish (also, it helps a lot to be British, I think).

  7. Ann Says:

    Neo: Yes, real courage — that was key. And what a very rare commodity that is.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Here are some other delectable Thatcher-isms to cherish;

    “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend”

    “It is always important in matters of high politics to know what you do not know. Those who think that they know, but are mistaken, and act upon their mistakes, are the most dangerous people to have in charge.” —

    “Rogue states never turn out to be quite the pariahs they are deemed. They are only able to cause, or at least threaten to cause, mayhem because they enjoy the covert support – usually by means of technology transfers – of one or more major powers within the charmed circle of global ‘good guys’.”

    “When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality – other than equality before the law – that government poses a threat to liberty.”

    “If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.”

    “It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays the eggs.”

    “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”

    “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”

    “Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus.”

    “Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.”

    “Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth.”

    “When they attack one personally, it means they haven’t a single political argument left.” —

    “I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air.”

  9. Roman Says:

    “G Joubert Says:
    February 22nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm
    The biggest problem about conservative bumper stickers is it’s a good way to get your car keyed”

    Years ago, I had a Bush 41 sticker in my back glass (bumper stickers won’t come off bumpers). While in the grocery, someone put a soiled diaper on the decklid next to the sticker. At least it didn’t leave a mark.

  10. parker Says:

    “I also think she had the courage of her absolute conviction of her own correctness. She believed she had thoroughly thought it through, and she believed she was absolutely right (as in, “correct”).”

    That is why there was a natural affinity between Maggie and Ronnie. They thought it through. I can not hate ‘liberals’ but I do think they need to be restrained via Jim Nicholas’s call for protecting them (and us) from the consequences of their actions.

  11. Mr. Frank Says:

    I like “Don’t go wobbly on me, George.” As the Argies learned, she was a tough lady of principle.

  12. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Yes, both Thatcher and Reagan had thought it through and their conservative principles were deep within their bones. And they were both superb communicators. Reagan from a life in radio, film, and TV. Thatcher from having been very well educated in the use of language as many Brits seem to be.

    It always seems to me that the well educated Brits are much more precise in their use of words than we Yanks. Could this be why she was able to distill conservative principles into effective statements that communicated their essence so quickly – i.e. bumper sticker slogans?

    The Republicans could do worse than using her quotes over and over again as mantras to get the anti-statist argument established.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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