The visceral anger and hatred, the bitter joy, the hilarity, the impromptu street parties - all of this constitutes a kind of carnival. This is what the po-faced liberal hand-wringers and the leftists proud of their controlled and rational refusal to feel are failing to understand, it's the point they're missing (I won't say much about right-wing outrage, most of it cant, all of it hypocritical - they are the enemy, implacably so, the other side in the class war, and to give a shit what they think would be a terrible mistake. Of course, I include the Labour establishment in this).
A vital element of carnival is delirium in opposition to authority and to all it’s pomposity and seriousness. In the medieval period, carnival took place simultaneously with official Church celebrations and festivals, which were anything but festive and which served to cement power in the status quo, to extend and deepen their legitimacy. And that’s what the politicians and media are doing now, this is how they’re using the death of Thatcher. And that’s why this is precisely the right time to buy ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’, or to have street parties, or to write filthy and furiously joyful messages about Thatcher on social media - because this is a time when the mainstream politicians, the bosses and their media gobshites, including those who consider themselves sympathetic to what they think of as ‘the Left’ (rarely extending beyond soft-left social democracy) are in full pomp. The capitalists and their State are burying one of their greatest leaders and warriors with massive solemnity, weighted with significance, reinscribing in the process their own importance and power.
The carnival of happy, silly songs, death parties, dancing on her grave, riotous joy, cheap champagne, cigars and lager in the streets, is all a big ‘fuck you’ to all that. It might not be revolutionary, but it is a rebellion, a refusal to allow them to claim unopposed a fictitious national unity under their own rule. As such, it is political on that level at least, although that doesn’t mean that it’s not really felt; real politics, the politics of ordinary people, of the working class, is always really felt, it’s visceral, of the body. It’s the difference between having a decent living and being in poverty, between keeping yourself and your family together or having it all fall apart, about the standard of health care or education you can get access to, about whether your life is enjoyable or miserable, fulfilling or wasted.
That’s another thing the people who are ‘disgusted’ at our joy and anger can’t understand. It’s not because we didn’t agree with her policies. We can’t say, even if we wanted to, with the cowards and careerists ruling the Labour Party, we disagreed with her policies, but we respected her as a great politician. Because politics is not a game for us; it’s not a career. The fact that she was a ‘great’ politician means that she was successful, and success for her didn’t just mean that Neil Kinnock didn’t get the job he wanted, or that it took a long time for Gordon Brown to get into the cabinet. It meant that people - some of us, people we knew - were thrown out of work, that children went hungry, that lives were wasted, communities fucked. It meant that we were hungry, or cold, or that we worked for peanuts at the mercy of vicious ignorant fuckwits. Her success also meant that we found it much harder than it might otherwise have been to fight back, to improve out lives - and we still do.
She wasn’t just a politician whose policies we disagreed with, and she certainly wasn’t just a frail old woman who ceased to matter a long time ago. If she failed to matter a long time ago, the enemy wouldn’t be making such a big deal now - because that’s what they are, they are our enemies; and she was a particularly successful, vicious and intransigent enemy leader. That’s why we’re celebrating her death.
But the war goes on. Her death doesn’t really change anything; at best, it might galvanise people into fighting back again, harder, reigniting anger and optimism on our side of the class struggle. In the meantime the current government are, if anything, more vicious than she was, although they also seem quite a lot more stupid, and it’s with them and with the bosses that our fight really needs to be.
There is a suspicion that carnival, while never officially sanctioned, was unofficially tolerated by those in power because it allowed people to blow off steam, to express their misery and frustration, in a short burst of freedom before returning to servitude for the rest of the year. We hope that this won’t be like that. That people will wake up next Thursday morning rejuvenated and with a clearer sight of the enemy, rather than exhausted and hungover.
So if you’re disgusted with our behaviour, if you find it risible, childish, hateful - then you are either with the enemy - in which case the angrier it makes you, the more disgusted, the more uncomfortable, the better as far as we’re concerned - or you simply don’t understand the realities of the situation, in which case think about it. Think about it hard. Whose side are you on?