Some in Westminster have talked about her receiving a state funeral when she dies, which seems a bizarre sort of tribute to someone who believed the state should do as little as possible. It would be far more appropriate to allow competitive bids from private companies to run the funeral arrangements. 'And we now go over live to Westminster, where state leaders are lining up for Lady Thatcher's funeral sponsored by McDonald's. And there we see the coffin respectfully borne on the shoulders of six part-time burger-flippers dressed in the official Ronald McDonald costume, before the private cremation when the body will be flame-grilled with gherkins and a slice of cheese.'It's what she would have wanted.
What we have witnessed in our own time is the death of universities as centres of critique. Since Margaret Thatcher, the role of academia has been to service the status quo, not challenge it in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future. We will not change this simply by increasing state funding of the humanities as opposed to slashing it to nothing. We will change it by insisting that a critical reflection on human values and principles should be central to everything that goes on in universities, not just to the study of Rembrandt or Rimbaud.
Now, I have always wanted to agree with Lady Bracknell that there is no earthly use for the upper and lower classes unless they set each other a good example. But I shouldn't pretend that the consensus itself was any of my concern. It was absurd and slightly despicable, in the first decade of Thatcher and Reagan, to hear former and actual radicals intone piously against 'the politics of confrontation.' I suppose that, if this collection has a point, it is the desire of one individual to see the idea of confrontation kept alive.