Mrs Thatcher, Ayn Rand and Bishop Chartres

It’s a bit soon to make a proper judgement, but Bishop Chartres seems to have delivered a blinder of a sermon at Mrs thatcher’s funeral service. Saying he wasn’t going to be political, he was very highly political in an important way. I mean that he laid what looks like a trail between Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher. Here’s the key sentence (culled from the Daily Mirror’s website). It’s on spiritual development :

First there is the struggle for freedom and independence and then the self-giving and the acceptance of inter-dependence.

These are not Margaret Thatcher’s words, but Chartres’s, though they are clearly intended to resonate with what she said about how social and human well-being depends on interdependence (themes when she spoke at St Lawrence Jewry and to the Scottish synod).

I think what Chartres is reaching for, and what MT would have enjoyed if she had been in an unwonted metaphysical mode, is that one must first of all be an independent being before one can be useful to oneself and society. But in any case, and also, one must be independent in several ways before one can be spiritually rich (or, in her terms, a good Christian).

I think what is fresh and valuable in Ayn Rand is precisely this stress – unusual in 20th Century writing – that self-actualisation is vital. I think Rand mucked up most other bits of her thought – didn’t get to the interdependence bit, really. I think Mrs T was not much good at welfare thinking, but she was better than Rand.

It is for a new generation of moderns to create a post-socialist welfare system, but Mrs Thatcher laid much of the trail, and more than might be supposed, she expressed a good deal of the emotional, spiritual and psychological reasons why the socialist Welfare State failed people.

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Publication date

17 April 2013