Ding-Dong! The *itch Is Dead

by Laura Vilaça

Capitalism is a subject that stirs feelings. As much as it moves money, it moves emotions: thousands of people gather in the streets to criticize it, while not-so-many-thousands (figuratively) pray in appreciation of the profit they make out of this system. However – and more than hate or an acute thankful sensation -, capitalism brings out beautiful romances.

Over thirty years ago, one of the most emblematic romances of our time was born: Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were protagonists of an ideological union based on politics and economy that changed the world. Sharing distrust on communism and highly possibly a plate of pasta (much like the scene in The Lady and The Tramp), they led in the direction of privatization and a firm affirmation of the West. While some of us were left to mild foreplay like whips and kisses, Thatcher and Reagan were playing world domination.

Lady and Tramp spaghetti clip

Instead of meatballs imagine them eating your publicly funded health care

Free trade, open markets and deregulation turn them on

Under the power of ‘Maggie’ for 11 years, the United Kingdom recuperated its status of world economic player, going back to financial golden years previous to the First World War. The cost? Getting a group of miners pretty mad and throwing Britain into a pool of unemployment, making the UK a significantly unequal society that rebelled through music and massive protest (which was a nice outcome though).

On the same page, her ‘husband’, Mr. Reagan, was working his way through his own code book of economics: ‘‪Reaganomics’. Like Maggie, Ron really liked to cut taxes and privatize stuff. More than that, he really wanted to make the State’s expenses skinnier and its action towards economic regulation more flaccid. The economy grew fast and steady, making America very happy to be able to show the finger and shout “Suck it!” to the Russians.

With so much in common, this blissful power-‘couple’ made it through the 80s with questionable hairstyles and a shared love for the Battleship game. They built bridges of love and understanding over the Atlantic, not afraid of supporting each other in occasions when other world powers were skeptical.

With Reagan leaving office in 1989 and Thatcher in 1990, the power couple was out of the spotlight and the world had to wait over ten years for another such love. The open-market-fed sparkle rekindled in the form of Merkozy, a charming European coalition between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the – then – French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Much like their predecessors, this ‘couple’ thrived on prompting the comeback of neo-liberalism in Europe after years of social-democratic policies, getting their kicks on letting poor people know they suck.

casais

Don’t sob, love

As Margaret Thatcher, the _itch, died last week and Reagan had already died in 2004, one of the most enticing love stories of the 20th century finally came to a (physical) end. It shall last in the memory of all of us and, mostly, in the huge financial crisis we’re all sucked into partly because of the cute actions of the lovebirds.

As for the neo-capital-love, its end came even sooner: Sarkozy lost the French elections for a second run in 2012, leaving his lady love Merkel standing alone against a lot of angry Europeans.

The two love stories here narrated mark the beginning and the end of an era of Western economical prosperity but social decline: with Thatcher and Reagan, liberalism expanded immensely, being explored to limits that burst up in the 2007-2008 financial crisis. This crisis became the gift left by Maggie and Ron to their successors in these matters of capitalist romance, giving Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy a motive to neglect historical quarrels between Germany and France and unite for the greater (economic) ‘good’ of the European Union and their shared goals.

Those who say liberalism doesn’t have a heart, clearly do not understand romance at all.

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