The “Iron Lady” leads off Chapter 5 of Madmen (“How Ideas Matter for Political Change”). We recount a story of Thatcher that we found in John Blundell’s writings. Thatcher is one of the revolutionaries discussed under the heading “Maggie, Mart, and the Madmen,” which are the opening words of Chapter 5:
It happened with Lenin rousing the crowds in Russia. It happened with Mao driving China into the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward. It happened with Che Guevara’s motorcycle ride across Latin America, looking for fights and finding Castro’s revolution in Cuba. It is happening today in Venezuela and Bolivia, where presidents proclaim a “new” revolution in the names of Simón Bolívar and the last Incan emperor, Atahualpa. All these revolutionaries espouse an ideology known as socialism—the same ideology that transformed a third of humanity during the twentieth century. It’s an ideology that took life from the pen of Karl Marx, sitting in a library in London, writing books. Ideas have had their consequences.
On the other side of the revolution spectrum, people have advanced the ideas of economic freedom and prosperity. In 1975 an emerging leader of England’s struggling Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, famously slammed a book on the table in front of her colleagues. “This is what we believe,” she declared. The book was Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty (1960), which helped shape many of the policies that Ms. Thatcher would later pursue as prime minister.