Between the Wars

Billy Bragg – Between the Wars

The first person I thought of when I heard Margaret Thatcher had died overnight was Billy Bragg. There’s a short interview with him from a few years ago on Democracy Now that sums it up pretty quickly if you aren’t familiar with his early days.

I grew up in a left-leaning family and I spent my teenage years assuming most people came from the same basic positions we did. What a shocker when I got to college and discovered the campus was teeming with young Reaganites. Clueless ruled the day. We’re talking about people who didn’t even know what apartheid was let alone why they should be demonstrating against it. If I’d landed on a more liberal campus, chances are I would have continued to take it for granted that most people felt like I did and not really become someone who paid an awful lot of attention. Instead, because the political climate on campus, in the country and over in the UK, was squarely at odds with my positions, I became much more engaged.

It surely helped that the music I listened to was firmly in the anti-Reagan, anti-Thatcher camp. I credit those musicians with furthering my education and waking me up to causes and injustices I hadn’t given much thought to before. I got the newspaper delivered daily and spent a fair amount of time in the library, not doing coursework but looking up the background on issues that cropped up in their songs.

I recognize that people not that much younger than me are likely to not really know anything about Margaret Thatcher. They would have been too young to understand it all first hand and not enough time would have passed for it to be taught in school. Even college kids today, are events that happened 25 years ago something they will study? I wonder when my kids are older, what will the history books say?

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