David Frum

04.08.13

Context for Margaret Thatcher's 'There is No Such Thing as Society' Remarks

Critics often quote Thatcher as saying, "There is no such thing as society." This quote is supposed to confirm Thatcher as an anti-social radical individualist of the Ayn Rand distemper. She was no such thing, as the full quote in all its context amply corroborates. Thanks to the Spectator of London for the text & link.

I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.’