Reaganomics and Thatcherism: New Right Political Projects


To begin with, the New Right can be described as both a political idea and a sociological perspective. The and Anglo-American approach combined free markets and minimal government intervention implying neo-liberal economics with rather traditional conservative even somewhat religious views on various social issues including topics like family life, school discipline, law, and order.

Political movement New Right was concerned with both economy and family-related matters, including things that are happening to the Government and people within the country. The political concern of such scale has always been historically intermittent especially in relation to family matters or economics in general, leading to a number of considerable consequences for individuals, their personal and social lives. The aim of these political changes was partially family-oriented, in order to strengthen the traditional family within a stronger Governmental organization. The economic aspect emerged simultaneously since the costs of liberalism were felt in a recessionary economy.

Given these points, Regan’s attempts of strengthening the economy were presented in order to restore the image and order of the traditionally perceived family. In the meantime, moral and religious movements joined in involving usually morally conservative communities outside the political area into the New Right. As for the British side, Thatcher’s principles influenced not only international relationships but also a number of diplomatic affairs.

Eventually, the greatest obstacle was the major demographic, economic, social, and cultural shifts, which results are quite visible these days. Overall, economic policies failed in their attempts to strengthen the traditional family, which is why it still remains a political pressure point. At the same time, the right-wing views shared by leaders of both countries influenced the foreign affairs of many counties in many useful ways.

Therefore, the essay centers its attention on the New Right political projects as well as their long-term impact of the new right political project on contemporary Western politics. As it has been described above, the term itself is mostly identified with its Anglo-American representatives – United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Thatcherism, as well as United States President Ronald Reagan, who was technically the representative of the second New Right movement in the States with his concept of Reaganomics.

The New Right Political Project of Reagan

According to historical notes, Reagan’s policy was mostly economy-oriented. He was an official figure of the second New Right movement, which had a slightly more concrete and goal-oriented program in comparison to its first New Right. Notably, the American side recognized three political movements related to this matter and Regan was the last representative of the second one of them. His direction was commonly referred to as “Reaganomics”, since it was mostly economy-related, yet foreign policy oriented.

His political project was heavily influenced by international aspects, leading to a concept according to which the highlight of things was considered in contrast to the increased reliance on individuals instead of the commonly perceived Government. As an illustration, in his Economic White House report of 1981 he expressed the idea according to which “only by reducing the growth of government, can we increase the growth of the economy”. This type of project represented Reagan’s serious attempt to change the course of American policy. As a result, Regan’s new approach to the country’s situation intended on employing a nationalistic military presence in his hopes for a better world, while maintaining amicable relationships with other countries.

As it follows, Reagan’s efforts were highly recognized by the general public, naming him as much stronger leader in comparison to his predecessor. Furthermore, after his first time in office, he was perceived as an authority, whose active foreign policy was proving to be working in the best interests of defending The United States of America. Such effective foreign management highly influenced the American dynamic with other countries, namely, the Soviet Union’s newly appointed and at the same time the last leader before the breakdown of the Union, Gorbachev, who expressed his intention on repeating Reagan’s strategic plans, especially including defense initiatives, later on ended up changing their countries’ dynamic.

Shortly after, Reagan managed to reduce Government spending and influence as part of his overall Reaganomics by insisting on the reduction of nuclear weapons, which lead to further cooperation under the umbrella of mutual demilitarization. Common cause resulted in the signing “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” in 1987 requiring the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Historians suggest that improved relationships between these two empires and the influence of Reagan’s rulings later on lead to a communism-related revolution, resulting in the abolition of the Soviet Union. Important to realize that Reagan’s New Right ideology with economic inclination partially solved the ongoing battle between Soviet Union forces transforming the policy targeting the enemy into a cooperation with a common goal in mind, emphasizing safety instead of superiority.

To sum up, Reagan’s key points in his New Right political project were aiming to reduce the growth of government influence and more importantly spending, also to reduce taxes of the federal level and capital gains, basically to reduce strict government regulation all together by controlling the money supply with the goal in mind of reducing inflation, on top of everything, foreign affairs policy proved to be effective, leading to a number of positive changes involving treaties and overall cooperation.

The New Right Political Project of Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher commonly referred to as the “Iron Lady” managed to change many aspects of not only British but also outside world life using her New Right political project as well as her general movement later on called Thatcherism. She was known as an effective, yet highly controversial Prime Minister of her time. Iron Lady's reference originated due to her rigidity and tough approach.

The reason why Thatcher’s and Reagan’s New Right views have been compared and associated is because they shared their beliefs, which were later on crowned as black and white, meaning that they were dealing with absolutes, instead of calm approaches to things. As it follows, not only did Reagan influence the Soviet Union dynamic, as it turns out, the two leaders of the UK and the USA united their forces in their quest of achieving common goals in the field of foreign policy.

In a word, Thatcherism within New Right represented a belief in free markets and a small state. Rather than planning and regulating business and people’s lives, the government’s job was similarly to Reagan’s beliefs to get out of the way. In brief, everything except for currency should be left to individuals, to exercise their own choices and take responsibility for their own lives. Ever since she introduced Britain to a new way by allowing an actual transition towards privatization and related free, more open market concepts, such change was by far fundamental, highlighting the government’s reliance on the economy due to free markets, but still allowing people to exist with a minimum amount of directions from the country’s authorities.

In view of New Right political principles, which were at first applied mostly domestically, a new era of change was introduced. Thatcher’s famous “iron will” reference relates to the Falkland War. More and more countries were claiming their independence. This time Argentina introduced its desire to claim sovereignty to the Falklands Islands. Thatcher’s aggressive and stern response laid the foundation of the classic casebook reference of “iron will”, showing off her own unique way of policymaking.

The victory that followed Thatcher’s aggressiveness was the cornerstone of the pride and confidence of British subjects. Granted that a war was fought and won far away from UK itself, it helped to restore and actually lift the nation’s spirit, even though technically from an economic perspective it resulted in a downfall due to expenses for every islander. That is to say, they managed to lose a battle in an economic sense, but to win a war as a nation.

Consequently, damaged nationalistic ties were successfully restored, expanded, and directed toward another worthy goal outside of the country’s official borders. Thatcher’s desire to retain UK’s sovereignty war redirected from inside matters to the outside world. Namely, she declared the sovereignty of the region of Hong Kong, by targeting communist China. Reagan was targeting the Soviet Union and changing mind at the same time, whereas Britain selected another victim in order to demonstrate to the world its commitment to the cause of the New Right.

Reasons for claiming Hong Kong sovereignty were blamed on a diplomatic approach instead of a basic thirst for power and territory. On the surface things appeared quite reasonable, expressing UK’s aim to maintain prosperity and manage the stability of Hong Kong. In reality, however, debates were extensive and aggressive. Chinese leaders refused to accept any claims of such nature backing up their response with legal basis in form of norms of international law applicable to this issue. Thatcher’s political beliefs blinded her judgment, nearly resulting in a military intervention, which could have possibly ended badly. This time around, fragile and fragmented areas of international law were on the Chinese side, therefore, a compromise was found informing “Special Economic Zone”, supporting both Thatcher’s demand and Chinese international law opined response.

Long Term Impact of the New Right Political Project on Contemporary Western Politics

To repeat, the New Right political projects implemented by Reagan and Thatcher included both economic and social amendments, as if combining liberalism and conservatism into something new. To explain, Margaret Thatcher transformed her beliefs into a number of activities that we can witness to date. To clarify, the reduction in the role of the government within the area of economic affairs is undeniable. Implementation of modern policies such as privatization and the possibility to sell council houses was more than successful. Significantly, left-wing unions were confronted by Thatcher, because they opposed to such new and unexpected changes.

Some of her socially-oriented norms are, however, dramatically changed today. In detail, the prohibition of local authorities from promoting homosexuality or presenting it within schools as an acceptable family unit is now abolished. Thatcher fought for the values of the 60s and 70s to be implemented in her time, in order for the government to guide its people towards the correct way of life. Markedly, traditional moral values were put on a pedestal in contrast to homosexuality. Her project described marriage as a union sanctioned by God between man and woman for the procreation of a child. Naturally, the progressive laws of the past years do not go hand in hand with Thatcher’s version of things.

As can be seen, the Reagan political project played an important role in both American and world history. World affairs were affected long after his views were partially forgotten. To quote experts in the field – “...although UNESCO was an immediate target of the Heritage Foundation and Reagan administration officials, the United Nations more generally was the ultimate target”. This goes to show how Reagan’s administration in the light of the New Rights played an important role in shaping policies even indirectly after extended periods of time.

In essence, Reagan’s persistence and determination lasted during his two terms in office as well as long afterward. His belief, unlike Thatcher’s, can still be traced, as he stated that government intruded too deeply into the lives of ordinary people as it is and his attempts of changing that by eliminating regulations affecting the consumer, the workplace and the environment that he argued was inefficient, expensive and impeded economic growth, is actually still activated and shapes today’s version of America.


In the light of the information presented above New Right political projects of both Reagan and Thatcher, it is safe to conclude what kind of long-term impact their work resulted in. History describes Ronald Reagan’s and Margaret Thatcher’s dynamic as a healthy one since they maintained symbolic relationships with mutual respect in mind for their countries and overall foreign policy dealings.

The evaluation of the basis of their two approaches on an international level as well as on a domestic one is of paramount importance. It goes without saying that transnational movements related to Thatcher and Reagan's regimes combining New Right policies from national and therefore exclusive perspectives gradually but steadily transformed into foreign exchanges of experience and knowledge, combining Reagan’s transformative politics with Thatcher’s “will of iron”. It is apparent now that both movements and leadership plans for reform and transformation raised awareness of relevantly similar issues questioning anti collectivism movements of their time.

Lasting effects on the foreign dealings brought up by their combined political projects can be visible in the prevalence of common aspects today such as mass privatization, as well as in the noticeable lack of governmental interference in various aspects of life. Given these points, the New Right activities captured perfectly the ideology and execution of Ronal Reagan’s and Margaret Thatcher’s political projects in their unique styles, by gaining for instance special relationships with the Soviet Union and therefore ending the period of hostility.

For the most part, Mikhail Gorbachev made sure to strengthen and continue international relations with the Western countries, putting an end to the long-lasting fight of the empires. As can be seen, Thatcher’s memorable choice to avoid a harmful military confrontation in Hong Kong, allowed the country in the end to rightfully maintain its capitalist government. Caution and prudence in the decision-making process is of the highest importance in politics because it can lead countries to either prosperity or downfall.

Taking everything into consideration, the New Right made a difference not only to Anglo-American countries and their representatives but also resolved conflicts that needed to be resolved with numerous significant foreign interactions, leaving the mark on the world of politics and the world in general as we know it to this day.

07 July 2022
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