Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
a book by Nancy MacLean
(our site's book review)
An explosive exposé of the right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, and change the Constitution.
All presidents since Carter seem like they've been trying to change the Constitution (and not for the citizens' benefit!)
Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did. Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America names its true architect—the Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan—and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority. Which suggests the question: how much more disempowered can the majority get? See Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, and Democracy—an American Delusion.
How much more disempowered can the majority get? The ladder of class mobility seems to be rigged!
In a brilliant and engrossing narrative, Nancy MacLean shows how Buchanan forged his ideas about government in a last gasp attempt to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. In response to the widening of American democracy, he developed a brilliant, if diabolical, plan to undermine the ability of the majority to use its numbers to level the playing field between the rich and powerful and the rest of us.
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
And now "voting" is a dirty joke. The citizens participate apathetically in politics because they know the game is rigged and their voting is useless and changes nothing. We voted for Gore but we got Dubya the warmonger, and then we voted for Hillary by over a 3,000,000 person majority but electoral college cowards handed the election to Trump, who was and is unfit for the presidency. It would be difficult not to detect the dirty hands of the neocon elites in the Dubya election since they were itching for a war. See Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, and The Neoconserative Threat to World Order: America's Perilous War for Hegemony.
Citizens participate apathetically in politics because they know the game is rigged and their voting is useless and changes nothing—we voted for Gore and Hillary, but look who they say 'won'!
Corporate donors and their right-wing foundations were only too eager to support Buchanan’s work in teaching others how to divide America into “makers” and “takers.” And when a multibillionaire on a messianic mission to rewrite the social contract of the modern world, Charles Koch, discovered Buchanan, he created a vast, relentless, and multi-armed machine to carry out Buchanan’s strategy.
Without Buchanan's ideas and Koch's money, the libertarian right would not have succeeded in its stealth takeover of the Republican Party as a delivery mechanism. Now, with Mike Pence as Vice President, the cause has a longtime loyalist in the White House, not to mention a phalanx of Republicans in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts, all carrying out the plan. That plan includes harsher laws to undermine unions, privatizing everything from schools to health care and Social Security, and keeping as many of us as possible from voting. Based on ten years of unique research, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America tells a chilling story of right-wing academics and big money run amok. This revelatory work of scholarship is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government.
The attention she gives to the writings and belief systems of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) caught our eye. It turns out that he was the biggest supporter of slavery (in the 1800s) there ever was—he was a prominent and eloquent U.S. statesman and spokesman for the slave-plantation system of the antebellum South. Interesting, when you think about it—what some of his ideas morphed into is the purposeful degeneration of democracy so that the common U.S. citizens end up as slaves to the wealthy. Aristocracy and Feudalism by any other name smells just as rank.
Feudalism: serfs (us) carry royalty (them)
Here are the ass clowns that killed democracy and installed oligarchy via the Citizens United case; hope you losers are proud of yourselves!
“A vibrant intellectual history of the radical right . . .”—The Atlantic
“This sixty-year campaign to make libertarianism mainstream and eventually take the government itself is at the heart of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. . . . If you're worried about what all this means for America's future, you should be. The clear and present danger is hard to ignore. When nearly every radical belief the [slavery-promoting] Buchanan school ever floated is held by a member of the current administration, it's bad news.”—NPR
“Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America leaves me with hope: Perhaps as books like MacLean’s continue to shine a light on important truths, Americans will begin to realize they need to pay more attention and not succumb to the cynical view that known liars make the best leaders."—New York Times Book Review
As her book shines a light on important truths, Americans may begin to realize they need to pay more attention and not succumb to the cynical view that known liars make the best leaders
The book is required reading to understand the infusion of radical libertarian thought and corporate wealth into our current political scene. Specifically, it exposes the financial and intellectual links between rightwing academics like James Buchanan, DC lobbyists, and the infamous Koch brothers. It's a sobering, frightening, and inspiring read. See Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.
If the oligarchs in charge prevail, the poor, the young, the elderly, and the sick will all be left to die in the streets
The radical extremist libertarians like Koch say we should let the poor, the young, the elderly, and the sick fend for themselves. They are "parasites" and it is unfair to make the wealthy buy them a safety net. Doing the math, it is easy to predict the outcome if we actually did this. Tens of millions would turn to crime just to eat. Police would get more brutal. Laws would become egregious. Prisons would turn into hells of murder, rape, maiming, and starvation. Marshall law would be declared because of ubiquitous public violence as the starving tried to get food. The suspension of our rights under Marshall law would turn permanent, under FEMA rules: FEMA has more power than the President of the United States or the Congress, it has the power to suspend laws, move entire populations, arrest and detain citizens without a warrant and hold them without trial, it can seize private property, food supplies, and transportation systems, and it can suspend the Constitution. Meanwhile, the wealthy libertarians would no longer have to pay taxes to support safety nets which they've always loathed. The end result would be a tyranny of the oligarchs, as they implemented the real golden rule: those that have the gold make the rules. Their de facto unacknowledged rules: every man for himself, mess with us and you die, accept oligarchal authority or die. But do not die within 10 miles of our mansions—corpses stink!
Oligarchs' rules: every man for himself, mess with us and you die, accept oligarchal authority or die. But do not die within 10 miles of our mansions—corpses stink!
"James Buchanan's theory of the motives of public actors was so cynical as to be utterly corrosive of the norms of a democratic society, as people pointed out along the way, but he would not listen. . . . Buchanan advised in great detail about Social Security at the beginning of the early 1980s. What they need to do is fear monger and create a sense of crisis that these programs are unsustainable, they’ll never be solvent. So they use an Orwellian language of reform when really what they want to do is undermine the program. . . . There is really a calculated effort going on to undermine all of our collective institutions and some of the great social reforms of the 20th century—such as labor unions, the AARP, civil rights groups. . . . 70 percent of [Trump's] top senior appointees are coming from [the immense Koch] network. . . . [if] people ever understood what [that network] is really about or what it is trying to do to our society and our politics, they would rally against it. . . . The Senate health care bill’s support is under 20 percent around the country. In not a single state is there majority support for this bill, and yet most of the Republican candidates in the Senate are lining up to support this bill. Why is that? That’s because they’re afraid of the Koch donor network. (Source: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Kristin Miller, billmoyers.com)
Trump is a godsend to the Koch donor network—he's doing exactly what they want, as if he'd been a Koch stealth candidate all along
Trump: Make American Oligarchs Even Richer Again is the real motto, even though Make America Great Again is the sucker come-on in his campaign posters
Trump is a godsend to the Koch donor network. He's doing exactly what they want, as if he'd been a Koch stealth candidate all along. He pretended not to be, and it's hard to imagine Trump being cooperative enough to go along with someone's agenda or being someone's boy. But the facts are clear: his appointees and Pence are all Koch people, and the Trump agenda IS the Koch agenda. Trump's public statements rejecting Koch and his money may have been an act to fool us.
According to Kirkus Reviews, "[James] Buchanan reigned over his own economics institutes, backed generously by wealthy libertarians; and his embrace by exclusive think tanks, such as the Mont Pelerin Society, the Hoover Institution, the Cato Institute, the Club for Growth, and the Heritage Foundation, among many other Koch-funded organizations. . . . Democracy in Chains expands on Jane Mayer’s reporting in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Where Mayer follows the radical right’s money trail, MacLean examines its intellectual origins—'the master plan behind it,' as she writes in her book’s introduction. Her findings will leave you deeply concerned for our democracy and civic life. . . . Journalists and voters should start asking Buchanan’s political heirs exactly what they mean when they say they want to 'reform' government programs like Social Security, MacLean says, starting with whether they even believe in the very thing they say they want to reform. We need to force them to put their libertarian cards on the table, she says, where all can see what their end game really is, before it’s too late." (Source: DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, kirkusreviews.com)
Nancy MacLean follows the money and traces the history of the subversion of democracy back to the start of libertarianism
"Without Buchanan's ideas and Koch's money, the libertarian right would not have succeeded in its stealth takeover of the Republican Party as a delivery mechanism. Now, with Mike Pence as Vice President, the cause has a longtime loyalist in the White House, not to mention a phalanx of Republicans in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts, all carrying out the plan. That plan includes harsher laws to undermine unions, privatizing everything from schools to health care and Social Security, and keeping as many of us as possible from voting. Based on ten years of unique research, Democracy in Chains tells a chilling story of right-wing academics and big money run amok. This revelatory work of scholarship is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government"—Duke History Dept.
MacLean's revelatory work of scholarship is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government
"MacLean (Freedom Is Not Enough) constructs an erudite, searing portrait of how the late political economist James McGill Buchanan (1919–2013) and his deep-pocketed conservative allies have reshaped—and undermined—American democracy. MacLean makes the convincing argument that an American “paloecapitalist” elite has sought to destroy our institutions in pursuit of their own 'economic liberty.'" (Source: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, publishersweekly.com)
Here is what the oligarchs—especially the Kochs—are trying to do to our democracy—while pretending to do other things
"[The Koch radical libertarians] plant the seeds that have already taken root, with the hope that they will eventually destroy the social contract the government implemented with the citizenry during the New Deal, and which has grown for the good of the majority since then. Democracy in Chains should be read by every thinking person in the United States. It is disturbing, revealing, and vitally important."—Robert Fantina, New York Journal of Books
The oligarchs' plan includes the safety net exchanged for the law of the jungle
"Majority rule was an economic problem. 'Despotism,' [James McGill Buchanan] declared in his 1975 book The Limits of Liberty, 'may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe.' Buchanan, however, also had what MacLean calls a 'stealth' agenda. He knew that the majority would never agree to being constrained. He therefore helped lead a push to undermine their trust in public institutions. The idea was to get voters to direct their ire at these institutions and divert their attention away from increasing income and wealth inequality. . . . [Buchanan] sought to lead an economic and political movement in which he stressed that 'conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential' to mask efforts to protect the wealthy elite from the will of the majority. . . . American democracy was unprepared to defend itself against the agenda of Buchanan and conservative benefactors [Kochs]." (Source: How the Radical Right Played the Long Game and Won, Heather Boushey, NY Times)
The real Golden Rule: those that have the gold make the rules
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America concludes that we have at most two or three years to prevent the completing of the stealth takeover of our democracy. The "Kochtopus" tentacles are sunk deep in every nook of American democracy. The author connects the dots and follows the money to show who's behind the subversion of democracy for the benefit of the billionaire class. She follows the money and traces its history back to the start of libertarianism.
What's the idea of noticing me? The Kochtopus is a sneaky covert superpowered network not to be examined in the light of day—we do NOT want citizens to see what's really going on! Got it?!!
IF WE DO NOT organize and just keep on truckin' with business as usual, here is what we can expect: There is an old saying that life's a poop sandwich except that they don't actually furnish any bread. But we heard a new version of it on The Middle (© ABC) the other day: In the immortal words of Mike Heck, We're all born with a crap sandwich. Some people get a big one. Others get a small one. You eat your way through it and then you're dead.
Mike Heck expects he'll at least get bread with his crap. But after reading Chomsky's incredibly insightful book, Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, we can clearly see now what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread. Heck was too optimistic.
We can clearly see what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread, however, there will be crap painted to look like bread, cheese and pickles
As far as we can see, the best thing the Kochs ever did is put out an ad against the Vietnam War in 1968. (Source: The Secrets of Charles Koch’s Political Ascent, Jane Mayer, Politico, and The Making of the Kochtopus, Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones)
One Koch Network to rule them all,
One Koch Network to find them,
One Koch Network to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Ultra-Libertarianism where the Shadows lie.
This book is a wake-up call for what is happening to our democracy.
This book is a wake-up call for what is happening to our democracy
- Democracy—an American Delusion
- Who Will Tell The People?: The Betrayal Of American Democracy
- Doing Democracy
- A Dream Deferred
- Yearning for Democracy
- Tragedy and Hope 101: The Illusion of Justice, Freedom, and Democracy
- Democracy On Trial
- A Democracy Or A Delusion?
- When Corporations Rule the World
- America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else
- 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes against Democracy Succeed
- Anticipatory Democracy
- The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up
- All the Myriad Ways
- The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives
- National Security and Double Government
- America: What Went Wrong?
- Discarding Democracy: Return to the Iron Fist
- What’s gone wrong with democracy: Democracy was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it?