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writing for godot

A Review of "Democracy in Chains" by Nancy MacLean

Written by Zepp Jamieson   
Monday, 15 October 2018 22:55

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America

Nancy MacLean Copyright 2107, Penguin Books.

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

The libertarian biographer Charles K. Rowley once said of James McGill Buchanan that he was  “perhaps the most hated and feared enemy of left-leaning economists throughout the world.”

Not just economists. Buchanan is considered the intellectual and strategic leader of the fascist right movement that led to the hundreds of think tanks, the relentless propaganda mills from Fox and Regnary and Clear Channel and Sinclair, and the secretive and paranoid cabal of billionaires, including the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Phil Anschutz, Steve Schwarzman, Rich DeVos, Ken Griffin, Ken Langone, B. Wayne Hughes, Harold Simmons,Perenchio, Robert Rowling and eventually, Donald Trump.

Buchanan began building this self-styled libertarian movement in 1956, fiercely opposing anything that smacked of “collectivism” and grimly determined to replace democracy with a meritocracy in which power accrued to the deserving rich because they were, well, rich.

I’ve said for years that libertarianism is just fascism wearing a new coat of paint, and when they talk about rights and freedoms, they mean rights and freedoms for corporations and the wealthy. Nobody else. In their world, massive corporations negotiate with would be employees over wages as equals, and whoever has the better leverage wins. This would explain all those millionaire fry cooks at McDonald’s.

MacLean writes, “[They] believe that Madison’s Constitution was flawed by its failure to fully hamstring the people’s ability to act “collectively.”

Historian Nancy MacLean has written a breathtakingly well-researched volume on the rise of the radical right that presently threatens to destroy America as we know it, and the leading role of James McGill Buchanan in the organizing of a movement that was widely despised and reviled by Americans in the wake of a vicious world war against fascism.

President Eisenhower, in 1954, said of the fascist right in America, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Now they’re are thoroughly in charge of the country, controlling Congress, the White House and the Courts, and the country teeters on the brink of madness.

MacLean doesn’t sugarcoat the threat, writing at the start of her book,

Is what we are dealing with merely a social movement of the right whose radical ideas must eventually face public scrutiny and rise or fall on their merits? Or is this the story of something quite different, something never before seen in American history? Could it be—and I use these words quite hesitantly and carefully—a fifth-column assault on American democratic governance?...Pushed by relatively small numbers of radical-right billionaires and millionaires who have become profoundly hostile to America’s modern system of government, an apparatus decades in the making, funded by those same billionaires and millionaires, has been working to undermine the normal governance of our democracy. Indeed, one such manifesto calls for a “hostile takeover” of Washington, D.C

Buchanan drew much of his inspiration, not from Hitler or Franco, but John C. Calhoun, slaver senator of antebellum South Carolina. MacLean says of him, “By 1860, two of every three of the relatively few Americans whose wealth surpassed $100,000 lived below the Mason-Dixon Line. New York at that time had fewer millionaires per capita than Mississippi. South Carolina was the richest state in the Union. The source of southern wealth was staple crops—particularly cotton—produced by enslaved men, women, and children for world markets. So matchless were the profits that more money was invested in slaves than in industry and railroads...And no one thought harder about how to safeguard those investments than John C. Calhoun...[G]overnment, for someone like Calhoun, was there to protect property rights, even at the expense of the rights of others to freedom of speech and movement.”

Calhoun died in 1850 and so didn’t get to see the fruit of his labors—The Civil War. He probably would have approved of the war, if not the outcome.

Buchanan took Calhoun’s slaver aristocratic philosophy and ran with it. And is probably the principle force behind the vast right wing machine that is threatening to tear America apart once again.

Democracy in Chains may be the most important book this year. If you look at the Republicans in Congress, and at Trump, and at the Courts, and ask, “How the hell did this happen?” then this is the book you want to read.
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+2 # laborequalswealth 2018-10-23 15:22
If you want to understand just how corrupt America has become and why, read this book!

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