The PopCult Bookshelf
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
by Nancy MacLean
This is the scariest book I’ve ever read. Nothing that came from the pens of Stephen KIng or H.P. Lovecraft is nearly as terrifying as the story told in these pages. Sadly, it’s not a horror novel. This book tells the true story of James McGill Buchanan, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who developed the philosophy and the strategy by which the right-wing elite of this country have spent the last six decades systematically destroying the very foundations of our Democracy.
Democracy in Chains is not a tinfoil-helmet conspiracy. This is a meticulously researched and brilliantly written book that traces Buchanan’s influence using his own archives, which are housed at George Mason University. Miraculously for such a secretive movement, one that is steeped in re-writing history to suit their goals, the disciples of Buchanan made little effort to hide his personal archives, and MacLean had unfettered access to his entire written output, including personal correspondence.
Essentially Buchanan was a pioneer in articulating the concept of “I’ve got mine, screw everybody else.” He was stirred to action by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that set the ground for school segregation. Buchanan was so outraged at the prospect of his tax money paying for the education of young black kids that he founded an entire movement to take over the government and defund every public program imaginable.
He didn’t get very far with this philosophy, until he encountered a new disciple in the 1970s, Charles Koch, who put billions of dollars into placing his carefully chosen candidates in office across the country. Koch, after giving up on getting anywhere with the Libertarian Party, decided to load up state legislatures with hand-picked minions who would gerrymander political advantages for his candidates for higher office. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything as frightening as this true story of how people who seem to be evil incarnate have successfully undermined the basic tenets of our Democracy.
It was the success of Democracy and the rise of a middle class that alarmed Buchanan. To quote from the cover blurb, “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.”
To put it bluntly, these are people who don’t think anyone but them should vote.
In this book we learn how Koch, using his money, took over the Republican Party and turned it into a “dream team” of zealots hell-bent on breaking unions, privatizing Social Security, Health Care, Education and our Interstate system and suppressing as much of the vote as possible. Along the way they’ve made willing stooges of evangelicals, who are too blinded by their own political passions that they don’t care that they’re following the grand plan of a militant atheist. Another weapon in the Libertarian Elite arsenal is the mistrust of the media that they’ve bred by financing “alternate news” sources like FOX News, Brietbart, and ministers of disinmoration like Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Predictably, there is an organized campaign to “review” this book at Amazon and give it a one-star rating. You can guess who’s behind that.
MacLean spent ten years researching this book, and it’s gotten quite a bit of acclaim since it was released last year, but it’s not being read enough. This book should be mandatory reading for anybody who plans on voting. This is scary as hell, but the public must know about this, before it’s too late.