Book Review: The Radical Right’s Plot to Take over America




The Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision in June and our current struggle over Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy are only the most recent manifestations of the Right’s decades-long game plan to not only unravel the New Deal of the 1930s and the civil rights revolution of the 1960s but also to establish property rights over democratic rights as the basis for our government.

In “Democracy in Chains: the Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” Professor Nancy MacLean of Duke University traces the origins of this counterrevolution’s 60-year plan to eliminate unions, suppress voting rights, privatize public education, and stop action on climate change.

democracyThe capitalist Right’s agenda is not only to alter specific legislation, court decisions or who gets elected but also to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance by voter suppression and gerrymandering along with packing judicial appointments and calling for a new Constitutional Convention.

Behind today’s headlines is the work of billionaires taking over our government–a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots.

Billionaires launched this movement with a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South—the Nobel Prize-winning economist James McGill Buchanan. 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.

Responding 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.

Corporate donors and their right-wing foundations were only too eager to support Buchanan’s work in teaching others how to divide the United States into “makers” and “takers.”

With a messianic mission to rewrite the social contract of the modern age after discovering Buchanan, the billionaire Koch Brothers—who are worth over $80 billion–created a vast, relentless, and multi-armed political machine that not only used academia to justify their message but also set up a vast lobbying and political funding machine. Their goal was to carry out Buchanan’s strategy with the Republican Party.

The Right’s 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 10 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 20th century American self-government.

MacLean spoke about “Democracy in Chains” at a book talk at the DC37 Education Fund Library in February. Her book is available to borrow at the library.

A show was broadcast and then archived by my WBAI radio show, Building Bridges. To listen go to .

Ken Nash, Retired Librarian, DC 37 Education Fund Library, Room 211.

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