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

Nancy MacLean. Viking, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-1-101-98096-5
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.” Focusing on Buchanan, winner of the 1986 Noble Prize in Economics and mastermind behind public choice theory, MacLean traces his career and influence, including over former Virginia governor Harry Byrd and Chile’s former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet. In a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative, she exposes how Buchanan’s strategies shaped trends in government in favor of “corporate dominance” and against the welfare state. His theories, according to MacLean, influenced the push for privatizing education. Moreover, the cadre of wealthy libertarians he inspired still persists in contemporary politics. MacLean examines the reach of this powerful group and its think tanks, such as Charles Koch’s Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. She has delivered another deeply important book that will interest general readers and scholars alike. Her work here is a feat of American intellectual and political history. Agent: Susan Rabiner, Susan Rabiner Literary. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/10/2017
Release date: 01/10/2017
Ebook - 978-1-101-98098-9
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