“This sixty-year campaign to make libertarianism mainstream and eventually take the government itself is at the heart of Democracy in Chains. . . . If you’re worried about what all this means for America’s future, you should be” – NPR
Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. Labyrinth Books and the Princeton Public Library invite you to hear about an discuss author Nancy MacLean's exposé of the right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, and change the Constitution.
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 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. 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.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. 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, a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, is also a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government.
Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan and Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace. She is Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Anastasia R. Mann holds a doctorate in 20th century US history from Northwestern University. Mann’s career spans private non-profits (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, New Jersey Policy Perspective), higher education (Northwestern, Princeton, and Rutgers), and government (Princeton Human Services Commission and New Jersey Commission on New Americans). She is currently Lecturer at Princeton University.
Co-sponsored by the Princeton Public Library, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University