Origins of Radical Right-Wing Power
The history of the anti-government and anti-democratic politics that have transformed the U.S. in recent years is largely obscured from view. The radical right’s agenda includes: suppression of voting rights, privatization of everything from schools to Medicare to Social Security to public lands, elimination of unions and limiting majority rule. Core beliefs also include: there is no problem tax cuts won’t solve and that the best kind of regulation is no regulation. Let industry decide. And the intellectual godfather of this extreme right-wing thinking? Someone you’ve probably never heard of. James McGill Buchanan, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. And the money to promote his ideas comes mostly from billionaire Charles Koch. These ideological positions have moved from beyond the fringe to where they are openly discussed and legislation is proposed. If these forces get their way democracy will be in chains.
Nancy MacLean is Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. She is the author of Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace and Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.
Lois in Moberly, MO –
Her talk was so inspiring I had to pull over to the side of the road to listen.
With MacLean’s documentation of James Buchanan’s aggressive campaign to suppress democracy, we add to the revelation of the infamous “Powell memo” in which the soon to be appointed Supreme Court justice (by Richard Nixon) set forth a call to arms for the right wing to rise up in their push to reverse the New Deal. This campaign moved on several fronts and has had a frightening success in the past 40 years destroying the middle class as they desired, and along with it, the New Deal’s push toward an actual American democracy.
SJ Park –
Can’t give it less than one star unfortunately…
Ultimately I arrived at the conclusion this is simply the type of ideological and conspiratorial rant you’d expect from someone after three or four bottles of Chardonnay. The historical anecdotes noted in the piece are willfully over simplified and misrepresented. Further, the ideology and opinions of the speaker are obvious from the first sentences. I’m disappointed in both NPR and AR for promoting such a shallow work, and depressed to see, but not at all surprised to find, that there are folks out there who found this to be a well researched, and poignant commentary.
Eric H –
I started to listen to this and shut it off. She claims to be a historian, but believes that 19th century capitalism led to WWII and the Great Depression? She wasn’t kidding when she said she wasn’t a historian of economic thought.
The two sides in WWII were chiefly Stalinism — hardly capitalist — and Nazism + Fascism. Hitler denigrated 19th century individualism as “Manchesterism” and “hyperindividualism”, believed that international banking and war-profiteering was a Jewish plot, and believed the economy should be directed for the good of the German Folk. His ally Mussolini was a former Italian Socialist chief who invented the term “totalitarian” and believed the economy should be planned for the good of the state. Maybe she thinks Japan was an example of 19th century capitalism?
The Great Depression was the first major recession after the US instituted the Federal Reserve, intended to be a back-drop for banks to prevent the sort of recessions that had occurred in the 1890s and 1907. When it failed to do so, FDR managed to deepen and extend the recession by instituting the NRA, basing it on Mussolini’s “corporative” philosophy. Maybe she thinks that 19th century capitalism = planned economy?
I will happily lend Dr. Maclean any of a number of books I own on fascism, national socialism, the depression, and a number of other events about which she has apparently never read very deeply. Also, she should look into “mutualism” and stop painting with so broad a brush.
Reyes García –
Her analysis of the exponentially increasing power of the libertarian right reveals the most dangerous threat to democracy in the United States since it founding in 1776: absolutely essential for understanding today’s politics. Thank you Alternative Radio!
Explains that little time is left to block a malevolent transformation of our society – and Constitution, by an exceedingly well-organized and richly-funded radical right. Listen, then share widely.
Dana Franchitto –
She truly has the radical right pegged. When I can ,I will purchase this CD and read her books. Why is her voice never featured on NPR?