New Books Network

Nancy MacLean

Democracy in Chains

The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

Viking 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 29, 2020 Lee Pierce

The far-right has been coming after democracy for decades and we may be just one election away from a total takeover. Join NBN host...

The far-right has been coming after democracy for decades and we may be just one election away from a total takeover. Join NBN host and rhetorical scholar Lee Pierce (she/they) for a robust discussion of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking, 2017) with award-winning historian Nancy MacLean and attorney Mary Whiteside. Get ready for an explosive expose of the right’s relentless campaign to undermine civil rights and alter the Constitution forever.

Democracy in Chains tracks the development of a secretive political establishment—the capitalist radical right or “property supremacists”—working to alter the rules of democratic governance. Behind their advance is James McGill Buchanan, a Nobel Prize-winning political economist who developed a diabolical plan to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. Using the language of economics and recruiting corporate billionaires and academics alike, Buchanan has systematically undermined the ability of the majority to use its numbers to level the playing field between the rich and powerful and the rest of us.

Joining forces with billionaire Charles Koch, Buchanan and his stealth group of radical libertarians have broken ranks with conservatives (while co-opting their values and catchphrases) and now have one of their own, Mike Pence, in the White House. Democracy in Chains draws on a decade of research to tell a chilling story of right-wing academics and big money run amok.

This revelatory work of scholarship is a call to arms to protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government; this episode is one that you don’t want to miss.