Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Graham Barnes — Democracy In Chains : A review of Nancy MacLean’s book subtitled ‘The deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America’

The book is not an easy read but it is compelling. The last 80 pages are notes and bibliographies and the text is densely referenced. It is academic in its nature but determinedly so – as if MacLean knew that the neoliberals would come after her (as indeed they have) when it was published, attempting to undermine her thesis and destroy her reputation; and that providing links to all the background material and quotes was a vital defence against such future attempts to trash her work.
A number of sub-strategies reoccur throughout the book and are worth summarising, because each on its own may seem to an extent innocuous and/ or reasonable and the casual observer may not recognise them as part of a more sinister whole:
– the devaluation of the public service ethos.…
– the fragmentation of non-elite society...

– disempowering universal franchise…
– the move to privatize education.…
– the avalanche of thinktanks, separate but interconnected, and persistently available to mainstream media….
The program of conservatives is based on distrust of democracy —social and political liberalism — as the tyranny of the majority. The plan is to gain control of democracy though institutional dominance so as to impose economic liberalism as a social and political standard.

Economic liberalism tends toward hierarchical organization based on wealth, as the standard of "liberalism" in order to sidetrack political liberalism understood as government of the people, by the people and for the people.

However, this is not economic liberalism as such but its imposition though control of the levers of power through capturing the governmental apparatus. This is neoliberalism as the harnessing of government rather than excluding government as a force from the economy and society, which is the objective of anarchism. Neoliberalism is about using government control though control of the levers of power in a society.

The neoliberal objective is plutocracy, a plutonomy ruled by an oligarchy of private ownership.
Somewhat disappointingly MacLean does not much discuss measures that can be taken to counter this toxic direction of travel.… She offers no possibility of incremental change, and reading between the lines seems to anticipate catharsis through catastrophe.
Democracy In Chains : A review of Nancy MacLean’s book subtitled ‘The deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America’
Graham Barnes
See also

Historian Nancy MacLean: We’re under attack “by a right-wing machine”
Chauncey Devega

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