Meet the Economist Behind the 1%'s Stealth Takeover of America


Former Staff
Jul 2007
So. Md.
I've long known this has been going on and have been perplexed by ordinary citizen's support of it. But the 1% have been very successful at propagandizing the American public. But not only the American public but the British public to a certain extent. We are on the road to oligarchy and too many of my fellow Americans are cheering it on just because they want to deny what they've had to the "other". And, of course, the Koch brothers figure prominently.

James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.

The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.
The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them.

In 1965 the economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. MacLean describes how he trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America’s public schools and to challenge the constitutional perspectives and federal policy that enabled it. She notes that he took care to use economic and political precepts, rather than overtly racial arguments, to make his case, which nonetheless gave cover to racists who knew that spelling out their prejudices would alienate the country.
Koch, whose mission was to save capitalists like himself from democracy, found the ultimate theoretical tool in the work of the southern economist. The historian writes that Koch preferred Buchanan to Milton Friedman and his “Chicago boys” because, she says, quoting a libertarian insider, they wanted “to make government work more efficiently when the true libertarian should be tearing it out at the root.”

With Koch’s money and enthusiasm, Buchanan’s academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan’s ideas — transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents — could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a “revolution” in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable.
MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan’s role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security.

The dictator’s human rights abuses and pillage of the country’s resources did not seem to bother Buchanan, MacLean argues, so long as the wealthy got their way. “Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe,” the economist had written in The Limits of Liberty. If you have been wondering about the end result of the Virginia school philosophy, well, the economist helpfully spelled it out.

We're at a cross roads. Which way do you think we'll go?
Likes: 4 people


Former Staff
Jul 2007
So. Md.
The Koch's have invested a billion dollars supporting this and it has worked.
What's very frustrating is that so many Americans just dismiss this as though it's not happening and they think what they're supporting is the preservation of their way of life and culture when the reality is the opposite. These are the people making some believe that there is a mass invasion of swarthy, unworthy people at our southern border so they start demanding that people all over the country prove they are citizens. So, for right now it's mostly just the brown skin people, but at a random stop could you prove you're a legal citizen? Not only are they separating and detaining families they are deporting those who've come seeking asylum without due process. Who says they wouldn't do that to you? If you support what the Trump administration is doing on immigration, then you're helping the Kochs and the other 1% who don't give a shit about anyone but the 1%. In other words, you're a fool. They're slowly working their way toward doing to the US what was done to Chile and you're enabling them. If you support dismantling the government and drowning it in a bathtub, you're enabling them.

(For those who haven't and/or won't read the piece.)

She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to “reform” public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around, even if you don’t agree. Instead, MacLean contents, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.

MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers “to control the resultant popular anger.” The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.
Sep 2014
South FL
Jul 2013
Nashville, TN
Here's a good article on how the stagnating moddle class meme is a myth:

Not surprising who subscribes to MacLean's Democracy in Chains. It fuels their predetermined theory of class exploitation and even goes to the well to paint Buchanan, wrongfully I might add, as a racist.
In his role as a political commentator for the mainstream media, former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan has increasingly advanced an anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-immigrant ideology. Many of the views he holds are identical to those of self-declared "white nationalists." Buchanan repeatedly demonizes Jews and minorities and openly affiliates with white supremacists. Among his frequent claims is that the sovereignty of the United States is being undermined by Israeli control and Mexican incursion, a belief which he disseminates on mainstream cable and network television and in his prolific writings. Buchanan has released a book nearly every two years, many of which take the view that non-white immigrants destroy Western culture.
From our friends at the ADL.