Reviewing Democracy in Chains

Nancy McLean’s Democracy in Chains should be read by anyone interested in understanding the radical right. Democracy in Chains highlights the complete lack of morality that exists within radical libertarians. The book chronicles their decades-long support for racism, voter suppression, and even murderous dictatorships. As Democracy in Chains makes clear: the radical libertarian movement cares about nothing beyond their ability to make money and control wealth. Everything from our lives to our government should be sacrificed so they can possess as much as possible.

While much in the book is stuff I had prior knowledge of, the efforts of America’s radical libertarians to support the murderous Pinochet government in Chile were surprising. I had no idea that libertarian icons, like Milton Friedman and James Buchanan, actually worked with Pinochet’s government to develop the oppressive constitution and economic system that is still hurting the Chilean people decades after the murders and kidnaps have largely stopped.

The idea that Buchanan was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1986, years after advising Pinochet, is horrifying. That truth, unknown to me, highlighted one of the problems that has gotten us to where we are today. By attempting to pretend that all sides have valid opinions, we have lost the ability to truly hold radicals accountable for fraudulent ideas and outrageous immorality.

So much attention is paid to the Koch brothers and the damage they have done and Charles will continue doing. But the idea that Friedman, Buchanan, and William Buckley (who was a racist) largely avoid public condemnation is a huge problem. After reading Democracy in Chins, I was left wondering which so-called right-wing intellectual isn’t a racist and/or someone who would sacrifice everything at the alter of their personal wealth?

Democracy in Chains is a critical read because it starkly presents the naked oppressive tendencies and total immorality on the part of America’s radical libertarians. If they didn’t have the money to own colleges and universities, buy politicians, and tell the media what to report and how to report it–truly awful people, including Buckley, the Koch brothers, Friedman, and Buchanan would be properly vilified. Their crackpot, selfish, oppressive ideas would be widely discredited. Since their wealth has allowed them to pay for textbooks, favorable news coverage, and politicians who represent only them–they are largely running America.


I know I’m supposed to accept the story that William Buckley changed his views on race. Even if you accept that story, I don’t, you can overlook the truth that Buckley was an elitist who believed most Americans shouldn’t have a place in America’s democracy.

Returning to Buckley and race, the conservative icon stopped his support of outright racist, white supremacist ideals like separate but equal in the ’60s. But he helped promote the abject foolishly notion of a colorblind society.

The best I could say for Buckley is that he was like many white men of his age–unable to realize he was racist. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t racist.

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