A talk by Nancy MacLean, author of the National Book Award Finalist, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America Booklist calls Democracy in Chains “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The Guardian said: “It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century.” MacLean traces the history of the capitalist radical right’s thought in the United States, outlining how it informed campaigns to privatize everything from public education to Social Security. She begins her story in the 1950s, as the civil rights movement is fighting to desegregate the public schools, and follows the career of the Nobel Prize-winning political economist, James McGill Buchanan, as he connects with various wealthy libertarians, most particularly Charles Koch. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained. And it is the Koch network’s strategic application of Buchanan’s thinking that has produced today’s relentless efforts to eliminate unions, suppress voting, stop action on climate change, and alter the Constitution: MacLean is the immediate past president of the Labor and Working Class History Association and award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, and Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace.

The Origins of Today’s Billionaire-Funded Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy