Pröper Gander

How James McGill Buchanan Made Possible the Privatization of Tyranny

I started reading Democracy in Chains: the Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean, the William F. Chafe Professoir of History and Public Policy at Duke University, published in 2017 by Penguin Books. Some of the history described within is familiar to me, if only because I myself had bought into some of the libertarian right's bullshit as a younger man. Much of it is new to me.

I knew that the subversion of the Republican Party was a plot decades in the making, and that the Koch Brothers and various Christian supremacists were involved, but what I didn't know was that the real architect wasn't Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard, or even Ludwig von Mises.

Instead, it was some hick from Tennessee who was upset because his daddy got his ass booted out of the governor's mansion after one term after he sided with corporate power over the popular will. This hick, James McGill Buchanan, saw an opportunity to get revenge for his family on the entire USA because a bunch of other Southern-fried assholes were butthurt over Brown vs. Board of Education. All he had to do was resurrect and refine the ideology of John C. Calhoun, a hardline believer in the supremacy of state governments over the Federal government who advocated not only nullification of Federal law by state governments, but outright secession by states as a "last resort", and was so vehement in his advocacy of states' authority that Andrew Jackson was reputed to have gone to his grave regretting that he had not had the man tried, convicted, and hanged for treason.

No wonder I've had "Subterfuge" by Judas Priest on repeat the whole time.

If you didn't believe Lee Atwater when he admitted on tape that post-Eisenhower Republican policy was about preserving white supremacy and the power of capital and explained how conservatives went from dropping the n-bomb in public to using ever-more-elaborate abstractions and euphemisms, then maybe MacLean's analysis will convince you.

It's convinced me that Donald Trump, the alt-reich, and the culture war over "political correctness" and "identity politics" pushed by Christian supremacists is a sideshow. This is fitting since most of the alt-reich's most prominent personalities are themselves the sort of freaks that even P. T. Barnum might have kept from public view. Though one might ask whether Barnum would do so for decency's sake or for fear of public censure.

The real action isn't identity politics. It's breaking the power of capital. The Democrats are happy to let leftists get distracted over identity politics because the Democrats have always been a party of privilege and capital. Concessions like the New Deal or the Great Society are nothing but exercises in doling out table scraps. Charles Koch doesn't give a damn which bathroom you use or what you identify as. The only thing that matters to him is ensuring that you don't get to vote or that if you must be allowed to vote that your vote doesn't actually count.

Once the robber barons get what they want, evangelical Christians will get thrown under the bus while extremely online internet leftists jeer at them and ask, "Where is your God now?"

Unfortunately, the vast majority of American leftists don't have the brains or the backbones to do what must be done, and as a result the left in the US consists mainly of book clubs and struggle sessions. They can't crush the right because they aren't willing to learn from the right's victories and beat them at their own game. Most American leftists nowadays have almost no knowledge of history, strategy, tactics, logic, or propaganda. All they have are their feelings, chief among them self-righteous indignation, and feelings will never be enough.

So, America is probably screwed. I suppose 230 years and change is a good run for a republican regime, especially when you consider that France is on their fifth thus far.