Who Is James Buchanan And Why Should We Care?

Buchanan grotesquely inhumane

I stumbled on an incredible thread on Democratic Underground  Friday morning. The thread on DU was a thread reader app of a very long thread originally posted on Twitter by poster putinsclown. In this thread putinsclown exposes economist James Buchanan as the intellect behind the scenes of the transformation of America into a libertarian dream.

Buchanan’s ideas were taken up by the Koch Brothers who have since used those ideas along with their vast fortune to make America safe for the extremely wealthy.

The original thread reader app Twitter thread can be found here – It is long for twitter with lots of illustrations. I can almost guarantee that your mouth will hang open in amazement’s you recognize the stages that America has been going through were called for by Buchanan.

Much of the thread is based on the work and research done by Nancy MacLean for he book “Democracy In Chains.” This book is in bookstores now.

For our purposes today I will steal from the post on democraticunderground:   


@MSNBC @CNN @CBSNews @NBCNews @ABC @washingtonpost @nytimes 

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America 

Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean 


“Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America’s burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services…” 

“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.” 

“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.” 

“While Americans grapple with Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.” 

“A Tea Party-dominated Republican Party got control of both houses of the state legislature and began pushing through a radical program to suppress voter rights, decimate public services, and slash taxes on the wealthy that shocked a state long a beacon of southern moderation. “ 

“As she began to study his work closely, the events in North Carolina and also Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker was leading assaults on collective bargaining rights, shifted her focus.” 

“MacLean was stunned. The archive of the man who had sought to stay under the radar had been left totally unsorted and unguarded. The historian plunged in, and she read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and Koch.” 

“She read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. That’s when she had an amazing realization: here was the intellectual linchpin of a stealth revolution currently in progress.” 

“Buchanan was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens?” 

“Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed — that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to “tear down.” His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as “public choice.” 

“Buchanan’s view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Buchanan insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists.” 

“Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,” he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty. Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan. The people who needed protection were property owners.” 

“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.” 

“Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers constantly under siege by takers. His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them. The economist launched a center dedicated to his theories.” 

“The economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. He trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America’s public schools” 

“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.” 

“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.” 

“Calhoun was an intellectual and political powerhouse in the South from the 1820s until his death in 1850, expending his formidable energy to defend slavery. Calhoun, called the “Marx of the Master Class” 

“Calhoun, called the “Marx of the Master Class” by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create “constitutional gadgets” to constrict the operations of government.” 

“Both focused on how democracy constrains property owners and aimed for ways to restrict the latitude of voters. Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.” 

“Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions— all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution.” . . .

Much more at  https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1013191421204058113.html

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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