Dark Money and the Anti-State – Global Libertarianism

James M. Buchanan’s Legacy

I may sound like a conspiracy theorist by titling this series, Dark Money and the Deep Anti-State, and by saying in my last post that if Brett Kavanaugh is put on the Supreme Court we may be seeing the end of our American democracy.

But I assure you there is ample documentation in two books, Jane Mayer’s Dark Money and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains, to back up my assertions. In particular, I recommend reading Chapter 10, “A Constitution with Locks and Bolts,” of MacLean’s book.

In Chapter 10, MacLean lays out in chilling details James’ Buchanan’s successful strategy to help dictator General Pinochet in Chile to destroy democracy in that country. Together Buchanan and the military junta who ousted Salvador Allende changed the Chilean Constitution to lock out the majority from ever changing their Constitution.

Following that coup, the wealthy were now in control of that country. Soon after Buchanan’s success, the number of Chileans living in poverty increased by over 100%. In 1970, the OECD ranked Chile lowest of developed economies when it came to decreasing wealth inequality.

The last part of MacLean’s Chapter 11, “Democracy Defeats the Doctrine ” details Buchanan’s divide-and-conquer-the-popular-masses strategy to help President Ronald Reagan destroy Social Security, a project that Reagan didn’t follow through with.

James Buchanan and Charles Koch also plotted to destroy unions and pension plans, pass a flat tax, privatize schools (in order to subvert Brown v. Board of Education) and a host of other things that working people favored—all in ways that the majority would not perceive what they were up to, but often these two men failed to succeed.

Buchanan’s academic career too was checkered as complaints from others forced him out of one U.S. university after another.

In the face of these failures, Buchanan focused on sabotaging U.S. Constitutional law as the way to destroy majority rule in the United States. This is when libertarians really zeroed on taking over state legislatures as well as Congress as well as our federal Judicial System and the U.S. Supreme Court.

MacLean writes that in 2010 many of Buchanan’s strategies were adopted by the Republican Party as they won almost complete control over Congress. “By two years later, ALEC-backed legislators in forty-one states introduced more than 180 bills to restrict who could vote and how.”(page 231).

[(ALEC, the American Exchange Legislative Council) is described in Dark Money as a project funded by the Koch brothers to sign on Republican legislators in each U.S. state to uphold a pledge to promote libertarian goals in their state. See my earlier post, on Dark Money, The Book.]

Our media is following Donald Trump daily, yet when pundits point out that President Trump is trying to divide us all and divert our attention, no one I’ve yet heard has noted that most of Trump’s actions have upheld the strategies that James M. Buchanan laid out as ways for Republican libertarians to take over any country and ‘reform’ its Constitution’s voting process so that the “majority” will never again win against the wealthy “minority”.

Buchanan’s strategies

Buchanan and Koch also targeted their messages to the populace in hopes their ‘social engineering’ would change the minds of regular people as well as academics. They were convinced that any form of extremism in defense of liberty (i.e., their own liberty to do what they wished) was justified.

Not satisfied with his and other libertarians’ attempts to convert academics to their views or to make all colleges into for-profit institutions that would be run like a business, James M. Buchanan, with the assistance of the Sciafe Family Fund even started a program to train teachers to go into community colleges to preach their views.

Using Sciafe Family funding along with corporate donations again, Buchanan’s UCLA-backed Institute for Contemporary Studies (ICS) recruited Anthony M. Kennedy (the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice for whom Brett Kavanaugh clerked) to be vice-president of a project to target “opinion-making institutions, especially the mass media” on “how our free institutions ought to work during the 1970s and 1980s” (p121)

The criticisms other academics were making about the programs that Buchanan and other libertarian academics ran were that these men were not backing up their theories by “empirical research”. That is, they weren’t testing their theories against reality.

The truth is that libertarians have operated with such secrecy they have not been visible to others. In reality, they are engaged in one big pursuit of knowledge (learning by trial and error) as they collect more and more data concerning the multiple paths they’ve taken to reach the ends they did successfully achieve in Chile. They’ve even used mathematical economics to buttress their theories.

The claim that libertarians are not scientific enough is not true. The world is their laboratory right now. They are working in countries all over the globe testing how far they can get with their philosophy that only the rich should rule: and only the rich should get richer.

To achieve their ends, wealthy libertarians and their academic apologists have often used arguments that others are not “independent” enough. ‘Self-reliance’ is a buzzword these inheritors of great wealth seem to feel they are entitled to claim, while other people are not.

Libertarians claim those on welfare are “rent-seeking” from the government while they wrest hundreds of millions of dollars from government projects or tax breaks that make them rich.

Any kind of collective action on the part of others who have less money they they do is anathema to wealthy libertarians who are constantly meeting with one another to scheme how to make themselves wealthier.

Libertarians have attacked teachers and all kinds of other workers for unionizing. They attack former workers by trying to destroy Social Security. They would diminish all middle class and poor Americans by going after healthcare. In so doing they pit one American against another. This is the essence of James’ Buchanan’s strategy to destroy our democracy—divide and conquer. It is also Donald Trump’s modus operandi.

Donald Trump’s great gift to perpetuate libertarians’s ends is his willingness to speak openly of his contempt for racial and ethnic minorities, women, and those with disabilities. It is his willingness to stir up racist and xenophobic passions. It is his willingness to lie over and over again. It is his willingness to look stupid while in reality he is behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz, who is making wealthy libertarians’ dreams come true.

The real divide in the U.S. and the world – money

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”
(Janis Joplin “Me and Bobby McGee)

In the U.S. we have a nation’s government that supports income inequality so strongly that “an 2017 Oxfam study showed that eight rich people, six of them Americans, owned as much combined wealth as half of the human race.”

According to a June 28 report of the United Nations, we are living in a developed country, the “richest” in the world that has 40 million people living in poverty, a number that now puts us nearly at the bottom of the list of developed countries.

We are now looking at a Congress dominated by libertarians who are saying that they support an anti-governnent, anti-taxation (of the rich), and free-market economy (a myth). This Congress is largely the Koch brothers’ doing, but there are many, many others involved as well.

Where we are at now is also largely the result of the academics and the publishers and other media who have zealously promoted libertarianism. It is also the doing of those of us who don’t want to make the effort to see and fight what wealthy libertarians are doing to our us and our democracy.

At the heart of our democracy is this truth from Adam Smith, whose classic book on economics, The Wealth of Nations (published in 1776), shows us is that wealth of a nation is earned by working together for the common good, not by stealing from others.