The history professor’s work on the subject began by accident. In 2013 she stumbled across a deserted clapboard house on the campus of George Mason University in Virginia. It was stuffed with the unsorted archives of a man who had died that year, whose name is probably unfamiliar to you: James McGill Buchanan. She writes that the first thing she picked up was a stack of confidential letters concerning millions of dollars transferred to the university by the billionaire Charles Koch.James McGill Buchanan is an excellent example of contemporary America's "house nigger" as described by Malcolm X. He is upper-middle class academic who loyally served plantation owners like Charles Koch. Unlike intellectuals such as historian Alfred W. McCoy and America's informal theologian Chris Hedges who serve the ruling capitalist class by managing dissent within safe limits, Buchanan went whole-hog (def.) in collaborating with the ruling class to consolidate and extend their power. Because of his loyalty and performance, he was amply rewarded.
Her discoveries in that house of horrors reveal how Buchanan, in collaboration with business tycoons and the institutes they founded, developed a hidden programme for suppressing democracy on behalf of the very rich. The programme is now reshaping politics, and not just in the US.
But doesn't Monbiot also serve to manage dissent when he writes the following reassuring statement as a conclusion?
Complete freedom for billionaires means poverty, insecurity, pollution and collapsing public services for everyone else. Because we will not vote for this, it can be delivered only through deception and authoritarian control. The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both.Thus he tells us that we must strive to do a better job of regulating capitalists, and that our "democratic" institutions are still viable and able to do this job. (In the words of a 1911 activist) if that isn't pie-in-the-sky optimism, I don't know what is.
Buchanan’s programme amounts to a prescription for totalitarian capitalism. And his disciples have only begun to implement it. But at least, thanks to Maclean’s discoveries, we can now apprehend the agenda. One of the first rules of politics is know your enemy. We’re getting there.