Friday, February 16, 2018

Thompson Reviews MacLean's "Democracy in Chains"

Fred Thompson, Willamette University, has posted  Public Choice and the Origins of the Radical Right: A Review of Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America.
Democracy in Chains is a heck of a read, but it is, at its core, fundamentally flawed. Its core is a confrontation with James Buchanan and the origins of public choice theory, which argues that public choice is a backlash to both the New Deal and the civil rights movement. The flaw reflects MacLean’s misapprehension of the content of public choice theory and its implications, a misunderstanding of what Buchanan actually believed (or, at least, claimed to believe), and, therefore, an unwarranted leap from Buchanan’s role in creating public choice theory to all things nasty about right-wing politics.