A Battle on Amazon You Should Know About...

This is a first post here for me, but I browse here almost every day. I'm writing about a book, and a battle of reviews on Amazon that, IMO, demonstrates the core truth of the book in question. The book is Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean. She is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. I bought it last Saturday, and finished it on Monday morning. It's that good.

At it's heart, the book is a social history, but framed through the lens of deep research on a man likely few here have ever heard of: James Buchanan, who actually won a Nobel Prize for Economics, for his work on "Public Choice Theory". Professor MacLean discovered that Buchanan's papers have been left mostly untouched at his most recent academic home at George Mason University. (And that's a clue about the debate on Amazon).

The book is really the story of how Libertarian economic thought has been spread throughout America, in a long effort. It touches on the effort to privatize schools, which began with Virginia's decision, in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, to close public schools that admitted blacks and provide vouchers to students to attend [white] "private academies"; the founding of the Mont Pelerin Society; the crucial role of funding, from the start, by Foundations, to create a Libertarian "cadre" beginning with the William Volker Fund, continuing through the Scaife and Olin funds, others (which I'm forgetting) and culminating, obviously, with the Koch's.

It only touches on the Federalist Society and it's role in selecting Judges; on the Powell Memo as a structural guidepost; the range of the intertwined and often not-quite-like-minded conservative nonprofit groups and organizations are hard to keep track of, but MacLean makes an attempt to sort them out and show how they connect, and the damaging impacts of their shared ideology. MacLean, with evidence, shows that the Libertarians long-ago concluded that they could never implement their anti-democratic plan in a democratic society--so the solution was obviously to get rid of the democracy part of the deal in America. So: gerrymandering, voter suppression, union-busting, etc. We have all seen this in action, more aggressively in recent years, but that's the plan. Crony capitalism, to survive, has to put democracy out of business, while keeping the Kabuki aspects of our democracy (demanded by our monopoly media) "legitimate". (Can't wait for the demise of Net Neutrality...goodbye, C-99)!

But on to Amazon--the only reason I'm writing this post, heck, the only reason I knew about this BOOK--is because when it came out, the Libertarian trolls went on "RED Alert". I am friends on FB with a guy named Steve Horwitz. He used to be on the faculty at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, where my sister and spouse also taught. He's now taken a new position at Ball State, which is in Muncie, Indiana. His FB feed alerted me to the controversy about this book. Libertarians are attacking it now from all sides.

My relationship with Steve is "complicated". He posts dumb libertarian stuff on FB, (and that's why my sis emailed me, years ago, to rebut some of his BS). [I'm Poly Sci from Grinnell College, she's an English major] but he also posts smart libertarian stuff on FB! He claims to be part of the Bleeding Heart Libertarians and I know that is true. Steve is fair minded, to be sure, and within his libertarian constraints, but as an academic who has enjoyed some success, and who has enjoyed the fruit of Koch money, he understands the costs that the sunshine in MacLean's book might impose on a larger academic/political gravy train. Steve's scathing review is article number one on Bleeding Heart...and what's weird it's been both Amazon's number one review, and then it has appeared and disappeared. (So I don't know what's up with that).

But the Amazon score is 62% 5-Star; 3% 4-Star; 2% 3-Star; 3% 2-Star; and 30% 1-Star. (I don't know if I can even post a review, as always, I went to the local store for my copy).

So it's a war on Amazon between the regular readers (almost all of whom, voting statistics show, are NOT "Libertarians") and the mobilized, tiny, Libertarian mob of true believers and the paid sycophants who encourage them. By now, they have ginned up a 30% opposition, because this really *IS* an important book. Buy it if you can--Professor MacLean and Viking would certainly appreciate it--but at the very least, demand that your local Library stock it--while they still have that "freedom".

We are only a few states away from a Constitutional Convention, everybody, and this book really explains why...Aside from Democratic Party fecklessness, which would be another post from me for another day. I'm on this site for a *reason*.

Sorry for the long post, but it's a great book. We could have an interesting discussion on another thread once a few people read it. Thanks!

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58 users have voted.

Comments

dkmich's picture

There is no doubt they circled the wagons and put the rest of us under siege. Because it is such an orchestrated and deliberate strategy to undermine the country and us, I get pretty angry. It is why I went AWOL in November and decided to my share to blow the whole GD thing up.

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20 users have voted.

*donate *follow us on Twitter *like us on Facebook

ggersh's picture

@dkmich http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/07/monetary-sovereigns-monetary-subj...

It’s a mix of malice, miseducation, and misunderstanding. There is a myth that the sovereign cannot afford certain things. Even if you look at things through the Modern Money view, this is often ludicrous. When Cheney went to go to war, he said deficits don’t matter. Bannon also believes in deficit spending. Indeed, the Trump administration has proposed to almost triple federal outlays to state and local governments for policing and civil asset forfeiture. Yet when earnest liberal bureaucrats or even rebellious lawyers make demands on the state they get caught up with the question, “How are you going to pay for it?” as if the government were a household that must collect or borrow before it can spend.

The answer for monetary subjects is to seize control of the monetary sovereign. It is, in essence, just more democracy. I am not pressing for it to pay for more prisons, more cops, more immigration detention centers, but it can spend enough money in a targeted fashion.

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28 users have voted.

“We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

― Chris Hedges

I read an article that referenced it somewhere, but not on Amazon. I use a Kindle and I hate that I have to buy from them but I do love using that thing. Best part about it is the dictionary function for all those words you think you know the meaning of but can then look them up, quick and easy.

They've had this plan for a long time, it'll be interesting to read more about it specifically.

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18 users have voted.

@lizzyh7 @lizzyh7

is the only way to travel. I use Overdrive on my Kindle and link thru my wifi to the electronic resource in the local library. Many times books are on hold but no matter. When my place in line comes up they send me an email.

This book, Democracy in Chains, is not yet available in the electronic version but will be if enough subscribers recommend it. It is available in hard copy.

My wife who once said she only liked real books has come to love the Kindle Fire I bought her. She would be lost without it these days.

My tax dollars in action.

Oh, did I mention they do movies also? They do movies also. Either thru the electronic resource or Hoopla.

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16 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7 through the Internet.
I have this book on hold from my library's website. I have to use the Overdrive program to get it to transfer to my iPod.

I have been able to 'borrow' hundreds of audible books this way. I have the option to read a book through either downloading it from Amazon, or read it in a different version of the Overdrive app or program.

I will try to find how you can do this.
I heard about this book from a counterpunch article and was surprised to see in my online library.

This is a great essay. Thanks for writing it.

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18 users have voted.

The Democrats are beyond morally bankrupt. The Party’s very soul has been replaced with pure ratfuckery.

the social/legal construct called "private property".

That "Libertarians" believe exactly the opposite is all you need to know about the relationship between their philosophy and your liberty.

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22 users have voted.

Sigh

thanatokephaloides's picture

@UntimelyRippd

The single greatest restriction on individual liberty is the social/legal construct called "private property".

"All your private property is target for your enemy
And your enemy is WE...."

-- Jefferson Airplane, "We Can Be Together"

Noteworthy distinction: Only in the USA does the term "Libertarian" refer to this right-wing cluster of anti-social assholes. Throughout Europe and everywhere else I've heard of, thye term refers to what Americans would call anarchosocialists. (IOW, my exact politics!)

Wink

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14 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

@thanatokephaloides
somewhat comparable to American Libertarians -- at least, to the saner American Libertarians.

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4 users have voted.

Sigh

snoopydawg's picture

We are only a few states away from a Constitutional Convention, everybody, and this book really explains why...Aside from Democratic Party fecklessness, which would be another post from me for another day. I'm on this site for a *reason*.

This happened during Obama's tenure. In addition to the 1,000 seats that were lost at the federal and state levels, more states turned Red. A constitutional amendment would devastate this country and with the Supreme Court stacked with conservatives, we could be very screwed.
Why didn't Obama and the democrats raise holy hell when the republicans blocked Garland from getting a hearing?

The democrats let republicans run unopposed in many elections, or the democrats would fund a person who absolutely stunk.

This is why I keep thinking that this was done on purpose. How the hell could democrats lose this many seats and states in such a short period of time?
The democrats also changed the filibuster rules making them helpless to stop the republicans' agendas and cabinet picks.

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28 users have voted.

The Democrats are beyond morally bankrupt. The Party’s very soul has been replaced with pure ratfuckery.

@snoopydawg

Garland was a corporate-friendly Republican who'd have rejected Constitutional challenges to the TPP's Trojan Horse illegal disposal of the power of legislation from power delegated by the American people to those intended to represent their interests to off-shored corporate courts existing to drain and poison the world for maximized corporate profits at all costs to their victims.

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18 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

mimi's picture

@Ellen North
have mercy with us non-academics and non-native English speakers. Just saying. The 99 percent have a couple of non-academics among them.

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12 users have voted.

"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Eric Foner

@mimi Merrick Garland was a typical Obama appointee.

"Maybe if I appointed just one more reach-across-the-aisle blue dog . . ."

Sometimes Google translate will break things down. It has improved these past years, except they don't have an English to English option. No disrespect to the commenter though. On the job, I once got a comment like, "For heaven's sake, don't tell me which tables you queries, which indexes you set, or which variables you redefined--just tell me you fixed the problem! But thanks for fixing it!"

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8 users have voted.
thanatokephaloides's picture

@SancheLlewellyn

Sometimes Google translate will break things down. It has improved these past years, except they don't have an English to English option.

Much less a politician to English option!

Smile

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5 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

Deja's picture

@SancheLlewellyn I once had an extra job at San Antonio Raceway and was registering racing teams for a Nat'l Hot Rod Assoc. event. I was a temp for the raceway, and was working alongside a few NHA staffers. They had very thick, Northern-Midwestern accents. Michigan, maybe? (Don't recall.)

At one point during the day, one of them comes to me and asks, "Do you speak Spanish?"

Now, I know my ABC's in Spanish, a lot of curse words and foods and some others I've picked up living in Texas nearly 50 years, like bathroom and slang for beer. Other than that, nope, I don't speak it; but, I am able to communicate with people who know as much English as I know Spanish and are willing to give it a shot.

I went over to the Spanish-speaking man and asked if I could help him - in English. He answered back - in perfect English, and we had us a little chuckle. He just had a very thick accent of his own lol, and couldn't understand them any better than they understood him. Biggrin

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3 users have voted.

"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

@mimi

Sorry...

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2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

smiley7's picture

good, very good, to see you!

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16 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

I thinght this was really interesting:

The Amazon score is 62% 5-Star; 3% 4-Star; 2% 3-Star; 3% 2-Star; and 30% 1-Star.

Sometimes there are spreads like that in Amazon ratings, but I haven't noticed that on books so much. I assume that the debate is being driven by Facebook. I'll be checking it out. The political conflict between what's liberating and empowering for the Individual vs. what's stabilizing and elevating for Society, is always a favorite gestalt to study; that place where the pursuit and investment in one, diminishes the possibilities and fulfillment of the other. I need to read it to get my mind around the Libertarian experience that is being promoted, and why people now on the boil over it. Austerity and a sense of scarcity must really exacerbate it. Thanks for sharing.

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20 users have voted.

As it reaches its endgame, a poorly regulated capitalism becomes cannibalism.

Wink's picture

then drop it off at your local library if they don't have a copy.

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17 users have voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. All about building progressive media. (-1.9) On Twitter @winkradio.

divineorder's picture

Very interesting essay. Thanks.

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14 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

Very interesting essay. Thanks.

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7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

Very interesting essay. Thanks.

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9 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder

That was actually worth saying several times and I hope that the magic 3 repetitions help encourage more people to quit using Amazon and go buy whatever from real people presumably less abusive of their employees and in their local area.

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15 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Ellen North I buy nothing else from Amazon. I did have to buy some toilet seat thing for my mother years ago, was quite frankly just easier to get it there than find a store that carried that, but her shower chair was a local purchase. I really need a new Kindle and hate to even buy that from them but I do love the thing and I too would be lost without it. It'll be my one indulgence to Amazon....

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5 users have voted.

@lizzyh7

Dratted monopolists! I'll forgive you, though, just because you make such great comments. (Starting to get an icky feeling about the word 'great', though - erase and correct: 'interesting' comments.)

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2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Wink's picture

@divineorder
capitalist asshat of the worst kind, but I love clicking for my stuff and it ends up on my porch 2 or 3 days later. That's my kind of "shopping."

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1 user has voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. All about building progressive media. (-1.9) On Twitter @winkradio.

Regardless of if you bought it from them or now. Hell, you can even review things on pre-order meaning no one actually has seen the item in question other than the makers. They had a scandal a while ago with shill reviews, though they seemed to tap that down without changing much. Amazon's reviews are a step above local news comments.

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7 users have voted.

Heard the author on democracynow. Really impressed.

Based on this post went to amazon to look at the reviews and the comments on the reviews. The trolls tried to discredit the book in the comments over and over again. I did not go the level 1 judged reviews but did spend some time there to look around and see the attempt to discredit the book.

On the page on amazon was the book by Jane Mayer, Dark Money. It first came out in Jan 2016 and the book now up is dated 2017. There were 1,588 reviews of the book!!!

I looked at a couple of them and sure enough, there were not the troll comments found on "Democracy in Chains"

The oligarchs and the libertarians may be feeling some heat.

From the Guardian a couple of days ago as a long read

How economics became a religion: Its moral code promises salvation, its high priests uphold their orthodoxy. But perhaps too many of its doctrines are taken on faith

And another long read today at The Guardian

Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world:It’s not just a populist backlash – many economists who once swore by free trade have changed their minds, too. How had they got it so wrong?

And today on Naked Capitalism

Hamburgdämmerung: The End of G20 as a “Premier Forum for International Economic Cooperation”?

All of these articles have excellent points but here is some stuff from the third article

The strangest aspect of the G20 communiqué, and the part that has dominated media coverage, is the section on the Paris climate agreement. The strangeness arises not because of the topic—the G20 has always played second fiddle to the UN on climate issues—but because, for the first time, a whole paragraph is devoted solely to one member, the USA, explaining why it doesn’t agree with the others, followed by a paragraph by the others explaining why they will go ahead without the USA anyway, including through agreeing a “G19” action plan on energy and climate for growth.

The climate change issue is a jarring symbol of the G20’s difficulty in reaching agreement. However, the Trump administration’s “America first” stance and resulting lack of movement on economic issues—the raison d’etre of the G20—is evident throughout the document.

Two things stand out.

Firstly, many key economic issues receive very little attention. The opening paragraphs on the global economy, trade and investment are masterpieces of bureaucratic obfuscation, offering something for everyone, while saying very little, and presenting no new initiatives. Financial sector reform—an issue at the centre of G20 work since the global financial crash of 2007/8—merits one short paragraph, with no new promises. The Action Plan which accompanies the communique has a more detailed summary of work in this area, highlighting that the G20 has essentially outsourced this work to the Financial Stability Board (FSB)—a worrying development given the major governance problems with that institution. In addition to being one of the least transparent and accountable international financial institutions, the FSB replicates the flawed G20 governance model, but makes it worse by adding the financial centres of Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Singapore to the G20 membership list (as well as Spain and the Netherlands).

Secondly, the continued expansion of G20 interest into a whole host of issues outside its traditional mandate is striking, with the G20 concerning itself with, for example, health, women’s empowerment, food security, rural youth employment, and marine pollution.

The establishment parties in the US are not going to sell the same crap much longer.

Even the creationists are accepting that the earth is more than 10,000 years old

Economic collapse and climate collapse and political collapse and .....

Did you hear about Russia? and Trump's tweets?

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9 users have voted.
boriscleto's picture

But there are 9 holds ahead of me.

Actually, I might just go over to the library and pick it up...it is still in the new books section, and they won't ship new books to those who placed holds until it has been out for a while...

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7 users have voted.

" In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy "

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