Review: Dark Money

Dark Money is the inside story of how 400 of the richest people in America are putting their money to work to bend academia, the media, churches, and the courts to their self-interest. If you want to understand what is happening at the political — and to some degree, cultural — level in America today, you must read this book.

Jane Mayer’s deep research and lucid writing is the perfect companion to Nancy MacLean’s brilliant work, Democracy in ChainsWhile Democracy in Chains is about the philosophy and ideology that underlies the thinking of those on the far right, Dark Money is about the players, their money, and how they are propagating their narcissistic values and beliefs to change the face of America.

Do not underestimate the power of this small cadre of plutocrats. In the 1980’s they laid out a plan for a three-phase takeover of American politics. The first phase required an “investment” in intellectuals whose ideas would serve as the “raw products.” The second required an investment in think tanks that would turn the ideas into marketable policies. And the third phase required the subsidization of “citizens” groups that would, along with “special interests,” pressure elected officials to implement the policies. It was in essence a libertarian production line, waiting only to be bought, assembled, and switched on.

They are well into phase three and their network is switched ON. In 2016 the Kochs’ private network of political groups had a bigger payroll than the Republican National Committee. The Koch network had 1,600 paid staffers in thirty-five states and boasted that its operation covered 80 percent of the population. They have funded academic positions in hundreds of colleges and universities. They have created countless ‘think tanks’ producing an endless stream of pseudo-science aimed at misdirection and generating FUD (fear-uncertainty-doubt). And their money is the lifeblood for many right-wing media and activist organizations.

I could say more, but Jane Mayer has already said it much better than I ever could. My advice is to read this book!

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