“Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe” James Buchanan in Limits of Liberty
Als Lesetip ein Artikel über einen der Nobelpreisträger von 1986 James Buchanan, der als libertärer Vordenker einer US-Oligarchendiktatur fungierte, mittels seiner Virginia School einen Marsch durch die Institutionen, vor allem durch die Gerichte und den Supreme Court predigte, um die Herrschaft der Superreichen zu errichten. Während andere Vertreter des Neoliberalismuses wie Hayek, Mises und ihre Austrian School oder Milton Friedmann und seine Chicagoboys sich mehr auf Fragen der Wirtschaftspolitik konzentrierten, war ihr Mitkollege Buchanan bei der Mont Perelingesellschaft, des ideologischen Hauptquartiers der Neoliberalen in der Schweiz ein Apologet der politischen Machtergreifung einer Oligarchie, wie sie Ayn Rand in ihrem Buch „Der Streik“ einmal vage skizzierte.
Die Virginia School von James Buchanan schaffte es 40% der US-Richter auszubilden, wesentliche Positionen im Justizapperat samt einhergehender Gesetzgebung für Superreiche durchzusetzen, die selbst die plutokratischen Herrschaftsvorstellungen der Demokraten und Republikaner, die zumal auch noch eine middle class ansprechen wollen bei weitem in den Schatten stellen. Während sich die Demokraten an Trump abarbeiten, übersehen sie die heimliche Machtergreifung der US-Oligarchen durch den Marsch durch den Justizpapperat und den Supreme Court. Buchanan hat den wesentlichen Schwachpunkt der US-Demokratie völlig richtig erkannt: Nicht der US-Präsident, der Kongress oder der Senat, noch check und balances unter diesen ist entscheidend, sondern die Herrschaft über die Gerichte und des höchsten Gerichtes, des Supreme Courts. Egal, was die Politiker beabsichtigen, egal, wer für was klagt, die letztendliche Entscheidung hat der Supreme Court. Die Gerichte und den Supreme Court mit den eigenen Leuten zu besetzen, zumal wie in den USA auf Lebenszeit, war Buchanans Rezept für die Errichtung einer US-Oligarchendikatur, die sich unabhängig macht von Politik und Wahlen. Despotism by rules.
Buchanan ist ein krasser Sozialdarwinist: Wer nichts besitzt, hat eigentlich sein Recht auf Leben verwirkt. Die wirklichen Herrenmenschen werden von der Demokratie und ihrer Mehrheit ausgebeutet und geknechtet, zu Steuern und Abgaben gezwungen, daher gilt es laut Buchanan die Superreichen der USA in die Lage zu versetzen, die Gesetzesregeln nachhaltig so zu verändern, dass sie losgelöst von Wahlergebnnissen und der Bevölkerung herrschen können.
MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan’s brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools — proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school’s focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: (…)
Buchanan’s school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves, and that required a “constitutional revolution.” (…)
The Virginia school also differs from other economic schools in a marked reliance on abstract theory rather than mathematics or empirical evidence. That a Nobel Prize was awarded in 1986 to an economist who so determinedly bucked the academic trends of his day was nothing short of stunning, MacLean observes. But, then, it was the peak of the Reagan era, an administration several Buchanan students joined.
Buchanan’s school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves, and that required a “constitutional revolution.”
MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the ‘70s and sought the economist’s input in promoting “Austrian economics” in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
Koch, whose mission was to save capitalists like himself from democracy, found the ultimate theoretical tool in the work of the southern economist. The historian writes that Koch preferred Buchanan to Milton Friedman and his “Chicago boys” because, she says, quoting a libertarian insider, they wanted “to make government work more efficiently when the true libertarian should be tearing it out at the root.”(…)
With Koch’s money and enthusiasm, Buchanan’s academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan’s ideas — transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents — could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a “revolution” in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable.
MacLean details how partnered with Koch, Buchanan’s outpost at George Mason University was able to connect libertarian economists with right-wing political actors and supporters of corporations like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank, and General Motors. Together they could push economic ideas to the public through media, promote new curricula for economics education, and court politicians in nearby Washington, D.C.(…)
At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project.
To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. “40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary,” writes MacLean, “had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum.”
MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan’s role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security.
The dictator’s human rights abuses and pillage of the country’s resources did not seem to bother Buchanan, MacLean argues, so long as the wealthy got their way. “Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe,” the economist had written in The Limits of Liberty. If you have been wondering about the end result of the Virginia school philosophy, well, the economist helpfully spelled it out.
“The United States is now at one of those historic forks in the road whose outcome will prove as fateful as those of the 1860s, the 1930s, and the 1960s,” writes MacLean. “To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation’s governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form.”
Nobody can say we weren’t warned.