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Dark Money: The Hidden History of the…

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the…

by Jane Mayer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0054214,049 (4.28)52
Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against "big government" led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But Jane Mayer argues that a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. Their core beliefs -- that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom -- are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws. The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights. When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision -- a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied. Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews -- including with several sources within the network -- and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings to trace the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent and to provide vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.… (more)
  1. 00
    Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy by Donald Gutstein (LamontCranston)
  2. 00
    Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: Mindf**k tells the story of the Mercer family investments in Cambridge Analytica like no other book.
  3. 00
    Jennifer Government by Max Barry (fulner)
    fulner: Dark Money is the investigation to the How the Koch's influence American politics. Jennifer Government is a dystopian fictional work about 21st century world if the Ko hs ideology rules the planet
  4. 00
    Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America by Christopher Leonard (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: This book provides the full account of an event mentioned in passing in Dark Money. The oil stealing allegation and investigation from the 1980s.
  5. 00
    Meet Charles Koch's Brain by Mark Ames (LamontCranston)
  6. 00
    Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky (LamontCranston)
  7. 00
    Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan by Kim Phillips-Fein (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: Invisible Hands covers much of the same territory as Dark Money but addresses more the philosophical developments of the movement.
  8. 00
    Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy Maclean (LamontCranston)
  9. 00
    Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems by Thomas Ferguson (LamontCranston)

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» See also 52 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Pure evil. A fundamental description of the American Fuck Up, one set of Billionaire Clowns in the three-ring circus of the American collapse.

One deep, maybe, wisdom is that, like towards the end of the Gulag Archipelago, book six or something, where a kinda socialism is created amongst the community in the camps, here the infinitely evil Koch brothers have to start to pretend they care about the population.

Dark Money gets 5 stars because it is fundamental. I originally thought "oh, another book about the evil and collapse of the USA", but this is really - really - the core. Pure evil.

The era of the barracks emperors has begun. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer is a nonfiction book tracing how rich and powerful people shape the world to fit their image. Ms. Mayer is a writer for the New Yorker and author of several bestselling nonfiction books.

If you’re a news / political junky like myself, put this book at the top of your “to read” list. Regardless of your political affiliation, or even if you don’t have one, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer makes a fascinating, informative, and very convincing argument.

It has always been fascinating to me how politicians manage to convince people to vote against their own best interest. I’ve read several books about the subject but it’s still a mystery to me. One more mystery is how issues such as climate change became wedge issues after, it seems, almost all politicians, from all sides, agreed it’s an issue until… they didn’t.
So, what happened?

According to the author two things happen, one was the election of Ronald Reagan, a movement conservative, the other was a campaign by two rich oil men in Kansas who decided to dedicate enormous amount of money to elect conservatives to every level in the American local and federal governments.

The Koch Brothers were playing a long term game, which started bearing fruit after three decades. In the 2010 midterm elections Republicans dominated state legislatures and governorship, controlled one chamber of Congress and were well on their way to win another. Many of the folks the Kochs backed weren’t aging realists looking to make a deal. They were those that embodied the Kochs’ politics of anti-government. Together with financing an organized network of think tanks, academia, and news outlets for mass propaganda, the opposition could do little but watch.

The books is written in a simple, unemotional narrative which leads the reader to scratch their heads in amusement, or tear their hair out in anger. After a five year investigation, Ms. Mayer makes a case that the Koch brothers managed to use their money to game American democracy and silence the voice of their opposition. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Sep 19, 2019 |
This book should be required reading for any citizen who cares about his/her family and its future. ( )
  John_Danenbarger | Sep 2, 2019 |
I discovered this book after it was recommended by friendlyjordies on youtube.

As an Australian looking from the outside into American politics, I've been aware of the ever increasing special interest money that has been building in a slow wave slowly corrupting the political process and essentially buying influence. And yet despite this, I still found the detail of such private donor money and the manner in which it was essentially laundered into the political system both shocking and depressing.

Here in Australia in my state there's currently a lot of hoopla over $100,000 that was delivered in cash to one of our political parties in breach of campaign finance laws, yet recorded here are tens of millions of dollars spent by the Koch brothers on buying influence in American politics. The sheer sums involved boggle the mind.

The erosion of democracy detailed in the book somehow manages to be more disturbing than dystopian fiction, possibly as it has been happening in the last decade whilst everyone watched.

I'd highly recommend this book for people with an interest in America or American politics regardless of politican persuasion. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Aug 29, 2019 |
I was worried that this would be old news. Should someone who's on top of the news still read this? Yes, you'll still learn more details even if you understand the big picture already. Is the book now dated, in 2019? No. What a story. There is a lot here, but not too much. I only wish that Mayer would periodically step back and try to give a bigger picture. Unfortunately (for the country), her portraits of the radical right are not close to comprehensive. "American Amnesia", by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, has more angles, at a higher level and presented with a more strident tone. ( )
  breic | Jul 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mayer, Janeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Potter, KirstenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We must make our choice. We may have democracy,
or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both.
- Louis Brandeis
Everyone needs an editor,
but not everyone is lucky enough to marry one.
Thank you for always being there with just the right words.
First words
This faction hoped to use their wealth to advance a strain of conservative libertarian politics that was so far out on the political fringe as recently as 1980, when David Koch ran for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket, it received only 1 percent of the American vote. At the time, the conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr. dismissed their views as "Anarcho-Totalitarianism."
In support of building their own youth movement, another speaker, the libertarian historian Leonard Liggio, cited the success of the Nazi model. In his paper titled "National Socialist Political Strategy: Social Change in a Modern Industrial Society with an Authoritarian Tradition," Liggio, who was affiliated with the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) from 1974 to 1998, described the Nazis' successful creation of a youth movement a key to their capture of the state. Like the Nazis, he suggested, libertarians should organise university students to create group identity.
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