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Robby Soave at Reason has another good one about current insights on campus:

Democracy in Chains Author Nancy MacLean Calls Autism a Leading Cause of Libertarianism

Here is what Professor MacLean said in response to a question after a talk she gave at NYC’s Unitarian Church of All Souls:

It’s striking to me how many of the architects of this cause seem to be on the autism spectrum: people who don’t feel solidarity or empathy with others.

It’s hard to know, given the quality of political entertainment these days, whether she intends outlandish innuendo of the Trumpian variety, or if she actually believes an entire political philosophy derives from psychological roots. The subtitle of MacLean’s book, The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, suggests psychology carries weight in her balance. Note though what she let fly with her remark: we ought to base our public policy, our institutions and markets on solidarity and empathy. Those qualities figure critically in the foundations of socialism, and we know how well that works.

If MacLean’s book exemplifies the kind of history you write when you are not autistic, I’ll take thinkers on the spectrum anytime. I’d like to call the book elitist claptrap, but I haven’t read it and don’t intend to. So I’ll just call it leftist, and smug. You have to be conscious of your superiority to dismiss others that way.

As for MacLean’s ‘Stealth Plan’, you have to wonder where she found that idea. She follows her progressive brethren in the idea that the Koch brothers have decided the world would be better if they can roll back the administrative state, and that they launched this project secretly, perhaps so we will not notice. Never mind that everyone knows who the Koch brothers are, what they stand for and want to do, who receives their money, how much money they give, how long they have been active, what organizations and candidates they favor, and on and on. In that way, the Koch brothers are no different from wealthy people who fund Democratic causes.

MacLean might say, our knowledge of the Koch brothers shows how important our work is! We revealed their nefarious secret plan! I daresay the effort required to document the Koch brothers’ funding activities approximated the effort required to expose leaders of the NSA as incompetent, dishonest nitwits, or the effort required to show the Clinton Foundation was not so altruistic as first appeared. The difference is that the Koch brothers appear more honest about their goals.

Perhaps Professor MacLean’s next history book will be titled Physics in Chains: Einstein’s Secret Design to Bind the Space-Time Continuum. Then she might have a chance to remark, to a group of progressive scientists after one of her learned talks:

It’s striking to me how many of the architects of modern physics seem to have Asperger’s syndrome: people who don’t feel solidarity or empathy with nanoparticles or anything else they study.

Professor MacLean teaches at Duke University. She joined Duke’s faculty in 2010, and is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy there. I wonder if she regards herself as an empathetic person. I wonder if the people at Duke, who offered her an endowed chair when they lured her away from Northwestern, go home and ask what they could have been thinking.

Related book

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

Related article

Democracy in Chains Author Nancy MacLean Calls Autism a Leading Cause of Libertarianism

Bonus on progressive politics: Warren’s world

As Elizabeth Warren prepares her run for reelection to the U. S. Senate from Massachusetts, we may hear more about how ‘the system is rigged’ in favor of the big guy – corporations in Warren’s world – and against the little guy – you and me. The question during this election season is whether Warren or anyone else will discuss members of the rigging team. Who rigs? Government authorities, also known as enablers? If you want to know why corporations give a lot of money to politicians and political campaigns, consider the process by which those authorities are selected, who writes the legislation that gives authorities their power.

In Warren’s world, members of the government’s rigging team are not enablers. They are regulators! We can see from long experience that no difference exists. The best example of state capture – another word for rigging – in recent memory is the ‘too big to fail’ bailout of large financial institutions during the Great Recession. The United States Treasury did not come up with that weaselly principle – large financial institutions did. They used it to convince their rigging team to rescue them. Warren should know something about that, since her special concern as she launched her political career was to protect little people from big financial institutions.

So you have to ask, why does she want to give the enablers – government’s rigging team – more power? Does she think the rigging team will become more democratic – and look out for the little guy – because that is what she wants? Observe the way the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has operated since it was created July 21, 2011, and let me know what you think. Warren would proudly say her favorite agency does not consist of enablers. As with most regulatory agencies, it tried to maintain its own power over time. Its main interest is in survival. This particular bureau has not promoted health in the banking industry.