#LaborTalks – “Democracy in Chains”: a Conversation with Nancy MacLean

The Workmen’s Circle
247 West 37th St, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018

The roots of neoliberalism are both political and intellectual. The right-wing reaction to the New Deal and various emancipatory social movements, such as the Civil Rights movement, sought to not only elect conservative politicians and enact conservative policies, but also change the very rules of democratic governance—to reduce,” as historian Nancy MacLean writes in her highly lauded book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,  “the authority and reach of the government or to diminish the power and standing of those calling on government to protect their rights or to provide for them in one way or another.” In this they drew on the interesting marriage of the developing branch of Virgina School “public choice” economics and segregationist and libertarian movements on the ground in the American south. In #LaborTalks – “Democracy in Chains”: a Conversation with Nancy MacLean, MacLean will join BISR executive director Ajay Singh Chaudhary for a far-ranging discussion on the origins of neoliberalism, the rise of the radical right, its networks and tactics, anti-majoritarianism, the state of the left, and prospects for democracy. What explains the American right wing’s extraordinary success? Why is it hostile to democracy? What’s the role of the intellectual? By what means can left activists, scholars and unionists combat the right, and restore and improve public access to and influence over government

This event is co-presented by The Workmen’s CircleThe Sidney Hillman FoundationDissent Magazine, and The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. A reception will follow the talk.

#LaborTalks – “Democracy in Chains”: a Conversation with Nancy MacLean is the fourth in our ongoing #LaborTalks series.


  • Nancy MacLean

    Nancy MacLean is an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century U.S., whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.”

    The author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klannamed a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy. Her articles and review essays have appeared in American QuarterlyThe Boston ReviewFeminist Studies, Gender & History, In These Times, International Labor and Working Class HistoryLabor, Labor History, Journal of American HistoryJournal of Women’s HistoryLaw and History ReviewThe Nation, the OAH Magazine of History, and many edited collections.

  • Ajay Singh Chaudhary

    Ajay Singh Chaudhary is the executive director of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a core faculty member specializing in social and political theory. His research focuses on social and political theory, Frankfurt School critical theory, political economy, media, religion, and post-colonial studies. He has written for the The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, Quartz, Social Text, Dialectical Anthropology, The Jewish Daily Forward, Filmmaker Magazine, and 3quarksdaily, among other venues. Ajay is currently writing a book on the politics of climate change.

Event Schedule

Monday, 6:30-9pm
December 11, 2017


Event is over. Check out our upcoming events.

SKU: DEC17-NY-NANCY MACLEAN Category: Tags: ,