I was fortunate to study both Western & Eastern bloc Economics and Politics at Oxford 1971 to 1975 and to practice as an Economist (and Environmental Analyst) for Lucas Industries in the late 1970s, before turning away from Economics to Management Development - as the former had no respect or interest in Environment or Climate Change -and the latter was slightly open to development of sustainability-based Environmental Management. Jane Mayer, imv, correctly suggests that 'The late 1960s and the early 1970s were in fact a daunting time for corporate America and for those living off great corporate fortunes.' (p 74) and 'Income in America during the mid 1970s was as equally distributed as at any time in the country's history.' (p 75). If you turned your back in the late 1970s, as I did, to focus on pioneering and developing sustainability-based Environmental Management, you might possibly, as I regret I did, continue to think that the post-War economic and political settlements in favor of regulated capitalism in the UK and probably the US had continued, albeit there were some weird and disturbing noises off-stage.
Naomi Klein gave a sense of 'something very bad this way came' in her expose of Milton Friedman's leadership of Chicago University's Economics faculty - and his development of a cadre of economists to revive world-wide the tenets of 19th century totally uncontrolled monopoly capitalism, in her 'Shock Doctrine' in 2007. While horrendous, astonishing and enlightening and recommended to colleagues and students,
this did not really help me understand nearly as much as the much more recent work including by George Monbiot, Naomi Klein in her 'This Changes Everything' and Nancy MacLean in her 2017 'Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America' and now in Jane Mayer's 'Dark Money'. Taken together, these allows us to see what was previously invisible - the vast, secret, multi-faceted, several decade counter-revolution from the extreme Right, much of which dates back to Austrian economists Frederick Hayek and von Mises' setting up of the Mount Pelerin society immediately post-WW2 - to re-shape government and societal agendas and cultures - which they have done very successfully.
Jane Mayer subtitled Dark Money 'How a secretive group of billionaires is trying to buy political control in the US'. She considerably extends Nancy Maclean's gripping expose of the seemingly Koch-funded life-time academic project of James Buchanan, to develop creative means of turning back the clock on politics and economics to the pre-War and 19th century unmanaged free-market. monopolistic capitalism eras.
It looks like the apparently deliberately undisclosed Mt. Pelerin/ Hayek/ Mises/ Friedman/ Buchanan multi-faceted, imv dangerously anti-environmental and anti-Climate Change projects and much more, where they have not been subject to democratic scrutiny ... have been relatively successful.
Jane Mayer 's new book (2016 in the US) provides considerable help in understanding the whole arc of the post Second World War era. Through no fault of their own, she helps understand how it has probably been mis-taken by the majorities in the electorates on either side of the Atlantic until about this second decade of this century. She not only helps expose some of the reasons for the failure to get to grips with both environmental and Climate Change science and risks, but she helps expose further the recharging of monopoly capitalism over the last probably five decades. She helps make sense of the fairly newly mentioned 'not 1% but 0.1%' as being the nature of the elites who are being alleged to be pulling the strings - a perception that these authors help one to understand.
Jane, Naomi, Nancy Maclean and George Monbiot even by what they alone have researched and written - have brought into the daylight what some deep pockets seem to have been backing since shortly after Hayek and Mises began what some have described as a then seemingly impossible task. Taking up arms against 'liberal' economics and politics, which seemed to have totally triumphed after the second World War and the preceding Great Crash. While there may have been some real material benefits for the 'ordinary working man' in say the Thatcher/ Reagan period, the costs of the hidden Counter-revolution since have, in my understanding, been difficult to even begin to understand, and I think will increase in perceived price as ecological and climate damage impacts further and the damage to the common culture democratic societies is increasingly perceived.
Mayer and publisher Scribe quote Naomi Klein on her front cover, seemingly appropriately: 'Utterly brilliant and chilling.'