The Hidden History of American Oligarchy

Book description

Thom Hartmann, the most popular progressive radio host in America and a New York Times bestselling author, looks at the history of the battle against oligarchy in America—and how we can win the latest round.

Billionaire oligarchs want to own our republic, and they're nearly there thanks to legislation and Supreme Court decisions that they have essentially bought. They put Trump and his political allies into office and support a vast network of think tanks, publications, and social media that every day push our nation closer and closer to police-state tyranny.

The United States was born in a struggle against the oligarchs of the British aristocracy, and ever since then the history of America has been one of dynamic tension between democracy and oligarchy. And much like the shock of the 1929 crash woke America up to glaring inequality and the ongoing theft of democracy by that generation's oligarchs, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has laid bare how extensively oligarchs have looted our nation's economic system, gutted governmental institutions, and stolen the wealth of the former middle class.

Thom Hartmann traces the history of this struggle against oligarchy from America's founding to the United States' war with the feudal Confederacy to President Franklin Roosevelt's struggle against “economic royalists,” who wanted to block the New Deal. In each of those cases, the oligarchs lost the battle. But with increasing right-wing control of the media, unlimited campaign contributions, and a conservative takeover of the judicial system, we're at a crisis point.

Now is the time for action, before we flip into tyranny. We've beaten the oligarchs before, and we can do it again. Hartmann lays out practical measures we can take to break up media monopolies, limit the influence of money in politics, reclaim the wealth stolen over decades by the oligarchy, and build a movement that will return control of America to We the People.

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Preface
  7. Introduction: America Slides Into Oligarchy and Dances Close To Tyranny
  8. Part One: The Crisis of Oligarchy
    1. Modern Oligarchy Erupts
    2. The Presidency: Trump’s Playbook
    3. A Second American Civil War?
    4. Control the Media
    5. Controlling Congress (Both Federal and State)
    6. Seize the Courts
    7. Inevitable Tyranny
    8. How Oligrachs Seized the GOP
    9. The Oligarchs’ Most Successful Con
    10. The Crisis
  9. Part Two: How Oligarchy Led To The Civil War
    1. An Awakened Generation Challenges British Oligarchy
    2. Just Idealists, or Is Democracy in Our Genes?
    3. Revolutionary Principles: Born Equal
    4. Best-Laid Plans for Liberty: Ending American Slavery
    5. New Technology, New Oligarchy
    6. Where Cotton Is King, Cotton Makes Kings
    7. The Oligarchs’ War
  10. Part Three: How Oligarchs Hung On After the Civil War: Controlling Free Commoners
    1. Control and Safety: The Conservatism of Oligarchy
    2. Slavery Is Legal in the United States in 2021
    3. Through Debt, Oligarchs Can Still Own People
    4. Oligarchs Use Medical Debt as an Instrument of Control
    5. Oligarchs Control the Commoners through Illiteracy and Student Debt
    6. Controlling the Commoners: When All Else Fails, Bring in the Police
    7. The Oligarchs’ Biggest Threat: An Educated Middle Class with Leisure
  11. Part Four: A Third Oligarchy Rises With The Reagan Revolution
    1. Oligarchs Use the 14th Amendment to Get Corporate Personhood
    2. The Supreme Court Sets Up American Oligarchy
    3. “Starve the Beast” and Gut the Republic
    4. Holding Power: Buying Friends on Both Sides of the Aisle
  12. Part Five: When Oligarchy Becomes Tyranny
    1. Lies: The First Step from Oligarchy to Tyranny
    2. Tyrants Modify the Very Language of a Culture
    3. “Deconstruct the State”
    4. Scapegoating to Dilute the Outrage
    5. Scapegoating Race, Religion, Gender
    6. Normalizing Outrageous Behavior
    7. Tyrants Always Corrupt Police
    8. A Tyrant’s Tool: Obedience
    9. Take Militias and Violence Seriously
  13. Part Six: Breaking Oligarchy, Restoring Democracy
    1. Breaking Oligarchy: The Oligarchs’ Media Empire
    2. Breaking Oligarchy: A Free Press
    3. Breaking Oligarchy: Economic Rights for Everybody
    4. Breaking Oligarchy: Tax the Crap Out of the Rich
    5. Breaking Oligarchy: Prosecute Trump and His Henchmen under the Hatch Act
    6. Breaking Oligarchy: Publicly Funded Elections
    7. Breaking Oligarchy: Support the Resistance
    8. Breaking Oligarchy: Restore Election Integrity
    9. Breaking Oligarchy: Build Progressive Institutions Instead of Just Providing Three-Year Grants
    10. Breaking Oligarchy: Help Republicans Reinvent the GOP
    11. Breaking Oligarchy: Rebuild a Progressive Democratic Party
    12. We Now Know . . .
  14. Notes
  15. Acknowledgments
  16. Index
  17. About the Author

Product information

  • Title: The Hidden History of American Oligarchy
  • Author(s): Thom Hartmann
  • Release date: February 2021
  • Publisher(s): Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • ISBN: 9781523091607