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Nancy MacLean’s Narrative Continues to Unravel

Here are some additional corrections to Nancy MacLean’s fantasy tale about Jim Buchanan:

Phil Magness  A slice:

Once again, Nancy MacLean went casting about for a link between James Buchanan and unsavory connections to white supremacist viewpoints – this time by way of [John C.] Calhoun. Once again, she was unable to find any evidence of that connection in Buchanan’s own works. So what did she do instead? She invented one by stringing together other sources that do not actually show what she claims they show. And in fact, she failed to realize that the author she uses to build a link from Buchanan to Calhoun – Murray Rothbard – was deeply hostile to Buchanan’s own work, directly contradicting her claimed link.

Jason Brennan  A slice:

So, along comes Nancy MacLean. The government paid her over $50,000 to smear Buchanan and people like him. Rather than challenge his ideas, she accuses him of this and that. Yet, all the while, Nancy is quite literally a hired gun for the government seeking to rationalize its oppression and abuses.

It’s a bad book, and you, might notice, not peer-reviewed. But keep in mind it is quite literally a piece of government-funded propaganda. There’s no more point in arguing with Nancy than there is arguing with one of Goebbels’s essays. Asking about its intellectual value is a category mistake.

David Bernstein (although my sense is that Buchanan’s work is indeed more influential in mainstream libertarian thought than David seems to think it is; but perhaps I’m biased)

Steve Horwitz  A slice:

Unfortunately, anyone who takes the time to read the actual sources she’s working from, or who understands public choice theory, can see this exercise for what it is: a travesty of scholarly standards (no, Charles Dickens’ novels do not count as data about the economic conditions of the 19th century) and a smear job on one of the great minds of the 20th century.


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