Evil Geniuses Book Summary By Kurt Andersen

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Evil Geniuses (2020) is a book that takes a deep dive into the history of the economic right.

From Milton Friedman to Ronald Reagan, it provides an insightful review of some key figures and their influence on today's US economy.

It argues that their policies after the 1960s have had far-reaching effects, leading to where we are now.

The book gives readers an in-depth look at the strategies used by these leaders and how they operate within our society.

With this knowledge, you'll be able to develop a better understanding of current economic structures and challenges faced by our nation today—all presented in an accessible way for those who are not experts on the topic.

Evil Geniuses Book

Book Name: Evil Geniuses (The Unmaking of America: A Recent History)

Author(s): Kurt Andersen

Rating: 3.9/5

Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Kurt Andersen is an established name in the world of journalism, novels, and radio shows.

His credentials are impressive - his New York Times bestseller Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History has received critical praise while his novels True Believers, Heyday and Turn of the Century have been hugely popular.

If you're looking for an interesting story full of insight and intelligence, then look no further than Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen!

Uncovering The Rise Of America’s Robber Barons: How Nostalgia, Liberal Complacency, And Economic Ideologies Have Led To This New Gilded Age

Economic Ideologies

In the Evil Geniuses book, you’ll learn about the economic right’s takeover of America.

This is a story that traces back to the bad old days when big business and aristocracy had far too much control over politics and resources.

But it has taken on a new and much more aggressive tone in recent decades, as progressive policies have been rejected in favor of unabashed free-market economics.

You’ll learn about how nostalgia for the past helped to move public opinion away from progressives against those who held a larger share of wealth and power, leading to devastating effects on working Americans who now find themselves burdened with insecure work, housing, and health care.

The book also covers why liberals were complacent in doing anything about this situation, which persists today even despite the fact we now live in a very different era than that of the 1980s.

Don’t miss your chance to get a comprehensive look at why this happened and what can be done to fight it.

America’S Nostalgia Trap: Why The Us Has Stopped Looking To The Future

America experienced a wave of change and modernity in the twentieth century, ranging from space travel to rock and roll, the civil rights movement and more.

But that same wave of innovation started to slow down around the end of the last century.

Author Kurt Andersen was first made aware of this when he noticed an old newspaper photograph from twenty years earlier which featured stylish-looking people.

He noticed how similar these people were to those in 2007, which made him realize that apart from mobile phones or computers, there wasn’t much that looked or sounded new in America at that time.

This compared dramatically to the transition between early 1950s conservatism and the freedom-fueled music and fashion of the 1960s.

The desire for nostalgia had actually been taking shape since around the 1970s when movies like Grease and television series like Happy Days began appearing on screens – portraying idealized versions of past decades.

Since then, American culture has continued shifting its focus toward retro as its become enamoured with memory rather than progress; resulting in a stagnation that affects many aspects of life: politically and economically.

The Rich Right-Wing Elites Exploited Americans’ Nostalgia For The Past To Usher In Policies That Served Their Interests

Since the time President Franklin D.

Roosevelt ushered in the New Deal in 1932, the United States had become increasingly center-left and was focused on providing benefits for its citizens.

During this time, any ideas from the economic right—which included things like cutting taxes for big corporations or slashing welfare programs—were seen as strange and fringe proposals.

However, when Lyndon B.

Johnson’s presidency brought a wave of liberal reforms in the 1960s, nostalgia came back into vogue and opened a window of opportunity for the right.

As mass demonstrations broke out against the Vietnam War and for civil rights issues, these wealthy, right-wing elites tapped into people’s longing for an “idealized past” that seemed to be under threat from modernity.

This message would be mastered by Ronald Reagan when he ran for president in 1980; rather than focusing on his controversial policies which most Americans did not support, he instead mobilized nostalgic feelings towards an old-fashioned America featuring white picket fences and small town life.

This strategy worked – Reagan won the election, ushering in an era of economic policies favoring rich, right-wing political interests at last.

Nostalgia opened the door to their plans coming to fruition.

Milton Friedman And Lewis Powell Were Key Figures In The Resurgence Of The Economic Right In The 1970s

Milton Friedman

In the 1970s, two men played pivotal roles in the resurgence of the economic right: Milton Friedman and Lewis Powell.

Milton Friedman was an economics professor at the University of Chicago who wrote an influential essay in New York Times Magazine in which he argued that businesses should have no responsibilities aside from accumulating profit.

This essay had profound implications and served as a call to arms for many businesspeople who were tired of being demonized by liberals during this time.

His ideas and essays went on to shape corporate boardrooms for decades, even becoming a driving force behind Ronald Reagan’s policies when he was President.

On the other hand, there was Lewis Powell from Virginia.

Frustrated with the left-wing sentiment of the 1960’s, he submitted a proposal to the US Chamber of Commerce that outlined how corporations could protect themselves against liberal policies.

He suggested huge budgets for infiltrating academics, media, politics and legal systems – all elements involved in promoting right-wing economic ideologies that were necessary for their success.

His proposal marked the beginning of intense lobbying campaigns that would define American politics right into today’s era.

In conclusion, Milton Friedman and Lewis Powell were essential catalysts in reviving what seemed a lost cause – resuscitating economic conservatism previously thought crushed under progressive ideals in The Roaring 60s -and setting it off again as a prevalent force still impacting policy up til now.

The Political Right Stole Strategies From The Radical Left During The 1960S To Gain Power

The political right of the 1960s was quick to realize the potential of leveraging their opposition’s strategies.

To gain power and advance their ideals, they adopted many elements from the radical movements of that period.

This included utilizing ultra-individualism, misusing mistrust in government, and employing distorted victimization language.

For instance, Milton Friedman encouraged individuals to break away from traditional conformism and follow their personal truths.

Similarly, Ronald Reagan used anti-government sentiments as part of his presidential campaign for deregulation which ultimately led to decreased State interference in businesses.

Even libertarian activists such as Lewis Powell tried to twist public debates by debating wealthing businessmen as victims despite being largely at fault.

All these sophisticated tactics allowed the right to tap into the spirit of their times, leading to their success in 1980s America.

The American Right’S Rise To Power Was Facilitated By Liberal Complacency

The success of the American right is due in large part to liberal complacency.

After the 1960s, which saw a wide variety of social and political movements, many liberals assumed that most argument had been won and let their guard down.

This complacency allowed for the nostalgia of past customs to become mainstream, something that had a direct impact on the success of politicians such as Ronald Reagan.

His platform was based on appealing to people who wanted a return to conservative values and ideals.

The general attitude among some liberals allowed for this sentiment to become more popular without effective pushback against it.

In addition, liberal outlets and institutions gave space to new ideas from the right, which further helped create an open atmosphere for their acceptance into mainstream discourse.

For instance, William Safire, who was Richard Nixon’s right-wing speechwriter, was hired by The New York Times while Harvard employed two stars of the same movement.

Even Nobel Prizes were handed out in economics to Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

All this served only helped further entrench these once fringe figures into the public space.

The Stealthy Right-Wing Plotting Of The 1980s Has Endured To This Day

Stealthy Right-Wing Plotting

The political changes made by the economic right in the 1980s have had a profound impact on the United States that is still felt today.

In the 1970s, they began a massive campaign to influence academia, media, politics and the legal system, and by the 80s their ideas were firmly entrenched in public consciousness.

Beyond Reagan’s election which normalised these ideologies, other seemingly procedural changes had lasting effects too.

The Reagan Administration “forgot” to enforce certain codes and regulations, meaning labor laws and tax advantages for wealth became overlooked.

In addition, the establishment of group like The Federalist Society in 1982 provided a platform for conservative lawyers who would have an outsized effect on judicial decisions further down the line.

These quiet changes enabled those with wealth and power to consolidate their status quo while taking away rights and protections from everyone else.

As such, it can be argued that we are still dealing with the consequences of the actions taken by economic right in the 1980s today.

The Financialization Of America: How Greed And Right-Wing Politics Contributed To Risky Financial Practices In The 1980S

Reagan’s economic agenda in the 1980s paved the way for a seismic shift in the United States’ economic structure.

This shift was characterized by an increased focus on financial speculation, and is known as “financialization”.

The right-wing victories brought about several changes that enabled this to happen, such as heavy cutbacks in capital gains tax which led to lots of people seeing stock market investments as a route to making easy money.

The resulting frenzy of risk-taking spilled over into other parts of the economy, with deregulation meaning it was easier for ordinary Americans to take out loans and debt on credit cards.

This level of risk took an even more extreme form in the form of derivatives later in the century, with highly unstable instruments allowing investors to make enormous profits without any direct commitment.

These changes also made businesses focus too much on creating short-term shareholder profits rather than looking after their long-term future, further perpetuating an environment obsessed with immediate gratification.

While these factors combined created astronomical wealth for some people, they also caused immense damage to ordinary Americans who fell into crippling debt while trying to keep up with spiraling stock prices and economic uncertainty.

America Must Face The Future And Reform Dramatically Or Risk A Dystopian Future

Dystopian Future

The current economic system in the United States has left many people behind, leading to a more precarious existence than what was offered in Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The extreme wealth inequality that has been created by this system of capitalism could lead to disastrous consequences if it’s not addressed soon.

If America does not reform dramatically and soon, the country could face a dystopian future where only an elite class gets wealthier as opposed to everyone else.

This kind of power dynamic would further oppress those already struggling and make it harder for them to make ends meet.

Fortunately, there is another future that is possible if America chooses to act now.

By investing in automated technology and providing a universal basic income, the nation can create enough national wealth so that everyone in the population can lead secure and contented lives.

The Alaskan oil dividend provides an example of how something similar could work, with positive impacts on childcare access, nutrition levels, and poverty reduction.

Wrap Up

The major takeaway from “Evil Geniuses: How Radicals in Power Changed America” is that the right has been able to take advantage of American nostalgia to gain power, starting with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Since then, they’ve deregulated, slashed taxes, and changed the judiciary to reflect their agenda.

This legacy has had a long-lasting effect on America, including up until today.

It’s important for people to be aware of this influence as we continue moving forward into the future.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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