The Kochs say a lot about the Libertarian Movement

Recently Charles Koch wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Here one of the worlds most recognised businessmen outlined his vision for a better society. The Koch brothers (David & Charles) and their involvement in politics makes them some of the most controversial figures in contemporary America. For many, the Kochs are the very face of Libertarianism. They are present in scores of Libertarian think-tanks and foundations, spend vast amounts of money backing Libertarian policies and champion the debate against man made climate change. However the truth about the Koch’s relation to the Libertarian movement is more complex than this. There are those on the left who decry the Kochs and their views. Pam Martens, writing in Counterpunch magazine explains how,

‘A review of documents and tax records for the dizzying, interconnected web of corporate front groups, frequently created, supported and influenced by Charles or David Koch, shows just how dangerous these groups espousing free markets and liberty have become to a free society.

‘The game plan is to devalue the rights of actual citizens by seeking human voices dangling from a corporate marionette string, that might be willing for the right amount of cash incentive to broadcast the Orwellian reverse-speak: liberty means more liberty for corporations’- Pam Martens.

Yet for many within the Libertarian movement the issue of the Kochtopus is benign, Tibor Machan wrote of the Koch brothers.

‘Now it is true that even some libertarian economists are reductionists and hold that everything someone does comes from the belief that it will promote one’s economic advantages. On this score Marxists and some free market theorists see eye to eye. But whatever the source of the idea, it is bunk. Most of us haven’t much of a clue about whether holding certain beliefs will advance our prosperity.’- Tibor Machan.

Here Machan highlights an important point, unlike the left, it is unfair to dismiss the Kochs as inherently ‘evil’. Truth cannot be reduced to a technical morass of neatly fitting coincidences and connections. This purpose of this article is not to establish any objective truth about the Koch brothers, but to make sense of the interpretations and assess the effects these have on the Libertarian movement as a whole.

The presence of the Koch brothers in politics is clearly a divisive issue. However in reality the role of the Kochs involvement in American politics transcends the traditional left- right paradigm. A thorough assessment of the story of the Koch brothers forces us to confront important aspects of our movement. Our relation to the current political system, internecine divisions and ultimately how history will judge us. In the past few decades the libertarian movement has grown exponentially. Essentially any attempt by me(or anyone) to ‘define’ Libertarian ideology is bound to be controversial. Yet it is amazing to see an expansive and varied coalition of freedom loving individuals coming together under the same banner.

‘Now, accepting that you want more people to be freedom-lovers, the questions become: Which do you care more about? How people arrive? Or that they arrive at all? If you care only about the former, you might be a one-trick pony. That is, your only approach to persuasion might beto tell people to read Human Action. And there is nothing wrong with that approach, per se. I’ve suggested Mises to many. But I also realize that a lot of people might not be willing to take such a long detour through Vienna to get to our picnic—and that’s assuming they’re curious about our ideas at all. That means it may be time to expand outward from single starting points. Your liberalism or mine works great when we can agree on a starting point. But we must first acknowledge that people don’t always start from the same point- The Freeman

Yet for the movement to last the test of time, it is essential that it is able to self-evaluate and come to terms with itself. It is for this reason why the Koch brothers matter. Ultimately they are a powerful force and need to be understood. Although virtually all of the activities of the Kochs are restricted to the USA; Coming to terms with the Kochtopus will be of great help to the UK movement.

Firstly this article will address a brief history of the Libertarian movement in the USA and outline divisions and debates that the Kochs are central to. Secondly the facts about the Koch’s political activities will be outlined and analysed. Lastly, this essay will look at the wide ranging implications of the Koch brothers’ relation to the Libertarian movement.

Open Secrets trace the Koch's money flows

Open Secrets trace the Koch’s money flows

Kochs, Cato and Capitalism: A brief history of the Kochtopus

It is essential that we are aware of the history of the Koch Brothers’ involvement in the Libertarian movement to fully understand the controversies it creates today. It might be worth noting here that inevitably many will find this ‘history’ unsatisfactory. Names unmentioned, events passed by and ideas undiscussed. However in the interest of pertinence, this article will focus only on issues directly relevant to the Koch brothers and their political activities.

It is often understood the Kochs founded the Cato Institute, arguably the most recognised and respected free-market organisation in the world. However this is wrong, the Cato Institute was founded in 1977 by Charles Koch, Edward Crane and Murray Rothbard. According to David Gordon, a senior fellow at the Mises Institute Cato was originally a platform to disseminateRothbard’s views to a wider audience. Interestingly it was Rothbard that came up with the term Cato Institute. Yet it wasn’t long before the union went sour, David Koch & Ed Crane (Libertarian Party chairman from 1974-1977) clashed with Rothbard over the direction of the Cato Institute.

Rothbard said of Crane:

‘Consider for a moment: surely you must know in your heart that your Boss [Crane] has contempt for you just as he has for the entire human race…. I don’t care if your Boss is backed by a billion dollars. The Libertarian movement and the Libertarian party are not a corporation or a military machine. They are not for sale…. Crane is not smart enough to even try to mask his contempt for his fellow libertarians and LP members, so people cotton to him very quickly. How can a person like that succeed in politics?’- David Gordon, Mises Institute

Since then the Mises Institute (Founded 1982 between Rothbard and Lew Rockwell) has held the Kochs and the Cato institute as rivals. According to Rockwell, attempts have been made by the Kochs to stamp out Rothbard and the Mises Institute.

‘As he [Rockwell] recalls the conversation, Koch told him: “‘Do you realize how much money we have spent purging Mises from Austrian economics? Everyone hates him’ – Daily Bell.

However the marriage between David Koch and Ed Crane didn’t last long either, by the mid- 80s the Koch brothers had virtually nothing to do with the Cato Institute. This point was highlighted in a recent interview with Cato Institute chairman Robert Levy, he highlighted that throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Kochs had virtually nothing to do with Cato. ‘Since Cato was formed, the Kochs have donated about $30 million, officials said, but the bulk came in its first decade; by last year [2011], the Kochs gave no money at all‘- SLATE. This is revealing considering that the Koch borthers gave the Tea-Party a buget of $40 million for 2010 alone and have since given $400 million to support candidates in the 2012 presidential election.

In the past decade the Kochs have built up a huge web of influence that can justifiably be called the ‘Kochtopus’. Numerous foundations and think-tanks have been embellished with Koch money. The Mercatus Centre, the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, the Tea-Party and Americans for Prosperity are a handful of the 34 organisations that are affiliated with the Kochs. This lamentable history of division within the Libertarian movement is significant, because it will help us fully appreciate that this is more than just a Left- Right issue, it creates conflict within the movement as well. It will also help us to change the free-society cause from a church of ideas to a truly potent political force.

‘Beltway Libertarians?’

For us in the UK, the byzantine workings of Washington D.C may seem a million miles away. Yet these issues matter immensely to us. As the Libertarian movement grows in the UK it will become increasingly important to understand the difficulties involved in turning ideology into genuine political force. The relationship between the Koch brothers-the American Libertarian movement and Washington D.C should be of great interest to us in the UK. Lew Rockwell described the Koch’s as ‘Beltway Libertarians’. The Beltway being the motor-way that circles Washington D.C., Rockwell suggests that the Kochs are part of the corrupt American political establishment, rather than being genuinely committed to the free-society cause. On the other hand, it is important to note that ideological purity is not the single measure of how successful a political movement will be. Yet the Kochs connection to Capitol Hill matters, not because their presence there is a sin. But as a result of recent efforts to spread their influence (which already made many uncomfortable), the movement could look increasingly fragile and able to be co-opted by existing political powers.

Ultimately, the Kochs exists as a governmental force not a revolutionary one. As a result of the immense influence of the Koch Brothers, their presence in the Libertarian movement is controversial. This point is perfectly displayed when we look at the recent Koch activity within the Cato Institute. As has been mentioned previously despite initial involvement with Cato, since the mid-80s the Kochs had largely left the organisation to its own devices. However that all changed in 2011 when the long-term chairman of the Cato Institute William Niskansen passed away. By this time the Koch’s where already a potent force in American politics

‘The rift has its roots, Cato officials said, in a long-simmering feud over efforts by Mr. Koch and his brother David Koch to install their own people on the institute’s 16-member board and to establish a more direct pipeline between Cato and the family’s Republican political outlets’-New York Times.

Arguably these concerns where justified, as soon after Charles Koch (the most politically involved of the two brothers) pushed for a greater presence in the organisation he soon began trying to install his own candidates including Tony Woodlief a man who had historically been cynical about most Libertarian ideas and John Hinderacker who supported the Iraq war in the early 2000s.

‘Cato is the gold standard of libertarian organizations around the world,” wrote [Ed] Crane. “We are respected and admired for our commitment to libertarian principles, integrity, independence and non-partisanship. That respect encompasses traditional liberals and conservatives. That would all end with a Koch takeover, despite Charles Koch’s protestations to the contrary.’ – SLATE.

Robert Levy said in an interview in 2012 that he had concerns over:

‘weather Cato can successfully function if it’s being perceived as a partisan or an aligned or an arm of a special interest. Our argument is that Cato must be non-aligned, non-partisan and strictly independent of all special interests and so the stockholder structure in and of itself is a problem for the Cato institute. Because even if it does not compromise our independence. It could be perceived as compromising our independence. We would be perceived as a mouthpiece for special interests. And we cannot function effectively if we are perceived in that manner’ – Robert Levy

Since the interview, Ed Crane has stepped down from the Cato Institute. Clearly the presence of the Koch brothers is significant due to their Washington relationships and huge financial power, no matter where you stand in the wider political nexus.

It is important at this stage to examine the broad reach of the Koch brothers into the heart of the American political establishment. Their connection to the Tea-Party is well known, a large part of the Americans for prosperity programme. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries spent more than $20 million on lobbying in 2008 and $12.3 million in 2009, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group. They clearly have huge sway on Capitol Hill, according to a report on the Real News Network republicans that try to raise concern over Koch industries illegal drilling practices were told to back off. This vicious criticism of the Koch Industries as malignant is the most substantial criticism made against the Brothers; Pam Martens describes Koch industries as

‘a private, dark curtain corporation. Its own stock has never been subjected to price discovery in a free market; the public can’t get a peek at the financials of this firm; there is no means of determining how much debt is on the corporate balance sheet or if, as with AIG and Citigroup, we, the sheared sheep, might have to bail the corporation out some day to save some too-big-to-fail bank that holds its debt’.- Pam Martens

Despite expressing Libertarian sympathies, a brief look at some of the organisations the Kochs fund illustrates that far from a coherent set of values and beliefs. The kochtopus extends to a plethora of institutions that have competing views. For example ‘ [David] Koch also said he now considers himself a Republican first and foremost — rather than a Libertarian or a nonpartisan supporter of free enterprise — despite a background in Libertarian politics and some views that are out of step with the GOP orthodoxy. “The Libertarian Party is a great concept. I love the ideals, but it got too far off the deep end, and so I dropped out,” Koch said. “I think the Republican Party has a great chance of being successful and that’s why I support it,”- Charles Koch. Furthermore, despite professing Libertarian values the Kochs spent £8 million on funding the ultra-conservative Scott Walker in Wisconsin, an actively tried to damage the Ron Paul campaign, as a result of his connection to the Mises Institute. Additionally investigative journalist Greg Plast in an interview with Alex Jones highlighted that the Kochs helped found the Democratic Leadership Council and gave support to Bill Clinton.

Ultimately the Koch’s and their involvement in politics is a controversial issue that is of the utmost importance for the Libertarian movement. Britain’s Adam Smith Institute has so far been scathing of criticism of the Kochs. Indeed for many the presence of a rich donor is something to celebrate rather than decry, the transition from a committed group of idealists to a functioning political organisation is never an easy one. Nevertheless as a movement that should be conscious how it will be seen by history. The question of the Kochtopus will be an important one for us to understand.

Where we stand

Part of the beauty of the Libertarian movement is that it is made up of an eclectic mix of groups and ideas. Although being a varied conglomeration of differing views and intellectual traditions ensures there will be tensions, as we move from the pages of philosophy books and into the political arena. For this reason, understanding and evaluating the Libertarian movement is of the utmost importance.

It is this reason why the Koch brothers are such a contentious force in the history of Libertarianism. Arguably their relationship with Washington D.C and wide ranging support for extremely varied groups of people highlights a movement that is not yet comfortable with this process.

The goal has always been, Charles says, “true democracy,” where people “can run their own lives and choose what they want to buy, choose how to spend their money.” (“Now in our democracy you elect somebody every two to four years and they tell you how to run your life,” he says.) People running their own lives would be less democracy and more a private property society (i.e., a Rothbardianan archo-capitalist view), without legislators and other government operators attempting to micro-manage populations. Such a private property society would be a good thing, but it is hard to square Charles’ supposed take on this with the brothers behind the scenes role in propping up various politicians who move in a direction quite different from a private property society’ – Robert Wenzel,Mises institute.

When we discuss ideas and theories, we often imagine a solitary figure or certain number of books and treatises. Yet the experience of the Kochtopus highlights a world in which ideas are no longer the confines of lone philosophers and political groups. Even if this is not the case, a certain cynicism about the realm of political ideas is a defining feature of our age. Despite being nothing new, Money and politics have never gone more hand in hand. A report in the Daily Bell confirms this reality:

‘We believe that it is not so much “rich, well-connected individuals” that steer the country as a handful of top globalists with access to the incredible riches of central banking that they helped create and implement’ – Daily Bell

‘If competition was acknowledged as the main driver of industry standards and if the centralizing effects of modern monopoly central banking and corporate personhood were removed, oligarchic tendencies would be greatly diminished. This won’t easily happen, however, because those in power SEEK an oligarchy and endorse the various socio-political and economic platforms that support it’ – Daily Bell

At the heart of this issue is an uncomfortable set of decisions. Ludwig Von Mises highlights at the end of Human Action that:

‘The flowering of human society depends on two factors: the intellectual power of outstanding men to conceive sound social and economic theories, and the ability of these or other men to make these ideologies palatable to the majority.’- Mises, Human Action

Therefore the issue of Koch funding requires analysis. ‘Money for thought-analysis has to come from somewhere. The Cato Institute has solved the money problem by intensive fund-raising but in the process has become far less “edgy” than Mises under Rockwell’Daily Bell. Admittedly for many the Koch brothers are wealthy political bogeymen. The Kochtopus a monster that must be removed from society. Yet this essay does not support that view. One could argue that whether the Kochs are a positive or negative force depends on the person in question. Here we try to critically assess the relationship between the Kochs and their relationship to the wider Libertarian movement. And fundamentally we have to conclude that the relationship in an uneasy one. Conclusively for those that truly strive to achieve and accept the principles of a free-society, this is a question of our relationship to the existing state structure. Can we work with it? Can we work within it? Or does it need to be destroyed entirely? It is my fundamental belief that although we may have differing answers to these questions. As long as we are thinking about them, we ensure our place in the annals of history.


  1. No human beings are perfect and Charles and David Koch certainly are not. However, they are lot better than their “libertarian left” attackers.

    Sadly the Koch brothers do not have as much money as the “moderate” left (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and so on) and can not even match the amount of money of the extreme left (such as the billionaire Marxoids, straight out of old James Bond story, who fund the “Tides Foundation” and so on).

    But Charles and David Koch do what they can for the libertarian cause, and the fact that some “libertarians” in the United States attack them says a lot more about these American “libertarians” than it does about Charles and David Koch.

    Someone who is opposed to inherited wealth is not a libertarian. And someone who rants on about corporations (like some bad Hollywood film) as if the corporate form is some sort of new invention (in fact the principles of such corporate forms, including in COMMERCIAL activity, were worked out in the Church law in the Middle Ages – and passed into private Law Merchant, long before there were any government statutes on the matter) is not libertarian either.

    Jon Huntsman (senior) did not inherit any of his wealth (he was born in a house made of cardboard) do the “libertarian” left like him? Of course they do not. This stuff about “inherited wealth” and “evil corporate limited liability” is just a smoke screen for ENVY.

    As for people who supported Barack Obama in 2008 (as some of the “libertarian” foes of Charles and David Koch did) – do I really need to comment about them?



    1. Paul, What’s your opinion on the “corporate personhood” ruling?
      Doesn’t that go against free market ideology, and anarcho-capitalism?
      Isn’t the main reason why people “hate corporations” because of their enormous influence in politics, and it messing with the justice system?

      I wouldn’t say it’s ENVY, its more like anger at being robbed of freedom, being caught as a debt slave (yes, one is “caught”, in many cases no amount of caveat emptor can dodge the choices one has to make regarding choosing between inflated medical costs or inept and corrupt health insurance). And you hear things like the US’s Prison industry, the incentives for corporations to keep a large number behind bars for sake of using them with (in case of private prisons) less than minimum wage to compete with China, and so petty things are made into crime, like selling weed, to keep the prison population high, to feed the corporations, so they can provide us with cheap stuff that we’re brainwashed to buy. It’s NOT ENVY. It’s anger.



      1. It is not exactly recent.

        As I have often pointed out – the law on corporate bodies (including limited liability) was worked out in Church Law (and in private Law Merchant) back in the Middle Ages (indeed their were Roman burial clubs and so on). If you do not want to trade with a company fine – but you will pay higher prices (for example to go to Lloyds unlimited liability “names” for insurance – i.e. individuals who agree to risk everything).

        Still – back on the so called “Corporate Personhood Ruling”.

        Fine – no money from business and no money from the unions or the Tides Foundation (and so on) either.


        Accept the left do not want a deal – they want their corporate bodies to be allowed to carry on spending money on politics, but not their foes.

        And the left let the cat out of the bag recently – they do not want rich INDIVIDUALS to spend their own money on politics either.

        So all the “we are just against Corporate Personhood” stuff was a tissue of lies.

        And of course Corporate bodies are persons-in-law – otherwise no one could sue them.

        As for private prison companies being the reason American sends so many to prison (and the rest of that stuff).

        Errr no – that is not the case.

        It is envy.

        Everything else (by one thing) is a smokescreen.

        The one other thing that is real is ideological leftism.

        From Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis” to “Star Trek: The New Generation”.

        “If only it were not for the Koch brothers we could have …….”.


      2. Prison industrial complex, it IS the case:

        Regarding the Left protesting individuals to spend their own money on politics, well, that’s why I’m not a leftist.

        “And of course Corporate bodies are persons-in-law – otherwise no one could sue them. …”
        You’re right. I need to look more into this. I can’t pinpoint what it is about it corporations financing politics that rubs me the wrong way. Of course individuals can, but a corporation…

        It’s this sense of being cheated. I can’t help but think Mr and Mrs government and big business don’t have your best interest in mind.


      3. Are you lumping corporations into a class then judging the class with the crimes of individual members?
        I doubt Microsoft, for example, uses prison labour.


      4. Microsoft has used prisoners:
        So have a lot of other companies.

        This is a good read by Forbes:

        “Companies such as the Geo Group and CCA do not earn their money by providing goods or services to customers. Rather, they make their money solely from the government, and solely for locking human beings in cages, mostly for non-violent offenses. Further, these companies actively lobby for unjust laws, largely using the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporatist conservative political group.”

        This is much, much worse than unions, when it comes to hindering free market.


      5. Ayumi – I think Steve Forbes needed to be informed that his company has been taken over by weird people.

        I do not think that Steve Forbes would say that the ALEC is a “corporatist” group that lobbies for “unjust laws”.

        It appears that the “libertarian” left get everywhere – time for Steve Forbes to clean house.

        By the way (Hollywood morons please note) “Corporatism” was actually the way the government (first the Imperial German government during the First World War, then Mussolini’s government in Italy) controlled business – not the other way round.

        The L.L.s get it wrong by 180 degrees.


  2. Quite Right Paul. When I was doing my research for this article what struck me was the sheer amount of money involved in mainstream politics. Particularly for what could be deemed left-wing causes. From donors like George Soros and the Clinton family.

    To write this piece I ended up trawling through hundreds of articles on left-wing sites with titles like ‘the truth about the Koch brothers’ or ‘billionaires hide a dark secret’. Only to find that the supposed crime the Kochs had committed was simply being very wealthy or having a stake in the oil industry. On balance the American Libertarian I quote here are pretty moderate.



    1. Yes indeed Sir – Charles and David Koch’s “crime” is opposing the left. Not their mistakes in economics or whatever (and they have got things wrong – everyone does).

      It is O.K. to be rich as long as you are ashamed of it – and give lots of money to the left to atone for the sin of being rich. If you do not regard being rich as a sin (and actually give money to oppose the left) then you are a monster.

      As for the “libertarians” who try and seem “hip” and “with it” by slagging off Charles and David Koch (“look lefties – we are anti capitalist to!”) such “libertarians” are pathetic.

      It is as if an old fat man (ME for example) went down to a nightclub and tried to hook up with a teenage girl – very “sad”.



  3. One point that seems to confuse a great many people, including here in the States: The “Tea Party” is a movement, not any sort of organization at all. There are various organizations whose names include “Tea Party,” such as “Tea Party Express,” “Tea Party Patriots,” “Tea Party Nation,” etc., but these are merely groups of people whose political views are more or less similar to those of the movement as a whole. And which sponsor or conduct events, and sometimes provide educational materials (especially pocket copies of the Constitution), and may or may not endorse candidates and contribute to their campaigns.

    Most people who consider themselves “Tea Party” “members” hope to see a return to a fairly strict Constitutionalism (take that in both senses, please); as a result of that, a greatly diminished scope of governmental activity; a lower tax rate; and a consistent and effective lowering of the national debt. But individuals in the movement may differ in how they rank the importance of these objectives.

    However, I think it’s fair to say that most people in the movement are very much in favor of a government that operates under the restraints, express and implied, that the Constitution is supposed to provide.

    One other thing about the name itself, which is sometimes misunderstood or wrongly written. (Mr. Lee makes neither of these errors.) “Tea Party” is intended as a reminder of the Boston Tea Party at the start of the Revolutionary War, in which the British Government got a bit too big for itself and failed to grant the American colonists, who were its subjects, “the rights of Englishmen.” Thus Tea Party members are interested in reminding government that it is supposed to be their servant and not vice-versa.

    So, “Tea” does not stand for “Taxed Enough Already,” although that is a very clever take on the name and the signs are effective; and the name is not “the TEA Party.” It’s just plain old tea, the word, not an acronym.



    1. Yes Julie. The left (the media, academia, and so on) see their foes as a mirror image of themselves – and they mistaken, The left talk a lot about “bottom up movements” or “community action” – but in reality their activity is TOP DOWN (so they assume the activity of their opponents is also).

      Leftist “Community Organisers” are paid – either by some level of government (since the “Great Society” programs of the 1960s) or by organisations (such as the Tides Foundation – funded by George Soros, Mrs Heinz Kerry and so on). Even leftist “protestors” are often PAID (for example the rent-a-mob the left uses against Asda-Walmart).

      The modern Tea Party movement started in Washington State (I believe Seattle of all places) after some people watched a television report on wild government spending (no it was not on Fox – it was on CNBC).

      From that tiny root – thousands of little groups emerged all over the country.

      The media responded with a massive smear campaign (even on entertainment shows – but on news shows as well) pretending that the Tea Party people were “racists” and so on. But also they searched (desperately) for the “hidden hand of the capitalists” which evil rich guys (stroking a white pussy cat) were “really behind” the protests against wild government spending (for it was protesting against government spending – not taxes, that was and is the main driving force behind the Tea Party movement).

      When people like Charles and David Koch finally (late and with rather limited support) came in to help some national Tea Party organisations (who desperately needed money to counter the media smear campaign against the movement) the left (the media, academia and so on) thought they had discovered the “hidden hand of the capitalists” which was “behind the Tea Baggers all along”.

      After all leftist movements could exist without Top-Down support (either from some layer of government or private donors such as foundations) so the same “must” be true of their opponents.

      By the way most of the media (like Hollywood) is owned by for-profit companies – so their obsession with destroying the “corporations” is a form of self-hatred.

      Their “education” (really brainwashing) trumps everything else – they might even support their own execution.

      After all Hollywood rich people (and the news people are no more rational than the Hollywood people) make films such as one saying that even if rich people go away into outer space -they should still be violently attacked (to make them fund the “right to health care”).

      “That is just science fiction Paul” – sadly no.

      For example, even the Bush daughters emerged from High School, and College talking about the “right to healthcare” to be financed by FORCE.

      All of Latin America (indeed the entire Third World) has “rights” to health care, education, income support (every thing) to be financed by American taxpayers (hence the Supreme Court judgement way back in 1982 that Texas taxpayers must pay for the education of illegal immigrants).

      There is no limit on the spending for “the poor” (the poor of the entire world) – and the media and academia (and so on) will carry on with their death-to-the-rich policy.

      They either do not understand that they are “rich” themselves – or they seek their own deaths.



      1. What I found amusing was how one leftist commenter hated the idea that people were dangling at the end of a Koch puppet-string.

        Why, of course, it would be fine if those same people were dangling on the end of certain other strings, ready to dance at the whim of the enlightened…


      2. Yes, Tim. It really gets my goat. You would think that that kindly old Mr. Soros, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates, Mr. Ketchup, various Messrs. Kennedy (the Messiest of them all being young Teddy, of course), Mr. Jobs, Miss Winfrey, the REV J. Jackson, and on and on and on never defiled the Democrats, the libruls, nor the Left generally with so much as a penny of filthy lucre.

        And, even if they did chip in the odd ha’penny, they would never consider trying to influence candidacies nor candidates nor indeed take part in any political activities whatsoever. Pure as the driven!


  4. Thank you for the post, interesting, but it doesn’t change my mistrust in the Koch brothers.

    I like Ron Paul, but the Koch brothers, they’re too sly, I just don’t like them. I can’t trust that they’re furthering the cause of Libertarianism. (Why do they oppose Mises, Ron Paul, Rothbard? How can I trust that the Koch brothers aren’t using the Libertarian ideology to cheat us commoners into serfdom?)

    You ask; “Conclusively for those that truly strive to achieve and accept the principles of a free-society, this is a question of our relationship to the existing state structure. Can we work with it? Can we work within it? Or does it need to be destroyed entirely?”

    I’m more and more inclined to destroy it entirely.



    1. Ayumii sensible criticisms could be made of Charles and David Koch – for example their blunder in backing followers of Milton Friedman in monetary policy (however monetary policy is the most difficult branch of economics – if a mistake is going to be made, it is going to be made there).

      But the mixture of “down-with-big-business” and conspiracy theories you have been fed (it would be good to know by whom) is not the way to criticise Charles or David Koch.

      Also you are lumping together people who should NOT be lumped together.

      The real Lu Mises (1881 – 1973) would have been horrified to be lumped together with Murray Rothard for example on policy towards either Nazi Germany or international Communism.

      Ludwig Von Mises’ actual opinions (concerning both Nazi Germany and international Communism) were much closer to those of Winston Churchill than those of Murray Rothbard – something the “Ludwig Von Mises Institute” (founded years after Mises died) tends to forget to tell people.

      If Senator Rand Paul is to have any chance at all of winning the Presidency he has to stay well clear of the Rothbardians (something that the supposedly evil Koch brothers only gradually learned).NOT because of monetary policy (Rothbard was correct about monetary policy), but because of the Revisionist history the Rothbardians push on both World War II and the Cold War.

      As for “destroy it entirely”.

      I am reminded of the reason Tolkien gave to his son Christopher for not calling himself an “anarchist” (in spite of being hostile to such things as government made law and taxation).

      The word “anarchist” is tied to the forces of destruction – to planting bombs and envy of anyone with lots of money.



    2. Thank you for all you’re comments Ayumi! When I started to research the Koch brothers I didn’t expect much more than angry tirades on blog accounts and snide comments on the Bill Maher show ( there were plenty of both). But what stands out, more so than the coverage of the Kochs was the reaction their name gets from various groups all across the political spectrum.

      This ( In my opinion) is why the Koch brothers say a lot about the Libertarian movement. My gut reaction is still that they are too close to the political establishment. However lots of Libertarians would tell me that that fear was unfounded. Ultimately the Libertarian movement covers quite a large plethora of ideas, and for those that are interested. There is an important and meaningful task in contemplating and discussing our ideas. Such as what should be done with the modern state structure?

      Yet as long as people stop talking about these issues. We ensure our movement survives!



      1. In response both to Paul and Jordan;

        I suppose the one good thing the Koch brothers have done is it’s got people talking.

        Paul, I didn’t mean to lump Rothbard and Mises together under the same banner, I just listed in brackets those whom the Brothers opposed in some way.

        As for “destroy it entirely”, (not with bombs!) but by encouraging a mass to slowly pull away from the state by fostering independence and strengthening community, thereby gradually dismantling the state. I’m not an anarchist, some sort of gov. is inevitable, but the state, it just ends up fostering destruction.


      2. I agree with a lot of what you say Ayumi. But a community that does not include “the rich” or “the corporations” is nothing much for the left (or the government) to worry about. Forget the Koch Brothers – what about Jon Huntsman (senior). He created a big company and is very rich, but if we really want an alternative to the state in things like cancer research then it is to men like Jon Huntsman we must look. Organising a community raffle (or whatever) is indeed a good thing – but large scale problems need large scale solutions.

        Take space travel – what is the alternative to the state? The much attacked “big business” is the only alternative – so when the “libertarian left” join with the rest of the left (Hollywood, the universities and so on) in attacking “the rich”, “big business” and so on, what they are really saying (amongst many other bad things) is “the state should have a monopoly on space travel.


      3. Paul, of course you’re right: an attack on “big business” simply because it IS big business, and therefore obviously guilty, leads directly to your conclusion.

        I suppose there are among the attackers persons sufficiently intelligent to work that out, and who thus really do think only government should “do” space travel. But of course, there seem to be quite a few people who think that only the government should ever be in charge of anything productive, or helpful, or beneficial to J. Q. Public and his Missus.

        But in all honesty, I think the average person biased against big “big business” or the “rich,” let alone the “left-libertarians,” are among them.


      4. People who attack then rich don’t like Batman.

        Monopolies like Monsanto wouldn’t be such a big monster if it wasnt supported by gov. I wonder how much they made selling agent orange in Vietnam. I want to see justice.


  5. In all honesty, I’m not sure why the Kochs are such a cause celebre. They do in a small way what the Dems and left do in a humongous way, financially that is, but I don’t think anybody outside of Leftie-publicity/anti-conservative/anti-“Right,” and some Rothbardianish Libertarian, circles has even heard of them.

    Lots of people dump the LP at some point because of its habit of choosing spokespeople and candidates who promptly start banging on such causes as the Uninfringed Right to Take Hard Drugs. They don’t make either the philosophical case or the consequentialist case in a way that captures attention, and they’re even worse than the Republicans at Public Relations. The only nationally-recognized exception I can think of to that is Ron Paul, and as far as I know he only got national notoriety after he switched to the Republican Party.

    I’m not sure that the credibility of Murray Rothbard and his brothers-in-arms and descendents is above reproach, just as I’m not sure that Alexander Cockburn’s Counterpunch* is the best source of unbiased fact and criticism. (No, he wasn’t the founder, but was one of the two co-editors until he died in 2012.)

    Anyhow, I just don’t see what all the fuss is. At least I’ve seen and heard Steve Forbes on YT, and he seems both likable and sensible. I’ve never seen nor heard either Koch, time being in less-than-infinite supply and my interest so far not having been piqued by what I’ve run across regarding them. They do seem to be in favor of fracking, which creates a certain positive bias in my mind. On the other hand, of all the “conservative” or “right-wing” “think-tanks” I know of, the only two that impress me much are Heartland and the Hoover Institution. And The Federalist Society puts on lectures and debates of real interest.

    *Cockburn was a hard-left socialist, and CounterPunch is nothing if not a hard-left magazine. Wikipedia’s article on Cockburn includes this:

    [CounterPunch] drew in contributions from people of a variety of viewpoints, including but not limited to: Robert Fisk, Edward Said, Tim Wise, Ralph Nader, John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Uri Avnery, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Gail Dines, Diana Johnstone, Noel Ignatiev, Saul Landau, Vijay Prashad, Cynthia McKinney, Doug Henwood, Israel Shamir, Jonathan Cook, and even Fidel Castro.

    It adds,

    Importantly the site has never sought to avoid taking on writing from writers of right-wing, libertarian, and populist perspectives. Key examples are Paul Craig Roberts, Dean Baker, and William Lind.

    But these “key examples” of, presumably, ideological diversity, do not seem to me very indicative of general conservative or libertarian (properly speaking) opinion, especially when it comes to Rockwellian America-bashing by Paul Craig Roberts (eeeviilll American Empire/hegemony/military) or the wish by William Lind for our government to support mass rail transit.



    1. Ah the Cockburns – a whole family of Reds that go back at least to the 1930s (one of them still writes for the “Independent” newspaper with its ex KGB owner).

      As for why the left hate Charles and David Koch – that is not difficult to work out, a lot of what limited resources libertarians have come from these two men, take them out and all that is really left is Rupert Murdoch (who is NOT a libertarian).

      A handful of libertarians with deeply confused ideas (for example thinking “corporatism” is the exact opposite of what it actually is) are no threat to the left – indeed they may even be a HELP for the collectivists. But libertarians with a bit of money behind them might be a threat – so the Koch brothers must be destroyed.

      It is also interesting because it shows that the left are NOT really interested in “social issues” (“the rights of women”, “gay rights” and so on) Charles and David Koch are NOT social conservatives – yet this makes no difference to the hatred of the left (which is not really about “social issues” at all, this P.C. stuff is a tactic not a principle).



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