Sunday, July 13, 2014

Koch bio shines light on libertarian billionaires

Koch Brothers: The Real Thing - Justin Raimondo, The American Conservative:

July 9, 2014 - "According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Koch brothers are responsible for global warming and much else that’s wrong with the world. This is part of a strategy to demonize Charles and David Koch — the principals behind the country’s largest privately-held company — and make them the issue come Election Day. There’s a big problem with this strategy, however: a recent poll shows that most of Reid’s own constituents haven’t the slightest idea who the Brothers Koch are.

"Daniel Schulman’s much anticipated book, the first biography of the Koch family, may help voters bridge the knowledge gap — but Democrats are going to be disappointed if they think it will help their smear campaign. Indeed, it is likely to do the opposite....

"The story starts with Fred Koch, a son of Dutch immigrants who ... was at the 1958 meeting where [Robert] Welch first laid out his plan to fight the Communist menace and roll back the New Deal. The John Birch Society was a hybrid of Old Right libertarian economics and the McCarthyite paranoia of the 1950s, and Fred — by this time a tycoon — relentlessly lectured his four sons on the evils of collectivism and the value of hard work....

"When he took over from his father, Charles not only immersed himself in the details of the business but also undertook a systematic study of philosophy, economics, political science, and history because he understood that the success of his company — his life’s work — depended on the condition of the society it was selling to and serving. This was his doorway to libertarianism.

"In the early 1960s, Charles attended the Freedom School, a modest lodge surrounded by little cabins set amid the scenic foothills of Colorado’s Rampart mountain range. There he listened to the lectures of the school’s founder and leading light, the libertarian pacifist Robert LeFevre, an idiosyncratic figure whose charisma and absolute devotion to the idea of a stateless society ... sent one of the wealthiest and most politically influential figures on the American right down the road to a more humane and enlightened philosophy.

"A fork in that road was Charles’s developing relationship with the economist Murray Rothbard.... At a seminal meeting at a ski lodge in Vail, Colorado, in the winter of 1976, the two discussed what course to take — and what came to be known as the 'Kochtopus' was born.

"Rothbard wrote a lengthy memo outlining an ambitious plan that would come to fruition with the injection of a large amount of Koch funding. There would be a think tank, a magazine, a campus group, seminars and grants for promising libertarian scholars — all of which came to pass in the form of the Cato Institute; Inquiry, a biweekly directed at the left; a movement magazine, Libertarian Review; and a campus group dubbed Students for a Libertarian Society (SLS).

"To manage this operation, Charles and Rothbard recruited Edward H. Crane III, a young financial consultant and stockbroker whose tenure as head of the barely four-year-old Libertarian Party had demonstrated rare organizational abilities."

Read more:

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, Daniel Schulman, Grand Central, 432 pages.

No comments:

Post a Comment