I wrote this In June when Koch was first starting to push his boy Paul Ryan towards Romney
On a week when President Obama is being accused of being out of touch, its probably important to understand just how radically “out of touch” the Republican Kingmaker Charles Koch really is. It is Koch who has wanted Obama gone from Inauguration Day and unless you understand the nature of the opposition, you will never understand the fight ahead of us.
In the summer of 1974 Koch established the Charles Koch Foundation with the help of Murray Rothbard, a Professor of economics at the New York University campus in Brooklyn. At the time, Koch was Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held firm in the United States. At Rothbard’s suggestion they changed the name of the foundation to The Cato Institute in July of 1976. Rothbard was an early associate of Ayn Rand, hailing her book Atlas Shrugged, as “not merely the greatest novel ever written, it is one of the very greatest books ever written, fiction or nonfiction.” It is in Rand’s hero John Galt that we find the roots of the libertarian belief that a great society is ruled by a class of Nietzschian supermen (the givers), and that most of the society (the takers) free rides on their work. “We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it,” Galt lectures the “looters” and “moochers” who make up the populace. “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.”
Rand’s novel, cited by Charles Koch and many other libertarians as the book that changed their lives, was the basis for a new philosophy, Objectivism, that shunned both religion and the Lockean liberal politics of the Founders for a new view that man’s sole purpose is to pursue his own self-interest. But by 1958, long before he was hired by Koch, Rothbard had begun to go beyond Objectivism into a philosophy that he named “anarcho-capitalism”. Rothbard considered that government was the greatest danger to liberty and the state “was nothing but a gang of thieves writ large.” The solution was to get rid of the state: anarchism. Rothbard wrote, “Capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism.” He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and “a compulsory monopoly of force” prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. For Charles Koch this was a philosophy that fit perfectly with his view that the government was the one force impeding the growth of his businesses, many of which were “plagued” by the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting the water and air. As to how the society would enforce order without a government the anarcho-capitalists had a solution as well. Competing insurance companies would have private security forces that would protect the property of their customers. Rothbard argued this would lower prices for police services because of private market competition. Just how two competing “Insurance Militias” might resolve a property dispute was never specified.
Rothbard never hid is anarchist beliefs and his contemporary libertarian followers continue to use the anarcho-capitalist moniker. Rothbard’s partner at Cato, Ed Crane eventually managed to tone down the anarchic rhetoric at Cato and in the early 1980’s Rothbard resigned. But Crane’s caution was not to the Koch’s liking and in March of 2012 they filed suit to get control of Cato away from Crane, who told the press that it was an attempt to turn Cato “into some auxiliary of the G.O.P.” Although the Koch’s are smart enough not to use the anarchist terminology, their views are still formed by Rothbard’s philosophy of the government as a “gang of thieves”. But we should be clear that the rhetoric of the Rothbard also lies at the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President. His recent speech before the NRA National Convention, could have been written by Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard.
The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.
The President’s assault on economic freedom begins with his tax hikes.
By their very nature, taxes reduce our freedom… Freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite – and so is economic growth, job growth, and wage growth. As government takes more and more, there is less and less incentive to take risk, to invest, to innovate, and to hire.
Have we decided that freedom trumps all other principles in our society? The Supreme Court certainly made that decision in the Citizens United case. The Koch Brothers freedom to use millions of dollars in negative advertising to influence the 2012 election flows directly from the anarcho-capitalist creed I just quoted. This is a radical change in America. Think how far we have traveled from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
And ended up at Murray Rothbard’s Society and The State.
Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.
The easy thing would be to dismiss the anarcho-capitalists as harmless extremists, but that would be a mistake. Unlike earlier American anarchists like Emma Goldman, they have both money and power. Think of the millions of dollars flowing into Grover Norquist’s pockets to advance the goal “to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” These libertarians believe this is the formula for America’s greatness.
Money + Freedom=Free Speech
My sense is that the Founders would recoil in horror at this formula. If Jefferson believed “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”, the New Anarchists hold no such views. Here is their patron saint Ayn Rand, from The Virtue of Selfishness.
Instead of being a protector of man’s rights, the government is becoming their most dangerous violator; instead of guarding freedom, the government is establishing slavery; instead of protecting men from the initiators of physical force, the government is initiating physical force and coercion in any manner and issue it pleases.
This is not Timothy McVeigh or some White Power survivalist speaking, but the idol of Allen Greenspan, Charles Koch and Paul Ryan who recently noted, “It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”
All of you who have been on this blog for a while have heard this anarcho-capitalist rhetoric from the Libertarians.–“government is nothing but a gang of theives. Taxation is theft”. What I’m not sure of is what is Charles Koch’s endgame: Anarchy or the inevitable fascism which would come right after the anarchy? In Rand’s Atlas Shrugged the endgame is clear.
The world’s billionaires – the Ted Turners and Donald Trumps – go on strike in protest against the “insane regulations” and “exorbitant tax” handed down from Washington D.C. The country quickly regresses into anarchy, with businesses collapsing, food distribution networks falling apart, and America becoming a wasteland – until finally the grateful populace welcomes back their economic Overlords and promises to never again pester them with wild notions like taxation or regulation.
Maybe Charlie Koch really does want to live out his Randian fantasy.