The nefarious Koch Brothers, Charles and David, have come to symbolize everything that is wrong with American politics, but their plans extend much further than merely winning elections- it’s what they plan to do afterwards that is really terrifying. Through the wealth of their multi-billion dollar fossil fuel corporation and an extensive network of PACs, think tanks, and policy institutes, the Kochs have not only placed a stranglehold on American democracy but are the philosophical patriarchs of what can only be described as free market fascism.
Their ideology is a perversion of libertarian ideals, in which government power is subservient to the whims of corporations, and the protective regulations and needs of the American people are discarded entirely in favor of rendering the majority of Americans as an exploitable underclass whose only function is to feed the ravenous hunger of hypercapitalist growth and the fortunes of a handful of oligarchs. This repulsive antithesis of the American Dream is propagated by a vast advocacy and political action network that has been bought with their billions. The abrupt and sharp right-ward shift by the Republican Party is evidence of the insidious tentacles of the “Kochtopus” penetrating our political system, to the point that the GOP has been rendered nothing but an extension of Koch industries, devoid of any creative thought or independence but wholly consumed by a slavish obsession with turning America into a fascist dystopia.
The original impetus behind the Koch fascination with objectivist fascism is understandable. Fred Koch, the founder of Koch Industries, worked in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s totalitarian regime, building oil refineries for the nascent empire and developed a passionate aversion to all things communist after seeing his colleagues vanish in the Great Purges. His sons, however, like so many proponents of the “free market” and “self-mobility”, began life wealthy and fought viciously with each other for their father’s money after he passed.
Their worldview is obsessed with the idea of free choice, a manic tinge that only can come from being born wealthy and never having to earn anything for one’s own self. With wealth in America, one truly does have free choice, unfettered from the constraints of such pedestrian concerns such as work or bills or concern for the future; it is a conception of the world divorced from the experiences of regular, working Americans.
This obsession with free choice shines through in Charles Koch’s failed political campaign, running for Vice President on the Libertarian Party in 1980 because he didn’t think Ronald Reagan was conservative enough. He ran on a platform that is very illuminating of his plans for our nation and the dismantling of American society as we know it. His first priority was the abolishment of all forms of taxation, then he takes aim at every single American institution that preserves order and stability in our nation- the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agency, all public schooling, the Postal Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation. Next to go is every piece of the social safety net, the minimum wage, and tax subsidies for families with children. And these are the policies which the Kochs have ordered their thralls in the Republican Party to advance legislatively.
In essence, the Kochs want to privatize every aspect of our nation so that the rich can sell each slice to the consumer piecemeal, leaving the American people entirely at the mercy of the oligarchs who control the corporations that would end up owning our entire nation. The environment is nothing but a commodity to sold and traded, extracted of all possible value and abandoned when it is no longer profitable, no matter the damage done or the damaging effects on public health.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because these are the policies of the modern Republican Party. Slash taxes, deregulate all industries, reduce the power of the federal government, disempower women and minorities, privatize public schools and institutions, is all a collective harbinger of what Koch America would look like in its early stages.
To put it another way, the Kochs are attempting to engineer the polar opposite of the 1917 Russian Revolution- by privatizing the nation instead of nationalizing it, and should they succeed, the consequences will be just as dire. As the 2016 election approaches and the Federal Election Commission admitting they are unable to police campaign finances, the Kochs are prepared to spend hundreds of millions to ensure their chosen champions in the Republican Party get elected and begin dismantling America as we know it. Our nation and government may not be perfect, but it is a utopia in comparison to the dictatorship of the dollar that the Kochs have envisioned for us. We must prove to the world and to ourselves by electing a progressive candidate that this is NOT the future that the American people want.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.