Charles and David Koch: Two Heads of the Bourgeois Hydra
by Robert Biester
On August 21, 2019 David Koch died after years of fighting prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with in 1992. With his death he left behind his brother and a multi-billion dollar company, Koch Industries, which profits off the extraction of fossil fuels, the refining of said fossil fuels, and many other products. This company has in its pockets the groups that preach “free market” and “individualist” ideas that capitalism has thrived on for decades now. These puppets include Americans for Prosperity and Kansas Policy Institute who have helped destroy all attempts at improving public infrastructure by calling such spending “frivolous” and a waste of money. They also have a tendency to call unions the pawn of big government and preach to workers not to organize or else they are hurting the “freedom” of the bourgeoisie. Because “freedom” in bourgeois terms is the freedom to exploit the working class, it is important to discuss the Koch’s influence on American politics and the implications of David Koch’s death on these political escapades.
The Kochs: An History of Opportunism
To understand the Koch brothers we must look at their father Fred C. Koch who founded Koch industries. He was born the son of a Dutch immigrant who himself was a businessman. In 1929 he went to the USSR, ironically to help build oil refineries and help train engineers. He then went to help the Nazis build the third largest oil refinery in their barbaric empire which was approved by Hitler himself. As you can see there is a history of opportunism within the Koch family. The Kochs are guilty of siding with anyone based on the profits they can make, even if it means profiting by selling their services to ideologically competing world powers. Fred continued his forays into politics when he helped found the John Birch society which prided itself in its conspiracy theories and anti-union beliefs. His sons continued in this tradition when they founded the Cato Institute.
Opportunism, the Kochs, and “Think Tanks”
The “think tanks” that the Koch billions fund are nothing but masks that try to legitimize their barbaric beliefs that clearly only help their profit margins and not the people they claim to represent. Just one example of a particularly ludicrous claim, the Cato Institute posits that child labor laws are actually a bad thing. In an article named “A Case against Child Labor Prohibition”, they support this belief by explaining that children in Bangladesh need sweatshops to earn money. They come to this conclusion:
“The thought of children laboring in sweatshops is repulsive. But that does not mean we can simply think with our hearts and not our heads. Families who send their children to work in sweatshops do so because they are poor and it is the best available alternative open to them. The vast majority of children employed in countries with sweatshops work in lower-productivity sectors than manufacturing. Passing trade sanctions or other laws that take away the option of children working in sweatshops only limits their options further and throws them into worse alternatives. Luckily, as families escape poverty, child labor declines. As countries become rich, child labor virtually disappears. The answer for how to cure child labor lies in the process of economic growth—a process in which sweatshops play an important role.”
This article only goes to “prove” that the only possible solution to poverty is slave labor that coincidentally is highly beneficial to the factory owners and the Koch Brothers who profit off ranching equipment and chemical production.
In their home state of Kansas they fund the Kansas Policy Institute which promotes the lowering of public education budgets instate, saying that the money is wasted and that it only goes to the school board. In an article where they criticize public school budgets they say: “the adults in the system will get nice pay increases and student achievement will continue to be unacceptably low and not much different than 20 years ago.”
Insidiously they try and make it seem like they are crusading for the common man even though it is clear that they are fighting for the billions of dollars that would be saved for themselves and the rest of the fatcat bourgeois if public funding was cut. This is most apparent in the concluding paragraph of the article which says: “If local school boards and administrators really believe school funding should be a percentage of personal income, they would have asked for a funding cut between 2001 and 2011 when school spending was growing much faster than income to pay taxes. Instead, they sued you for more money.”
This is the kind of despicable populist masquerade that the Koch swine tries to put on is a thin disguise, attempting to make itself appear like it is representing something other than the pockets of the dirty bourgeoisie and their personal business interests. Depriving the generations of the future of an education by making it appear that public education is money hungry and is only looking out for itself (which isn’t entirely wrong) is par for the course in Kochland.
Opportunism, The Kochs and Electoral Politics
Groups such as this are not the only thing that the Koch money has reached. They also have a fondness for political campaigns that help support their industry of oil production. In Wisconsin, their puppet Scott Walker killed an $810 million railway project that would connect Milwaukee to Madison. This opposition was supported by millions of dollars from Koch related groups who also helped fund Walker’s campaign. This transit railway was something that would have made the highway that connects the two cities obsolete and would have cut deeply into the Koch’s gas profit.
In Arizona the brothers strike again by attacking the development of light railways in the state under the guise of “protecting small businesses”. They try to destroy public transit projects, projects that would make life easier for the proletariat who can barely afford the cars and gas the Koch’s sell to them. Then they have the gall to portray themselves as champions of the small businessman who, by all accounts, also profit from the exploitation of the proletariat and then whine about about how they are the true victims. It’s easy to see that Kochs, along with the rest of the Koch hydra, have a stake in the destruction of public infrastructure. If it doesn’t benefit them, why should they care about the well being of the worker? Especially when stands in the way of the profit to be made from the sweat of the proletariat brow.
Opportunism, the Kochs, and Climate Change
It should not come as a surprise that the Kochs family of businesses, politicians, and “foundations” deny climate change with such a passion. You could almost believe that they themselves believe what they are saying. Then you remember the massive profits they gain from the smog that chokes our planet to death. So when they fund “studies” that try and prove the fact that our world is not dying, it shouldn’t come as a surprise given their history. And their self-interest.
Unlike what their self-motivated swill trumpets, it’s more than”liberal lies” that the big bad government wants to use to take away your rights and tax away your hard earned money. The truth of climate change is shown every year that passes in melting icecaps, huge, heat generated superstorms like hurricanes Maria and more recently Dorian, flooding in their home state of Kansas, and record high temperatures everywhere. These bogus studies from the Koch propaganda empire have helped spread the current of reactionary climate denialism which has plagued US politics for years since the early 2000’s up until now. But with every day that passes, the earth itself is showing the Koch brothers’ narrative to be the lie.
Opportunism, the Kochs, and the Anti-union Movement
As all bourgeoisie support the anti-Union movement, so does the Koch Hydra which has, for years, funded neocon campaigns of terror that try and destroy the proletariat’s power to form unions in the US. As noted above, in Wisconsin they funded Scott Walker who has shown himself as a spineless toady of the true masters of the US and who was the impetus behind the 2010 effort to break the power of labor and public sector unions in his state.
The most vocal of all these organizations is the Freedom Foundation which is situated in California. They paint unions as tools of “Big Government” out to oppress the lowly individual. In their description they have this to say about what they wish to achieve: “ The Freedom Foundation is working to reverse the stranglehold government unions have on our state and local policymaking. There is no way to meaningfully expand freedom, opportunity or prosperity unless we make collective bargaining in government more transparent and accountable to the public, give government employees meaningful choices about whether to join and be represented by a union, and prohibit taxpayer’s money from being unwillingly used to subsidize government unions and influence the political system. Freedom Foundation has the will and skill to take on those who attack our freedom.”
This “freedom” they speak of is only the freedom for the bourgeoisie to crush any form of dissent the proletariat puts up when their exploitation becomes too apparent. As Vladimir Lenin once said “Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich — that is the democracy of capitalist society”. Under capitalism, freedom only benefits the bourgeoisie who profit from the commodities produced by the blood and sweat of the proletarians who work their lives away for only an insignificant fraction of the actual value of their labor. And any opposition to their “freedom” to oppress, even one as mild as the union movement, needs to be ruthlessly denigrated and repressed by any means at their disposal.
In time these “freedom” pushers shall have what they wish when the flames of revolution free them from their pitiful existence on this Earth.
So with the death of David Koch what will happen to his empire of darkness and barbarism? Will it collapse with the life that David gave to it? Or will pressure from ethical consumption tame the beast of the Kochtopus as liberals would have us all believe?
The short answer is a resounding “No” to these questions. David is survived in his beliefs and far-right activism by his older brother Charles, who was and is equally responsible for the disasters they have foisted on the world working class with the influence their ill-gotten wealth has given them. In addition, David was almost immediately replaced by his nephew, who will most certainly carry on the family legacy of the funding of reactionary causes.
But a bigger reason that nothing will change is that what they’ve done for three generations is working. It has pulled the public discussion and policy decisions in an ever more rightward direction that has included even the Democratic Party “opposition”. As an example of the success of their propaganda efforts, Daddy Fred helped to found the John Birch Society which, in the late 1950s, was considered too far right for any serious bourgeois politician. Now the positions of the Birchers are considered, if not “moderate”, then definitely not extreme. The current makeup of the Republican Party is more right than ever thanks to the efforts of the Kochs in large part. Barry Goldwater who lost a presidential election in 1964 by a landslide is a “moderate” compared to the modern Republican Party beginning with Nixon, then Reagan and going through the years to Trump. The Democrats, for the most part, have tailed this rightward rush and turned the entire bourgeois political structure into one of ever more overt oppression for the rest of us. And the Kochs and their wealth and activism can be thanked for much of this sorry state of affairs.
But for the Kochs, the main reason nothing will change with the death of David is that it has made them massive profits over the decades. And as shown by their family history, the profit motive overwhelms any other consideration. They have shown themselves to be opportunists in the service of profit whenever and wherever they have acted. Whether it’s making profit from both sides of the WWII ideological divide to the current climate change disaster that threatens species extinction, the Kochs can be counted on to be in the forefront of profit making no matter the cost to society, or even humanity, at large. They are the “poster child” family for modern neoliberal thought and have the wealth and power to back up their beliefs.
The bourgeoisie are like the mythical hydra. When you cut off one head it won’t just die it will grow back two more. The only way to kill it is to end it totally with the fire of revolution and leave the ashes in the dustbin of history.
David Koch is now dead, but his horrid legacy will live on until capitalism is no more.