Charles and David Koch are not unintelligent; they both received engineering degrees from M.I.T. They are neither uninformed nor credulous. Why, then, would they ardently endorse an ideology that has not only been irrefutably proven (flagrantly) wrong, but has also demonstrated—time and time again—to be harmful to most people?
Some people endorse an ideology because they think that it accurately reflects Reality. Others endorse an ideology because they think OTHER people believing it is useful for themselves. Millerites endorse Neoliberalism because they’re delusional. But there are others who walk hand-in-hand with the Millerites who aren’t themselves Millerites. The motive of this later group isn’t ego-maintenance; rather, it is merely self-interest. These are right-wing Machiavellians. Unlike Millerites, they aren’t delusional. They are calculating.
It is not immediately obvious that not all people who promote the Millerite position on Neoliberalism are themselves Millerites. Millerites seem to be completely disconnected from Reality—and are utterly oblivious. There are others, however, who know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Such people are aware of the fact that Neoliberalism is hogwash, that supply-side economics is a sham, and that trickle-down economics is a fable…yet they peddle it anyway. They’re fully aware that Neoliberal economic policy benefits corporate power and screws over everyone else…And they are perfectly fine with that.
For such people, the concern is not “whatever is true”, but is instead “whatever is useful for my own ends”. Such people are ENDORSERS OF the Millerite position, but are not themselves Millerites—as they are completely connected with the facts. We can consider such people Non-Millerites who are Pro-Millerites.
For the NP, that Neoliberal policy only benefits the few at the expense of the many is perfectly acceptable…even wonderful…simply due to the fact that they JUST DON’T CARE about the lack of moral credence. They don’t care if it is deleterious to the weal of society or that it is patently anti-democratic or that it hurts the vast majority of the population (read: anyone outside the gates of their estate). They’ve got theirs, and that’s that. (If you’re having a tough time…well…that’s your problem, not theirs. Tough luck for you.)
The archetypes of the NP are the Koch brothers, Charles and David. Here are two men who devote hundreds of millions of dollars of their $35 billion fortune (UN-EARNED by them personally) to right-wing politicians, to right-wing propaganda, to right-wing lobbies, and to right-wing think-tanks…all to ensure that the super-rich and big corporations don’t have to pay many taxes, that there is little—if any—State regulation and oversight of corporate activity, and that basic public services for the general populace aren’t funded.
Their agenda is astonishingly straight-forward. They admit their intentions without any apologies. Their only concern is that the rest of the population with “catch on” and become as fully aware of the consequences of Neoliberalism as THEY are. This would be inconvenient for them, as most people are NOT like them…and so would never go along with their game.
Meanwhile, Millerites just want to preserve their own esteem, get a pat on the back, and perhaps get a kick-back. They’re thus wonderfully useful for the cause. Give ‘em a fancy prize and a bribe, and they’ll promptly sell out. NPs thus have the perfect recruits for their cause. NPs are the bribers; professional Millerites are the bribed; laymen Millerites are the duped. These distinctions are important: avarice (the pay-masters), being a sell-out (those who succumb to intellectual capture), or being credulous (the right-wing base). The outcome: ALL of them are Neoliberals.
Intellectual capture has become quite a problem—most obviously with the Chicago School phenomenon. It should be noted that between them, Von Hayek and Von Mises never held an academic appointment that didn’t involve a corporate sponsor. From its inauguration, the Chicago School (essentially, Austrian Economics 2.0) was heavily subsidized by Big Business interests. Within academia, Neoliberal ideology was rarely embraced by someone not on the dole of a wealthy benefactor looking to push his own economic agenda.
That Charles and David Koch (other than donating money to places that only benefit the upper-class, have never done ANYTHING for society) never personally created anything worthwhile (at no point ever personally produced anything noble) is a moot point. The brothers inherited daddy’s industrial empire (mostly oil money), and now they want to hoard as much as possible for themselves and for their fellow aristocrats.
(The Koch’s are classic dys-anthropes. Their so-called “philanthropy” is exclusively devoted to places that only benefit the upper echelons of society. The Koch idea of “philanthropy” is to curry favor with society’s upper crust by getting one’s name into opera houses and on the wings of art museums. Calling the Kochs “philanthropists” is—at best—a sick joke. One may as well call the Scaife Foundation a humanitarian outreach organization or the KKK a civil rights group.)
Who benefits from the anarcho-capitalist vision hawked by the Kochs? Not most people. (And certainly not the best people.) Anarcho-capitalism, as we’ve found, is inherently anti-meritocratic…though the few who’ve faired well with capitalism-on-steroids would never want to acknowledge this fact. (They desperately want to believe in the MMM postulate of free market fundamentalism.)
NPs don’t care about the natural environment or about the rank and file…AT ALL. As far as they’re concerned, such things are none of their concern. Civic-minded-ness is anathema to them. “If the rabble are in trouble, that’s not MY problem.” They can afford not to care…and they are not shy about being perfectly up-front about it. (They’ll leave it to the Millerites to be disingenuous.) The NPs aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid; they’re the ones manufacturing it…or, at least, funding the factories that produce it. (Meanwhile, the Millerites are hired to MARKET and SERVE the Kool-Aid.)
NPs are fully aware of EXACTLY what Neoliberalism is, and are unabashed about supporting its consequences. PSI is a BURDEN to them—as are UAHQPE like public education and public healthcare. As far as they’re concerned, the non-super-rich can suffer…and that would be perfectly fine. If it doesn’t get in the way of their gluttony, then it’s irrelevant. As long as they can keep their yachts, then the world is a completely acceptable place.
There is a certain (perverse) honesty to what the Koch brothers do—an honesty that Millerites don’t possess: At least the Kochs admit what they are and what they want. There is often no pretense or pretext with NPs. They are fully aware of the Millerite syndrome…and milk it for everything that it’s worth. They are often up-front about not caring about the common man, and doing everything they can to abet corporate power—no apologies. In their world, anything that benefits the aristocracy is wonderful… everything else is useless. If you disagree, that’s not their problem. (Disagree all you want; they’re the one’s with the billions of dollars, not you.)
Thus, NPs are not so much delusional or ignorant (like the Millerites themselves), but simply colossally, horrifically GREEDY. It is not obstinacy that is their vice, but sheer, raw avarice. They’re not dealing with cognitive dissonance (as are the Millerites) so much as simply a complete and utter lack of morality. They have no qualms with the adverse effects of right-wing policy, since it doesn’t adversely affect THEM. Lack of morality is acceptable when you have enormous wealth.
Two analogies may be helpful to illustrate the phenomenon:
Celebrity self-help gurus
In the former case: The NP analogue (the guru) wants the credulous followers to be convinced of his bogus claims—and thus to buy his books, cds, and seminar tickets. The audience is given the impression that subscribing to the beliefs will benefit THEM. All the while, of course, it’s all merely funneling money out of their pockets into the pockets of a charlatan. Rarely do any of the alleged benefits materialize. The role of the Millerites in this analogy would be the staff of the guru and the guru’s publisher (who are compensated for their participation in the scam). It’s helpful for such participants to believe the tripe that they’re peddling.
In the latter case: The NP analogue (the CZ) pays lip-service to the non-Christian Revisionist Zionists in the I.G. He does this while not actually caring about the Jews PER SE—as he’s using them as a means to his own religious ends (i.e. the return of Jesus and the Rapture). It is the fulfillment of Christian prophecy that the CZ cares about—fully aware that, in his ridiculous worldview, the Jews will be damned to hell in the end. The role of the Millerites in this case would be the non-Christian RZs in the I.G. who are striving to implement policy that—the CZ sees—ultimately benefiting his own interests. The credence of the claims of Judaism per se are a moot point to the CZ.
NPs are the quintessential business tycoons. Their ranks include slothful, upper-class parasites (e.g. many New York socialites and others consumed by a life of decadence and self-importance)—those who only care about themselves. NPs can be found within the ranks of banking executives, hedge fund managers, funders of propaganda factories like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute and the Club For Growth, various corporate titans, lobbies like the Chamber of Commerce, G.O.P. doners, and other moochers within society—the unproductive free-riders who command most of the nation’s wealth. They are not merely the super-rich; they are the people who’s ONLY CONCERN is to be as super-rich as possible…everyone else be damned. (Some of the most affluent, on the other hand, are humanists, and thus not NPs.)
The Kochs fund Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, and Mercatus Center, and other bastions for Millerites…which are nothing other than propaganda factories for right-wing libertarianism / anarcho-capitalism—ideologies that have become something of a fetish for the Koch family. The Kochs have demonstrated, among other things, how much harm can be done when bad people have a lot of money…especially when they operate behind the scenes.
The Kochs are savvy enough to know that operating out in the open is not a good idea: Most people won’t listen to billionaires due to the obvious conflicts of interest and disparity between interests. However, if the electorate sees OTHER common folk buy into the ideology, they’ll often get sucked in as well. The super-rich can’t be their own PR; they need proxies. Enter the Millerites.
NPs KNOW that tax-cuts for the wealthiest don’t benefit the rabble…and they DON’T CARE. They want the Millerites to keep preaching the Neoliberal gospel…not because it’s true, but because it’s useful. If a Millerite says to an NP, “Yes, trickle-down economics WORKS!” …the NP will simply pat the Millerite on the head and respond: “Yes, son. Yes, it does. Please keep thinking that…and while you’re at it, make sure you convince EVERYONE of that.”
The Millerite believes the dogma he touts. The NP merely says: “Make sure you persuade as many people as possible that any oversight or regulation of corporate power is harmful to society…and that investment in public infrastructure is not a good idea.” The Millerite eagerly obliges, motivated by his own ideological obstinacy—persisting in his delusion that he’s proclaiming the truth. The Millerite thus feels vindicated (which is all he desires)…and the billionaire laughs all the way to the bank. The Millerite think’s that he’s right when he’s wrong; the NP KNOWS he’s wrong, but doesn’t care.
If you’re not for aggrandizement of corporate power or for the super-rich getting as rich as possible, then the Kochs are perfectly fine with you being labeled a “socialist”, and thereby marginalized. They’re happy with PSI being labeled a “government take-over” so that the people who would benefit from PSI will be persuaded never to fight for it. If you want more public works for the rabble, the Kochs are satisfied with you being labeled a “communist” and being “against freedom”. Whatever it takes. (The NP knows: The best way to exploit people is to convince them that they’re not being exploited.)
NPs use this strategy because corporate titans like the Koch brothers know that Millerites will BELIEVE it…and will be effective promulgators of the desired propaganda. As long as enough people swallow Neoliberal dogma hook, line and sinker, the Kochs and their ilk will be satisfied. That it’s all hogwash is beside the point. The key is that the propaganda WORKS. One doesn’t hurt the NPs feelings by bringing to his attention that supply-side economics and trickle-down claims are balderdash. They ALREADY KNOW that. NPs would simply respond with their cherished talking-points: “We’re fighting for the economic freedoms that have made ‘our country’ [read: people like US] the most prosperous in history!”
The Millerites are content with the impression that they hold the truth. Meanwhile, the NPs will relax on their yachts, figuring out how to maximize profits and which new mansion to buy for their new summer home…all while the environment goes to hell…and the plebian mob continues to wallow in their un-privileged existence outside the gates of the estate.
(One wonders: Which is more dangerous: egregious ignorance or unadulterated avarice? Which is more reprehensible? The NPs and the Millerites are guilty of two different vices with the same consequences.)
NPs are Machiavellians; they don’t care about truth, they care about WHAT WORKS (for their own ends). If saying the moon was made of cheese made of cheese made them more money, they’d spend 10’s of millions of dollars funding the cheese-moon lobby…and start a lunar fromage think-tank. They have no shame. In 2008, David Koch declared in a speech: “Thankfully…more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths as we do.” Indeed, that’s all he’s aiming to do: To convince the rabble to go along with his declared “truths”. With the Tea Parties (which the Kochs essentially started and funded): Mission Accomplished. (Little do most of the Tea Partiers realize: the joke’s on them.) While egging them on publicly, NPs can only say one thing about them behind the curtain: “Suckers.”
For example, “Americans For Prosperity”, a Neoliberal propaganda-factory started by the Koch brothers, works to carry out the NP agenda. It is important to understand, David and Charles founded this organization NOT because they think the dogma it peddles is RIGHT, but because they know the dogma is effective at furthering their own interests. For them, Neoliberal ideology is useful bullshit. The people who promote it: useful sell-outs. The people who buy it: useful idiots.
Case in point: The Tea Party movement. Here are people who’ve been convinced that the Democratic Party—which is relatively corporatist—is somehow “socialist”…or worse. The Koch brothers are fully aware that Obama isn’t a communist, but they want to make sure that the useful idiots at the Tea Party rallies are thoroughly convinced that Obama = Stalin. That way, the NP agenda will garner support from the rabble.
The mission for the Kochs, since day one, was to create a following. The point is to mold public sentiment—to control and channel the populist uprising to suit the NP’s desired policies. This way, credulous, ill-informed mobs can be duped into supporting policies that screw the rabble over while supporting corporate power. That a pair of billionaire brothers (the quintessence of corporate power) founded the Tea Party is no surprise…but don’t let the Tea Partiers in on that key point. The anti-government fervor (i.e. hysteria) infusing many elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to fund and organize (read: indoctrinate) Tea Party protesters, the Kochs helped turn their own private agenda into a CULT—a cult operating under the pretense of grass-roots activism.
What progressives must realize is: It doesn’t matter how inaccurate Neoliberal claims are—it’s all just a handy rationalization used by NPs to convince people to support the agenda of the socio-economic elite. Thus, the NP must not be the target audience for arguments against Neoliberalism. They’re already aware of Reality. Progressives can’t tell them anything they’re not already fully aware of.
Why do NPs take this route? There is simply NO OTHER WAY to get the rank and file to go along with their iniquitous agenda—as NPs recognize that they’re essentially asking the rabble to shoot themselves in the foot. Therefore, there’s no other option than to inundate the rabble with seductive propaganda and misinformation—duping them into playing along. It’s no wonder that the Kochs and their ilk fight tooth and nail to ensure the rabble subscribes to the desired ideology. They NEED the perception to be prevalent, lest they be unable to maintain the incumbent power structure. Neoliberalism: There’s no alternative if the super-rich want to get what they want.
If one says to an NP, “The ideology you’re touting is a sham,” their implicit response would simply be, “WE are fully aware of that; we just don’t want ANYONE ELSE to realize that.” (The explicit response, of course, would be to shrug and say: “What are you talking about? Corporate power is GOOD. EVERYONE should want the super-rich to be allowed to get their way.”)
For NPs, “freedom” = freedom to hoard as much money for oneself as possible. THEY know this, but they don’t want anyone else to realize this. The emperor realized he’s wearing no clothes—but will still push the claim that he IS wearing clothes. (Meanwhile, the Millerite, who is hired to push the claim, actually deludes himself into believing in the clothes.)
So long as enough people subscribe to Neoliberal dogma, it will be smooth sailing for the NPs. This is a remarkable case of a queer phenomenon: A cabal of people enthusiastically endorsing dogma that they’re fully aware is hogwash. It’s like the emperor or the pharaoh who’s well aware that he isn’t actually a god—yet is perfectly fine with the rabble being thoroughly convinced that he is. All the better for him. The truth isn’t useful for this purpose, so why bother refuting the myth?
NPs are Machiavellians. They are ruthless; they are unabashedly greedy. They don’t care about truth or fairness or civic-mindedness; they’re only concerned about what will abet their agenda. The more we agree with them, the more they laugh at us.
A NOTE ON KOCH HYPOCRISY:
Like most right-wing ideologues, the Koch brothers have cast themselves as deficit hawks, even as the policies they endorse (supply-side economics) serve to EXACERBATE deficits. The Kochs’ own companies have benefited from nearly $100 million in government contracts in the last nine years alone. It is typical for corporatists to complain about “big government” even as they fight tooth and nail to siphon public money into the coffers of corporations. It is standard practice to warn against “socialism” (i.e. public services that benefit the rabble) even as they work diligently to facilitate corporate socialism (which is assigned the enticing label, “free enterprise”). The hypocrisy couldn’t be more flagrant.
The Koch’s are fully aware of the game they’re playing. They get people to cry, “socialism”—a peculiar thing to complain about post-GWB. Now that income inequality in America is greater than it has been since the 20’s, is “socialism” really taking over the country? Since the 70’s, tax rates of the wealthiest have fallen more than they have the middle class. Wealth is more concentrated than ever, and public infrastructure is abysmally under-funded…even as corporations are making record profits. There HAS been “redistribution”—that creepy-sounding term Neoliberals love to weild—but it’s been redistribution UPWARD.
To cry “socialism” now is not only egregiously inaccurate, but utterly preposterous. The nation has become increasingly corporatist, even as PSI has suffered. HCP is, indeed, a huge problem, but it’s not in the form of STATE power; it’s in the form of PRIVATE power.
A memo on Koch-style “philanthropy” is also in order.
Here is an excerpt from an excellent story on the Koch brothers from the New Yorker (8/30/10):
“In addition to his gifts to Sloan-Kettering [cancer research center], [David Koch] gave $15 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital, $125 million to M.I.T. for cancer research, $20 million to Johns Hopkins University, and $25 million to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.”
Sounds wonderful. (David almost died of prostate cancer, and thereafter vowed to use some of his money to fight cancer. Understandable enough.)
BUT…There’s more to the story. For the Kochs, even apparently good deeds are done only when they are convenient for selfish interests. The article continues:
“At the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the EPA from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a ‘known carcinogen’ in humans.”
Results from studies done by the National Cancer Institute “helped lead an expert panel within the NIH to conclude that formaldehyde should be categorized as a known carcinogen, and be strictly controlled by the government.”
“Koch Industries became a major producer of the chemical in 2005, after it bought Georgia-Pacific, the paper and wood-products company, for $21 billion. Georgia-Pacific manufactures formaldehyde in its chemical division, and uses it to produce various wood products, such as plywood and laminates. Its annual production capacity for formaldehyde is 2.2 billion pounds.”
“Last December, Traylor Champion, Georgia-Pacific’s vice-president of environmental affairs, sent a formal letter of protest to the federal health authorities. He wrote that the company ‘strongly disagrees’ with the NIH panel’s conclusion that formaldehyde should be treated as a known human carcinogen.”
Fascinating stuff—information that reveals the full picture. Koch is more than happy to devote money to noble causes (presumably, in part, for PR purposes)…UNTIL it interferes with his ability to make money for himself. The moment any noble deed gets in the way of corporate profits, Koch will go against it…even if it means causing cancer in un-told numbers of people.
Of course, none of this is surprising. What are the REAL motives of the NPs? Once one puts everything into context (and looks at the Big Picture), everything becomes quite clear. Corporate profits trump EVERYTHING else…no matter who is harmed. It seems some never learn the lesson: if you want to see the TRUE colors of any person, don’t look at what they say out in the open (symbolic gestures, publicity stunts, lip service), look what they do behind the scenes. The Kochs are very intelligent men—they can’t use naïvete as an excuse for what they do.
We can thank the Kochs for the $180 million put toward cancer research. What the Kochs may not realize is that, had tax policy been responsible (i.e. more progressive), MUCH MORE than that amount of money could well have been used—through the NIH—to do cancer research. If David Koch really wanted to cure cancer, he would be doing things DRASTICALLY differently from what he does.