For decades, billionaires David and Charles Koch have secretly been trying to remake our government and our society in their radical conservative image. It appears that they want to impose their values on 300 million Americans, indeed affecting the entire world’s population. They don’t intend to do this through military conquest, but through economic fiat, overseeing the use of billions of dollars of the combined fortunes of plutocrats like themselves.
Since the Koch brother history, their family’s legacy has involved this heritage of economic imperialism and control, it is vital that we know their motives, their ethics, their character, and their somewhat obscure history, to better deal with their self-serving efforts to control our global destiny. If money cannot buy happiness, can it subjugate the hopes and dreams of seven billion people to improve the balance sheet of a few billionaires or does that sound too much like a characterization of “Doctor Evil”?
It cannot be just a question of ideology. Although the American media kindly calls them libertarians, many trace their history and their beliefs to policies and activities totally reminiscent of fascism – past and present. David Koch founded the Americans for Prosperity Foundation which directed Tea Party activities pretty much since its inception.
Having elements of hooliganism, an incoherent voice, rabid anti-government sentiments, anti-public education beliefs, anger at taxes, and about rejecting modern ideas—many exhibited with racial overtones, the Tea Party worked against the Democratic platform and drove the GOP into radical right-wing territory. Anti-government activity also involved the Koch-Glitsch offices in Germany and Italy, continuing to defy the American blockade on Iran by selling to Iran until 2007, records show[i]. The Koch family has supported such policies and beliefs even before Charles and David inherited Koch Industries in the 1960s.
There are no clear traces to their family heritage beyond their father, Fred, but there are known ties to members of a notorious Koch family in Germany in the era of World War II. When Fred Koch was sued for patent infringement, litigation put his company, Winkler-Koch, out of business in the US for several years, forcing him to turn his focus to foreign markets, including the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany[ii], reportedly with the help of Erich Koch, high in the Nazi government. Erich Koch drew on his power as commandant of the Gestapos in the Ukraine to help Fred sell oil to the Nazis and the Communists, this before being convicted of war crimes in Poland after Germany’s defeat. Fred returned to his business in the US, litigation forgotten.
Erich’s brother, Karl Otto Koch, was the first commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. After the war, he was investigated for corruption, fraud, embezzlement, drunkenness, sexual offenses and murder. He married Ilse Kohler who was accused of taking souvenirs from the skin of murdered inmates with distinctive tattoos as well as valuables from all prisoners for her own projects. She was arrested and convicted of war crimes after the war.
Empowered by the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court, members of which the Kochs invited to periodic political meetings, the Koch brothers have been kingpins in the election of radical Republican leaders in many key states and support Republicans in Congress. They are active in clean energy disinformation, outspending the giant Exxon Corporation in that endeavor, are active in restricting academic freedom in many schools – Clemson, Florida State, George Mason, Utah State and West Virginia universities, for example, and with all their money, have been known to cheat small Native American tribes[iii].
Robert Greenwald, in his new film, “Koch Brothers Exposed,” said, “The Kochs are using their money, their power and the inequalities of our system for personal gain, and the size and scale that they’re doing it at is fairly impressive.[iv]”
Groping for power and control seem to be the operative stance for the Koch family, even if you exclude the nebulous relationship with the German Kochs who worked with the Nazis. If ideology or principles guided them, you would expect the brothers to hold themselves to some ethical standard. Unfortunately, bending principles has been common, while the family’s key motivation seems to be making more money and manipulating anything or anyone standing in its way, perhaps exhibiting a runaway family-shared megalomania.