The Koch brothers are some extremely wealthy brothers whom inherited all their money from their father, Freddy Koch. They control Koch Industries, America’s second biggest company (it also sounds like the company a super-villain would own). The Kochs’ are some of the most callous, indifferent kinds of capitalists that you can find on the planet earth. They founded a political advocacy group in 2004 to lobby their political causes, American’s for Prosperity. Since its formation AFP was a major supporter of Republican candidates in the 2010 election cycle and is heavily involved in political activities aimed at reducing regulation of the oil and gas industry. During the summer of 2008, AFP funded a radio ad critical of a North Carolina U.S. Senatorial challenger, Democrat Kay Hagan, for her position on taxes and offshore oil drilling. During the 2010 election cycle, Americans for Prosperity claims to have spent $40 million dollars on rallies, phone banks, and canvassing, mostly for Republican candidates.
The Koch family has also donated vast sums of money to various other political think-tanks and institutions including the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, the Mercatus Center, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Institute for Justice, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, the Institute for Energy Research, the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Reason Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The Kochs’ are, of course, extremely “pro-business” and significant supporters of “free-markets.” In June 2010 they held a large seminar entitled “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity”. The invitation stated that “[our] prosperity is under attack by the current Administration and many of our elected officials” and “we cannot rely on politicians to [defend our free society], so it is up to us to combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes”.
It becomes clear in the picture painted of the Koch family that they are simply industrial-capitalists with little or no concern for the welfare of, not even the most vulnerable and impoverished people, but all people who aren’t obscenely wealthy. Nothing is more indicative of this than the Kochs’ involvement with Scott Walker and his crusade to disenfranchise labour. Walker’s capitulation to Koch Industries was thrown into embarrassing relief when the satirical website, Buffalo Beast, successively had a prank caller call Walker and convince him that he was David Koch. The phone rings. The line is transferred to Walker’s office.
“Scott! David Koch. How are you?”
“Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?”
Walker is super excited to hear from David Koch and proceeds to give him a detailed run-down of what’s going on, including some petty scheming to lock Democrats pay checks in their desk drawers. Walker mentions that Democrat Tim Cullens had often voted with him on pieces of legislation and “Koch” replies that he was going to give Cullens a call. However, Walker isn’t too sure this is a good idea because Cullens isn’t “one of us.”
What are we to take from that little turn of phrase, “one of us?” It’s a question of who Scott Walker thinks he is and who he is in office to represent. Enlightenment philosophy will tell us that the State raises humanity out of that horrible state of nature, of perpetual war. That the people of the state invest their personal sovereignty into a representative body and through their representative the people are present at the seat of government. But is it not more accurate to say that States only formalize this so-called “natural” warfare? Is it not more truthful to say that the war of person upon person isn’t natural at all but only comes into being through the Enlightenment ideology of Liberty, an ideology that pits everyone against everyone else in an eternal pursuit of liberty? The only difference is that his state of natural war can now be quantified, measured in precise dollar amounts, in the precise amount of the “have” and the “have-not.” To have is a right but to have is also to war because resources are finite.
This kind of attitude obviously doesn’t Jive with the free-market, corporate outlook on life which advocates the right to unrestrained acquisition of wealth. What is becoming increasingly obvious now is that politicians, by and large, only have their own self-interests at heart as well. When Walker quips that Cullens isn’t “one of us” he really means that Cullens doesn’t subscribe to the notion of perpetual warfare being waged on the have-nots by the haves and this is class warfare, let us make no mistake about it. Why else would it be necessary for corporate interests to spend so much money on politicking? It can only be because the logic of their politics is transparently “anti-person” in its “pro-business” stance.
Koch: You’re the first domino.
Walker: Yep. This is our moment.
What is most disturbing about the recorded conversation between Scott Walker and the fake David Koch is the way in which they know it is war. This is a coordinated effort to erode the ability of a majority to feed themselves, clothe themselves and house themselves and their families. It is a coordinated effort to disenfranchise labor, to steal the voice of people who actually work for a living. The end goal can only be to render the have-nots immobile, to trap them in a power relationship which exploits their needs for the very necessities of life. It is no longer about the working poor, or the lower classes; it is no longer about the “middle class” or the “upper-middle class,” it is about a desire to drive as many people into “have-not” status in order to become the fullest “haves” they can be. Fools like Walker think that he too can become part of the “have” club but the very logic of having implies that wealth will always be directed toward an increasingly smaller and smaller amount of hands at the exclusion of everyone else. Soon even the governorship will only pay minimum wage. The pro-business, neo-liberal agenda is hard at work all over the world so this is a concern to people of all nations, religions or whatever other affiliation you choose. Ultimately, democracy can only be rejuvenated if we demand that our politicians end their rampant collusion with corporate interests.