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last updated 11/15/05

From Institute for Public Accuracy,, November 15, 2005:
Silver is founder and executive director of Wild Wilderness, a conservation and recreation issues-related organization. He said today: "Amongst the most important, visible and powerful proponents of public lands privatization are the Cato Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center (formerly known as Political Economy Research Center) and the Reason Institute. Koch funds have played a major role in the operation of each of these organizations.

"Today, in the Department of Interior, Interior Secretary Norton comes to government having been a Senior Fellow at PERC. Interior Assistant Secretary [P. Lynn] Scarlett comes to government having been the Executive Director of Reason.

"Simply stated, the Koch family is amongst the most powerful and influential movers and shakers promoting privatization in America. Over decades they and their money created an extensive infrastructure of Libertarian and Free-Market think tanks from which President Bush has drawn to staff the highest rungs of the land management agencies.

"Georgia-Pacific does extensive logging on public lands. Private logging of America's National Forests is a heavily subsidized form of corporate welfare. Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public. They do not operate in the Free-Market when they log public forests.

"Now that GP has been acquired by Koch, the circle is completed. The ideologues running the land management agencies are the product of the think tanks created by, and funded by, the Koch family. Those ideologues are now in a position to permit Koch's newest acquisition, Georgia-Pacific, to further rape and pillage the public's lands. These think tanks promote the Free-Market ideal when it serves their interests to do so, but in reality, they are firmly committed to the ideal of enriching private interests at enormous direct cost to the American taxpayer."

Seducing the Left: The Third Party that Wants YOU.

by Mark Paul

Reprinted with permission from the May 1980 issue of Mother Jones, ©1980, Foundation for National Progress. You can visit Mother Jones on Line at

Potowmack Institute
asamicus curiae in
US v Emerson (1999)

The National Rifle Association
What does the NRA want?

The National Rifle Association
Charlton Heston Speaks

The Founders and the AK47
Sue Wimmershoff-Caplan:
The NRA's "armed citizen guerrillas" "outflank", Wash. Post 7/6/89
The Washington Post
Cultivating Ignorance

Guns, Rights, the Libertarian Fantasy, and the Rule of Law
Not Seen in The Responsive Community
Getting Commitment from Congress
The blood on their doorstep
The Libertarian Fantasy on the Supreme Court
Thomas and Scalia
Joyce Lee Malcolm
Ayn Rand, Blackstone
Joseph Story's
"Palladium of the Liberties"
The Second Amendment in Court

John Kenneth Rowland
Lawrence Cress
Jerry Cooper
Gary Hart
LaPierre's List and the Law Reviews
Revolutionary Militia

Militia Act, 1792
Mass. Militia Act, 1793

Whittaker Chambers
Reviews Ayn Rand

National Review, 1957

Libertarians don't like to talk about how David Koch came to be their party's vice-presidential nominee, and you can't blame them. To be blunt about it, Koch bought the nomination; it cost him a half-million dollars. There is no law against selling a slot on the national ticket to the highest bidder, and in the Libertarians' case , it made a good deal of financial sense. Still, it's not the kind of thing they like to talk about.

"I was disturbed by it," admits Robert Poole, editor of Reason, a California magazine that is the voice of the Libertarian movement's right wind. Several weeks before the Libertarian party staged its national convention in Los Angeles last September, David Koch sent a letter to the delegates announcing that he would contribute several hundred thousand dollars to the 1890 campaign if he were nominated. In Los Angeles he upped the ante to a half-million. "David Koch has not been active in the party, "concedes Poole, "But everyone made the calculations, and they were explicit about it in their speeches, He was a Libertarian, he agreed with us, he was offering money we couldn't otherwise get.." (Federal campaign laws limit the amount individual may contribute to a presidential campaign, but places no restrictions on a candidate's spending in his own race.) The vote was never in doubt. "There was no good reason not to nominate him," Poole said.

Koch's name is not a household word, not even to the delegates who voted for him, and if he has his way, it won't become one any time soon: he is conducting what one prominent Libertarian calls a "front porch campaign." But the party did not sell its nomination to a total stranger, David Koch, 39, head of Koch Engineering, is the brother of Charles Koch, 44, chairperson and chief executive officer of Koch Industries. Charles Koch is also the Friedrich Engels of Libertarianism. More than any other single factor, it is his money that has transformed the Libertarian movement from a doughty band of true believers into a political force that is on the verge of becoming the first party since the Socialists to offer a serious challenge to the "Republocrat" monopoly.

You have probably never heard of the Libertarian party, but thanks to Koch's money, that will have changed by the end of the election campaign. The party's presidential candidate, Ed Clark, is a 49-year old antitrust lawyer for the Atlantic-Richfield oil company, with be on the ballot in some 4-odd states, and his campaign strategists are hoping to raise $3 million to buy newspapers, radio and television ads in major media markets, including 60 five-minute spots on network TV. The Libertarians' message will be a simple one: the only way to solve the nation's problems is to get rid of government.

"If you wish to know how Libertarians regard the State and any of its acts," writes Murray "Rothbard, the cherubic economists who is the movement's chief ideologue and theoretician, "simply think of the State as a criminal band and all of the Libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place." To the Libertarians, the taximan is a thief, generals are mass murderers, the draft is slavery, the Federal Reserve is a counterfeiter and all economic regulation is an invasion of the right to property. According to their party platform, they would abolish the FCC, FBI, CIA, NLRB, FCC, FTC, DOE, EPA, FDA, and OSHA; end the Federal Reserve, Social Security, welfare, public schools and taxation; repeal all drug, sex and consumer-protection legislation; and reduce the military to a force capable of defending the United States proper, elimination all foreign commitments. Party conventions cannot go on forever, so the platform concludes with a caveat: " Our silence about any other particular law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity or machination should not be construed to imply approval."

What do you call such a bizarre ideological confection, made of equal parts of William Buckley and Daniel Ellsberg, chamber of commerce and ACLU, and leavened with a pinch of NORML? Is it bread or cake, Left or Right?

Libertarians don't like either label. They would rather be known as the "party of principle." And the principle they hold dearest is the right of each individual, rich or poor, to exercise sole domination over his or her life and property, so long as such action does not coerce or defraud another. From this tenet all other Libertarian doctrines unroll, including an absolute devotion to free-market capitalism and an unstinting opposition to government, whether democratic or not.

If you Need a label, call Libertarianism the richman's anarchy.

Charles Koch is tall and athletic, he has boyish good looks, an easy Midwestern smile and the wardrobe of a man who does his business in Wichita, not on Wall Street, He doesn't stand out at Libertarian gatherings until he peels a fifty off a roll of bills to pay for a cafeteria sandwich. Charles Koch doesn't look like either a rich man or an anarchists, but he is both.

The source of Koch's fortune, which has been estimated to be between $500 million and $700 million, is Koch Industries, a conglomerate that is the fourth largest family owned firm in the nation with sales in 1977 of around $2.6 billion (Sales were up considerably in the past two years, but by how much, Koch won;t say.) If it were a public company Koch industries would rank about No. 100 on the Fortune 500, ahead of such familiar corporate giants as Texas Instruments and Boise Cascade. Koch, an MIT-trained engineer has greatly diversified the firm—it is involved in chemicals, cattle and real estate&#but the heart of the business is still the oil company be inherited from his father, Fred Koch. It is perhaps no accident that the Libertarian energy plank, opposing government intervention in the oil business, is the longest and most detailed of any in the platform.

Along with the business, Charles Koch inherited his father's politics. A major contributor to right-wing and antiunion causes, Fred Koch was a member of the national council of the John Birch Society. But in the mid-1960s, under the influence of the writings of Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian free-market economist, and the teachings of Robert LeFevre, a pacifist opponent of government, Charles Koch became a Libertarian. Soon he was giving money to support scholarly Libertarian studies by Murray Rothbard and others. And in 1976, he got involved with the party. Until Koch opened his wallet the movement was ragtag collection of obscure academics, gold bugs, science-fiction nuts and cranks, united only by their hatred of the State and their joy in squabbling with one another.

Libertarians date the beginning of the modern movement to the 1940s and early 1950s, when a handful of intellectuals—mostly economists—carried the banner of isolationism and laissez faire in the dark days of the Cold War and Keynesianism. In the 1960s their ranks were swelled by followers of novelist Ayn Rand, whose tales of Promethian struggle against altruism and collectivism are still the major intellectual influence on the movement's rank and file. But the Libertarians political activity was still limited, carried on by those few members who were comfortable crossing the ideological Great Divide to work with the Left against the Vietnam War and the draft.

Then, in 1972, several of the faithful met in Denver to found the Libertarian party. The early campaigns were flops—the Libertarian presidential candidate attracted only 5,000 votes in 1972, 175,000 in 1976—but the stage was set for the birth of what Libertarians call, not altogether fondly, the "Kochtopus>'

The tentacles of the Kochtopus, the series of organizations Koch set up after the 1976 election to spread the Libertarian faith and attract a cadre for the "revolution's" reach from coast to coast. Among them are the Cato Institute, a $1.6 million a year public policy research foundation in San Francisco; the Students for a Libertarian Society, a general staff for a campus movement that still has no army; The Libertarian Review, a monthly magazine aimed at the movement (these were placed under the direction of the Libertarian party's national chairperson); the Institute for Humane Studies, a Menlo Park, California center for Libertarian scholarship; and the Council for a Competitive Economy, a Washington, D.C.-based businessman's group that defends the free market. In all, says Koch, since 1976 he has contributed about $3 million or $4 million to the Libertarian movement—he doesn't remember the exact amount, he says. However, if spending by other members of the Koch family is counted, the total probably exceeds $5 million.

The heart of the Kochtopus is the Cato Institute, a tax-exempt foundation that set up shop in early 1977 in modest offices at the foot of San Francisco's fashionable Telegraph Hill, Koch says the purpose of Cato, his answer to the liberal Brookings Institution and the conservative American Enterprise Institute, is to "to apply Libertarian ideas to current public policy programs." In practice, though, Cato has bent most of its programs to the goal of wooing the opinion-makers, whom Koch wants to win over the Libertarianism. In three years, Cato has managed to turn out only two policy studies.

The most expensive of Cato's projects has been Inquiry, a semimonthly political magazine. Produced by a mixed staff of Libertarians and leftists, Inquiry was designed to reach out to an intellectual audience with a message that was consistent with Libertarianism, but not identified as such. Much energy was devoted to camouflage: Libertarian writers were instructed not use words like capitalism and free market, and the magazine spent considerable sums to attract to its pages well-known writers on the Left, such as Nat Hentoff, Noam Chomsky and David Wise. At times the masquerade approached dishonesty as in 1978 when Inquiry supported the right of backers of the Equal Rights Amendment to use boycotts as a political tool: the magazine neglected to mention that it opposes ERA as well as such economic heresies as equal pay for equal work.

However, the effort backfired when Inquiry, to Koch's chagrin, was widely identified in the press as a left-wing magazine. Last summer [1979], convinced that Inquiry had done enough to win "intellectual respectability," Koch ordered the magazine's editors to pare down its emphasis on peace and civil liberties and concentrate on singing hymns to the free market.

The tax laws required Cato to be non-partisan, of course. So far, though, the line between promoting Libertarianism and promoting the Libertarian party has been visible, only to the Internal Revenue Service. Cato's seminars for students, journalists and business-people look very much like recruiting and training programs. Applicants to the seminars are screened to find those with promising political attitudes, and participants are graded carefully on their devotion to liberty and their usefulness to the movement. (The screening does not always work; last summer several journalists walked out on a Cato Institute seminar, objecting that it was propaganda.)

"Koch is too shrewd to have any funds from Cato go directly to the Libertarian Party," says one former Cato employee. "But it is common knowledge, both among Cato employees and certain members of the [party], that the premises, equipment and staff of the Cato Institute have been used to do Libertarian party work. These people weep crocodile tears over the hard lot of the American taxpayer, yet they have no hesitation in making the taxpayer subsidize their political views."

Legal or not, Cato has served its purpose, attracting considerable media attention, much of it uncritical and flattering. Although recent months have been a time of trouble for the institutre—many of the women on the staff, unhappy with the Libertarian sexism, have been fired or have resigned; and Inquiry, which has seen its circulation dwindle from 35,000 to 10,000, is losing more than a half-million dollars a year—Koch's investment has paid off: he has put the rich man's anarchy on the public agenda for 1980.

Once we go forward, we don't go back," boasts one party worker, a top aide involved in coordinating the media campaign for Libertarian party presidential candidate Ed Clark.

In 1978, when Clark ran for governor in Claiforina, he polled 387,000 votes, or five percent of the total, and party members are predicting a similar outpouring of Libertarian support across the nation this year. That would mean several million votes for Clark. And because the party is strongest in the western states, where Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter ran neck and neck in 1976, party strategists believe the Libertarians can swing the election's outcome.

They just might do it. In a year when both major parties will be running against détente and the Russians, Ed Clark will be the only candidate on the November ballot who strongly opposes the draft, nuclear weapons, and increased military spending. "There are millions of voters who remember Vietnam," says one party regular. "And we hope to be the party of peace."

Clark's campaign strategists also want to exploit the political frustration of the young and those who were disaffected from mainstream electoral politics by the radicalism and counter culture of the 1960s and early 1970s. They believe that the decline in party identification, low voter turnouts and the tax revolts in Claiforina and elsewhere show that there are millions of midddle-class voters—angry about inflation and big government—who are prepared to shout "No" to the politicians, regardless of the social consequences.

Indeed, in this 1978 gubernatorial race in Califorina, Clark put together the beginnings of such a coalition. He ran strongest in wealthy Orange County, a long-time stronghold of right-wing sentiments; in the back country of the Sierra Nevada, where loggers, miners and developers rail against government restrictions on land use; in Berkeley and the gay neighborhoods of San Francisco, which share the Libertarians' antipathy for drug laws and vice squads; and in the cocaine-and-Perrier precincts of Marin County, where the residents' liberal attitudes on foreign policy and social issues have not prevented them from voting like rock-ribbed Republicanns on economic issues. These are the pools Libertarians plan to fish again.

Libertarians also have dreams, however improbable, about winning over the poor and minorities. "We have a lot to tell them," says Libertarian Review, editor Roy Childes, "about how government screws the poor and blacks through licensing regulations [that restrict entry in high-paying professions], through the bureaucratic red tape necessary to start a business, through the endless subsides for Big Business." But the Libertarians should not stop their explanations there. For instance, Murray Rothbard, the economist who doesn't blush when he is called the Karl Marx of Liberarianism, can tell them, as he has written, that "unions have become a nuisance" and that "lower-class people...are capricious, hedonistic, purposeless, and therefore unwilling to pursue a job or career with any consistency." Or perhaps Ed Clark, himself a resident of an exclusive Los Angeles suburb, can take time off from wooing the tax-revolt crowd to explain to the residents of Watts how abolishing welfare, affirmative action, civil rights laws and the minimum wage will set them free. It promises to be an exciting campaign.

The few political pros in the party are canny enough to know how such statements sound to voters who are not among the faithful. They get more grey hair every time Rothbard suggests that the appropriate punishment for a rapists is to subject him to a sexual assault; or when David Bergland, the party's national chairman and candidate for the Senate from California, proposes that instead of facing capital punishment, a murderer should be declared an outlaw to be freely killed by anyone include to do so. Even Ed Clark is not free from the temptation; at a recent press conference, a reported drew him into acclaiming the superiority of privately owned highways.

The Libertarians, unlike the major parties, are more than the sum of their programs, which to most voters look like an unlikely amalgam of Left and Right. A vote for the Libertarians is a vote for an ideology that is both unusually consistent and rigidly unwavering. Their ideology dictates that they support civil liberties and an end to militarism; it also leads them to the defense of a laissez-faire capitalism purer than anything that has every existed in American history. They would put nuclear power plants into the hands of private owners, unfettered by government regulation. They would take the government out of the business of protecting the health and safety of workers and consumers—including children. Each blow at government power, Libertarians say, is a victory for liberty, and each victory is as good as another. Although they would like their showing in the 1980 elections to result in the weakening of the CIA they would be just as happy if it led to the abolition of the FDA and the EPA.

Mark Paul, a San Francisco writer, was formerly an editor at Inquiry. He is currently completing a study of the origins of the Korean War.

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