As some of you will be aware, especially those of you who’ve been following my whining about it on Twitter, I’ve recently been finishing up something I’ve been writing about the Austrian School of economics (y’know, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, right-libertarianism, etc). It’s my side of a collaboration with Phil for his next book. It’s taken a long time (my fault) but I just finished. One of the reasons it took so long was because I kept falling down rabbit holes, so to speak. The good thing about that is that it has left me with excess material I can write up. And here’s the first bit.
By the way, people who give me as little as $1 per month on Patreon saw this days ago.
The Koch Brothers. Billionaire reactionaries whose dad co-founded the John Birch Society, and who now act as money-pits and eminences grise for huge sectors of the US Right. Greasers of the wheels of the Tea Party. Suffice to say, they – along with others of their kind including the DeVos family – have also funded organisations like CPAC, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute (co-founded by Murray Rothbard, by the way). They’ve helped bankroll – directly or indirectly, via organisations they fund – climate change denier Willie Soon, and speaking engagements by people like Bell Curve author Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, arch-Islamophobe David Horowitz, and erstwhile alt-Right darling and Breitbart star Milo Yiannopoulos. Relatedly, think tanks they fund and control are responsible for creating a model ‘campus free speech’ bill, complete with draconian punishments for students who protest guest speakers, which several state legislators are eying approvingly. They have spent incomprehensible amounts of money on direct support for politicians and political candidates. Though critical of ‘establishment’ candidates in the 2016 US Presidential race, they did not back Trump… but they didn’t exactly back out of politics. As Salon.com notes, in 2016
the Center for Media and Democracy uncovered 58 Koch-funded candidates for state legislative seats in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The actual number could be much larger, for the bulk of the network’s donations go through “dark money” channels that hide the names of donors and recipients.
Though some people suggest the Kochs feel distaste for Trump, the likelihood is that they’re starting to think, as InsidePhilanthropy.com put it, that
investing in libertarian ideas through think tanks and universities offers more bang for the buck [than political donations]. And they’ve recently indicated that such philanthropic giving is likely to take priority over political giving in coming years.
To see why they might think that, I want to look at some of this sort of ‘philanthropy’.
There is much to say about the Kochs. Google their names. It’ll keep you busy. Here I will follow one tiny trail. It leads to no massive revelations, as far as I can see. But it’s a trail I haven’t seen followed elsewhere. It follows Koch money and influence into Austrian-inspired, right-wing, libertarian academia.…