A People’s History of Koch Industries: How Stalin Funded the Tea Party Movement
By Yasha Levine

“I would rather live under a bridge than live under socialism”
—tea bagger slogan

Everyone knows that Tea Party revolutionaries fear and hate socialism about as much as the Antichrist. Which is funny, because the Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that it owes its existence to the grandaddy of all Antichrists: the godless empire of the USSR.

What few realize is that the secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.

The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between right-wing brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Reason magazine, Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute are just a few of Koch-backed free-market operations. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the “climate denial machine,” which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

I first learned about the Kochs in February 2009, when Mark Ames and I were looking into the strange origins of the then-nascent Tea Party movement. Our investigation led us again and again to a handful of right-wing organizations and think tanks directly tied to the Kochs. We were the first to connect the dots and debunk the Tea Party movement’s “grassroots” front, exposing it as billionaire-backed astroturf campaign run by free-market advocacy groups FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity, both of which are closely linked to the Koch brothers.

But the Tea Party movement—and Koch family’s obscene wealth—go back more than half a century, all the way to grandpa Fredrick C. Koch, one of the founding members of the far-rightwing John Birch Society which was convinced that evil socialism was taking over America through unions, colored people, Jews, homosexuals, the Kennedys and even Dwight D. Eisenhower.

These days, the Kochs paint themselves as true-believer Libertarians of the Austrian School. Charles Koch, the elder brother who runs the family business in Wichita, Kansas, quotes the wisdom of proto-libertarian “economist” Ludwig von Mises, but also sees himself as a thinker in his own right. In 2007, Charles made his contribution to the body of free-market thought with an economic theory he calls Market-Based Management® (trademark protected, of course), which he lays out in a book titled the Science of Success. A Forbes reviewer seemed a bit disturbed by Charles’ overt socialist leanings, writing that the “author professes an almost Marxist faith in the ‘fixed laws’ that ‘govern human well-being.’”

David Koch is the highbrow brother who lives in New York. He ran as the Libertarian party candidate for president in 1980 and says that his dream is to “minimize the role of government, to maximize the role of private economy and to maximize personal freedoms.” Apparently everyone’s a free-market enthusiast at Koch Industries, including their spokeswoman, who recently wrote a letter to the New York Times stating that “it’s a historical fact that economic freedom best fosters innovation, environmental protection and improved quality of life in a society.” It might be true somewhere for someone, but not for the Kochs—they owe it all to socialism and totalitarianism.

Read it all on AlterNet

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