“Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the room…But what was strange was that although the Kochs were hated and despised by everybody, although every day, and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, their theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were—in spite of all this, their influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by them. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under their directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. They were the commanders of a vast shadow army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the cause of Truth, Justice, and The Affordable Care Act.”
This is a paraphrase of one of the best known passages in George Orwell’s ‘1984.’
In his nightmarish vision of a totalitarian future, the author describes a mandatory indoctrination session where the hero and his co-workers at “The Ministry of Truth” (i.e. the propaganda ministry) are forced to take part in a daily “Two Minute Hate.” They have to watch a video broadcast designed to get them stirred up against whoever is the villain “du jour,” i.e. whoever is the foremost enemy of the regime at the moment.
In “1984” this character, called ‘Goldstein,’ was based on Stalin’s rival, Leon Trotsky. The frenzy of blind hatred whipped up against him reflected the way Stalin and his followers used Trotsky as a scapegoat for all the failures of the Soviet regime in the 1930’s. Ultimately Trotsky/Goldstein’s utility for that purpose stopped and Stalin had him murdered by the NKVD (the precursor of the KGB) in Mexico in 1940.
Charles and David Koch serve the same purpose for the Obama Administration and its ideological comrades-in-arms, like the Kansas City Star, acting like Orwell’s ‘Thought Police’ to silence and discredit opponents of the regime.
Recently stories were floated in the press that the Keystone Pipeline project was being pushed by the Kochs in order to benefit themselves financially by serving oil fields that they owned. The Kochs were simultaneously served with a demand for the production of documents by two Democratic Senators, Sheldon Whitehouse and Charles Schumer, trying to get proof of these allegations.
It turns out that Koch Industries had no interest in any oil or gas production that would be served by the pipeline, that the production would actually benefit its competitors at its expense, and that the Kochs, neither individually nor corporately, had taken any position on the issue. When this was established to be the case, they asked for a retraction, which was ignored by the news sources which published the reports.
When Charles Koch wrote an op-ed piece to protest this kind of treatment, which was published in the Wall Street Journal on April 3rd, the Star ridiculed him in its April 13th Sunday edition lead editorial, “Charles G Koch’s public message represents rhetorical spin at its flimsiest.” Not only did the Star mock Koch for being upset for being falsely accused (“You could almost hear him weep”), it added more reckless falsehoods of its own to the mix.
For example, the Kochs were attacked for opposing gay rights. The Star apparently didn’t know or care that David and Charles Koch have spoken consistently (no “evolving” position there!) in favor of gay marriage, which is consistent with their libertarian beliefs.
The Star blamed the Kochs for defeating an extension of federal unemployment benefits, when the matter has yet to even be decided by the Congress. As far as I can tell they’ve never even taken a position on what is a complex issue, still a work in progress as the ultimate ‘inside baseball’ policy. It’s clear that the Star’s editorial writers simply went down the current progressive wish list, blaming the Kochs for bills they wanted passed being blocked, as well as blaming the Kochs for the passage of bills they wanted blocked. No logical or causal relation was necessary.
You’d also never know from the Star’s exaggerated caricature of the Kochs as stereotype right wing extremists that they: 1) opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the beginning, unlike John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, et al.; 2) favored repeal of drug laws as creating victimless crimes; 3) favored abortion rights.
In fact, they have taken consistently libertarian positions on social issues which should not be surprising since David Koch was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice-president in 1980. Charles and David Koch are actually what so many people claim to be, but so few actually are—socially liberal but fiscally conservative.
Not only is the Star’s statement about these two’s position on the first of the two tests (social issues) outright false, their take on the second test (fiscal issues) is misleading and wildly exaggerated.
Because the Kochs are concerned about what they see as excessive taxation and excessive regulation, the Star would have its readers believe they want to do away with all taxes and all regulations. (Not only is there no basis for this but it was the Libertarian Party’s adoption of a radical no-tax platform that caused David Koch to leave the Libertarian Party!)
None of this matters to the Star, not withstanding its mission statement committing it to providing “honest, independent, and verified information.” Its editorial writers are proponents of what the poet Ezra Pound called, “old lies and new infamy…liars in public places.” Remember, there is no such thing as objective truth. A factual statement is only true when considered in its context in the dialectic—does it advance the ‘Progressive’ Cause? To the extent it does, it’s true. To the extent it hinders the cause, it’s false.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating by equating the KC Star to a Stalinist publication, consider the following comment in a response online to the Koch editorial from a lumpen intellectual named Jane Martin, who claims to be affiliated with the University of Nebraska at Omaha:
“The Kochs are both sociopaths. As an old experienced psychotherapist, I can tell you it is rare to have 2 siblings be full-out sociopaths.”
There are so many things wrong with this statement it’s hard to know where to begin.
No responsible professional would diagnose anyone with a serious mental illness just to make a political point. The late pornographer Ralph Ginzberg, publisher of Eros magazine, learned this, much to his regret, when he similarly defamed Barry Goldwater in 1964, by publishing an equally bogus assessment of the GOP candidate’s mental stability. (This led the American Psychiatric Association to pass a rule forbidding its members from commenting on patients that any individual psychiatrist has not personally examined.)
I also am bothered by a Soviet style desire to label political dissidents as “insane” and that their views are a form of “mental illness.” What next? Confinement and “treatment” in mental hospitals for those who challenge the regime?
Ironically, by the quality of their response to Charles Koch’s op-ed piece, the Star and its supporters, like “Doc” Martin, offer resounding proof of his complaints of character assassination. Reread the Martin post which concludes; “But stranger things have happened like millions of people being so gullible at the same time (sic), actually feeling happy about these two working on their demise.”
That conclusion eerily echoes Orwell’s “Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by them,” from the earlier paraphrase of ‘The Two Minute Hate.’
Sixty-five years ago, an Englishman dying in a crofter’s cottage on a remote island off the Scottish coast saw all too clearly the ugliness of the modern will to power. It’s still just as ugly in Kansas and Missouri (and apparently in Nebraska too) all these years later.