The war on democracy in America: What the radical right extremists really believe

How do we know what the Kochs and the radical right really think and believe? Rather than try to summarize or paraphrase their thoughts and beliefs, I prefer to let them speak for themselves in their own words. For the following quotations, I am indebted to Nancy MacLean  and her excellent new book, “Democracy in Chains,” published by Viking/Penguin Random House in 2017.

Charles Koch today takes pains to be tight-lipped in public, preferring to let others do the speaking for him on political matters, while he tends to the planning and funding of more secretive anti-democratic organizational work. One of Koch’s spokespersons in public is his own well-trained wife, Elizabeth Koch, who speaks about national societal values this way: “America has become a nation of non-risk-takers who just want to be coddled and taken care of.  Government should not interfere with profit making because greed is a return on investment, the risk you took.” That’s pretty clear. The world should belong to the Makers, not the Takers. The ultimate put-down of the improvident Takers was expressed by an arch-conservative U.S. senator on the floor of the Senate when he explained that, “The poor are poor because they have failed to invest.”  

The Kochs echo the libertarian pleas and mantras of their guru, Buchanan, as quoted by Nancy MacLean: “Why must the rich be made to suffer? Don’t the rich have any rights? If simple majority voting allows the government to impose higher taxes  on a dissenting individual in the minority, the citizen who finds that he must, on fear of punishment, pay taxes for public goods in excess of amounts that he might voluntarily contribute, what distinguishes that from the thug who steals his wallet in Central Park ?  Why should the well-off be forced to pay for those people? Might the confiscation through taxation of goods from an unwilling person not be seen as criminal?” Again, the meaning couldn’t possibly be clearer — or more horrendous.

Such radical right-wing  thinking found its most extreme yet practical  expression in a still-secret document intended as the no-holds-barred summary of an intended future Libertarian Party Platform.  The revealing policy statement reportedly  read: “Liberty is to be preserved by the total absence of government coercion in any form. This entails the end of public education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the U.S. Postal Services, minimum wage laws, prohibitions against child labor, foreign aid, environmental protection, prosecution for drug abuse or voluntary prostitution, and, in time, the end of taxes and government regulations of any kind.”

This extreme right-wing Libertarian policy platform was drafted in total secrecy, never to be mentioned in public.  Yet it was this kind of pervasive thinking that had previously led to the creation of the Koch-funded Cato Institute in 1977, and was later picked up by the so-called Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. The cabalists realized that it would be totally fatal to the extreme conservative cause if the public knew just how anti-democratic, anti-social  and un-American were their line of thinking, actual intentions and ultimate goals, namely the abolition of each and every “social welfare” program for the common public good in America.


Anthony Piel is a former director and general legal counsel of the World Health Organization.