The full title of the text in question is “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” (1). It is the result of author, Jane Mayer’s exhaustive five-year probing of how an oligarchy of about two-dozen billionaires have joined hands to subvert our cherished democracy into a Libertarian utopia. Mayer started and finished by adopting the old adage – “Follow the money”.
At the center of the oligarchy are the now infamous Kock Brothers; of the two, it is Charles, not David , who organized, orchestrated, and continues to manage what amounts to “political theft” by directing funds in a variety of directions where it will better maximize the chances of the aforementioned Libertarian dream being realized.
If you really want to understand the depth and breadth of the oligarchy’s influence, pay special attention to Chapter 5 in Part-1; “The Kochtopus: Free Market Machine”. That section lays out in detail where the dark money is going and how it is being used, not just in support of particular political candidates, but to privately fund arch-conservative think tanks, Libertarian institutes on college and university campuses, radical right-wing bloggers, on-line publications, and publishing houses that all drive the same message.
To better insure that the largesse that keeps these various enterprises up and running remains “dark”, a network of tax-exempt groups have been set up that, by law, are under no obligation to reveal the source(s) 0f the donations they receive. The internal and difficult-to-trace shifting of money from one of these groups to another is ongoing; a product of the January 2010 US Supreme Court’s 5 – 4 “Citizens United” decision that made unlimited, anonymous political giving the law of the land. (2)
Taking the contents of the last two paragraphs into account, it becomes easy to see why the term “Kochtopus” is no exaggeration; the “tentacles” are reaching out in every direction where the potential exists for pushing what the Kochs want; i.e. a completely free market that runs uninhibited by rules and regulations that assure the rest of us that we’ll have clean air and water, with a federal government so small and weakened that its job is reduced to protecting our individual liberties. There would be no disaster relief, no emergency funding of stimuli to reboot a economy in the throes of a recession or worse, and certainly, no restrictions on the operation of Wall Street. (3) Naturally, bringing all this to fruition would be of incalculable material benefit to the oligarchs.
Lastly, there is this: In Chapter 14 of Part – 3, Mayer describes how the the Kochs and their oligarchic sugar daddies are busily evolving the system they have set up as described above. Titled “The New Koch: A Better Battle Plan”, the author recounts how they have decided that the Republican National Committee is incapable of delivering that utopian dream into the Koch’s lap. The billionaires are now intent on carrying that off themselves by creating a sub rosa third party devoted to actualizing their fantasy by using all the “instruments” already extant, while hiding their intentions behind very public philanthropic giving. Burnishing the Koch’s imagine as do-gooders has become the overt order of the day; never mind what is going on “behind the curtain”. So, media consultants have been put to work crafting messages that will make this new m.o. palatable for mass consumption. (4)
To conclude, this is an extraordinary book by any measure. It is all at once illuminating, edifying, and frankly as revulsive as it is scary. Our democracy is now at the mercy of a handful of individuals who are far more concerned with their own aggrandizement than our quality of life. Be afraid; be very afraid !!!
- Mayer, Jane; Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Doubleday; 1016. Available in hard copy or Kindle.
- If you believe that the “Citizens United” decision was a good thing, then vote for candidates that want it left intact. If you are convinced that it must go, then vote for every office-seeker who holds to the same view.
- Protections like those that exist in the Dodd-Frank law and the Consumer Financial Protection Office would be wiped off the books.
- Watch for the use of the word “wellbeing” that the media consultants have field-tested as having a positive impact on focus group respondents.