Libertarian Party

Are the Koch Brothers Right-Wingers or Hippies?

It depends on which parts of the Libertarian Party's 1980 platform you emphasize.


Libertarian Party

In a New York Times review of New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer's new book about the Koch brothers, CUNY historian David Nasaw notes that David Koch (a trustee of the Reason Foundation, which publishes and Reason magazine) was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential nominee in 1980. Nasaw sums up the party's platform this way:

The Libertarians opposed federal income and capital gains taxes. They called for the repeal of campaign finance laws; they favored the abolition of Medicaid and Medicare and advocated the abolition of Social Security and the elimination of the Federal Election Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "The platform was, in short," Ms. Mayer concludes, "an effort to repeal virtually every major political reform passed during the 20th century."

There is nothing in this gloss to contradict or complicate Mayer's description of the Kochs (in the subtitle of her book) as part of "the Radical Right." Apparently they are conservative Republicans, only worse. Like other people who fear and/or loathe the Kochs (including Bernie Sanders), Nasaw simply ignores the inconvenient parts of the Libertarian Party's 1980 platform. Here are some of the planks he does not see fit to mention:

1. "the repeal of all laws prohibiting the production, sale, possession, or use of drugs";

2. "the repeal of all laws regarding consensual sexual relations, including prostitution and solicitation, and the cessation of state oppression and harassment of homosexual men and women";

3. "the repeal of all laws interfering with the right to commit suicide";

4. support for "the right of individuals to contract freely with practitioners of their choice, whether licensed by the government or not, for all health services," including abortion;

5. opposition to "preventive detention, so-called 'no-knock laws,' and all other measures which threaten individual rights";

6. "the repeal of all laws permitting involuntary psychiatric treatment";

7. opposition to "all forms of government censorship, including anti-pornography laws" and restrictions on broadcast "indecency";

8. opposition to "government harassment or obstruction of unconventional religious groups";

9. opposition to government perusal of private records held by third parties without (and maybe even with) a warrant;

10. "abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation";

11. abolition of draft registration;

12. "the elimination of all restriction on immigration";

13. support for dramatic cuts to military spending and the withdrawal of American troops from foreign countries;

14. opposition to wars that are not authorized by Congress; and

15. support for "the principle of non-intervention," which entails "abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures" while "recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration."

A lot of this indeed radical, but it is not exactly right-wing, is it? In fact, many people on the left would be comfortable with most or even all of these planks, while self-identified progressives (perhaps including Mayer and Nasaw) would at least be sympathetic to the impulses behind them. But if you emphasize (or even note in passing) that David Koch ran for vice president on a platform that called for the legalization of drugs and prostitution, supported abortion rights, opposed legal discrimination based on sexual orientation, demanded big cuts to the defense budget and a less interventionist foreign policy, opposed all forms of censorship, defended the rights of the accused, decried crackdowns on unauthorized immigrants, and condemned invasions of privacy by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, you make him sound like some sort of hippie, as opposed to a crazy right-winger. More to the point, you make it much harder to demonize him and his brother among people who read The New York Times and The New Yorker


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  1. Are the Koch Brothers Right-Wingers or Hippies?

    Are they going to pull reason funding if I say I don’t give a shit?

    1. No, but your failure to tow the lion will not net you any Kochbucks.

      1. If someone wants to buy my speech, they have to make a compelling offer up-front and put it in writing.

        1. *holds up parchment, with contract written in orphan blood*

          “Sign here, and you may retain your mortal soul!”

          /Koch laughter

    2. No,I don’t think they give a fuck.

  2. How about changing the name to the ‘leave us the fuck alone ‘ party. If all laws were based in harm to others and the useless departments like education,energy,commerce,HHS,home land the DEA were scrapped ,then add flat tax It would be a wonderful world.

    1. Without the Social Safety Net, people will Die. In. The. Streets. You monster.
      (this is what proggies actually believe)

      1. Don’t forget sports! We have to investigate steroid use by baseball players…. for the childrun!

  3. Why can’t they be *both*?

    1. Right-wing hippies? Are you daft?

      1. By Jove, you’ve got it!

        “The *Daft* Party” it is!

      2. What with abortion, guns, and boobies being the new 2016 theme, we have big tent libertarianism! Everyone can hate us!

        Or is it still Mexicans, weed, and butt sex?

        1. We’ve moved on to Muslim. At least the dirty, filthy, raping, murdering, drug-running, job-stealing lettuce-pickers are Christians.

  4. Never mind what the K Bros are (yes, it sounds like a Disney-promoted boy band) — let’s stop with seeing libertarians in general as part of the right wing.

    Right-wingers of all stripes believe in a powerful state! We do not. Left-wingers also support a powerful state. In recent years, their original anti-war and pro-individual rights elements have also disappeared or been silenced. So Left and Right are more similar now than ever.

    Personally, I am proud to reject both the Right and the Left, both of which trust TOP MEN to make decisions for everyone else. Libertarians stand above and look down on these weak-minded fool’s and their power-hungry masters who disguised as “saviors.”

    1. I am proud to reject both the Right and the Left

      In other words, you’re a Democrat.


    2. You clearly hate the children.

      1. I love them so much I want to show them my monocle mines!

  5. Need headlines like salon

    Eaten alive by their own Ayn Rand/Koch brothers Frankenstein: The GOP destroyed themselves
    Republicans pushed for unrestrained campaign spending. Now the party is a subdivision of Koch Brothers Enterprises…..hemselves/

    With scary pics too !!

    1. You forget the first rule of Salon:

      Do Not Read Salon.

    2. You forget the first rule of Salon:

      Do Not Read Salon.

      1. You forgot the first Rule of Reason:

        Pay Homage to the Squirrelz

      2. It’s like Fight Club, where the first and second rules are the same.

        1. I was going for a “Fight Club Squirrels” thing, and I’m glad someone noticed.

  6. I think the NY Times people could make the *entire* LP platform look right-wing, they were just too lazy.


    “legalization of drugs and prostitution”

    Turning drug addicts and trafficked women loose without treatment

    “supported abortion rights”

    although purporting to support abortion rights, they would cut off funding to Planned Parehthood and its free mammograms and puppies program.

    “opposed legal discrimination based on sexual orientation”

    would allow corporations to discriminate against gays, blacks and women

    “demanded big cuts to the defense budget and a less interventionist foreign policy”

    would refuse to intervene to stop genocide and/or global warming in Africa

    “opposed all forms of censorship”

    would perpetuate rape culture by allowing widespread sexual harassment

    “defended the rights of the accused”

    would allow large corporations to avoid prosecution based on technicalities

    “decried crackdowns on unauthorized immigrants”

    supported the importation of cheap labor by union-busting corporations

    “condemned invasions of privacy by law enforcement and intelligence agencies”

    professing to condemn invasion of privacy while permitting corporations to deny women their birth control

    1. Something something Poe’s Law.

    2. Impressive.

  7. Left-libertarians are covered in bruises from “walking into walls,” but when anyone suggests their relationshi with the Left is toxic and they should break up, the left-libs say it’s just a couple of misunderstandings and they’ll work things out.

    1. What relationship with the left?

      1. The kind of abusive relationship which leads left-libertarians to hang out at an LGBT Summit.

        1. Wait, my bad, they had a Heritage Foundation guy at the summit as well.

        2. Right but there’s no relationship between libertarians and the left. The left hates libertarians because the growth of government is as often the end for them as it is the means. The difference between the left and the right is that the left never even says nice things about libertarians, whereas the right does say things that libertarians want to hear all while leaning on the government growth accelerator.

          So your analogy of an abusive relationship between the left and libertarians doesn’t really hold up. And it’s not entirely clear from your comments that you even understand what a relationship is.

          1. Yes, it’s clear to anyone but left-libertarians that the left just isn’t into them.

            Yet going by the articles at Reason, including this article, they’re *trying* to get the left to like them.

            1. Do you even know what left-libertarianism is?


      2. What’s a “relationship”?

  8. And guns,,we love guns,and 4wds,and GMO’s,and MEAT,and killing MEAT..And drinking after killing meat with guns.Oh,cigars,got to have 1st,2ed and 3rd hand smoke.Well,I need to check on the orphans now.

    1. Check on the orphans? You mean in person? You have people who look at the cages each morning and throw out the dead orphans.

      1. I have a web cam next to the scotch.I can pour a drink and check their work all at the same time.I like to multi task.

  9. “Are the Koch Brothers Right-Wingers or Hippies?”

    That verb is in the present tense. The Kochs presently support the Republican Party. I guess they are right-wingers.

    1. The Koch’s are getting old man. I’m sure plenty of people who are idealistic in their youth eventually hit their 70’s, stare their last few decades of life in the face, and say, “aw fuck it. the only way to really get anything changed in government (while i’m alive) is through one of the two teams that actually wields the levers.”

      I’m still in my 30’s and wouldn’t touch either party with a 30-foot pole. but i also have accomplished absolutely nothing politically ever (except upsetting lots of thanksgiving dinners.)

      I can’t fault an old man for trying to do a little good before he dies. And i certainly can’t pretend this makes him a right-winger.

  10. Ooh, I can’t wait to read the Facebook comments on this article.

  11. The Kochs are right-wing, of course. They’re libertarians. They can be nothing BUT right wing. Libertarianism is to the right of Republicanism and conservatism.

    Each of the points assumed to be ‘hippy’ are not if approached in a liberty supporting way.

    Most can be summed up with this–

    The repeal of all laws in which the government assumes an ownership of the individual’s body.

    This takes care of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 11

    Adherence to the actual Constitution takes care of 6, 7, 8, 9, and 14

    All of these are very right-wing–as right wing rhetoric and stated principles go. In practice, the right is as susceptible to creeping leftism as anything else.

    And the remaining four aren’t actually libertarian. They’re some of the initial tendrils of leftism that have grown into great tentacles today.

    15 attaches ‘non-intervention’ when ‘non-aggression’ would do. Non-intervention is a much broader idea and would leave us helpless in the face of foreign interventions that are detrimental–i.e., we’d be forbidding ourselves from spreading libertarian ideals.

    The second part of 15 and 12 are designed to allow everyone in while leaving us no recourse.

    10 means we won’t know it’s coming, and 13 means we won’t be able to defend ourselves when it does.

    But they are dressed up to sound libertarianish–and they will easily get past leftist converts who are a bit uncomfortable with their new party.

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