What Does The Kochtopus Want?

Well, of course, same as all Pinkies and Brains:

That's like Axiom One for the Billionaire Boys Club; they cannot resist the Urge to Rule. It's in their genes. They Just Can't Help It.

We Plebes are witness to the Global Battle of the Billionaires as we speak, only it takes place in the Heavens so far above our lowly selves that all we ever see of it is the fallout and the pilferage from our pockets to pay for the next round. Oh, and to pay for fluffing up the fortunes of the Overclass.

The Kochs want to take over the Government of the United States (for our own good, of course) and rule us with the rod and the staff. It's Biblical. Or mayhap ... Stalinist.

Let's see what Charles Koch has to say about "The Science of Liberty." (Science being very important to these people, don't you know.) (Warning: Babble ahead!)

Probably the first book on liberty I read was Leonard Read's Elements of Libertarian Leadership in 1963, which interested me enough to attend Bob LeFevre's Freedom School. That's where I began developing a passionate commitment to liberty as the form of social organization most in harmony with reality and man's nature, because it's where I was first exposed in-depth to thinkers such as Mises and Hayek. Mises and Hayek, together with Michael Polanyi in more recent years, have had the greatest influence on my thinking. In fact, what I learned from Polanyi (e.g. his model of the scientific community as a microcosm of the free society) enabled me to integrate and apply these ideas in a much more productive way. (By the way, I was first exposed to Polanyi by reading a footnote in Don Lavoie’s book, National Economic Planning.)

What we have here is the beginnings of a philosophical underpinning of a Kochian Utopia, superior in thought and deed to all the rest. We also see the beginnings of a cultic belief system.

(A tiresome side note on the uselessness of the Liberal Class (h/t Chris Hedges): The Liberal Class is tired of running things. Tired, worn out, decadent and corrupt. There is a vacuum of "leadership" which was temporarily filled by the juvenile rantings -- and bloody warmongering -- of the Neo-Cons. Their "solutions" turned out to be worse than the problems at hand, and so they have been dismissed from the stage, and a new act is readying in the wings. This is the Kochian/Libertarian Performance Project we are discussing on these pages. It is happening because Liberals/Progressives, and Liberalism/Progressivism, is tattered, tired, and old.)

Charles Koch has not sat still since his early discoveries. By no means. Since 1964 he has been a whirlwind of activity, founding and financing innumerable institutions of learning and scholarship, propaganda and facilitation, in order that his economic and political views gain the widest possible audience within his own class and are inserted within a select segment of the public at large.

The plethora of institutions and journalistic endeavors he has founded and funded have, over time, ensured that his political and economic theories will have wide -- though not universal -- currency. Once they are familiar to his own class, the Overclass and are picked up and touted by some of the louder voices in the Underclass (which we're seeing now with the widespread defense of the Kochs and Libertarianism in all its many factions in the mainstream media and the so-called Lefty blogs) in theory, the Power Play can occur in earnest. Taking over the US Government is just a step on the way to taking over the worlllllld. It's close now.

But what do they really want? What do they want the Power for? The Kochs already more money than God, and adding any more to their pile is just wretched excess and extravagance. They have more money at their disposal than a raft of nations.

What, exactly, more do they want? Power, of course, but as Noah Cross said succincly in Chinatown, they want The Future.

That's the prize which Liberals and true Progressives (as opposed to the ersatz and Libertarians posing as Progressives) have given up.

What does their Future look like? To know that, we have to examine their view of the Past. Notice what's missing here, excerpted from Charles Koch's talk on establishing a Science of Liberty:

As Polanyi pointed out, this much deeper understanding is what led to such different results for the British revolution than for the French. During the 17th and 18th centuries British public life developed the art as well as the doctrine of liberty. By living the doctrine of liberty the English people developed a tacit, unspecifiable understanding. But when the doctrine spread to France in the 18th century, this understanding, which can be gained only by practice, was not transmitted with it. Without knowledge of its application in practice, the French Revolutionaries moved the country away from, rather than toward liberty.
 First, of course, is the fundamental misunderstanding of the revolutions in Britain (17th Century) and France (18th Century.) The insurrection in Britain -- it wasn't so much a Revolution as it was a continuing Civil War -- was by no means waged to "establish liberty" throughout the land; it was waged and continued to "liberate" a particular class of Englishmen from their bonds of fealty to the Crown;  its continuation throughout the century was matter of reversing the relationship between Crown and Barons.

The French Revolution, on the other hand, is not a direct descendant of the British upheavals. There was something called the "American Revolution" in the interim, and it was THAT Revolution that directly led to the French Revolution, and it is the American Revolution that has inspired every revolution since.

The so-called "doctrine of liberty" as expressed in Britain in the 17th Century was purely a matter of aristocratic "liberty" from the Crown. It had literally nothing whatever to do with the People under the British Crown below the baroinal class.

"Liberty" as an aspiration for the many -- but certainly not a reality -- would have to wait for the American Revolution to clarify the issue.

The French Revolution would go far beyond the American conception of "liberty" by declaring all Frenchment citoyens and declaring them ALL "free." Of course they weren't, but that's a different issue.

The problem here is that Charles Koch misunderstands the nature of the revolutions and upheavals he mentions, he is blind to the absence of "liberty" even after the revolutions and upheavals in question, and he is oblivious to the American Revolution.

These curious historical faults may be a clue to how he sees the Future. Let us continue.

As I indicated, progressing from critics and painters of utopias to master scientists requires working out concrete problems in the framework. For this transformation to occur, the focus must be on the problem, not on the concepts or the tools.

Well. Um. Duh. He had to learn this, though. It wasn't instinctive for him. Think about that for a minute. The notion that anything can be done, whether Utopia or hammering a nail, by focus on the concepts and tools rather than the problem to be solved or the tools with which one has to work, is a common fault of the Ivory Tower, not generally of the people who do things. Yet when Ivory Tower inmates discover the necessity for practical "science", they have a tendency to forget the simultaneous necessity for conceptualization and appropriate tools. It's not an either/or situation. It's an all at once -- or at least sequential -- understanding.


To give you a better feel for the process, I’ll briefly use the five elements to attempt to identify the root causes of the problem: Given the power of our ideas, why aren’t we making more progress?
1. Vision

A major impediment to advancing the free society is the poor visions most market-oriented leaders have for their institutions. Among other problems, these visions are disconnected from the model of a free-market as an experimental discovery process leading to creative destruction.

Here we go. In laying out and discovering the Future one must start with Vision. Fair enough. That Vision, however, must spring from the model of the free-market which in Koch's Vision is the experimental discovery process leading to "creative destruction." "Creative destruction" in turn is derived from Marxist theory of the operations of unfettered Capitalism. In other words, in the Koch Vision, in order to get to the Utopian Future, you must proceed from a Marxist understanding of Capitalism. Beauty.

So despite all the Anti-Communist tub thumping of the Kochs, going back into pre-history, their understanding of Capitalism is based in Marx. The difference being that whereas Marx saw the meatgrinder of Capitalism as a Bad Thing, the Kochs reverse the Marxist polarity and see it as a Good Thing. We will find a widespread acceptance of Marxist analysis of Capitalism among the Kochtopus cultists, amid all the furious denunciations of Marxist (collectivist) solutions. They simply invert Marxist values; what Marx says is bad becomes good, what he says is good becomes bad. Easy. The thing of it is, it's still based in Marxism.

It's much like the inversion of Trotskyist values by the neo-cons.

But to continue (try to keep up without falling asleep):

This same vision process can be used to guide our efforts to advance the free society. The problem we face is that most leaders of free-market institutions build their vision on models that are antithetical to free markets. These include purity tests and what worked in the past will work in the future. Many focus on isolated projects or initiatives rather than interrelated plays, have little integration with other institutions to build superior interrelated capabilities, and do minimal value chain analysis to connect what scholars are working on with what people value.

In other words, first you tear down your competition by pointing out their problem. They can't get anywhere because their Vision and Models are antithetical to where they want to be. They are stupid, corrupt, criminal, backward, primitive, tribalists locked in the Past, unable to fathom the Future. Of course. It's self-evident to the Kochtopus cultists.

The competition focuses on discreet elements one by one, whereas the Advanced and Visionary Kochtopus sees All, and therefore Knows All.

This is little other than basic marketing propaganda; it's what you say to distinguish yourself from the competition and assert the superiority of your values and vision. They are inadequate; you are superb.

Charles Koch is not dealing with "business" at this point in his talk, remember. He is dealing with concepts of Rule in the socio-political realm.

Some more:

2. Virtue and Talents

If the free market is a discovery process then discovery institutions are needed — ones whose structure and culture are conducive to discovery. To bring about discovery, people must be selected, first and foremost, on values and talents, rather than credentials or how well they test. Among the values critical to discovery is humility. Humility is required for learning and sharing knowledge. As Daniel J. Boorstin put it: "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."

This is yet another inversion. Credentials, training, knowledge, experience, understanding, etc., are all to be dispensed with in the interests of "discovery." And "humility" (as inverted by the Kochs) is critical to "discovery." You can be as un-humble as you want, as long as you're ignorant. If you actually know something, you must be "humble." Reminds me of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. That turned out well. Huh.


3. Knowledge Systems

They can also benefit by connecting research to our market by developing open communication with customers on our intellectual products. These products need to be developed in the market spirit of openness and openendedness rather than being ossified by purity tests. To the extent we are controlled by the test of purity rather than the test of results we will continue to fail. We must overcome the tendency to establish an orthodoxy that stifles discovery. To connect, we must show how a market-based approach will solve our customer's most pressing problems, not our own.

Note the lingua: "intellectual products." He is talking about marketing -- propagandizing -- his political ideology. How do you sell it? How do you convince your customers (and who, exactly are they?) that this is what they need to solve their problems? He denounces "purity" and "orthodoxy" but he's not talking about his political ideology, he's talking about his competitors. They are the ones locked in purity and orthodoxy, not him. He is the Creative Destroyer. A veritable divinity, ne?

What else?

The republic of science is a model of mutually adjusting individual initiatives under mutual authority with open knowledge sharing and the scrutiny of theories by those who apply them. It is the application of this model of an open-ended society of explorers at all levels of the intellectual structure of production that I believe would lead to a science of liberty.

Translation: My way or the highway, fool.

Would you like to know more?

4. Decision Rights

A market-based system is rooted in quite different models and ensures that, rather than becoming obsolete and irrelevant, an institution continues to discover new ways to create value. In a market-based system, decisions are focused on increasing value and are made by those best qualified to do so. Thus, decision rights are dynamic and based on demonstrated comparative advantage. (To the extent a person's decisions do not create value, he loses those rights.)

Pay close attention here, Parasites. He means you when he says that when your decisions do not create value, you lose decision right. If you parse him carefully as well as others of his ilk, you see that this market fixation of theirs leads to the (creative?) destruction of liberty and democracy and its substitution with as rigid an authoritarianism -- or even totalitarianism -- as has ever been seen. You either increase product "value" (all is product, don't forget that) or you lose your rights. Parasites.

5. Incentives

Incentives should be based on real impact. Judging results based on the number of press clips or books makes sense only if these measures are related to real change.
True market-based incentives reward people according to their contribution to the whole, in this case contributions to liberty. With market-based incentives, people have a great deal at risk and unlimited upside. They are not permitted to profit by the political means, by playing politics or co-opting....

Well. There you are. "Liberty" being... what, exactly, and for whom? We have already seen that the Koch version of "liberty" leaves out some crucial elements of history -- and it relies on the distortion of simple facts.

He concludes:

The key to capturing this power is in applying all the elements in a mutually reinforcing way. First, we must select operators with the appropriate talent and the humility required for learning, who treat people with respect, and who are committed to creating, not to the status quo. Then we must help them acquire the vision of their jobs as creating value rather than following instructions. Next, we must produce the information and measures to know what problems are important, and use the knowledge to know what creates value and what information to integrate and apply. Finally, we must provide decision rights, ownership (including room to experiment), and incentives that reward value creation. These elements taken together build spontaneous order in the organization so that everyone creates value for the whole through mutually adjusting individual initiatives.

Benign isn't it? As long as you fit the Vision and the Model. Otherwise?

You're the Problem. And you don't want to be the Problem. Do you?

See how it works?
Of course what I've sketched here, using Charles Koch's Defense of His Philosophy graduation speech (that's really what it seems like in many ways), is the motivation and the method employed to create a "science of liberty" and to transmit it to The World.

That is the desire expressed by Charles Koch back in 1997, and it seems to me that the effort has been remarkably successful. A lot of Kochevism is now in the public domain, rather easily accepted by his own class, by the media, and by many so-called Progressives.

But what is it? What is this "liberty" the "science" of which he speaks?

Given the stark failure to understand the nature of the British Civil Wars and the French Revolution, and his apparent ignorance of the American Revolution -- well, he ignored it at any rate -- I suspect we'll find that the Kochevik "liberty" doesn't mean what we might think it means.