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Professor Teachout Explains the Ideology of the Koch Brothers

Submitted by on March 29 – 2013No Comment

In both a recent appearance on MSNBC and an article in the Huffington Post, Associate Professor Zephyr Teachout discussed the Koch brothers—David and Charles. Teachout participated in a panel on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” on March 17 to discuss the Koch brothers’ political plans. She argued that despite the results in the November 2012 elections, the Koch brothers’ efforts in shaping politics this season were actually quite successful.

“There’s no major policy debate that I can think of in which they didn’t actually really frame the question,” she said.

Teachout also cautioned against thinking of the Koch brothers as ideologues. Instead, she argued, the Koch brothers seek more power.

“This is an ideology that serves their power. But they’re not just trying to persuade people, they’re actually trying to increase how much money and control they have over the society.”

Watch the entire panel on

In a more thorough discussion in Huffington Post, Teachout explained how to deal with the Koch brothers, rather than list their “sins against truth, climate and society.” She wrote that because they are outside of democracy—essentially feudal lords who can control government—they must be addressed differently.

There is no reason to think that any appeal to civic virtue or patriotism or an obligation to a public sphere would have any meaning to David or Charles Koch, both of whom have an expressed disdain for that “love of equality” that Montesquieu talked about and Tocqueville witnessed in America, the love that is essential for a democratic self-governing society.

Nor is there much of a solution in the protests against products and efforts to boycott them. Unlike some individual companies that might at the margins respond to consumer boycotts, the Kochs’ goal seems to be not in any particular product, but in power itself, and so these boycotts might cost a little — and be ethically important to participate in for other reasons, including highlighting their reach — but not actually have an impact on the overall strategy.

Read the full blog at the Huffington Post



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