Koch’s Suckers

This is an epic deconstruction from Maddow.

It is the most absurd form of right-wing projection that all of media and government are in the hands of some sinister conspiracy. In fact, that conspiracy theory itself is the conspiracy. Koch Industries was founded by a man who founded many things besides, including the John Birch Society — a subject Maddow has covered before:

JBS was essentially an update of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion formula (edit: see note below). In fact, all the diverse paranoias of political ages past were recycled into JBS. Anti-Mormon, anti-Masonic, and anti-Catholic lies were turned into anti-communist ones, just as fluoridation “mind control” has recently been updated for a back-to-school speech. There’s nothing new in the paranoid universe.

The tinfoil hat set has been around a while. Wealthy right-wing capitalists from Henry Ford to Fred Koch to Don Blankenship have paid good money to keep conspiracy theory alive and kicking. Climate change denialists invoke this bogeyman of Teh Global Socializms™ all the time; it is no accident that Kochs have outspent Exxon in supporting climate change denial shops. Koch money appears at any number of conservative “free market” prop-shops like the CATO institute and even the Ayn Rand cult. That shouldn’t be surprising; Rand’s libertarianism is a natural fit, though a strange bedfellow given her atheism.

Indeed, the conspiracy to keep conspiracy theories alive is itself an old, vast, international coalition of conspiracy creators (Protocols came out of Russia). The Russian connection picks up again with the history of the Koch fortune, which was built with Stalin’s money.

In other words, this right-wing stupid-propagation system is an old thing. Its progenitors have always been hip deep in culture war, and have always served the interests of wealth and power. They have updated ancient hate-speech and paranoid histories to serve in new eras; now they have moved online and into the number one cable network to create the tea party movement.

The direct-mail lists of the John Birch Society have morphed into the email lists of Americans For Prosperity, with JBS growing as a result.

Organized by the powerful and rich, for the powerful and rich, to the benefit of powerful and rich people, the tea party phenomenon is “grounded” in a mindset I call the paranoid universe. First described by Richard Hofstadter, a picture of the leviathan very much resembles its own picture of the world, in which

both the US and Soviet governments are controlled by the same furtive conspiratorial cabal of internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians. If left unexposed, the traitors inside the US government would betray the country’s sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist new world order managed by a “one-world socialist government.”

As close readers of this blog will know, there has been a move away from the non-profit model of astroturfery to the for-profit model. Suckers will pay for their apocalypse porn.

Worse, in the age of email suckers can be born every nanosecond and propagate creatively at will, shooting from Ning.com to Sara Palin’s Facebook page to Twitter and back before truth ever finds out it is needed.

Breaking this conspiracy-to-promote-conspiracy open is the easy part. Getting it into the mainstream consciousness is much harder, but Maddow has done yeoman’s work in making that happen.

ADDING: As per the comments below, I should like to explain “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion formula.” Protocols is a famous case of Piltdown politics; anti-Semitic texts crossed the borders of Europe into Russia. The ideas were published in a volume that found its way to Henry Ford, who propagated the story.

The same method has been applied by the Kochs. Blaming Jews commies for all the world’s ills, a powerful western capitalist promotes the lie that a cabal of Jewish bankers satanic international conspiracy wants to drink the blood of your children wants to create a global collectivist state.

1) Exotic origin

2) Secret knowledge

3) Sinister plan

Or as Hofstadter defined it more broadly, and I summarize:

1) THEY are against you and want to make your life hell

2) THEY control everything; trust no one (except me)

3) THEY are all in it together

Both Ford and Koch supported a fiction — a narrative — that defined a paranoid world, and there are only three moving parts to that narrative. Individual memes  in either body of arcanum vary, but they come from a global continuum of crazy with roots older than the printing press. That’s because memes pass from generation to generation.

This blog post in no way promotes the idea that Kochs and Fords are  somehow mixed up together in a vast, sinister conspiracy; that would be paranoid.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
This entry was posted in Culture Wars, John Birch Society, Kochs, Kulturkampf, Piltdown politics, Sunday Sermon. Bookmark the permalink.
  • ernie1241

    Your opening statement, i.e.
    “JBS was essentially an update of The protocols of the Elders of Zion formula”

    completely discredits everything else you have written. Shame on you!

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Which one do you think is NOT a bunch of racist garbage: the JBS, or the Protocols? Be specific. Which is NOT real and which is genuine?

  • ernie1241

    There is absolutely no connection between the JBS and The Protocols. In fact, on its website, the JBS had a webpage devoted to bogus and “debunked” conspiracy theories. I copy below their text. Furthermore, the JBS has many persons of the Jewish faith as members, including, David Eisenberg who is on the JBS National Council (the governing body of the JBS). Many of the Society's most prolific authors and speakers were Jews, including: Alan Stang, Gary Allen, Larry Abraham, Samuel Blumenfeld, Dr. Barney Finkel, and many more.

    So to attempt to link the JBS to anything as notoriously anti-semitic as The Protocols is malicious defamation. It is equivalent to those on the extreme right who attempted to link liberals to the Communist movement. Shame on you!

  • ernie1241

    TEXT FROM JBS WEBSITE ON “THE PROTOCOLS”

    Claim: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a document also referred to by several variants on that title, offers the definitive exposé of the real covert power shaping events and institutions in pursuit of an anti-Christian, tyrannical global government.

    Status: Debunked

    Arguably the longest-lived and most influential work of Black Propaganda ever published, the Protocols purport to be the record of a secret meeting among Zionist leaders during the 1897 World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. First published in English during the early years of the 20th Century, the Protocols have been definitively debunked as a hoax largely plagiarized from various sources — including satires and novels.
    Yet it retains its hold on the imagination of millions even today. Distributed with official sanction by some Arab governments; it served as the basis of a television mini-series in Egypt, and is given respectful treatment as legitimate history in Saudi textbooks; and it is circulated in the United States by some Latino radicals associated with the Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA), a group promoting racial separatism and the “reconquest” (la reconquista) of the American southwest by Mexico.
    The Protocols began as a clumsy plagiarism of an 1864 political tract entitled “Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.” Written and published anonymously by French lawyer Maurice Joly, the earlier pamphlet was a satirical attack on Napoleon III, using the literary device of a discussion between two damned political plotters as a way of condemning the ruler’s tactics and views. Joly appears to have used as a template a novel entitled The Mysteries of the People, in which the plotters were Jesuits.
    The anti-Napoleon III tract was initially published in Belgium, and efforts were made to smuggle it into France, where — owning to a legal ban on works critical of the monarchy — it was confiscated. Once identified as the author, Joly was arrested and sentenced to a little more than a year in prison.
    Another work that appears to have served as a model for the Protocols was To Sedan, an 1868 novel published by German writer Herman Goedsche under the pen name “Sir John Radcliffe.” One chapter in that book bore the unwieldy title “The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.” In that section Goedsche/Radcliffe described a meeting taking place once a century in a Prague cemetery between Satan and a representative from each tribe of Israel. In tone, broad outline, and some details, this fictional account reportedly resembles the Protocols. One Ukrainian academic has concluded that the Protocols borrowed from the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a penitent one-time Russian radical whose works exposed the machinations and mindset of Illuminist-descended radical and nihilist groups.
    The precise origins of the Protocols document itself are difficult to nail down. Some historians believe that the work, in a rudimentary form, was produced by anti-Semitic authors during the 1894 Dreyfus Affair (in which an innocent French artillery officer of Jewish descent was falsely convicted of treason, and unjustly imprisoned on Devil’s Island). By this account, the work was imported to Russia by Philip Stepanov and translated from the French into Russian, and later published by Serge Nilus, an official of the Russian Okhranka (secret or political police).
    A treatment of the Protocols cited in the on-line Wikipedia database notes: “Recent research by Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine traced the Protocols to Matvei Golovinski, agent provocateur of the Okhranka… Golovinski had been linked to the work before; the German writer Konrad Heiden identified him as an author of the Protocols in 1944. Golovinski worked together with Charles Joly son of Maurice Joly) at Le Figaro in Paris and wrote articles at the direction of Pyotr Rachkovsky, Chief of the Russian secret service. During the Dreyfus affair in France, when polarization of European attitudes toward the Jews was at a maximum, the publication began private circulation as The Protocols in 1897 [the same year that the World Zionist Congress was held in Basel].”
    Here’s the most provocative aspect of the Golovinski theory: “After the 1917 [Russian] revolution, Golovinski became a Bolshevik propagandist.”
    This could, of course, be simple opportunism, in the tradition of Talleyrand’s frequent changes of factional loyalty during and after the French Revolution.
    But it should be remembered that Lenin and other Marxists — including those nominally of Jewish extraction — eagerly peddled anti-Semitic propaganda, such as Marx’s scabrous 1859 tract A World Without Jews. They did this, first of all, to engender inter-communal hatred as a way of undermining civil society and precipitating revolution (a tactic depicted by Dostoyevsky in The Possessed, aka The Devils).
    While abetting anti-Jewish pogroms in Germany, Russia, and elsewhere, disciples of Marx and followers of Lenin insisted that only the Communist movement could provide shelter from anti-Semitic rampages — just as the German National Socialists would later depict themselves as a bulwark against Bolshevik-inspired revolutionary violence. (In his memoir Return to my Father’s House, Maurice Malkin, a founding member of the US Communist Party, describes how Communists preyed cynically on the fears of Russian Jews living in the “Pale of Settlement.”)
    John Birch Society founder Robert Welch, in his warning against the pernicious influence of anti-Semitism and cognate varieties of racial and religious bigotry, described the Protocols as an instrument either devised by, or exploited by, the Communists to advance their designs:
    “[Lenin] played a leading role in having much of the actual Communist program laid out plainly in writing … in a spurious document called ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ so that the Jews … would be blamed for the program itself.”
    The fact that Matvei Golovinski, who played the key role in popularizing the document, later became an overt propagandist for the Bolshevik regime tends to support Mr. Welch’s view.
    Additional Resources:
    “If You Want it Straight,” by Robert Welch

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Thank you, anonymous JBS advocate, for proving my point. Before you were done, “Protocols” was “proof” of a sinister communist conspiracy. Good work!

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    I never said there was a connection between JBS and the Protocols, I said there was a similarity, i.e. they are both full of crap.

  • ernie1241

    Ok–then by your standards, you would have no problem with me saying that there is “a similarlity” between YOUR comments and those published by the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) in its magazines/newspapers such as Daily Worker and Political Affairs and World Marxist Review? Thus creating the INNUENDO that, somehow, you might be connected to the CPUSA?

  • ernie1241

    Just to illustrate how maliciously ignorant you are, I am NOT a “JBS advocate”. In fact, I am universally despised by JBS officials, members, supporters and their fellow-travelers because for more than 40 years I have produced reports which conclusively demonstrate their falsehoods.

    I am so despised, that the JBS will not allow me to post messages on its website. In addition, if you review my contributions in various Yahoo conspiracy discussion groups you will see that JBS members ROUTINELY describe me as “Communist”, “pro-Communist”, “false patriot”, “New World Order stooge”, “neutralizer”, “disinformation agent” and comparable terms.

    For FACTUAL details concerning why the JBS should be rejected, see my 88-page report which is based, primarily, upon first-time-released FBI files and documents (link below). Numerous authors, researchers, and scholars have cited documents in my collection in their own writings because I am the ONLY person to have acquired the entire FBI HQ “main file” on the JBS (about 12,000 pages) plus numerous FBI field office files (another 6000+ pages).

  • ernie1241

    FBI FILES ON BIRCH SOCIETY:
    http://ernie1241.googlepages.com/jbs-1

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Well, then, if you'd stop misconstruing statements then we'd be natural allies. I, too, am accused of being a stooge and sympathizer (among less polite terms). And thank you for the links!

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    That innuendo would be entirely your own creation, wouldn't it? Just like the “innuendo” that I've supposedly inserted between JBS and Protocols. “JBS was essentially an update of The protocols of the Elders of Zion formula. In fact, all the diverse paranoias of political ages past were recycled into JBS.” That statement does not link the two so much as it posits the paranoid brand of politics finds inspiration in its past accomplishments. JBS and Protocols belong in the same category I call “Piltdown politics,” i.e. crap that people make up and pretend is real in order to scare other people. In this case, JBS has turned the Protocols into “proof” of commie influence on no less a person than Henry Ford. It's *ALL* grist for the paranoid mill.

  • ernie1241

    You are using lowest-common-denominator reasoning which is designed to evoke the most adverse perceptions from your readers.

    I am confident that if someone put YOUR name in the same sentence as The Protocols, or the Communist Manifesto, or the Ku Klux Klan, or the American Nazi Party, etc. —- you would instantly perceive how malicious and defamatory such a “link” would be. In fact, you might even consult a libel lawyer.

  • ernie1241

    “Misconstruing”? You deliberately predicated your comments upon a link between the JBS and The Protocols of Zion — which is a complete falsehood.

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    I made no “link.” I suggested that there is a formula for inventing paranoid, delusional screeds.

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    “Designed”? The only design here is a blog post about the amazing ability of paranoid and hateful minds to make up crap. If the JBS feels offended, let 'em sue. And no, I wouldn't sue — I'd probably just blog about it.

  • ernie1241

    There you go again! “Hateful minds” — which reinforces your original comment which wanted to link the JBS to the Protocols! Shame on you!

  • ernie1241

    Then why not just present your best explanation of what you think that “formula” is — without associating the JBS with the Protocols—which most people know is a maliciously false anti-semitic forgery?

    You cannot escape from the natural meaning of your words….Making careful distinctions is what distinguishes a rational from irrational mind as well as a thoughtful person from a bigot.

  • ernie1241

    Too clever by half. You don't just link the JBS to The Protocols. You also link them to “all the diverse paranoias of political ages past” and you claim that such “paranoias” were “recyled” into the JBS. You then use even more defamatory arguments by claiming that “anti-Mormon, anti-Masonic and anti-Catholic lies were turned into anti-communist ones” as if the JBS is merely the natural logical progression of ALL these bigotries. Leaving aside that many of the senior leaders of the JBS have been Mormons and Catholics (in fact 40% of JBS membership was, at one time, Catholic) — your screed is laughable!

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    “Paranoid and hateful minds make up crap” is a general statement, not a specific one. Are you telling me there were no hateful minds involved in the Protocols? How about the AFP campaign against ACORN — was that hate-free? Just asking.

  • ernie1241

    This is not rocket science. Just answer “yes” or “no”

    1. Was your comment about “paranoid and hateful minds” intended as a reference to groups like the JBS?

    2. Was your reference to “all the diverse paranoias of political ages past were recycled into JBS” meant to convey that the JBS welcomes “paranoid and hateful minds” into its organization?

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Egad what a thread. (1) JBS is included in the category of minds that are paranoid and/or hateful, yes. Emphasis and/or. (2) No, the reference is to recycled memes.

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Richard Hofstadter's seminal essay described the strange history of the paranoid style: http://www.harpers.org/archive/1964/11/0014706 This doesn't make the JBS anti-Mormon or anti-Catholic; it just means that “commies” replaced Mormons and Masons and Catholics when the memes were recycled.

  • http://www.osborneink.com Matt Osborne

    So does Richard Hofstadter.

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/1964/11/0014706

    The point here isn’t that JBS consists of one denomination or another, but that old memes are recycled.

  • Robkall

    Ernie1241 is a MOSSAD SPY. He is connected to the ADL and therefore is not to be paid any attention. He is a zionist ju who actually thinks he can control public opinion and he has proven himself to be a zionist pathetic juke. PHUCK YOU ADL! Oh, and we can't wait for the new middle east fireworks when pisrahel is once again wiped off the map.

  • http://www.osborneink.com Matt Osborne

    The ADL is no longer a respectable organization, but I’m no enemy of Israel. You’re walking a very fine line with this comment and I hope you don’t plunge into open anti-Semitism, because then I would have to block you.