[Marxism] Fwd: The Koch Brothers’ New Brand by Bill McKibben | The New York Review of Books

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 22 09:57:51 MST 2016

The origin story of the Koch brothers, however, is like something out of 
a Robert Ludlum novel, connected to most of the darkest forces of the 
twentieth century. Their father, Fred Koch, had invented an improved 
process for refining crude oil into gasoline. The Russians sought his 
expertise as they set up their own refineries after the Bolshevik 
Revolution—at first he said he didn’t want to work for Communists, but 
since they were willing to pay in advance he overcame his scruples and 
helped Stalin meet his first five-year plan by building fifteen 
refineries and then advising on a hundred more, across the Soviet Union.

Next, he turned to another autocrat with busy expansion plans, Adolf 
Hitler, traveling frequently to Germany where he “provided the 
engineering plans and began overseeing the construction of a massive oil 
refinery owned by a company on the Elbe River in Hamburg.” It turned 
into a crucial part of the Reich’s military might, “one of the few 
refineries in Germany” that could produce “the high-octane gasoline 
needed to fuel fighter planes.” And it turned the elder Koch into an 
admirer of the regime, who as late as 1938 was writing in a letter to a 
friend that “I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the 
world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working 
and working hard.” Comparing the scenes he saw in Hamburg to FDR’s New 
Deal, he said it gave him hope that “perhaps this course of idleness, 
feeding at the public trough, dependence on government, etc., with which 
we are afflicted is not permanent and can be overcome.”

Fred met his wife at a polo match in 1932, when his “work for Stalin had 
put him well on his way to becoming exceedingly wealthy.” They built a 
Gothic-style stone mansion on the outskirts of Wichita, with stables, a 
kennel for hunting dogs, and the other paraphernalia required for 
pretend gentry, and in the first eight years of their marriage they had 
four sons: Frederick, Charles, and a pair of twins, David and William. 
The first two were raised by a German governess who “enforced a rigid 
toilet-training regimen requiring the boys to produce morning bowel 
movements precisely on schedule or be force-fed castor oil and subjected 
to enemas.” Luckily for the twins, she left for home when they were 
born, apparently because “she was so overcome with joy when Hitler 
invaded France she felt she had to go back to the fatherland in order to 
join the führer in celebration.”

full: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/03/10/koch-brothers-new-brand/

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