Cities without landmarks
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
In what will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with their father’s Birchite beliefs, a newly released audio recording of a mid-June speech delivered by top political strategist Richard Fink indicates that the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers still surround themselves with members of some of the fringiest corners of the libertarian right.
Released to the Huffington Post by the YouTube channel the Undercurrent, the recording features Richard Fink, a trained economist whom HuffPo describes as the Koch brothers’ “top political strategist,” explaining to a small, private audience how the Koch brothers plan to turn the American electorate away from “collectivization” and toward “liberty” by persuading a critical mass of voters to repeal most of the economic regulations of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Fink’s speech was lengthy, but amid the references to North Korea, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and radical Islam, the Kochs’ political guru shared an insight that is perhaps most revealing of his and their general worldview. The insight in question? The straightforward connection between raising — or even having — a minimum wage and how a liberal democracy can disintegrate into a fascistic dictatorship.
“Psychology shows that is the main recruiting ground for totalitarianism, for fascism, for conformism — when people feel like they’re victims,” the non-psychologist Fink can be heard to explain. “So the big danger of minimum wage isn’t the fact that some people are being paid more than their value-added; that’s not great. It’s not that it’s hard to stay in business —that’s not great, either. But it’s the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of minimum wage.”
Building off this initial, extremely tenuous connection, Fink continued, “We’re taking these 500,000 people that would’ve had a job, and putting them unemployed, making dependence part of government programs, and destroying their opportunity for earned success. And so we see this is a very big part of recruitment in Germany in the ’20s.”
Perhaps worried that his audience would fail to grasp how raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 was just like the creators of the Weimar Republic’s attempt to build a liberal democracy on the still-smoldering ruins of a military dictatorship defeated in an apocalyptic world war, Fink added: “If you look at … the rise and fall of the Third Reich, you can see that. And what happens is a fascist comes in and offers [people] an opportunity, finds the victim — Jews or the West —and offers them meaning for their life, OK?”
Yet despite the specifically American context that inspired his talk, Fink warned listeners that turning into a genocidal totalitarian hellscape as a consequence of raising the minimum wage is a risk that traverses borders. “This is not just in Germany. It’s in Russia — in Lenin and Stalin Russia — and then Mao,” he said. “This is the recruitment ground for fascism, and it’s not just historical. It’s what goes on today … in the suicide bomber recruitment.” Evidently, the disguises of the worldwide collectivist menace are large in number.
You can listen to the ravings of a man who will help decide how to spend as much as $300 million to influence the 2014 elections below, via HuffPo and the Undercurrent:
Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.More Elias Isquith.
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