Charles Koch blasts "collectivists" in Wall Street Journal op-ed

The billionaire industrialist and GOP donor says he's being unfairly maligned by for believing in liberty

Published April 3, 2014 12:53PM (EDT)

  (Screen shot, YouTube)
(Screen shot, YouTube)

After being slammed for weeks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats, Koch brothers billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night to decry "collectivists" who try to "discredit and intimidate" him even though everything he does in the political realm is intended to revive "a truly free society."

"I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives," Koch imperiously begins. "It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself."

Koch goes on argue that "the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government," leaving patriotic and liberty-loving Americans such as himself with "no choice but to fight for those principles." It's in service to this fight, Koch writes, that he recently decided to not only devote his funds toward education but "to also engage in the political process."

Perhaps because the stakes are so high, however, Koch is unable to do his selfless work in peace. Bemoaning "the current administration" and its "central belief and fatal conceit" that "you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you," Koch notes that his advocacy has caused "collectivists" to "engage in character assassination."

Collectivists, Koch explains, are people who "stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives," and because they "do not have good answers" to America's problems, they follow "the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced" of "striv[ing] to discredit and intimidate opponents."

After a brief detour during which Koch defends his companies' labor practices and environmental record, the Republican moneyman and Tea Party funder wraps up his essay by explaining (once again) that his political dream isn't to protect his untold wealth and privilege but rather to rid America of "cronyism":

Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.


Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.

If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision. I'm convinced most Americans believe it's worth fighting for, too.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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