Most progressive activists in the United States probably know about the reactionary, racist Koch brothers. But one has to wonder when a New York Times editorial (online Jan. 25) publicly worries about the financiers of the Tea Party and their growing influence on the political system.
The Times reveals that the “Democrats have been staggered by the $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists.” The Times rues that the Democratic Party cannot “match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy.”
The Koch apparatus includes “a political consulting firm to recruit, train and support like-minded … candidates, … a center that provides technology and administrative services to right-wing groups and candidates, … and a youth advocacy group.” In 2012, this machine reportedly spread out $407 million to influence elections.
Much of this information has long been known. Why, then, is the New York Times now seemingly worried and driven to denounce these “cunning” billionaires?
The Times is the leading organ of the mainstream capitalist class. More than most, they are aware that a tiny percent of the population controls the vast majority of the wealth in the U.S. and around the world. The paper is an unabashed supporter and promoter of the capitalist system, with the imperialism, racism and militarism that prop it up, and the Wall Street ruling class that pulls all the strings to increase its own wealth.
The Times, however, is concerned that the carefully engineered two (capitalist) party system and the huge governing apparatus are not functioning properly. A crisis is emerging that is showing up in the gridlock in Congress and an open struggle inside the Republican Party.
A significant sector of the capitalist ruling class, led by the Koch brothers, is hell- bent on assaulting the living standards and political rights that workers and poor people have won through struggle since the 1930s. To this aim, they created and finance the Tea Party movement with its agenda of destroying civil rights, women’s rights, unions, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, etc. And because some in the Republican Party have a bit more sense, although still racist and reactionary to the core, the Tea Party crowd is now taking aim at them.
Need to fight both capitalist parties
Thus a fight is going on in the open between the right-wing Republicans and the ultra-right-wing Republicans shaped around the coming midterm elections. At the same time, the U.S. legislative process has ground to a halt. The ultra-right agenda dictates that Congress will not approve an extension of unemployment benefits to those longest out of work. Food stamps, often critical to the survival of many children and whole families, have been slashed. No bill can pass to raise the minimum wage, which is at starvation levels.
It isn’t just the Republicans who are responsible for this. The Democratic Party shares the blame with its inaction and pro-capitalist bias. After all, didn’t both parties bail out the banks to the tune of trillions of dollars? Hasn’t President Barack Obama kept the bank bailout going, handing out $80 billion a month, year after year? Didn’t administration officials side with the Emergency Manager in Detroit, who wants to slash retirees’ pensions in order to pay these same banks?
But the Times isn’t worried about hungry families, workers out of a job, retirees losing pensions or minimum wage poverty. This mouthpiece for finance capital is worried that public approval of Congress and the president are at all-time lows. It is worried that the Koch brothers and their minions are moving too fast and that a powerful fightback movement might erupt at any time. If Congress and the president can’t fool people with token actions and sweet talk, if they can’t pass bills to provide a few crumbs to those in desperate need, maybe the many millions of victims of capitalism might organize a militant movement in their own defense.
It wasn’t so long ago that young workers in Wisconsin seized the state Capitol building, drawing in tens of thousands of supporters against union busting. Then, a totally unexpected Occupy Wall Street movement swept the country, uniting unemployed youth, unionists and other activists exposing the machinations of the notorious 1%.
As the economic crisis for hundreds of millions in the U.S. working class (the “99%”) deepens, an organized response to the attacks of the Koch brothers — and of both big parties of the capitalists — will result. That’s what has the more intelligent section of the ruling class worried. That’s what workers and oppressed people need and must work toward.