Meet Charles Koch's Brain

Exposing Charles Koch's holocaust-denying mentor.

What makes Charles Koch tick?

Despite decades of building the nation’s most impressive ideological and influence-peddling network, from ideas-mills to think-tanks to policy-lobbying machines, the Koch brothers only really came to public prominence in the past couple of years. Since then we’ve learned a lot about the billionaire siblings’ vast web of influence and power in American politics and ideas.

Yet, for all that attention, there are still big holes in our knowledge of the Kochs. In particular what drives them and who their influences are. And that’s a shame because, in the case of Charles Koch, his influences are in many ways more interesting, and more sinister, than the man himself. Back in the early-mid 1960s, Charles Koch was just another 20-something oil heir. It was then that he first encountered a libertarian guru by the name of Robert LeFevre.

In the decade or so before gaining influence over Charles Koch’s world, Robert LeFevre made his living as a professional Red-baiter, union-buster, and loyal lieutenant for one of the nation’s most notorious anti-Semites. Working his way up the fringes of the far-right during the McCarthy Era, he finally landed his own corporate-funded free-market gig, “the Freedom School,” (also known as “Rampart College”), which his backers wanted to turn into the nation’s premier libertarian indoctrination camp.

There are plenty of secondary sources placing Koch at LeFevre’s Freedom School. Libertarian court historian Brian Doherty—who has spent most of his adult life on the Koch brothers’ payroll—described LeFevre as “an anarchist figure who stole Charles Koch’s heart;” Murray Rothbard, who co-founded the Cato Institute with Charles Koch in 1977, wrote that Charles “had been converted as a youth to libertarianism by LeFevre.”

But perhaps the most credible source of all is Charles Koch himself. In a speech he gave to an audience of libertarians in the late 1990s, Koch revealed that his conversion came in 1964, when he enrolled in Freedom School in an intensive two-week total immersion program in radical libertarian ideology, where property is the basis of human freedom, and the state—along with any public organization or even the notion of “public good”—is the very definition of “tyranny.”

Adapted from NSFWCORP Print, issue #7, published September 30, 2013.

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Meet Charles Koch's Brain

Exposing Charles Koch's holocaust-denying mentor.

A report by Mark Ames

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