Mark Ames has done America a great service by digging up the January, 1976 issue of Reason magazine where the Koch brothers’ publication promoted Holocaust denial. You should really go read the whole article, but here is one key passage about their ideological purposes:
The goal is to discredit the New Deal and FDR, which can’t be done effectively without discrediting FDR’s most popular cause, the victory over fascist Germany and Japan. To far-right extraction industry billionaires like the Koch family, FDR and his New Deal politics were a kind of anti-business “holocaust,” because the the New Deal forced the long-dominant plutocrats to part with a portion of their wealth and political power. To the nation’s Big Business oligarchs in the 1930s, FDR’s New Deal reforms — breaking up the power of finance, trusts, and industrialists, while empowering labor unions —was a crime and a wound as raw in 1976 as it was in 1936.
For them, FDR was a tyrant and a criminal, an American Hitler, only no one else could see things their way, because the real Hitler was widely believed to be one of the worst figures in history. Therefore, libertarian “historical revisionism” had to convince these Americans that Hitler wasn’t nearly as awful as they believed, which meant that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened — if the goal was to discredit FDR and the New Deal.
(Gary) North’s article appeals to another sensibility popular with libertarians (and the Boomer left): the cult of the anti-Establishment iconoclast, every self-absorbed middle-class Baby Boomer’s fantasy. That cult of the iconoclast allows North to paint libertarianism’s far-right “historical revisionism” as anti-Establishment Cool, more an expression of one’s individuality than a political act. So if the boring, bad Establishment says Hitler was bad and World War II was good, then naturally the anti-Establishment maverick will question that.
The Kochs are easily the most influential right wing billionaires in America just by virtue of their having been at it longer and harder than anyone else. The tea party movement they spawned and funded has largely achieved their aims of disempowering American democracy and instituting government austerity. Indeed, the most vital issue of the tea party world remains the Affordable Care Act, which the Kochs are still trying to defeat because of its leveling effect on wealth inequality — and the youngest minds are always the first targets of their propaganda. Ames points out the language that writer Gary North used to influence younger, ‘hip’ readers in 1976; when he published his article yesterday, the Koch-sponsored Generation Opportunity organization was holding a creepy, carnival-themed event on the National Mall to convince young people to opt out of Obamacare.
A sign at the “strongman” booth said that Obamacare will cost the economy 2.5 million jobs (a claim that has been debunked), and a sign at the palm reader booth predicted that Obamacare will cause 90 million people to be dropped from their current health insurance plans (which has also been debunked).
One of the largest attractions was a haunted hospital, which had a long line outside it, meant to symbolize how long patients would have to wait to receive care under Obamacare. Inside the eerily lit space, attendees were herded through rooms filled with skeletons and overwhelmed “doctors” who tried to provide care.
One “doctor,” named Dr. Reaper, said: “Call me Grim!”
In one of the rooms, attendees came before a three-person “death panel,” placed on a platform with someone in an oversized and creepy Uncle Sam costume. (Yes, the same Uncle Sam that has been featured in other ads from the group.) The panel considered providing care for a hypothetical athlete who had broken both ankles; it determined the athlete was in good enough health to walk off the injury.
It is hard to overstate just how perverse this propaganda is: the Kochs’ state level lobbying network has long focused on cutting funds for higher education, which then pushes public universities into their corporate funding rackets. Thanks in great part to these efforts, teaching college is no longer a middle class profession, and students leave college today with record debt for degrees that cost almost nothing when their anti-government campaigning began.
The Kochs mean to convince these same young people that health insurance is a privacy violation, that hospitals aren’t going out of business in red states which have opted out of the ACA, and that athletes will be sent back onto the field hurt unless we strip health insurance from the millions of Americans who have gained access under the new law. This is denialism, an idiot’s gainsaying of reality that is just as false as the Holocaust denial the Kochs’ magazine published in 1976.
Nor is this exactly old news: as Ames explains, some of the people responsible for that issue are still running the show at Reason. Past is prologue, and the Kochs have never really stopped advancing their idiocracy.