Les narrations politiques et l’invention de la réalité

par Jorge Majfud

 

Au milieu de la dernière décennie aux États-Unis, chaque fois que je me trouvais dans une de mes classes à discuter ouvertement de sujets comme le féminisme ou le mariage égalitaire je ne recueillais qu’une grande résistance, surtout de la part des étudiantes. Les rares qui osaient parler considéraient l’un, le féminisme, comme une dégénérescence propre au marxisme et l’autre comme une dégénérescence propre de l’humanité. Quant à leur tour les étudiants demandaient mon opinion, invariablement je leur répondait : « Il est possible de retarder l’histoire, mais personne ne pourra jamais l’arrêter. Maintenant la seule idée de reconnaître le mariage égalitaire comme un droit vous semble inacceptable et jusqu’à être une offense contre Dieu, mais dans dix ou quinze ans, plus d’un parmi vous se manifestera en faveur, au nom du même Dieu ».

Aujourd’hui, dans n’importe quelle classe et en dehors de celle stratégiquement appelée « bulle de l’université » (comme si le reste de la société n’était pas composé par d’autres bulles, fréquemment moins créatrices) où on aborde le même sujet, une majorité hétérosexuelle et définie comme conservatrice défend les droits des homosexuels, y compris le droit au mariage. La même chose a eu lieu avec la contraception dans les années soixante et avec le mariage interracial dans les cinquante, qui était illégal dans beaucoup d’états à l’époque où est né l’actuel président Barack Hussein Obama.

Avant que les post modernistes nient toute direction et sens des processus humains, les révolutionnaires de l’Ère moderne croyaient qu’il était possible d’accélérer l’histoire en provoquant la chute du fruit mûr, que l’histoire ne progressait pas de façon harmonieuse mais par des sauts abrupts (les révolutions). D’une certaine façon ils avaient raison : presque aucun progrès social n’a été fait sans un type de lutte, de résistance, d’action et de réaction. Chaque fois qu’on essaie d’arrêter ou de dévier le chemin de l’histoire, la violence éclate.

Le présent tyrannise notre vision du passé et de ce qui va se passer. Les gens pensent, par exemple, que parce que dans l’histoire récente les garçons s’identifient avec le bleu ciel et les petites filles avec le rose, il en a toujours été ainsi, et que cela le sera toujours, sans considérer qu’il y a à peine un siècle tous les enfants étaient habillés en blanc jusqu’à ce que les magasins des Etats-Unis inventent « les couleurs traditionnelles ». L’idée récurrente et tyrannique que « les choses sont ainsi depuis que le monde est monde » s’écroulerait rien qu’ en jetant un regard au portrait de Louis XIV, XV ou XVI avec perruques, chausses, jupes et talons hauts, montrant une jambe style Marilyn Monroe, tous symboles de masculinité de l’époque.

Peu nombreuses sont les encyclopédies qui définissent la Révolution américaine par l’oxymore de « révolution conservatrice », quand pendant des siècles et en considérant le monde de l’époque , on n’a pas vu une expérience plus radicalement réformiste et révolutionnaire. La seule omission de Dieu dans la Constitution, et l’obligation de ne mettre aucune religion dans les affaires de l’État, depuis le premier amendement et toute la Déclaration de droits , est remise en question de manière permanente par une population éduquée par la démagogie politique et prédicatrice, qui insiste sur le fait que ce pays fut fondé sur la base du christianisme et des philosophies séculières de l’époque. La légende « In God We Trust » a été introduite des générations plus tard. En fait, le serment de loyauté des États-Unis a été inventé et poussé par un chrétien socialiste qui, à la fin du XIXe siècle et en cohérence avec la Constitution, a évité le mot le Dieu, jusqu’à ce que la paranoïa maccartiste des années cinquante introduise la mention de Dieu comme façon de prévenir du communisme, ou plutôt, comme la façon d’imposer un statu quo qui se voyait gravement menacé par les mouvements sociaux qui ont héroïquement résisté au racisme et au sexisme d’idées populaires comme « l’intégration raciale c’est du communisme ».

En politique, comme en littérature, le temps est le meilleur critique. Surtout quand la vérité n’importe déjà plus.

Il est clair que Dieu n’a jamais été le problème, au moins de mon point de vue ; le problème habituel est ceux qui s’érigent en ses porte-paroles pour étendre leurs intérêts et leur contrôle social en son nom, passant au-dessus de toute évidence historique et créant un passé à leur goût.

Alors, imaginer un président socialiste aux États-Unis semble une utopie lointaine sinon impossible. Elle l’est, bien qu’en politique l’impensable finit par être adopté par les nouvelles générations. Je ne vais pas dire que le socialisme est meilleur que le capitalisme dans une société comme la société Usaméricaine. Je ne crois pas à l’importation de recettes politiques et sociales dans aucun pays. Mais je ne crois pas non plus que ce qui s’appelle vaguement socialisme soit quelque chose de nouveau dans ce pays (il suffirait de jeter un regard à son histoire et à ses programmes sociaux actuels, beaucoup plus socialistes qu’en Chine). Ce n’est pas un hasard si Karl Marx lui-même avait une opinion plus favorable de la démocratie US que des gouvernements européens de l’époque. D’un autre côté, ce qui s’appelle aussi vaguement le capitalisme ne se ressemble même par hasard à quelque chose de semblable à ce que les conservateurs identifient avec les idées des pères fondateurs. Jefferson, l’artisan de la démocratie US, n’avait aucune estime ni opinion favorable envers le pouvoir déchainé des banques. Sans commencer à considérer que Jésus, porte drapeau des capitalistes conservateurs, n’avait rien de capitaliste et qu’ils ne l’ont pas crucifié en tant conservateur, mais comme tout le contraire.

Voici le paradoxe actuel : le capitalisme a été un net progrès vers la liberté individuelle des agonîmes quand en Europe l’aristocratie héréditaire a commencé à perdre ses privilèges et son pouvoir grâce au nouveau pouvoir sans nom ni titre d’argent. Cependant, le capitalisme a dérivé vers un néo-féodalisme où les princes (les clans mega-millionnaires) ont plus de pouvoir que les gouvernements nationaux. Il suffirait de rappeler que les 62 personnes les plus riches ont autant d’argent que la moitié la plus pauvre du monde et que seulement 1 % accumule la même chose que tout le reste. Ensuite, pas nécessaire d’être un génie pour se rendre compte de comment et pour qui est organisé ce monde.

Mais, comme nous l’avons vu, ce qui est aujourd’hui inacceptable et inimaginable, sera politiquement correct demain.

Pour voir vers où vont les grands changements historiques, il faut jeter un regard long sur l’histoire, comme la conquête des droits et libertés individuelles commencée à la fin du Moyen Âge, etc. En ce qui concerne les changements politiques de court terme, il est nécessaire d’observer le niveau d’enthousiasme des jeunes. Par exemple : il est possible qu’Hilary Clinton gagne les primaires du Parti Démocrate, mais ce qui est clair c’est l’enthousiasme des adeptes de Bernie Sanders. Même en perdant, chose qui est à voir malgré les 30 % qui le placent en désavantage, il a déjà obtenu un changement inimaginable dans la narration d’une grande partie de la société. Même le triomphe général d’un showman comme Donald Trump, qui base sa campagne sur son propre ego, serait un triomphe de la réaction conservatrice au nouveau phénomène : les clans de mega-millionnaires, comme les Koch (la voix invisible, l’idéologie et morale des médias, des croyants et des hommes politiques usaméricains) malgré leur investissement d’autres milliards de dollars, comme ils planifient de le faire cette année, pourraient perdre quelque chose de plus qu’une élection.

En politique la vérité n’existe pas, mais les intérêts oui. La fiction politique n’est pas la propriété ni de la gauche ni de la droite, mais les meilleurs narrateurs sont les plus vraisemblables : ceux qui peuvent vendre une histoire et une morale (c’est-à-dire, acheter des consommateurs) comme les grandes maisons d’édition peuvent faire de tout roman de qualité moyenne un best seller mondial. En politique, comme en littérature, le temps est le meilleur critique. Surtout quand la vérité n’importe déjà plus.

 

Jorge Majfud

 

Le Courrier de la diaspora. 

Carlos Debiasi <carlosdebiasi@elcorreo.eu.org>

Paris, le 28 janvier 2016. 

Las narrativas políticas y la invención de la realidad

Publicado: 28/01/2016 07:04 CET Actualizado: 28/01/2016 07:07 CET

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Imagen: ISTOCK

A mediados de la década pasada en Estados Unidos, cada vez que me encontraba en alguna de mis clases discutiendo abiertamente temas como el feminismo o el matrimonio igualitario sólo recogía una gran resistencia, sobre todo de las estudiantes mujeres. Los pocos que se atrevían a hablar consideraban a uno, el feminismo, una degeneración propia del marxismo y al otro una degeneración propia de la humanidad. Cuando a su vez ellos preguntaban por mi opinión, invariablemente les contestaba: “Es posible retrasar la historia, pero nunca nadie podrá detenerla. Ahora la sola idea de reconocer el matrimonio igualitario como un derecho les parece inaceptable y hasta una ofensa contra Dios, pero en diez o quince años, más de uno de ustedes se manifestará a favor en nombre del mismo Dios”.

Hoy, en cualquier clase y fuera de la estratégicamente llamada “burbuja de la universidad” (como si el resto de la sociedad no estuviese compuesta por otras burbujas, con frecuencia menos creativas) donde se plantee el mismo tema, una mayoría heterosexual y definida como conservadora defiende los derechos de los homosexuales, incluido el derecho al matrimonio. Lo mismo ocurrió con la píldora anticonceptiva en los sesenta y con el matrimonio interracial en los cincuenta, el que era ilegal en muchos estados cuando nació el actual presidente Barack Hussein Obama.

Antes que los posmodernistas negaran cualquier dirección y sentido de los procesos humanos, los revolucionarios de la Era moderna creían que era posible acelerar la historia provocando la caída del fruto maduro, que la historia no progresaba armónicamente sino por saltos abruptos (las revoluciones). En algo tenían razón: casi ningún progreso social se ha dado sin algún tipo de lucha, de resistencia, de acción y reacción. Cada vez que se intenta detener o desviar el camino de la historia, estalla la violencia.

El presente tiraniza nuestra visión del pasado y de lo que vendrá. La gente asume, por ejemplo, que porque en la historia reciente los niños se identifican con el celeste y las niñas con el rosado, siempre fue así y siempre lo será, sin considerar que apenas un siglo atrás todos los niños vestían de blanco hasta que las tiendas norteamericanas inventaron “los colores tradicionales”. La recurrente y tiránica idea de “las cosas son así desde que el mundo es mundo” se derrumbaría sólo con echar una mirada a un retrato de Luis XIV, XV o XVI con pelucas, calzas, faldas y tacones altos, mostrando una pierna estilo Marilyn Monroe, todos símbolos de masculinidad de la época.

No son pocas las enciclopedias que definen la Revolución americana con el oxímoron de “revolución conservadora”, cuando por siglos y considerando el mundo de la época no se vio un experimento más radicalmente reformista y revolucionario. La sola omisión de Dios en la constitución y la obligación de no meter a ninguna religión en los asuntos del Estado, desde la primera enmienda y toda la Carta de derechos, es permanentemente tergiversada por una población educada por la demagogia política y predicadora que insiste en que este país fue fundado en base al cristianismo y no a las filosofías seculares de la época. La leyenda “In God We Trust” fue introducida generaciones después. De hecho, el juramento de lealtad de Estados Unidos fue inventado e impulsado por un cristiano socialista que, a finales del siglo XIX y coherente con la constitución, evitó la palabra Dios, hasta que la paranoia macartista de los años cincuenta introdujo la mención de Dios como forma de prevenir el comunismo o, mejor dicho, como forma de imponer un status quo que se veía gravemente amenazado por los movimiento sociales que resistieron heroicamente al racismo y al sexismo de ideas populares como “integración racial es comunismo”.

En política, como en literatura, el tiempo es el mejor crítico. Sobre todo cuando la verdad ya no importa.

Claro que Dios nunca fue el problema, al menos desde mi punto de vista; el problema de siempre ha sido aquellos que se erigen en sus voceros para extender sus intereses y su control social en su nombre pasando por encima de cualquier evidencia histórica y creado un pasado a su gusto.

Ahora, imaginar un presidente socialista en Estados Unidos parece una utopía lejana sino imposible. Lo es, aunque en política lo impensable termina por ser adoptado por las nuevas generaciones. No voy a decir que el socialismo es mejor que el capitalismo en una sociedad como la estadounidense. No creo en la importación de recetas políticas y sociales en ningún país. Pero tampoco creo que eso que vagamente se llama socialismo sea algo nuevo en este país (bastaría echar una mirada a su historia y a sus actuales programas sociales, mucho más socialistas que en China). No por casualidad el mismo Karl Marx tenía una opinión más favorable de la democracia estadounidense que de los gobiernos europeos de la época. Por otro lado, lo que también vagamente se llama capitalismo no es ni por asomo algo parecido a lo que los conservadores identifican reiteradamente con las ideas de los padres fundadores.Jefferson, el artífice de la democracia americana, no tenía ninguna estima ni opinión favorable hacia el poder desbordado de los bancos. Por no entrar a considerar que Jesús, la bandera de los capitalistas conservadores, no tenía nada de capitalista y no lo crucificaron por conservador, sino por todo lo contrario.

Aquí la paradoja actual: el capitalismo fue un claro progreso hacia la libertad individual de los nadies cuando en Europa la aristocracia hereditaria comenzó a perder privilegios y poder debido al nuevo poder sin nombre ni títulos del dinero. Sin embargo, el capitalismo ha derivado a un neofeudalismo donde los príncipes (los clanes megamillonarios) tienen más poder que los gobiernos nacionales. Bastaría recordar que las 62 personas más ricas tienen tanto dinero como la mitad más pobre del mundo y que solo el uno por ciento acumula lo mismo que todo el resto. Luego no se necesita ser un genio para darse cuenta cómo y para quiénes está organizado este mundo.

Pero, como vimos, lo que es inimaginable e inaceptable hoy, será lo políticamente correcto mañana.

Para ver hacia dónde van los grandes cambios históricos hay que echar una larga mirada a la historia, como la conquista de derechos y libertades individuales ya iniciada a fines de la Edad Media, etc. En cuanto a los cambios políticos a corto plazo, es necesario observar al nivel de entusiasmo de los jóvenes. Por ejemplo: es posible que Hillary Clinton gane las internas del Partido Demócrata, pero lo que es claro es el entusiasmo de los seguidores de Bernie Sanders. Aun perdiendo, cosa que está por verse a pesar del 30 por ciento que lleva de desventaja, ya ha logrado un cambio inimaginable en la narrativa de una gran parte de la sociedad. Incluso un triunfo general de un showman como Donald Trump, quien basa su campaña en su propio ego, sería un triunfo de la reacción conservadora al nuevo fenómeno: los megamillonarios clanes, como los Koch (la voz invisible, la ideología y la moral de los medios, de los creyentes y de los políticos norteamericanos) aunque inviertan otros mil millones de dólares, tal como planean para este año, podrían perder algo más que una elección.

En política no existe la verdad sino los intereses. La ficción política no es propiedad ni de la izquierda ni de la derecha, pero los mejores narradores son los más verosímiles: aquellos que pueden vender una historia y una moral (es decir, comprar consumidores) como las grandes casas editoriales pueden hacer de cualquier novela de mediano valor un best seller mundial. En política, como en literatura, el tiempo es el mejor crítico. Sobre todo cuando la verdad ya no importa.

NPR: The ‘Hidden History’ Of Koch Brothers

Traces Their Childhood And Political Rise

David Koch speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit in 2015. He and his brother Charles lead a conservative political network that plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2016 elections.

In January 2015, at a private conference in Palm Springs, Calif., the political network led by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch announced plans to spend $889 million in the 2016 elections. The organization consists almost entirely of groups that don’t register under the campaign finance laws and therefore don’t publicly identify their donors.

Journalist Jane Mayer traces the growing influence of the Koch brothers and other wealthy conservative donors in her new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.According to Mayer, the Kochs and other conservatives have created philanthropic entities that enable them to aggressively pursue a libertarian agenda of lower taxes, deregulation of business and the denial of climate change.

Because they are considered charities, the philanthropic groups “don’t need to disclose the names of their donors,” Mayer tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “These are the groups that are called ‘dark money groups,’ and they thus become kind of secret banks that affect American politics in a huge way without most people understanding who is behind them.”

Mayer warns that such influence and secrecy undermines democracy: “It’s very worrisome to many Americans to think that the whole ideal of one man, one vote might be overwhelmed by 400 of the richest people of any political persuasion picking the next leader for them. That’s just not how democracy is supposed to work.”


Interview Highlights

On the Kochs’ secret, semi-annual seminars

They’ve been so careful about the secrecy at these meetings, which take place twice a year in resorts, that at one point they even went to the trouble to erect white noise machines that would create static facing the outside, so that nobody could eavesdrop on them. They routinely refuse to disclose the names of the donors who come to these events, but at one point a guest list got left behind, which has provided the one full guest list of one of these events. What you can see from it is that there are about somewhere between 400 and 450 of the wealthiest conservatives in America getting together to plan how to use their fortunes to influence American politics. …

I think the genius of the Kochs is the magic trick that they’ve really figured out, which is that it’s not just their money funding this; they’ve created a consortium. It’s a club where you’ve got maybe 400 people who are cumulatively enormously wealthy. I tried to figure out at one point how many billionaires were involved just in the first term of Obama’s presidency, because they were funding so much of the opposition to Obama, and I got to a count of 18 billionaires who are known and whose net worth put together was $214 billion. Now, obviously they’re not spending all of it on politics, but it gives you a sense of the throw-weight of this tiny, concentrated group of people.

On how the Koch brothers’ father built oil refineries for Hitler and Stalin

Fred Koch, the patriarch of the family, was an expert in building oil refineries, and he and a friend named William Rhodes Davis proposed building one in Germany during 1934, ’35, that period in there. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of the Third Reich in Germany, so this meant working under the Third Reich. And in order to get permission, they actually had to go to Hitler himself, and William Rhodes Davis did the “Heil Hitler” to greet Hitler, and finally they got Hitler to greenlight this proposal so that they could build an oil refinery in Hamburg.

Dark Money
 
Dark Money

The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

by Jane Mayer

Hardcover, 449 pages

purchase

And the Hamburg Oil Refinery, built by the Winkler-Koch Co., became key, according to several German historians I talked to, to Hitler’s war efforts. By the time they built it, it was already clear that Hitler had very major military ambitions, but one of the things he was unable to do was to refine high-octane oil for warplanes. What this plant did was create that capacity, and it eventually supplied much of the fuel that was needed for Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

He was not a Nazi, and I certainly don’t suggest that in the book, but what he was was an American businessman looking for a good deal, and he was looking all over the world to see how he could make some money. Oddly, and what’s been known before, is before working under Hitler’s Third Reich, Fred Koch had worked for Stalin, where — under Stalin’s first five-year plan — Fred Koch helped build up the Russian, the Soviet oil refineries and really gave huge muscle to the oil industry in the Soviet Union.

On the four Koch brothers’ upbringing

I think their parents seem to have cared quite a bit about them, but they were the kinds of parents who were gone much of the time. The father was gone doing business, and the mother was a very active socialite and was gone much of the time, and so she and the father placed the child rearing in the hands of a hired nanny.

Here again, you get this strange recurrence of a kind of little touch of Nazi Germany, because … Charles and Frederick, the oldest sons, were put in the hands of a German nanny who was described by other family members as just a fervid Nazi. She was so devout a supporter of Hitler that finally, after five years working for the family, she left of her own volition in 1940 when Hitler entered France because she wanted to celebrate with the Fuehrer.

On three of the brothers attempting to blackmail the eldest, Frederick, when they suspected he was gay

You have to remember this was a very long time ago, when the idea of being gay was considered scandalous in a family, particularly a family of rough, self-made oil men out in Wichita, Kan. It was considered a dark secret that first-born son Frederick might have been gay. At some point, when Frederick was in his 20s, all four of the sons by then had shares in the family company. And what the three other brothers did was they created a kind of kangaroo court … so that [Frederick] walked into a room, found his three other brothers sitting there in chairs facing him, and they confronted him and conducted an inquisition to see if he was gay. And they then said that if he was, they were going to tell their father unless he handed over his share in the company. …

It’s been rumored about for years in other write-ups about the Kochs, and there have been various descriptions of people denying it, but I actually got a hold of a sealed deposition in which one of the brothers, Bill Koch, describes the whole thing as it unfolded. The brother who they were accusing — Frederick, who was the eldest — stood up, looked at them, said, “I never want to hear about this again,” and walked out of the room. It didn’t work. But as a ploy, I think it gives you an idea of a family that is not the usual cozy, all-American family.

On the family company, Koch Industries, being investigated for pocketing millions in oil from Indian reservations

It was in the 1990s. Koch Industries was dragged in front of the U.S. Senate. There was a committee investigating the company, looking into accusations that it had stolen oil from Indian reservations by purposefully mis-measuring it and had pocketed millions and millions of dollars of extra money by doing so. The company didn’t deny it at the time. … They said it had happened, but they said it was an accident. But if you take a look at the Senate report, what you see is that other companies that were operating around the same time in that same oil patch didn’t have this problem. They’ve raised eyebrows in pushing the limits of what a company can get away with for decades during this period, and to some extent it was in harmony with Charles Koch’s hard-lined libertarian views, that the government just should not interfere with private enterprise.

The Kochs & the Nazis

Book Reveals Billionaires’ Father Built Key Oil Refinery for the Third Reich

JANUARY 20, 2016
STORY

WATCH FULL SHOW

 
 
 
 

GUESTS

JANE MAYERstaff writer for The New Yorker and author of the new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. She is also author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

In her new book, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer explores how the Koch brothers and fellow right-wing billionaires have funded a political machine aimed at shaping elections and public policy. The book contains a number of revelations and new details. Mayer begins with revealing that the Kochs’ father, industrialist Fred Koch, helped build an oil refinery in Nazi Germany—a project approved personally by Adolf Hitler. The refinery was critical to the Nazi war effort, fueling German warplanes. Mayer joins us to discuss.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: This year’s election season is set to be the most expensive ever, with some estimates topping $10 billion. Three groups will each spend about a billion dollars on behalf of a presidential nominee. The first two are who you’d expect: Democrats and Republicans, the country’s dominant political parties. But the third group is not a political party and does not have a single candidate running for office. Instead, it’s a network of right-wing advocacy groups backed by the billionaire energy tycoons, Charles and David Koch.

According to its own estimates, the Koch network aims to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 presidential and congressional races, more than doubling its amount in 2012. The Kochs’ political machine now eclipses the official Republican Party in key areas, with about three-and-a-half times as many employees as the Republican National Committee. Charles and David Koch’s 2016 spending comes as part of an effort to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative candidates and causes over the last four decades. Their net worth is a combined $82 billion, placing them fifth on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.

The Kochs’ political operations have exploded in the six years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which removed limits on campaign spending by ruling that donor money is a form of free speech. Citizens United has allowed the Kochs and others to spend millions in dark money—political donations where the source is kept secret.

AMY GOODMAN: The story of the Koch brothers and an allied group of billionaire donors is told in a new book by The New Yorker magazine reporter Jane Mayer. It’s called Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Jane Mayer traces how the Kochs and other billionaires, including Mellon banking and Gulf Oil heir Richard Mellon Scaife, chemical tycoon John M. Olin, electronics magnates Harry and Lynde Bradley, have leveraged their business empires to create a political machine with unprecedented influence over politics at the national, state and local level.

Beyond elections, these billionaires have also influenced the political sphere by using their money to create right-wing think tanks, endow university positions, fund research favorable to their right-wing agenda, including climate change denial, opposing healthcare reform and thwarting government regulation. The Kochs’ political empire is so vast, it’s been dubbed “The Kochtopus,” the organizations including Americans for Prosperity, Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Mayer’s book contains a number of revelations and new details. She begins with the Kochs’ father, industrialist Fred Koch. Mayer reveals that Fred Koch helped build an oil refinery in Nazi Germany—a project approved personally by Adolf Hitler. The refinery was critical to the Nazi war effort. Its oil fueled German warplanes. Before that, Fred Koch built a refinery for Joseph Stalin’s Russia. Fred Koch went on to become an original leader of the right-wing John Birch Society. Charles Koch was a member when the group campaigned against the civil rights movement in the ’60s.

Jane Mayer also uncovers evidence confirming rumors the Koch brothers tried to blackmail their own brother, Frederick, into giving up his share of the family company by threatening to out him as gay. It also emerges that the EPA has named the Kochs’ company, Koch Industries, the single biggest U.S. producer of toxic waste. Mayer recounts her own potential brush with the Koch’s empire. After she profiled the brothers in a 2010 piece for The New Yorker, a private firm was hired to discredit her reporting. Although there’s no definite proof, Mayer says that clues leading back to the Kochs were everywhere. And she explores the Kochs’ multiyear effort to undermine President Obama, starting with a secretive meeting of right-wing donors the week of his inauguration.

Jane Mayer joins us now, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. Again, her book is called Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you, Jane.

JANE MAYER: Great to be with you. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s start with this explosive revelation about the Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch. Talk about his business and his involvement with Nazi Germany.

JANE MAYER: Well, he built what became the third-largest refinery in Germany during the buildup to World War II. And it was a refinery that, from the start, was meant to help the military effort of the Third Reich. It was clear that Hitler was looking for ways to refine their own oil so that they could fuel the war machine that he was building up at that point. The refinery was begun, the contract was begun in ’34—that is, 1934—and was finished in 1935. And one of the things that the father Koch was especially good at—he was apparently a brilliant engineer himself—was refining oil in a really high-octane fuel that would be good for the Luftwaffe, for the warplanes. It had to be done in a special way.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jane, interestingly, the Kochs obviously are critical of your work, but they only actually responded to two of the allegations in the book. And earlier this month, they released a statement specifically on this area. They say, “Mayer falsely implies that Fred Koch was working to aid and abet Germany’s tyrannical regime during World War II, and further implies that two of his sons, Charles and David Koch could somehow share these fictional sympathies. … It is a sad commentary on today’s media environment that we have to respond to such irresponsible and reckless attacks.” They claim that many companies, like Ford and General Electric and others, also were involved in Germany before the war.

JANE MAYER: Well, there were other American companies that worked there, too. Ford, especially, has been singled out. It’s true, though, what they’re saying, if facts are facts. They’ve basically confirmed their father built the refinery, he designed the cracking unit, which is what refined the fuel, and that became a key asset for the Nazi war machine.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was—

JANE MAYER: So—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Also, one of the things, as you note in your book, that this is the part of the biography of the father that’s not included in official company accounts.

JANE MAYER: Well, this is the thing. I mean, it’s not to say—and what they’re kind of knocking down is a straw dog. The book does not say that Fred Koch or the sons were Nazis. And that would be a ridiculous statement. It says, specifically, Fred Koch’s views of the Nazis are unknown, but he worked with them, he made money from them, and this chapter was kept hidden from the Koch Industries history that’s up online.

AMY GOODMAN: Why was Hitler—

JANE MAYER: It’s one of—one of many secrets about the Kochs. I mean, the truth is, this book, it grew out of a 2010 story I did for The New Yorker, which turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much that was not known, that took—it took five years to document all of this.

AMY GOODMAN: Why was Hitler personally involved with improving this refinery?

JANE MAYER: Well, his underlings were not going to approve it. And there was—the partner in this is a man named William Rhodes Davis, who was working with Fred Koch. He was a Nazi sympathizer. The U.S. considered him a Nazi agent, actually. And he was the partner in this project, and he needed an OK from Hitler. And to get it, he had to go speak with Hitler himself. Hitler greenlighted the project. It was—and then gave him an autographed copy of Mein Kampf.

AMY GOODMAN: And then you talk about the governess that Fred Koch hired to raise the children.

JANE MAYER: Right. So, actually, Fred Koch was back and forth to Germany a lot. One of the things that—he almost went on the Hindenburg, and he was, at the last minute, detained—the dirigible that blew up in New Jersey in, you know, the pre—right before the war started. He imported, or somehow the family wound up with, a German nanny, who brought up the two oldest boys, Frederick and Charles—Charles who’s known today as one of the two Koch brothers. And the nanny herself was a Nazi sympathizer of such fervor that when Hitler invaded France in 1940, she had been with the Koch family for five years, but she said she needed to leave. She wanted to go back to be with the Führer to celebrate. It was strange. It was a strange—you know, it’s a fascinating family. It was a strange upbringing. I’m not saying that they were Nazis, but what I am saying is that this family was politically, from the start, filled with very strange influences.

AMY GOODMAN: And Fred Koch’s involvement in the founding of the John Birch Society, and what that is?

JANE MAYER: Well, so, what happens is, the father then also worked for Stalin and built the oil refineries there in Stalin’s first five-year plan. And he comes back to the U.S., and he’s horrified by what he’s seen of Stalin, and he becomes just an absolutely—a sort of vitriolic anti-communist. And that leads to him being a founding member of the John Birch Society. And he passes those views on to his sons. And both David Koch and Charles Koch, the two that are known as the Koch brothers, were members of the John Birch Society, which was—kind of defined the anti-communist, right-wing fringe in America in the ’50s, ’60s. So…

 

source

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/20/the_kochs_the_nazis_book_reveals