Saturday, August 28, 2010

A short history of America's rightward turn

In Jane Mayer's long chronicle of the billionaire Koch brothers' 30-year campaign to mainstream extreme libertarian ideas by founding and funding up think tanks, PACs and astroturf activist groups, and one observation struck me as a capsule history of American politics since 1980.

The source is a former friend of the Charles Koch, Gus diZerga, who met Koch in a John Birch society book store decades ago. The Kochs' father, founder of the conglomerate the sons have built into one of the country's largest privately held companies, was a charter Bircher and fed his boys tales of communist conspiracy from early childhood. DiZerega, once steeped in Birchite paranoia, wrote in a Beliefnet essay:

As state socialism failed...the target for many within these organizations shifted to any kind of regulation at all. 'Socialism' kept being defined downwards.

Over the same period, I'd add, media kept being defined downwards, so that now fringe froth has a mass market.Contiguous with the career of the Kochs is Rupert Murdoch's progressive corruption of media throughout the anglosphere.

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