[Response to Jonathan Chait here.]
The ongoing twenty minutes of hate against the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers for being, well, billionaire libertarians is yet another nail in the already well-sealed coffin of “liberaltarianism”–the attempt of some libertarians to ally with the progressive left.
The underlying premise of liberaltarianism was that libertarians could emphasize their policy positions that appeal to liberals but not conservatives–drug legalization, hostility to war and military spending, support for civil liberties and for gay marriage–while liberals, chastened by the Bush years, would tone down their support for big government in other areas.
The Kochs would appear to be the perfect liberaltarians–they support gay marriage, drug legalization, opposed the Iraq War, want to substantially cut military spending, and gave $20 million to the ACLU to oppose the Patriot Act (compared to a relatively piddling $43,000 to Scott Walker’s election campaign).
It’s not surprising that some demagogic “Progressives” would nevertheless choose to try to demonize the Kochs to defend the Democratic money machine that public employee unions represent (update: though note that the attack on the Kochs began last Summer). What is, if not surprising, at least a bit depressing, is how few prominent liberal commentators have spoken out against the ongoing attempted Emmanuel Goldsteinization of the Kochs.
Indeed, Hans Bader points out that even the ACLU, as noted a major Koch beneficiary, has helped organize anti-Koch rallies, though the Kochs involvement in small government economic issues seems rather far removed from what is supposed to be the ACLU’s core agenda. So much for liberaltarianism.
Ilya has a series of posts expressing skepticism of liberaltarianism here. I pointed out here that the Kochs spend about a tenth as much annually on political/intellectual causes as does left-wing billionaire George Soros–which doesn’t stop shameless Soros grantees from suggesting that the Kochs are somehow doing something evil by using their money to support causes they believe in.
UPDATE: I’m told it was the Southern California branch of the ACLU that protested the Kochs, whereas their gift was to the national ACLU. Local branches set their own policies.