As Reason’s editor defends its racist history, here’s a copy of its holocaust denial “special issue”
“The German concentration camps weren’t health centers, but they appear to have been far smaller and much less lethal than the Russian ones.”
—Reason magazine, January 1976
After I exposed Reason’s history as a publisher of racist, pro-apartheid South Africa articles during the 1970s, the current editor-in-chief, Matt Welch, answered back in what must stand as one of the most bizarre responses imaginable.
Rather than simply doing what any sensible editor would do — apologize for the magazine’s past transgressions but reiterate that the racists articles do not represent its current editorial position — Welch instead wrote a long blog post, smearing Pando and my reporting, including describing me (apparently without irony) as an “anti-libertarian conspiracy theorist.” He also admitted that — sure! — Reason published a bunch of sick, racist pro-apartheid articles… but hey, they also published articles critical of apartheid, so what’s the big deal?
If defending apartheid was a “matter of faith” in Reason during the ’70s and ’80s, you would expect editors and staffers and contributors to routinely make that case when the subject of apartheid came up.
There are so many problems with Welch’s response but the first thing that stands out is the hypocrisy, or at least inconsistency. Welch and Reason attacked Ron Paul over his decades-old racist newsletters — and attacked Paul for ducking responsibility when they were exposed in 2008, rather than simply apologizing for them. Why wouldn’t they do the same? What constituency are they concerned would be alienated by Reason distancing itself from 1970s racists?
The second problem is that Welch urges readers (and us) to “please mine the archive for yourselves” and make our own judgements about what Reason truly stands for, then and now.
As someone who has spent the past few months doing precisely that — including many hours spent in public libraries, digging through microfiche copies of issues that (for reasons that will become obvious) are not available online — it seems to me that digging more into Reason’s past is the last thing Welch should want anyone to do.
Astonishingly, in February 1976, Reason dedicated an entire “special issue” to promoting Holocaust deniers, under the guise of so-called “historical revisionism.” How horrifying is it? You can judge for yourself — the whole thing is embedded below.
PandoDaily contacted noted Holocaust historian and Holocaust Museum expert Deborah Lipstadt to ask her opinion. In 2000, Lipstadt won a much-publicized libel trial in Britain against a leading Holocaust denier, David Irving. When we shared with her the list of Reason’s “special issue” contributors and authors positively cited in the issue, Lipstadt described it as “the Who’s Who of early American Holocaust deniers.”
Authors who contributed articles to Reason magazine’s “special issue” included one of the most notorious American pro-Nazi activists of the postwar era, Austin J. App, author of the 1973 tract, “The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks and Fabricated Corpses” and contributing editor to the rabidly anti-Semitic magazine, the American Mercury. Two more authors hired to write for Reason’s “special issue” included James J. Martin, a regular contributor to the same neo-Nazi American Mercury magazine; and Percy Greaves, a founding board member at the anti-Jewish hate group, the Liberty Lobby.
Both Martin and Greaves were deeply involved in leading anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denier outfits before, during and after Reason hired them as contributors; and shortly after they appeared in Reason’s “special issue,” both Martin and Greaves served as editorial directors in David Irving’s favorite neo-Nazi outfit, the Institute for Historical Review, described as “the world’s single most important outlet for Holocaust-denial propaganda” by the Anti-Defamation League.
Perhaps the most shocking article in Reason’s “special issue” was penned by Gary North, who was also Ron Paul’s congressional aide that same year, and has been one of the most influential figures in the Christian radical-right since the 1970s. North’s article in Reason mocked the Holocaust as “the Establishment’s favorite horror story” and questioned “the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler.” North also painted other rabidly anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers in a positive, “contrarian-cool” light, praising the works of David Hoggan, author of “The Myth of the Six Million,” French neo-fascist Paul Rassinier, and American historian Harry Elmer Barnes, considered the godfather of American Holocaust denial literature.
Perhaps the reason Reason’s current editor is hesitant to distance his magazine from past contributors is that some of them are still around, still running the Reason show, and otherwise remain major names in the Koch brothers’ libertarian network. Robert Poole and Manny Klausner, listed on the masthead of the Holocaust-denier issue as co-editors, also co-founded with David Koch the nonprofit Reason Foundation, which publishes Reason magazine to this day. The Reason Foundation still lists Poole, Klausner and Koch as trustees; Poole is also listed as a Reason Foundation “Officer,” alongside Reason editors Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie. The Koch brothers have donated millions to Reason, which, besides publishing the magazine, also advises state and local governments on mass privatizations of public assets and services.
Besides working as a privatization advisor to several US presidents and Margaret Thatcher, Robert Poole has more recently served as a privatization advisor to Florida governor Rick Scott and Texas governor Rick Perry.
Marty Zupan, listed on the Reason masthead as Book Review Editor in the February 1976 Holocaust deniers’ issue, is today president of the libertarian Institute for Humane Studies, whose chairman is Charles Koch. Tibor Machan, listed as “Senior Editor” of the issue, is the son of a Hungarian Nazi war criminal. Machan and Zupan were married when they worked together on Reason’s special Holocaust-denier issue.
A WHO’S WHO OF AMERICAN HOLOCAUST DENIERS
So who exactly are the people featured or cited favorably in Reason’s holocaust denial issue, and described by one of America’s leading experts as a “who’s who of American holocaust deniers.”
It is impossible that Reason did not know who Austin J. App was. A Village Voice article said App “was better known as one of the earliest proponents of the theory that the Holocaust never took place,” listing titles of App’s books including “Can Christianity Survive When Jews Control The Media and the Money?” and “Kosher Food Racket Exposed.”
According to Lisptadt, App “played a central role in the development of Holocaust denial, especially in the United States,” tracing the structure of modern Holocaust denier arguments to Austin App’s 1973 tract, “The Six Million Swindle.” In it, App accused greedy “Talmudists” of “using the six million swindle to blackmail West Germany” — the real victims in Austin App’s historical revision.
“His [App's] major contribution was to formulate eight axioms that have come to serve as the founding principles of the California-based Institute for Historical Review and as the basic postulates of Holocaust denial. Since App posited them in 1973, virtually all deniers have built their arguments on them.”
Despite App’s public notoriety as a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier in the 1960s and 70s, Reason magazine hired him to write about the “Sudeten-German Tragedy.” According to App’s article in Reason, the postwar expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czech borderlands after the fall of Nazi Germany was “one of the worst mass atrocities in history,” while the Munich Pact that let Nazi Germany annex chunks of Czechoslovakia is described as “belated justice.”
Reason’s choice of Austin App as a shining example of “historical revisionism” says all you need to know about what the Koch brothers meant by libertarian history. Although App had been burning both ends of the candle for decades arguing that the Holocaust was a hoax, and Hitler and Nazi Germany were the victims of World War II, Reason’s author description whitewashed him as just another tweedy professor:
“Austin J. App received an M. A. and Ph.D. in English literature from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He is the author of numerous reviews, articles, and books on English literature and writing, current affairs, and history.”
Just two years before he appeared in Reason, Austin App published a follow-up to his “Six Million Swindle,” a tract titled, “A Straight Look at the Third Reich: Hitler and National Socialism: How Right? How Wrong?” in which he mocked “the legend of the six million Jews ‘gassed’” while praising Hitler as “a man of architecture and art, not of armaments and war.”
When he wrote for Reason, Austin App also served on the board of trustees of the neo-Nazi National Youth Alliance, which later morphed into the more violent neo-Nazi National Alliance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “the most dangerous and best organized neo-Nazi formation in America.”
App also served on the editorial board of the rabidly anti-Semitic rag, The American Mercury, which published articles by another Holocaust denier glorified in Reason magazine’s pages: James J. Martin. One of Martin’s articles in the American Mercury accused FDR’s Jewish Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, of plotting to turn postwar Germany into “one vast concentration camp of starvation and physical misery…unparalleled in scope before or since.” Martin, it turns out, was not only glorified in Reason magazine’s pages; from the mid-1960s through at least 1980, Martin also received backing and support from Charles Koch.
James J. Martin
The lead feature article in Reason’s “special issue” turns out to be one of James Martin’s slyer works of historical revisionism: “The Framing of Tokyo Rose,” an outrage-fueled attack of the 1949 treason trial and conviction of a wartime Japan radio voice, American-born Iva Toguri, known as “Tokyo Rose.” For Martin, this was about as safe as his World War II historical revisionism got. By the time Martin wrote about her for Reason’s “special issue” in 1976, Toguri was already an Establishment cause-celebre, her unjust conviction profiled in 60 Minutes, and soon to be overturned by President Ford, who pardoned her upon leaving office.
Martin’s purpose for taking up Toguri’s cause was to prepare Reason’s readers for a much broader political point: That World War II was as unjust as the trial of Iva Toguri, and the Allies who fought that war against the Japanese and Germany were as brutal and duplicitous as the prosecutors who sent Toguri to prison.
A month before Reason’s lost “special issue” profiled here, in the January 1976 issue, Reason devoted a fawning eight-page interview glorifying James J. Martin as “one of America’s leading revisionist historians,” a libertarian maverick unafraid of taking on the Establishment’s “version” of “sacred cows” — like the Holocaust. Here’s an excerpt from Reason’s interview:
REASON: Dr. Martin, do you believe (1) that the specific charge against the Nazis of having a mass extermination program of several million Jews is true, and (2) that the Allied atrocities were as great or greater than those of the Germans, from your study of the question?
MARTIN: Well, I never made a head count of all who lost their lives in the War—we’ve seen a wide variety of statistical materials, some of which have been pulled out of thin air… I don’t believe that the evidence of a planned extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe is holding up. [...] The German concentration camps weren’t health centers, but they appear to have been far smaller and much less lethal than the Russian ones.
As proof that the Holocaust was a hoax, Martin told Reason’s “journalists” that he relied on the works of Europe’s leading Holocaust denier, Paul Rassinier, whose books — “Debunking the Genocide Myth,” “The Drama of European Jewry” — described Nazi concentration camps as “a gesture of compassion” designed by the Nazis to “rehabilitate the strayed sheep.” According to Rassinier, the Holocaust was a “swindle” concocted by money-grubbing Zionists out to “make Germany an ever-lasting milk cow for Israel.”
Reason set Martin up perfectly with softballs designed to make these Holocaust-deniers appear as courageous iconoclasts persecuted for having the guts to tell the truth:
REASON: For a number of years Rassinier’s works haven’t been available in English. Are a lot of people afraid to see them come to light?
MARTIN: I don’t know who would suffer the most from exposure to Rassinier’s objections to the standard line on the concentration camp literature
Reason was so enthralled with their Holocaust-denier hero James J. Martin that he appeared in three consecutive issues in a row: December 1975, in an issue that featured a four-page screed by Charles Koch attacking leftists, Ralph Nader, and American businessmen who weren’t sufficiently radicalized to fight the left; the next month, January 1976, Reason fawned over Martin as he mocked and cast doubt on the Holocaust; and the next month, February 1976, when Reason published and promoted “the Who’s Who of early American Holocaust deniers.”
Martin’s relationship with Reason can be traced back to Reason’s sugar daddy, Charles Koch, who first sponsored Martin in the mid-late 1960s at Rampart College, where Koch funded Martin’s fledgling “history department” as well as Rampart Journal, one of the earliest American journals devoted to pushing Holocaust deniers. When Rampart College collapsed in 1968, Charles Koch reportedly gave Martin a one-time $60,000 payout, a lot of money in those days, which Martin used to fund his own far-right publishing house, issuing books by authors like “American Fascist” Lawrence Dennis. In the 1970s, Charles Koch continued funding Martin through grants and seminars put on by Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies, through sinecures at Koch-funded outfits like the Center for Libertarian Studies (where Martin served on the advisory board in the mid-late 1970s), and through the Cato Institute, which published James Martin and his Holocaust denier guru, Harry Elmer Barnes, as late as 1980.
In 1979, while Martin was still part of Charles Koch’s libertarian apparatus, he joined the editorial board of the most notorious American Holocaust denier outfit, the Institute for Historical Review — home to KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and David Irving, “the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier.” Martin spent the last 25 years of his life in the neo-Nazi cesspool, publishing through them his final shameful book, a Holocaust-denial tract titled “The Man Who Invented Genocide.”
“will in the eyes of many discredit all his work, but it ought not.”
Ron Paul’s Guru: Gary North
Another contributor to Reason’s “special issue” was Gary North, Ron Paul’s congressional aide and his longtime partner in politics and business. North is better known as one of the key figures in Christian Reconstructionism, which to Gary North means applying capital punishment (by stoning to death) for “crimes” including blasphemy, abortion, “witchcraft,” women who have pre-marital sex, or “incorrigible juvenile delinquency.”
North’s article for Reason, “World War II Revisionism & Vietnam,” stands out as the issue’s most sickening — it’s the most aggressive in mocking the Holocaust, and most disturbing when you look back and realize, this same Gary North shaped the worldview of libertarianism’s leading pitchman, Ron Paul.
North’s article, as the name implies, tries to convince readers that World War II was as bad as Vietnam, which in 1976, a year after the fall of Saigon, was about the worst smear imaginable. In this sense, North’s article continued a common theme in Reason’s “special issue”: World War II was just as bad, if not worse than [NAME OF MOST UNPOPULAR WAR EVER], and FDR was just as sleazy and deceitful as [NAME OF MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT EVER].
There is a politics to all of this, a politics that’s barely budged since the days of the American Liberty League: 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.
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. Gary North writes:
“One topic—the ultimate litmus test of hardnosed World War II revisionism—has generally been skirted: Hitler. Was he a madman, diplomatically speaking? Was he exclusively responsible for the Second World War?”
Much of the Reason Holocaust denier propaganda is about promoting a new set of anti-authority voices to replace the Establishment’s. So Martin cites Holocaust deniers Paul Rassinier and Harry Elmer Barnes; and Gary North introduces Reason’s readers to Bay Area Holocaust denier David Hoggan, the “anonymous” author of the 1969 neo-Nazi book “The Myth of the Six Million”:
“In American revisionist circles the most famous (or infamous) case has been that of David Hoggan, the Establishment’s number-one academic pariah of the revisionist camp…Hoggan’s thesis regarding the origins of the Second World War are straightforward, and completely unorthodox. The primary villain was not Hitler; it was Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary.”
North is a clever huckster who’s studied his Baby Boomer audience, so he uses marketing words that he knows appeal to his target consumer: “unorthodox,” “Establishment’s number-one academic pariah,” and weirdest of all for a strict Old Testament theofascist like North, he even uses the then-popular hippie expression “far-out” (meaning “cool”) to sell Holocaust denial:
“Probably the most far-out materials on World War II revisionism have been the seemingly endless scholarly studies of the supposed execution of 6 million Jews by Hitler. The anonymous author [Hoggan] of ‘The Myth of the Six Million’ has presented a solid case against the Establishment’s favorite horror story—the supposed moral justification for our entry into the war.”
North promotes the same Holocaust denier as James J. Martin does, Paul Rassinier, alleging that his “untranslatable books….have seriously challenged the story” of the Holocaust. North also promotes a Holocaust denial tract by Richard Harwood, editor of the fascist British National Front party magazine, Spearhead:
“A recent and very inexpensive book in magazine form, ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’, appeared in 1973, written by Richard Harwood.”
According to Lipstadt, Harwood’s “Did Six Million Really Die” was “the preeminent British work on Holocaust denial” for a decade after its publication, i.e., when Gary North promoted it.
At the end of that astonishing paragraph, North once again called into question the Holocaust:
“One thing is certain: 6 million executions or not, we did not intervene when the Soviet Union executed millions of kulaks—the private owners of small farms, prior to their expropriation and liquidation by Stalin in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The kulaks, unfortunately for them, had no supporters writing editorials in the New York Times.”
There we have it in concentrated form: In just a single paragraph in the Kochs’ Reason magazine, mockery and denial of the Holocaust, and shameless praise for three of the world’s most notorious Holocaust deniers — David Hoggan, Paul Rassinier, and Richard Harwood (neé Richard Verrall) — repackaged as hip, contrarian iconoclasm for Reason’s largely white, male, educated libertarian audience.
Percy Greaves, Lew Rollins
Other contributors to Reason’s “special issue” included:
- Percy Greaves, a founding board member of Willis Carto’s racist, anti-Semitic propaganda outfit, the Liberty Lobby — which marketed and distributed many of the Holocaust denier tracts promoted in the February 1976 issue of Reason magazine, including “The Myth of the Six Million” — and ended his life on the editorial board of Carto’s biggest Holocaust denier outfit, the Institute for Historical Review, joining David Duke, David Irving, and James J. Martin. For Reason magazine’s “special issue,” Percy Greaves wrote “FDR’s Watergate: Pearl Harbor,” advancing a conspiracy theory that FDR tricked Japan into bombing Pearl Harbor in order to secure his New Deal reforms at home.
- “L.A.” Lew Rollins, who was featured on Reason magazine’s masthead from the 1970s through the early 1980s. Like so many other Reason contributors, Lew Rollins also joined the David Duke/David Irving Holocaust denier outfit, publishing articles like “The Holocaust as Sacred Cow.” At Reason, Rollins wrote a far-right libertarian Ambrose Bierce ripoff called “Lucifer’s Lexicon,” with entries like, “looter, n. A civil rights worker” or “majority rule, n. The moral equivalent of gang rape.” After coming out of the anti-Semitic closet, Rollins’ “Lucifer’s Lexicon” became even crazier:
HOLOCAUST, THE, n. A smoke screen obscuring the atrocities of the Allies and the Israelis. The insurance fraud of the century. A cheap cinematic trick; a flimflam; the Hollywoodcaust; a soap opera.
ZIONIST PROPAGANDA, n. Hebrew-National Baloney.
A brief history of Reason magazine
“Reason” first appeared in 1968 as a typed, poorly-edited student newsletter, the rantings of a severely mentally ill Vietnam War veteran and Ayn Rand groupie named Lanny Friedlander. He began “Reason” while living at home with his mother and attending classes at Boston University. A handful of MIT College Republicans, including future Reason frontman Robert Poole, took an interest in Friedlander’s “Reason,” but they were turned off by his mother, “a shrill fishwife who yelled and screamed,” according to Robert Poole; and by Friedlander himself, who spent most of his life in psychiatric institutions and veterans hospitals.
In 1970, Poole moved to Santa Barbara to work for a DARPA spinoff called General Research Corp. Poole decided to buy the rights to Reason from Lanny Friedlander, cobbling together a small group of MIT grads (Charles and David Koch’s alma mater) and a local Santa Barbara libertarian grad student named Tibor Machan, who used grant money he received from Charles Koch to finance the “takeover” of Reason from Lanny Friedlander. (Shortly before Friedlander died of a heart attack in 2011, he sent a hand-written note to Reason’s science editor, advising him to research immortality more: “I also wonder if magicians can reverse the effects of old age,” Friedlander wrote him.)
Tibor Machan, Senior Editor of Reason at the time of the Holocaust-denier issue, is the son of a Hungarian Nazi war criminal. Both Tibor Machan and his father escaped from Hungary after the collapse of the fascist regime. According to Machan’s 2004 memoir, his father was a “fanatical Nazi” during World War II, serving as the Nazis’ chief Budapest radio propagandist during the roundup of that city’s Jews. After the communist takeover, Machan’s father was arrested, and slipped out of Hungary, soon joined by Tibor, who together made their way into the US.
Tibor Machan served as Senior Editor for Reason when it published its Holocaust deniers; and yet Machan claims to have despised his father’s politics:
“He was a dedicated supporter of Adolph Hitler into the last days of World War II and would remain a fervently anti-Semitic admirer of the Fuhrer’s ideas until he died in Philadelphia in 1970…When I recall that my father was a relentless anti-Semite who bragged that he would not hesitate to shoot Jews if it were only legally permitted, again I find little cause to stress his few positive qualities.”
Charles Koch, who funded much of Tibor Machan’s career, is the son of a Nazi admirer. According to Daniel Schulman’s book, “Sons of Wichita,” Fred Koch praised the Axis powers in late 1938, even as the Nazis were brutalizing Jews and others, and well after Imperial Japan killed and raped hundreds of thousands in their military invasions into mainland China. With that in mind, Fred Koch wrote in 1938,
“I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working and working hard.”
Fred Koch also negatively compared New Deal America to Hitler’s Germany:
“When you contrast the state of mind of Germany today with what it was in 1925 you begin to think that perhaps this course of idleness, feeding at the public trough, dependence on government, etc., with which we are afflicted is not permanent and can be overcome.”
Devoting an issue to Nazi supporters and Holocaust deniers shocked at least some of REASON’s readers, and found support from others.
Reader “Sylven Shaffer” of Tempe, Arizona, complained,
“I’m absolutely shocked regarding Dr. Martin’s remarks concerning the Nazi extermination of European Jewry.”
And Adam Reed of Rockefeller University, a contributor to REASON, wrote a letter to the editor complaining about Gary North’s promotion of Holocaust deniers, calling it “shocking,” “disturbing” and “inexcusably poor scholarship.”
Gary North responded to Prof. Reed by doubling down on Holocaust denying:
“The second point, that about 6 million Jews really did die in the concentration camps, is one that will be open until the records of the period become fully available. I am not convinced yet, one way or the other.
“I shall continue to recommend that those interested in revisionist questions read ‘The Myth of the Six Million’ and ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’ as reasonable (though not necessarily irrefutable) pieces of historical revisionism.”
Others—diehard libertarians—were more gung-ho. Sam Konkin, one of the earliest stars in the libertarian movement, gushed:
For the first time in your publishing history you produced a product which kept me all night reading cover-to-cover. I refer to your Revisionist issue of February 1976.
I hope you maintain the gains you made with this issue and even surpass them. You may yet deserve your logo.
Samuel Edward Konkin Ill Editor, New Libertarian Weekly
Konkin, author of “The New Libertarian Manifesto,” went on to join the editorial board of neo-Nazi Willis Carto’s Holocaust denier outfit, Institute for Historical Review, where so many other Reason and other early libertarian alumni wound up.
The biggest public endorsement for Reason’s Holocaust-denier issue came from the founder of the Libertarian Party, David Nolan. In the 1960s, Nolan was an MIT college Republican activist with Robert Poole, who went on to become Reason’s front man from 1970 onward.
Nolan’s letter to the editor in Reason’s June 1976 issue praised the magazine’s Holocaust-denier issue as “outstanding,” pompously adding,
“You, and all who have worked with you, are to be congratulated on your skills and dedication, for your achievement has been a most significant one. Keep it up!”
“We Should Be Very Concerned”
“Charles and David Koch have been for the last 40, 40-plus years the most significant backers of libertarian-based organizations and philanthropies in the country. It’s not even close. It is Charles and David Koch 100, everybody else 2.”
—Matt Welch, REASON magazine editor-in-chief
Just as my previous piece was about something much bigger than simply calling out a magazine’s pro-apartheid archives, so the above is about more than its history of publishing holocaust deniers. Reason isn’t just any magazine — since 1970, Reason has been backed by the richest and most politically engaged oligarchs alive, Charles and David Koch. The Kochs are almost singlehandedly responsible for giving us libertarianism, a radical-right version of neoliberalism that has steered the Republican Party agenda for decades now, and has made major inroads into the disaffected left as well. Reason is the respectable, “educated” blue state face of the Kochs’ libertarian network.
Or as Reason’s longtime front-man and Koch partner Robert Poole explained in a private letter back in 1978, Reason sought “to be something of a recruiting ground, reaching out to the broad general public of intelligent, educated people and offering them an exciting alternative to Harper’s, New Republic, National Review.”
That same year, 1978, Charles Koch told Reason magazine that he believed radical politics were the most effect politics; and he saw libertarianism as a radical brand of pro-capitalist politics:
“Our greatest strength is that our philosophy is a consistent world view and will appeal to the brightest, most enthusiastic, most capable people, particularly young people. But to realize that strength, we have to state it in a radical, pure form.”
Today, Charles and David Koch are worth an estimated $100 billion, making them the richest brothers on earth. They are also the most politically active oligarchs this country has seen in many decades. The money invested into electing politicians is only a small part of their long-term strategy of altering America’s political ecosystem, and in this respect, no one comes close.
When asked by email about how concerned we should be that the richest and most politically engaged billionaires in the world were so personally involved in backing and promoting Holocaust deniers, Professor Lipstadt answered with commendable understatement: “We should be quite concerned.”
Pando contacted Reason, Koch Industries and Gary North for comment [2+ hours before publication] but none had responded as of publication time. We’ll update this story with any subsequent response.
[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]