How Charles Koch Finances a Young Rightist List at Young Voices UK

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Who are Young Voices UK, where do they come from and who is behind the group?

The new group is an offshoot of Koch-funded college activism in the US.

In recent years, young right-wing commentators like Tom Harwood and Darren Grimes have become fixtures on British television. Now a new group, Young Voices UK, aims to promote a new crop of young talking heads who are starting to appear regularly on GB News and Talk Radio shows with the likes of Jeremy Kyle and Mike Graham. So where do they come from and who is behind the group?

But first, allow me a slight historical digression.

2017 Nancy MacLean Book Democracy In Chains recounts the life of James Buchanan. Buchanan led a group of reactionary right-wing scholars who aimed to roll back the expansion of New Deal-era government and the Great Society in the US, with remarkable success, possibly contributing even more than Milton Friedman to the consensus. neoliberal economics in the West.

Buchanan’s program sought to protect the power of wealthy white elites against progressive economic policies. When schools in Virginia tried to desegregate, Buchanan pushed for the total privatization of public education to allow private schools to remain all white. Despite losing this battle, Buchanan won powerful and wealthy friends, such as Charles Koch, who funded his projects and has funded numerous right-wing and reactionary organizations, including Spiked magazine in the United Kingdom.

In the 1980s, Koch’s funding began to spread to so many organizations that his network was sometimes referred to as “Kochtopus,” according to McLean.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, to discover that Young Voices, the American parent organization of Young Voices UK, grew out of right-wing university political groups supported by the Charles Koch Institute.

Young Voices’ US website says: “Young Voices posts a diverse list of classical liberal writers under 35 years of age in major media.” Classical liberalism only makes sense as a term when you understand that its adherents do not want freedom for everyone. That would be ridiculous. But of course they want freedom for the right kind of people. People like them, with money.

Casey Given founded Young Voices in the US after working for Students for Liberty backed by Koch. After that, he worked as a policy analyst for the American Foundation for Prosperity, another Koch financed vehicle.

When asked what motivates Given’s ‘belief in freedom’, he said an interviewer that “The next Bill Gates or Elon Musk could be running a winery in Bangladesh right now. If only the government got out of the way, humanity could flourish even more. “That’s right kids, if only the Bangladeshi government stopped taxing its market vendors, they too might one day become the son of a man who owned a emerald mine in apartheid South Africa.

Young Voices was listed on the Charles Koch Institute website as a partner organization in 2019 other 2020, although the link now returns a Error 404. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, “The Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute distributed 2020 grants to America’s Future Foundation ($ 75,000), Students for Liberty ($ 18,000), Young Americans for Liberty ($ 340,000), and Young Voices ($ 560,000).”

According to Journalism Magazine Colombia, “Liz Wolfe, a former Koch fellow and current deputy managing editor at The Federalist, says the group spent a lot of time discussing the line between journalism and activism. During her fellowship, she worked as a managing editor at Young Voices, a relationship organization. public not-for-profit organization that trains students and young professionals to write opinion pieces and provide live commentary “in the classical liberal tradition.” Most Young Voices clients uphold libertarian and free-market ideals in line with the Koch”.

Young Voices website describes its ‘Partner Program’ as “the cornerstone of our operations.” The benefits of being accepted into this program include “access to Young Voices’ team of editors and media experts. “We will act as your non-profit public relations agency, editing and presenting your articles to major publications and scheduling media interviews.” In the US, the organization had a busy year in 2020, “Locate 454 articles and 229 broadcast interview hits (eg, radio, television, podcast, etc.) in prominent media, including Fox News, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.”

I asked several Young Voices UK contributors, including British leader Jason Reed, about the group’s philosophy and funding. Contributor Connor Tomlinson told me that “Regarding the philosophy of Young Voices, I think it is fair to summarize that both the UK and US branches of the United States constitutional promise of inalienable and individual freedom to speak, associate, exchange and seek property and prosperity ”. He added that “Regarding financing: I cannot comment, I am not involved in that. YV is not paying me in any way. “

The quote of the rightists to Locke, the ‘father of liberalism’, is nothing new, as Domenico Losurdo points out in his book Liberalism: a counterhistory, right-wingers in the liberal tradition as Juan C. Calhoun they were citing Locke in the 19th century in support of the continuation of slavery, because “Locke was ‘the last great philosopher to seek a justification for absolute and perpetual slavery.’ Losurdo’s point is that the liberal tradition has always had people who were very interested in the idea of ​​freedom, but wanted to limit the kinds of people who could enjoy it.

Both in Locke’s time and in our own, elevating the right to dispose of property above other types of rights is a major concern of elite groups who have property to protect. “It goes without saying that people cannot be property. Our philosophical ancestors had blind spots, ”Tomlinson told me when I asked if Locke’s seventeenth century liberalism was applicable to our twenty-first century world.

Jason Reed told me that “Young Voices UK and US are not two separate organizations. Young Voices is an international non-profit organization, registered in the US, which is also active in the UK and Australia and has partners around the world. British writers and commentators are part of the same program as Americans and there are often crossovers between the two (UK contributors write for the American media and vice versa).

Reed says the organization uses the terms ‘classical liberal’ and ‘libertarian’ interchangeably, and that “we believe in some basic values ​​such as freedom of speech, free trade, immigration and the free movement of people, the rule of law and the property”. Rights. Beyond that, we do not take organizational positions on the issues. As a non-profit organization, we also do not engage in election campaigns or endorse any particular politician or political party, although our contributors are free to do so at their own expense. “

Reed acknowledged that while Koch was not the group’s primary sponsor, “it is public information (which Young Voices must disclose as a non-profit organization) that the Charles Koch Institute donates to Young Voices. He is one of several Young Voices donors, and we receive donor support in both the US and UK. Donors have no influence on Young Voices production, as we state in our code of ethics page. ”

This contradicts what we learn about how Charles Koch works in Nancy McLean’s book: “Koch was known for wanting to maintain control over the companies in which he invested: large contributions to nonprofits were no different in his mind from business investments. It was his money. “

It will be interesting to look at the positions Young Voices UK members take on environmental issues in particular, as Koch is primarily an oil baron who has identified environmental movements as one of his main enemies since the 1980s. I suppose For classical liberals, the right of billionaires to earn money will prevail over the collective right to protect our natural world.

John Lubbock heads the Right-Watch project at Left Foot Forward

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