Brothers Charles and David Koch are billionaires,
businessmen, and philanthropists who are also
politically active. Their brand of politics is libertarian,
and they have espoused and supported many causes
and organizations on the right, and a few on the left.
And they have cheesed off many people on the latter
side of the political divide. Sometimes even the very
mention of their names are enough to send some
left-wingers into apoplectic fits of rage.
Your faithful Peasant shall relate one such instance.
just a couple of years ago at Wake Forest University in
North Carolina, one of their professors shared with the
administration an idea: establishing a center for the
study of happiness. James Otteson, a scholar of
classical philosophy, offered a rather unique
interdisciplinary approach with his idea. Plans for
the center were drawn up, with the purpose being
to draw scholars from across Wake Forest University
to study the political, economic, cultural, and moral
institutions which encourage happiness in people.
Named the Eudaimonia Institute, Aristotle's term
for flourishing, Otteson had high hopes of flourishment
for his institute.
None of this made so much as a ripple in the Wake Forest
pond. But wait! The University accepted $3.7 million
from the Charles Koch Foundation to financially support
the fledgling institute for a five year period. Waves
abounded, with the faculty senate forming two committees
to investigate Eudaimonia; one to report on Eudaimonia
itself, the other to study the university's policies regarding
The Koch Foundation's funding of same.
The first committee made a tidal wave of opposition,
exhorting Wake Forest to (and yes, they really put their
admonishment in capital letters!) "SEVER ALL CON-
NECTIONS TO THE CHARLES KOCH FOUNDATION"
--- a veritable tornado siren. The other committee proclaimed
that the foundation's "parasitical behavior" posed a threat to
the university's "academic integrity, financial autonomy, and
institutional governance". Really. This from a university
whose campus was built with the generous donations of
the family that has long owned and operated the R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco Company (which make those evil cigarettes that the
libs allegedly despise!).
These guardians of liberal orthodoxy and catechism were just
getting warmed up. Committee number two then recommended
the cancelling of Eudaimonia's April conference, an indefinite
hiring freeze, and requiring that its publications be reviewed
by another faculty group ahead of their publication and distribution.
Now, such brouhahas over the Koch's money, often exacerbated (if
not in fact instigated by) the George Soros-funded campus organization
UnKoch My Campus, are not a new phenomenon. Faculty at
some other universities have complained bitterly about their
schools accepting money from the Kochs, but have no qualms
at all over accepting money from this leftist billionaire gadfly.
The United Negro College Fund was raked over the coals for its
acceptance of a $25 million monetary gift from the Koch boys.
Gee, isn't it interesting that many of Wake Forest's faculty
have visions of the Kochs turning their institution into
a Koch machine, dispensing free market ideas along with
arguments in favor of limited government, particularly in the
One may wonder what would they say if George Soros, the
leftist billionaire with many fingers in many pies worldwide
and yin to the Koch's yan, were the benefactor to Wake Forest
for Eudaimonia. or any other project on their campus? Your
skeptical Peasant will gladly bet the farm that they not only
wouldn't make a peep of protest, they would welcome the
totalitarian curmudgeon and his cash with open arms. So in
the meantime, in the words of Ana Iltis, a faculty adviser
to Eudaimonia, "In the name of academic freedom, they're
going to undermine it."
And the battle for the minds of the students at our country's
universities rages on, between the forces of free markets,
free academic inquiry, and free minds, and those of a closed
academic enviornment, with the aim of making a closed society,
where such things would be absolutely prohibited. Wake Forest
is but a battleground in this war, and its administration and faculty
must recognize their situation and decide which side they will