What shall we do with the capitalist?
Charles Koch took over his father’s moderately successful oil company, Rock Island Oil and Refining, in 1967 and over the next three decades transformed it into Koch Industries, a diversified petroleum products and trading company that, with an estimated $40 billion in annual revenues, is the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Koch companies include Flint Hills Refineries, which processed 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil in 2003; Koch Minerals, which traded about 20 million tons of mineral and fertilizer products in 2003; and Koch Ventures/Genesis, which invested nearly $185 million in technology-based startups between 1997 and 2003. Koch is known for his “Market-Based Management” (MBM) style of leadership, in which employees are encouraged to act as entrepreneurs within Koch Industries. He is also one of the leading contributors to conservative politicians and think tanks, having founded the prominent libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
In the banquet hall of a hotel in San Francisco, he delivered a lecture.
What shall we do with the capitalist? Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the capitalist cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot- box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,—your interference is doing him a positive injury. Speaker Pelosi’s “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the capitalist. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the capitalist cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Ayres, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the capitalist, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live.
Actually this did not occur. I took part of a speech that Frederick Douglass delivered in 1865 at a meeting of the abolitionist society in Boston, MA. The only change I made is to replace the word Negro with the word capitalist. I also changed the abolitionist member names he addressed in his speech, politician Nathaniel Prentice Banks and radical Wendell Phillips, with Speaker Pelosi and radical Bill Ayres. I find it very interesting that the minor changes I made do not take away from the strong argument.
Cross-posted at The Minority Report