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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group 531

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."
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Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

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  • What's so American (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:25AM (#47754875) Homepage Journal

    About paying for open, unfettered access, and having some bean counter with an agenda decide what you can ACTUALLY see?

    And Marxism fails because it view labor as something nobody really wants to do, and ignores transportation, distribution and associated concerns as necessary evils.

    Here, the last-mile providers are acting like Marxists. They see only this big customer base of theirs as having any intrinsic worth.

    Never mind that if they don't provide unfettered access, and don't manage to stifle all competition, they won't continue to HAVE that kind of customer base.

    Net neutrality is about being able to use the internet connection you pay for, for any purpose that suits you (with nods towards the concept of "legal activity" of course) without having your traffic interfered with.

    Net neutrality is about preventing illegal censorship.

    Net neutrality is about protecting you from unscrupulous business practices by major (and minor) providers of both the transport and last-mile variety.

    So screw the Koch Brothers and their idiot shilling.

    • by sillybilly ( 668960 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:40AM (#47754927)

      Net neutrality is like being able to drive on back country roads and public without cock blocks, or booths at every corner. Without it you get toll roads everywhere, and you constantly have to pay by the mile, or bit the MB, per content, on top of having your basic ISP connection. Some Internet backbones would get overloaded from crowds because of cheap surfing pathways, but the rich would have their luxury Internet highways uncongested, but high cost. Should you wander unto one of these highways, it'd be like stumbling into a high class restaurant, and accidentally eating there, when all you wanted was a burger. Even on regular Internet surfing you could quickly drain your bank account balance to zero via toll road-like per mile fees. However there is something to be said about availability of high class restaurants, they are nice to have, as long as you're not forced to eat there, and without net neutrality, you might be forced to go through only the high cost toll roads, at least occasionally, to access simple things like check your email, or file a job application, to the point where you might completely abandon the Internet altogether, and vote for regular paper mail, instead via the US post office, instead of Email, and on your foot walk into a branch banking instead of on line banking. Maybe that's what they want, de-Internetize the world. Come on, we love Google, Ebay, Email, Youtube, mp3 downloads, ebooks, Amazon, and especially what the Internet was made for: pron.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CauseBy ( 3029989 )

        "Without it you get toll roads everywhere, and you constantly have to pay by the mile"

        Ah, yes, the libertarian dream.

        That very hypothetical scenario is the actual reason I'm not a libertarian. Back in college it was popular to say you were a libertarian, but one day we were talking about roads and the non-hypocrites had to admit that, yes, a libertarian country would be 100% toll roads. I abandoned that stupid philosophy that day. I don't want to live in an ideologically pure world; I want to live in a good

    • Indeed, Marxism and all of its derivatives lack the essential value flag mechanisms that make any other economic system work, which is why they will fail even in the presence of abundance, so I agree with your assessment that the last mile providers are acting like Marxists.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @06:15AM (#47755021)

      What is this Cold War obsession with misrepresenting Marxism in as many ways as possible just to make it seem ridiculous (or evil)? Stalin nodded in the direction of Marxism while behaving as a totalitarian despot, but he also nodded in the direction of atheism, while the USA is culturally based in deism and protestant work ethic, an entirely irrational, religious principle. The American capitalist revolution (against British late stage feudalism) and its development through late C20 has reflected Marx's view of how capitalism would unfold in a developed nation.

      In particular, Marx does not "view labour as something nobody really wants to do" - wtf do you get that from? Marx viewed exploitation as something nobody should want to experience, but the Marxist progression of history is based on an increasing voluntary desire to do labour - from socialism through to communism - rather than to exploit others' labour. Prerequisite is firstly that people get to keep the fruits of their labour, and finally that people will realise the benefits of a sharing economy.

      To be clear, I'm not Marxist, just like I'm not Christian, nor capitalist, nor Muslim, nor any -ist or -im nor -ian, really. But I don't try to mischaracterise any of these like an us vs. them. One of the biggest contradictions of human intelligence is its desire to over-simplify the world - to make up for our human sense of inadequacy: we are intelligent enough to recognise our cluelessness, but not wise enough to fix it, so we invent umbrella ideologies, insecurely eliminating all other possibilities.

      All Koch is doing here is pandering to the Marx=evil knee-jerkers, like the Soviets pandered over and over to the capitalism=evil knee-jerkers. To think, we used to laugh at Russia for swallowing such simpleton propaganda!

    • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @06:50AM (#47755141)
      Nothing about what the Koch brothers do is ethical. They whip up a fear storm to get people who are less intelligent or less willing to think for themselves to side with them. It's amazing how many people will parrot back what they hear and vote against their interests.
    • And Marxism fails because it view labor as something nobody really wants to do ...

      That is the exact opposite of how Marx viewed labour. For Marx, labour was the very essence of self-expression. You are what you produce. A critique of capitalism, and especially Fordism was that the worker is alienated from their own labour, and thus from the very essence of their self. Not only Marxism, but Socialist theorists pre-dating him assume that labour was something people really wanted to do, and left alone wi

      • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @01:38PM (#47758409)

        And Marxism fails because it view labor as something nobody really wants to do ...

        That is the exact opposite of how Marx viewed labour. For Marx, labour was the very essence of self-expression.

        Indeed, it was Ayn Rand who viewed labor as something only a very small number of heroic, good-looking, and rich people wanted to do. Her theory was that the rest of humanity needs to be threatened with starvation or they would only steal from their betters.

    • Here, the last-mile providers are acting like Marxists.

      They certainly are [] — thanks to the monopoly-power once given to them by the government [].

      The solution to this, however, is not creating more rules for them to follow (with more boards and commissions to — ineffectively — ensure compliance) — these only make it harder for a would-be newcomers to appear — but to make this market properly competitive.

      So screw the Koch Brothers and their idiot shilling.

      While the public anger is (somewhat clumsily, but still effectively) once again redirected against the Koch Brothers [], "Big Cable" donates to the ruling party en masse [], CEOs play golf with the President [] and otherwise do the ruling party's bidding []. Is it likely, that further monopolization [] will be blocked?

      • NB here in Canada, the large cable and telephone providers basically *must* license their connections to your home to other service providers. This is a regulation of course, and not just a 'free market' concept, but it does mean not having sixteen companies all trying to run their own copper down your street.

        My local service provider is Cogeco for instance, and I switched to Teksavvy without having a single piece of coax changed in my house. Teksavvy pays Cogeco, Cogeco still maintains the wire, and I pa

    • They can bask in their pure capitalist sunshine as soon as they buy right of way access for every mile of line they use, instead of leveraging the government sponsored right of way access they've been given. They can also pay a requisite sum for the monopoly access they were granted. Then they can setup any internet they want. Until then, they need to deal with regulations.
  • Urgh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:28AM (#47754887)

    Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet? Your government really did a good job with the propaganda during the Cold War it seems.

    • Re:Urgh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:32AM (#47754897)

      Marxism is probably preferable to the feudal society these guys are promoting.

      • Marxism is probably preferable to the feudal society these guys are promoting.

        That's an interesting comparison. Ignoring the question of whether "these guys" are promoting feudalism, I find it interesting to think about which actually is better, Marxism or feudalism, as an economic system.

        From an ideological perspective, Marxism is better, in theory at least, because placing all ownership of property in the hands of a few lords is blatantly unfair. From a practical perspective, though, I'm not sure there's a difference, because every attempt to implement Marxism on any scale larger

    • Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet? Your government really did a good job with the propaganda during the Cold War it seems.

      Because it does technically run counter to what our country was founded on. The basis of all of those beliefs seem to be the whole Vulcan thing "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" The USA was founded on a strong principle of individual freedom.

      In truth, any system taken to an extreme is bad. Those three were taken way too far. Stalin really did murder somewhere around 30 million people after all: []

    • Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet?

      Why would they? From what I've seen there are a great number of them that don't even understand their own nation's founding principles; I can't count the number of times I've heard/read people complain about private entities not abiding by the first amendment. Getting over a smear campaign against the red/yellow terror from decades ago is likely one of the least of their worries.

    • Re:Urgh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @08:23AM (#47755519) Journal

      Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet?

      Actually, we're getting there. During the past two elections, studies done about people's reaction to the word "Socialism" have shifted drastically. Among those under 30, there is actually a majority who see as a positive term.

      Give it time.

      I call it the "ABBA Effect". People have heard for years that Sweden is socialist, and then people saw ABBA on TV and thought, "Hey, they've got pop stars and hot chicks in short skirts over there! Maybe Socialism's not so bad after all." When you see people on "socialized" medicine who are happy and healthy with nice teeth and shapely asses, there is something subtle that shifts. It starts in the pants and slowly works its way towards the brain.

    • Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet? Your government really did a good job with the propaganda during the Cold War it seems.

      Holy shit, dude. It's not the propaganda from the Cold War, it's the tens of millions of dead bodies that Communism produced last century. In my book, that is EVIL, yes. That doesn't mean there aren't other evils in the world or that the US has always been the bastion of freedom that we should be or any of that.

      I cannot fathom how someone could be arguing in 2014 that Communism isn't evil.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:34AM (#47754903)

    Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

    No, net neutrality is not Marxist. Net neutrality is very much a capitalist policy, as distinct from being a corporatist policy.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @06:16AM (#47755023) Journal
      Yep, it puts the "free" in "free market". The alternative is to allow telco's to hold content providers to ransom. OTOH why does it matter that these arseholes keep spewing ther comical propaganda, who's buying their bullshit these days, anyone?
    • This is the correct response. Net neutrality is the only way to preserve freedom in the "market" of Internet services. The ISP market is not an example of free market capitalism. There are various governmental restrictions on where you can lay infrastructure, and the cost of that infrastructure presents an extremely high barrier to entry. This results in a monopoly or duopoly in most areas in the United States. Therefore, we're not talking about a "free market".

      So if you want to allow for a free marke

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unless they're tollways. And apparently the Koch brothers would prefer if all roads were tollways.

  • American capitalism (Score:2, Informative)

    by geogob ( 569250 )

    What would be so bad about changing American capitalism? As if moderating part of it would automatically send the American society deep into communism.

    But staying on topic, net neutrality IS a good idea, and I do hope that so-called Marxist as well as anyone else believes so. Saying it would be bad because group X or Y think so, is the stupidest thing ever. These sort of argumentation can get so fast out of control...

  • Implying marxism is a bad thing.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:49AM (#47754951) Homepage

    Marxists think net neutrality is good, therefore net neutrality is bad.
    You know what... Marxists think breathing is good, therefore breathing is bad also?
    Such arguments are never valid.

  • ... he should have invented "the Goldstein brothers", not just Emmanuel Goldstein.

    There's just something more sinister sounding about brothers, isn't there?

    (This comment has nothing to do with the merits or lack thereof of "net neutrality", BTW.)

  • by cedarhillbilly ( 940464 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:56AM (#47754975)
    Kochs aren't worried about capitalism which is a system of exchange. They are worried about not being able to their own profits in the short term. As extractive industries they want to buy protection from other advocates with environmental views by starving them out of the discussion! Here's the problem. Capitalism (market economies) only works if there is a fair balance of power among the buyers and the sellers. That other thing that the Kochs are protecting is oligarchy--rule by the wealthy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Karl or Groucho? If they mean the latter, I might even believe them.


  • With about 2 decades worth of decreasing living standards in America and a ongoing recession, and a sense that the political system is broken, does the American Capitalism argument even work outside the mind of a narrow minority anymore.

    All of the neo-mercantilist economist promoting what Koch labels "american capitalism" have been disproven empirically, sure they can push the logic utopians always do but nobody who have tried to practice it have ended up with anything but disaster. And America ceased being
  • Stupid namecalling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @07:29AM (#47755293)

    Calling something "Marxist" seems like an attempt to make further discussion unnecessary, comparable when in more civilised countries something is called "fascist". And calling someone who pleads for unbrideled capitalism as |leading to American situations" is also supposed to cut off further discussion, as no sane person wants that to happen.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @07:31AM (#47755305)

    It is amazing that Marx became an insult. Marx just told us that the wealthier want to get even more rich, which in the end makes labor unable to purchase the goods produced, and hence capitalism destroys itself.

    I guess they confuse Marx and Stalin.

  • by jjbenz ( 581536 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @07:44AM (#47755361)
    The Koch brothers, what a couple of douche bags.
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @08:19AM (#47755503)

    Here is how you translate it into capitalist terms. Because this is a communication problem.

    1. End all state backed communication monopolies because they make a free ISP market impossible. Anyone arguing this on capitalist terms will agree with this point. This would include AT&T, Verizon, TWC, Comcast, etc. They all enjoy regional monopolies that are backed by local governments and it is ILLEGAL to compete with them in many cases. This is the situation that allows abusive ISP policy in most cases.

    2. Ask for clarity and brevity in contracts so that the consumer knows the terms of the contract they're signing. Capitalists shouldn't have a problem with this since informed consent is a central tenet of capitalism. And once those contracts are in place the ISPs will have a hard time claiming they have a right to throttle connections when that right wasn't stipulated in the contract.

    3. Make it a stipulated portion of the ISP contract that it includes OR DOES NOT include access to all other networks on the internet.

    4. Ask for a simplification of the regulations required for an ISP start up. Capitalists should like small business and understand that a healthy market requires them. As such, they should make it easier for small ISPs to get going and transition to medium sized ISPs should they prove successful.


    Look, a major problem of the net neutrality argument is that it IS couched in communist lingo. I'm not saying it is right or wrong or even criticizing communism. But we have to be honest about that point and keep in mind that many will reflexively oppose it simply for smelling of communism.

    So if you care about net neutrality... consider what I said above because it could work as easily as anything.

    • The problem with your analysis is that the laissez-faire folks would see points all of your stipulations as Marxist.

      1. In unfettered capitalism monopolies are fine. While you don't want regulated markets. construction of monopolies through price manipulation etc. is fine. This is how we ended up with stuff like Standard Oil. Look what happened with the breakup of AT&T - gradually the companies formed by the split re-merged. Only regulation has prevented formation of a monopoly.

      2, 3 and 4 are obviously r

  • by coofercat ( 719737 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @08:42AM (#47755627) Homepage Journal

    How stupid do you have to be to read this sort of thing and say "oh yeah, good point". I mean, if you see "public utility" and "Marxist" being joined together, do you think "hmm... yes, I see what you mean", or do you think "hang on, but aren't the electrical grid, water, gas, roads and other things public utilities? We're not in a marxist state, so what's one more utility to worry about?".

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @11:38AM (#47757173)

    Rather than say Net Neutrality, which is ambiguous and a bit high high minded, call it what it really is. It is protecting from ISP double dipping. As an industry (in the USA and Canada), it is already a bloated spider feasting parasitically on society, as seen by the overwhelming consumer hatred of those companies, which somehow manage to stay in business... (I am saying rhetorically, I know how).

    What they want to do, is have the ability to not only charge the consumer of media, but also the producer. It is like a perfect fucking storm of profit! As the middle man just skimming money off everyone involved. The problem is, I as the consumer have already paid for my damn service. If I plan on using it to only access simple webpages or if I plan on streaming Netflix all day everyday, that is my right, and I pay for the privilege of doing so. We have all moved to the damn CAP system already, so if I consume more than Granny Twinkles, I PAY for it. However now they want to take my service, which I already pay for, and say well since so much is going to Netflix, we want to change them more money, and if they refuse, slow the connection.... to the consumer, who has already damn well paid for the service in the first place. Or conversely if the company pays the extortion, they will simply pass the cost onto the consumer, so either way, the consumer is going to pay or get less service no matter what happens.

    Anyway it is rapacious greed pure and simple, it is double dipping, it is wrong. These companies already have too many advantages, and constantly abuse both the system and their customers every chance they get for more profits. The reason the folks like Koch and the rest like it is they have money to gain, and the vast population has money to lose. This is not ideological (all this crap about Marxism etc...), but some idiots will think it is, and support idea, even though it is by far not in their best interests to do so. The republicans/conservatives have been playing the same shell game for years, where a large chunk of their support comes from these uninformed ideological idiots who are voting against themselves over and over again based on some fictional ideal, that doesn't even apply or even make sense given a situation. However using whatever media (and if your name is Koch, and in the USA) you have plenty of media to abuse, to convince the people to accept whatever snake oil you are selling...

  • by therealkevinkretz ( 1585825 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @12:13PM (#47757465)

    RTFA - there's no association with the Koch boogeymen other than that the president of the "astroturf group" used to work for a group which did have Koch ties.

    The author of the article expressly states that he doesn't know who funds the group. Its title is inaccurate and irresponsible.

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