Genghis Koch

kochsWhile he was busy depopulating Eurasia, Genghis Khan was just as busy sowing seeds to repopulate it. The Great Big Book of Horrible Things estimates that the man born Temujin may have been directly responsible for 40 million deaths across the tens of thousands of square miles from the Sea of Japan to the Caspian Sea that were under his control when he died in 1227. Khan acknowledged ten children, any number of wives and is claimed to have said or wrote:“The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms.”

According to an apparently scholarly study, 20 million men alive today may be direct descendants of the first Khan. Edward Ball’s family history Slaves in the Family recounts the saga of eight generations of Balls in South Carolina. The first, 20 year-old Elias “Red Cap”, arrived in Charleston in the late 1600s with nothing but title to a large swamp which Indians still haunted.

When Red Cap died 50 years later, his hundreds of slaves were tilling hundreds of fertile acres of rice paddies all titled to him. With his two wives, Red Cap had at least 13 white children. He also fathered an unknown number of mixed race children. Edward Ball estimates that Red Cap’s extant descendants number in the many thousands.

Charles and David Koch built the multi-million dollar Koch Industries they inherited from their their father into an oil, gas, and coal conglomerate that generates such extraordinary profits that each brother’s personal assets exceed $40 billion. Koch Industries contributes more to elect politicians than any other fossil fuel company. The Kochs have also spent over $67 million since 1997 to fund global warming denialism.

Global warming is right now precipitating the 6th great extinction on planet earth. In the near future, billions of people will suffer negative impacts from global warming and many millions will die. Of course, the Koch Brothers and their progeny will not be among those harmed except to the extent that their holidays in Vail may include more golf and less skiing.

In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins posits that genes that impel us to behave in ways that maximize the number of our offspring who reach reproductive age will succeed in the sense that such genes are the most likely to be passed down from generation to generation. Accordingly, “successful” behaviors, regardless of how risky and cruel they may appear, are likely to be observed across space and time because the genes that cause people to engage in these behaviors will be inherited by large numbers of people.

By killing and raping his way across Siberia, China, Mongolia, and Russia, Genghis Khan succeeded in passing down to tens of millions the genes that impelled him to ignore both the very obvious dangers involved in such behaviors and the terrible emotional and physical toll he imposed. Through Red Cap’s willingness to leave England for not particularly prepossessing land, to evict Native Americans from it, and to purchase, command, and rape hundreds of his fellow human beings, the Ball genes are now widespread across what was once a new world with no Balls at all.

Whether consciously or not, Charles and David Koch are walking in the footsteps of Genghis Khan, Elias Ball, and many other tyrants throughout human history. Khan and Ball aggrandized themselves on the corpses of others and filled spaces they helped empty with their countless progeny – progeny who are more likely than others to possess their patriarch’s greed and propensity for violence. By fouling our air and water, the Kochs are reducing our planet’s habitability and virtually guaranteeing widespread displacement, poverty, and death.

Moreover, the Kochs are spending a fraction of their fortune to bamboozle the very people they are harming into permitting them to continue their destructive practices. Insulated by extraordinary wealth, current and future Kochs will be well-positioned, along with a handful of others, to replace the millions, if not billions, their practices have killed, displaced, or ruined. The Kochs’ practices, harmful though they may be, make perfect sense to and in fact are impelled by the very genes they carry within them. The much more difficult question to answer is why so many others, whose resources the Kochs are destroying or seizing and whose ability to pass their genes on to future generations the Kochs are weakening, are complicit.

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