Part 1: Profile - The Skousen Family and the Koch Family

Cleon Skousen

A 1961 article in Time Magazine profiles the John Birch Society and the far-right extremist front-groups proliferating across the nation:

The All-American Society, founded in Salt Lake City, has as its guiding light one of the busiest speakers in the rightist movement: W. Cleon Skousen, a balding, bespectacled onetime FBI man who hit the anti-Communist circuit in earnest in 1960. after being fired from his job as Salt Lake City's police chief ("He operated the police department like a Gestapo." says Salt Lake City's conservative Mayor J. Bracken Lee). Skousen freely quotes the Bible, constantly plugs his book, The Naked Communist, presses for a full congressional investigation of the State Department. (Originations: The Ultras, Time Magazine, 1961)

The John Birch Society’s publication The New American, wrote in 2006 that:

Welch invited Skousen to join the Society’s speakers bureau in 1963, and Skousen continued in that role for several years.

In 1971, the Journal of Mormon Thought published a review of Skousen’s Naked Communist, by a Carroll Quigley, who outlined in painstaking detail how Skousen’s book had:

taken extended passages from my book (Tragedy and Hope), in violation of copyright, and put them together in terms of his own assumptions and preconceptions to make a picture very different from my own. Skousen is apparently a political agitator; I am an historian. (Dialogue: the Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1971, pg 109)

It was found that:

for over two years the John Birch Society and other radicals have been busy distorting the contents of his Tragedy and Hope in order to support their own paranoid fantasy about a super-conspiracy behind the multitude of evils in the world today. . .

Skousen was triggered into writing The Naked Capitalist by [Quigley’s] critical remarks on the Radical Right. (Dialogue, pg 107)

In contrast to Tragedy and Hope’s “chief message” of “inclusive diversity, Quigley stated that Skousen’s:

political position seems to me to be perilously close to the "exclusive uniformity" which I see in Nazism and in the Radical Right in this country. In fact, his position has echoes of the original Nazi 25 point program. (Dialogue, pg 110)

One reviewer found that “The immediate result of Skousen's activity is a kind of radical cult within the Church.” (Dialogue, pg 108) The problem became so bad, that in 1979 letter from the president of the Mormon Church, all U.S. Mormon Churches were forbidden from spreading Skousen’s propaganda:

To All Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in the United States,
It has come to our attention that in some areas announcements have been made in Church meetings of lectures to be given by those connected with the Freemen Institute. This is to inform you that no announcements should be made in Church meetings of these, or other similar, lectures or events that are not under the sponsorship of the Church. . .[M]ake certain that neither Church facilities nor Church meetings are used to advertise such events and to avoid any implication that the Church endorses what is said during such lectures. (Kimball, Tanner, Romney, February 15, 1979, Transcribed at

Skousen’s books have been subject to criticism after being discovered in Arizona charter schools:

Garrett Epps is a writer, legal scholar and law professor at the University of Baltimore who has poked holes in Skousen's philosophies. "Skousen's account of the growth and meaning of the Constitution is quite inaccurate," . . .

"Parts of his major textbook, 'The Making of America,' present a systematically racist view of the Civil War. ... A long description of slavery in the book claims that the state (of slavery) was beneficial to African Americans and that Southern racism was caused by the 'intrusion' of northern abolitionists and advocates of equality for the freed slaves," Epps said.

Epps said he believes that "any student taught from these materials in a public institution is being subjected to religious indoctrination" and "is also being crippled educationally and will be ill-prepared to take part in any serious program of instruction of American government and law."

Read Americans United for the Separation of Church and State’s formal complaint here.

Cleon Skousen’s other tracts include “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society,” and the “Communist Attack on the Mormons,” the latter arguing that the struggle for civil rights within the Mormon church was the result of a communist conspiracy.

Mark Skousen

Skousen’s nephew, Mark Skousen is a close collaborator in Koch’s corporate “liberty movement,” co-funding large events with Americans for Prosperity and other Koch groups.   

Mark Skousen teaches economics at Grantham University, who claims to be “the nation’s fastest growing on-line/distance learning university.”

Mark Skousen is not just an adherent to Charles Koch’s Market Based Management™, but has developed curriculum at Grantham’s new “Mark Skousen School of Business,” commenting:

I’d like to think I’ve created a new business paradigm, which incorporates “market-based management,” based largely on “Austrian” and “Chicago” schools of economics and finance. The term “market-based management” is an invention of Charles Koch of Koch Industries.

Grantham University announced:

Skousen's textbooks offer a special emphasis on the Austrian School of economics, finance, and management, as reflected in the works of management guru Peter F. Drucker, Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, and modern-day practitioners such as John Mackey of Whole Foods Market and Charles Koch of Koch Industries.

Cleon Skousen’s nephew, Mark Skousen, is a close collaborator in Koch’s corporate “liberty movement.” He produces an annual mega-conference called FreedomFest, billed as the “world’s largest libertarian gathering,” co-sponsored by Americans for Prosperity and other Koch groups. In 2016, FreedomFest featured none other than Koch’s master strategist, Richard Fink, whose talk laid out the Koch foundation’s “integrated strategy,” along with an overlapping map of their think tanks and university investments across all fifty states.

Mark Skousen also teaches economics to inmates at Sing Sing prison, through Hudson Link, a non-profit that produces educational materials for prison reentry programs in New York state.