Bronze-level articleLyndon LaRouche

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Oh, no! Aliens, bio-duplication, nude conspiracies... Oh my God! Lyndon LaRouche was right!
—Homer Simpson[1]
Lyndon LaRouche, 2006.
Some dare call it

Conspiracy

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Secrets revealed!
The revealers

Lyndon LaRouche is a very special kind of American political animal, a perennial candidate for President and the ultimate wingnut, encompassing both extreme left AND extreme right.

You know those sketchy-looking people that you see giving out pamphlets and newspapers near college campuses and subway stations? Carrying hand-lettered posters with pictures of Bush, Cheney, or Obama with a Hitler mustache? They're working for Lyndon LaRouche.

LaRouche is a perpetual office seeker with a messiah complex, who operates his own batshit loony (but thankfully ineffective) political machine in a manner freakishly remniscent of a religious cult. Many of his political workers are young, middle-of-the-road to liberal students and young adults who think LaRouche, and only LaRouche, knows what needs to be done to Save The World.

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He has run for President 8 times, wants to build nuclear desalinization plants off the California coast and use tactical nukes to build a canal across Africa to solve the world's water crisis, thinks the economy will collapse unless we build a high speed mag-lev railroad through Alaska and Siberia, and thinks Henry Kissinger, the ADL, the Queen of England, Greenpeace, and the World Wildlife Fund are agents of international Satanism who control the drug trade. LaRouche has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism as well, though this is more prominent outside the United States, where he mostly blames the British for everything.

Though LaRouche has traditionally run as a Democrat since 1980, whether he is right or left is kind of hard to prove. The best that can be said is his beliefs are a unique amalgamation of wingnuttery and moonbattery, where far left and far right meet on the far side of the moon. His earliest political background was decidedly on the hard left where he was a Trotskyist and an organizer for the Socialist Workers Party where he was known as Lyn Marcus (kicked out when they noticed his messiah complex even back then) and then leading a Marxist study group of New Left students during the late 1960s, from whence he assembled most of his early following; but he later tried to establish close ties to the New Right during the early Reagan administration, especially over three of his pet issues, nuclear power, the War on Drugs, and opposition to the environmental movement. Though his organization has been active in other countries (particularly Australia and Germany), his home base and constituency has traditionally been largely American.

The common thread in his views from the 1960s to the present is a doomsday scenario in which finance capital is about to bring about a worldwide economic collapse or a "new dark age" unless LaRouche's leadership and economic proposals are adopted. He has been predicting imminent global collapse for 40 years. We're still waiting.

He also thinks rock & roll, especially the Beatles, is a British intelligence plot to lead us into a dark age, and only classical music played in C=256 Hz Verdi tuning can bring about a new political and cultural renaissance, and that Pokémon is a cult reprogramming children's brains to commit acts of violence.

Political mood swings and flip flops

It's just a jump to the left...

LaRouche, then still known as Lyn Marcus, was one of the instigators of the 1968 Columbia University student strike, led by the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He established a faction within SDS called the SDS Labor Committee, and began teaching courses on Marxism at a "free university" set up in New York for student radicals. LaRouche's SDS Labor Committee (also using the name National Caucus of Labor Committees) was on somewhat shaky terms with the other factions in SDS. SDS at that time had several factions, one of which was controlled by the Maoist Progressive Labor Party (PL), another of which was also Maoist but opposed to PL (this faction later spawned the Weather Underground), the older social-democratic wing of SDS who weren't happy with all the Maoist sects, an anarchist faction, a faction of white students who wanted to work with the Black Panther Party, etc. LaRouche assembled most of his early following from his students at the free university, and when SDS fractured at their 1969 convention, LaRouche went his own way with his National Caucus of Labor Committees gaining a reputation as an especially hard-line leftist sect.

Transformation into a cult

The transformation of his group from a leftist political sect into a cult appears to have happened around 1973-74. In 1973 he ordered his followers to physically attack meetings of the U.S. Communist Party, claiming this would establish the "hegemony" of LaRouche's group over the U.S. left. Shortly thereafter, he began incorporating a weird psycho-sexual analysis into his politics and subjecting followers to "deprogramming" sessions, claiming only he could cure their political "and sexual" impotence. LaRouche also claimed he was being targeted for assassination. Ex-followers call this period the "great freakout of 1974".[1]

...And then a step to the right

In 1976 he made his first run for president on the U.S. Labor Party ticket, best remembered for posters claiming a vote for Jimmy Carter would cause global thermonuclear war. His abandonment of Marxism came a little later around 1978. This may have happened because in 1976, the extremist right-wing group Liberty Lobby took notice of some of LaRouche's campaign material and its conspiratorial overtones (LaRouche, like Liberty Lobby, was an early critic of the Trilateral Commission), and began promoting LaRouche publications to their audience, while criticizing it for not identifying what Liberty Lobby thought the "real source" of the "conspiracy" was. Soon, sensing a new potential source of converts, LaRouche publications were filled with conspiracy theories originating in the extreme right and anti-Semitic overtones, and he turned to some new pet issues associated with the right such as promoting nuclear power and the war on drugs. In 1978 his group was still in some sense Marxist as they published a translation of a Rosa Luxemburg book, but by 1979 he abandoned any remaining traces of Marxism.[2]

In 1980 he made the first of several runs for president in the Democratic primaries. LaRouche attempted to build a grand coalition that would "piggy-back" (his own words) him to the White House and made ties with the far-left and far-right. For example from the right he condemned counter-culture as a conspiracy to enact drug trade and staunchly criticized the environmentalist movement to the point of blaming them for the 1979 Iranian Revolution. At the same time LaRouche also built ties with civil rights and labor union leaders (the Teamsters especially), claimed he alone could bring Arab-Isreali peace, as well as hammering Carter on enacting trucking deregulation.[3] This seems too have failed to materalize as LaRouche won a massive 0.91% of votes and Ronald Reagan took LaRouche's seat. Still try again they say so LaRouche ran six more times, either barely improving or winning fewer votes.

LaRouche was an early proponent of space-based weapons, and is credited by many with successfully lobbying Ronald Reagan into funding the so-called Star Wars program.[4][5][6] And since George W. Bush was too busy trying to revive the Strategic Defense Initiative instead of paying attention to what Osama bin Laden was up to like he should have been, it could be said by some that LaRouche bears some responsibility for 9/11.[7]

LaRouche's intelligence network

Starting around the time of his 1976 run for the presidency, the LaRouche organization built a private intelligence gathering network which rivaled that of many governments and major media. According to one critic[8] the LaRouche organization used this intelligence network in an opportunistic way to try and establish ties and information exchanges with anyone and everyone, and would often pass information between agencies and groups hostile to each other, either as a deliberate go-between or in an opportunistic way. They established such communication channels with both the CIA and KGB, with both African-American civil rights activists in the U.S. and the South African apartheid government, and with both several Latin American military dictatorships and with the left-wing Christic Institute which opposed U.S. policy in Central America. Some of these people eventually figured out LaRouche was a loose cannon only interested in opportunism and promoting himself, but only after a bunch of stuff was leaked that shouldn't have been. Give credit where credit is due though: LaRouche's EIR magazine broke the Iran-Contra affair several months before anyone in the major media picked up on it.

Success...and hard time

Originally based in New York City, the entire LaRouche operation pulled up stakes in 1985 and relocated to rural Virginia in the Leesburg area near the West Virginia state line. The locals were not amused.[9] In 1986, two of his followers won the Democratic primaries in Illinois for Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor; that combined with his move from the relative anonymity of New York City to the fishbowl environment of Leesburg (population 8000) where they quickly came under close scrutiny from local law enforcement and media, and his group's sponsorship of a controversial AIDS ballot initiative in California, called enough public attention to his movement that his fundraising practices came under scrutiny. It was during this time that the LaRouche organization had its biggest successes in running candidates in Democratic primaries. Although their only major victories were the two primary winners in Illinois, his supporters also won a number of minor seats, mostly local Democratic precinct captains and party chairmanships, the most significant of which was in Houston. The hundreds of "LaRouche Democrats" running in primaries, as the media dubbed them, sent the Democratic Party into a panic and there was a brief media hysteria circa 1986 over the possibility that LaRouche's movement was gaining traction with voters. This ended with the criminal convictions of LaRouche and several top aides.

His Leesburg office was raided by the FBI in October 1986, and he was convicted in 1988 on mail fraud and tax evasion charges. He served five years of a 15 year sentence, at one point sharing a prison cell with Jim Bakker. He and his apologists claim this was solely a politically motivated prosecution and LaRouche a "political prisoner", but in fact was the same sleazy malady every televangelist knows and does well: scaring old people with lurid stories of the Imminent End of the World and bilking them out of their retirement money.

After prison

During the early 1990s he attempted to establish ties with the "wise use" movement, which was opposed to environmentalism. The "wise use" movement is a catch-all term for a wide variety of groups, some of them grassroots organizations on a shoestring budget in timber, ranching, and mining communities who saw their jobs and culture under attack from hard greens; others, corporate funded astroturf groups engaging in environmental denialism. The LaRouche organization wasn't the only fringe group trying to establish hegemony over this movement, another was the Unification Church. LaRouchies would typically show up at their meetings peddling bizarre conspiracy theories about a British cabal conspiring to de-industralize the planet through their rock-sex-drug counterculture to bring about a "new dark age". They had little success and when they found themselves rebuffed by rough-and-ready loggers and miners who recognized bullshit when they saw it, LaRouche fired a volley at "wise use" around 1995 writing off the movement as a front for "British" libertarian interests taking their cues from Milton Friedman (who is one of LaRouche's main bugaboos).

On other matters, LaRouche's conviction had effectively cut off his ties with the Reaganite right, and his group's breaking of the Iran-Contra affair pointed to a different direction and an eventual swing back to the left. Two LaRouche associates wrote George Bush: An Unauthorized Biography which became one of their most popular books, detailing George H.W. Bush's various misdeeds (albeit with typical LaRouchian distortions and conspiracy theories weaved in). LaRouche opposed the 1991 Gulf War and his followers joined antiwar protests.

See-sawing back to the left

At some point in the late 1980s he began to distance himself from the U.S. extreme right, which was then moving into some bizarre new areas themselves such as the militia movement and black helicopter conspiracy theories; even LaRouche realized these movements were dangerous and crazy, and he denounced these (predictably) as "British" propaganda (he likes blaming the British for a lot of things) and he began offering staunch support of Bill Clinton which had gradually begun almost immediately after the 1993 inaguration. LaRouche strongly denounced the Clinton impeachment attempt, and attacked right-wing Republicans like Newt Gingrich and called to impeach Republican then-governor of Pennyslvania Tom Ridge in 1996.

His brand of "leftism" these days, however, is uniquely wingnutty and still full of the same conspiratorial talk from his far right period. He endorsed John Kerry in 2004, the first time he ever endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate other than himself, and shared many of the criticisms of Dick Cheney and the Bush administration with the left, but considers George Soros public enemy #1 (apparently replacing his old nemesis Henry Kissinger) and has taken a conspiracy-laden view of Barack Obama's administration - possibly putting him in the PUMA category, although we're sure the PUMAs don't particularly want anything to do with him either. LaRouche has attacked Obama's health care proposals from the left - LaRouche wants single payer and only single payer - and his followers have been showing up at health care debates with signs showing Obama with a Hitler moustache. He has also attacked Obama from the right however. The Democratic Party has not been fooled by LaRouche's apparent swing back to the left and has barred him and his followers from party activities and endorsement since the 1980s. Still very much a cult, he has in recent years tried organizing younger "Millennial Generation" people into his movement through the LaRouche Youth Movement, and taken to denouncing "Baby Boomers" and suggesting they commit suicide, which may have influenced one of his longtime followers to do just that.[10] Longtime LaRouche watchers and ex-followers have noted his organization has essentially split: the older followers based in Leesburg are now on their own, while LaRouche and his LaRouche Youth Movement relocated to nearby Purcellville. The speculation here is LaRouche knows he is not going to live much longer, has given up on his older followers whom he recruited in the 1960s-70s, and thinks he can ensure the longevity of his ideas by cutting the older baby boomers loose and putting his stock entirely in building the LaRouche Youth Movement. His older followers who have been loyal to him all this time are needless to say confused and betrayed, and the state of the LaRouche movement is not good at this point.

Front groups and recruiting

The LaRouche organization attempts to recruit followers from across the political spectrum. Perhaps most surprising has been their success in recruiting old civil rights leaders into their movement. These include former SCLC leader Rev. James Bevel, and Amelia Boynton, a leader in the Selma-Montgomery marches. During the late 1970s and early 1980s he also had a great deal of success wooing nuclear scientists into alliances with his group over nuclear power advocacy, including some big names who should have known better, although most of them jumped ship quickly once they figured out LaRouche was nuts.

Front groups include:

  • Schiller Institute - established in Wiesbaden, Germany by Lyndon's wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche, a German national; this group is also active in the U.S.
  • National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC - this is the main name the LaRouche organization has been known by in the US since 1967)
  • Citizens Electoral Council - formerly an outfit of run-of-the-mill anti-Semitic white supremacist nutbags, it suffered an internal takeover to become the LaRouche political party in Australia. Distributes colourful and insightful pamphlets during election campaigns in states in which they are not standing for election, or even have a party registered.
  • Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität - the LaRouche political party in Germany
  • New Federalist newspaper (prior to 1988 known as New Solidarity)
  • EIR magazine, or Executive Intelligence Review
  • 21st Century Science and Technology magazine - the main outlet for LaRouche's views on nuclear power and his esoteric proposals for space-based weaponry and high speed rail.
  • Worldwide LaRouche Youth Movement. Clue brick: if you don't like people calling your movement fascist, don't call your young followers "LaRouche Youth". Does it get any more obvious than this?
  • Fusion Energy Foundation, and Fusion magazine. FEF is possibly defunct; the magazine was later replaced by 21st Century Science and Technology.
  • LaRouche-controlled book publishers, past and present, include Campaigner Publications and New Benjamin Franklin Publishing House

Electoral history

He has run for president in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and for U.S. Congress in Virginia in 1990. His best results were in the 1980 New Hampshire Democratic primary (2%), and in the 1996 and 2000 Democratic primaries (4.55% and 2.2% nationwide respectively, mainly because the only candidate of note in the 1996 primaries was Bill Clinton, and in 2000, Al Gore and Bill Bradley). In 1996 and 2000 the Democratic Party refused to seat his delegates won in the Virginia and North Dakota primaries in 1996 and the Arkansas primary in 2000[11]. The LaRouche organization has a long history of falsely exaggerating LaRouche's electoral results and claiming he outright "won" some states. His best showing in a general presidential election was 0.09% in 1984 as an independent candidate, billed in his half-hour TV ads as an "Independent Democrat". He did not run for president at age 86 in 2008.

It's been stated that Abraham Simpson once voted for LaRouche.[12]

See also

Videos

External links

Footnotes

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/cult/larouche/main.htm
  2. Some have said he abandoned Marxism in favor of producerism while privately remaining Marxist, and that he did this on the grounds that according to Marxist theory a proletarian revolution would not be possible until industrial development and a strong middle class were first a reality; which explains his infatuation with nuclear power and big development projects.
  3. http://wlym.com/~oakland/brutish/Dereg.pdf This is a actually a pretty intelligent and decent study until you get to the last chapter were it begins to scream LaRouchian rants
  4. http://www.new-federalist.com/other/2007/3428us_russ_bmd.html
  5. http://lyndonlarouchewatch.org/fascism9.htm
  6. http://www.namebase.org/sources/LI.html
  7. Disputable - goats obviously bear the most blame for 9/11 no thanks to this book.
  8. Dennis King, in Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism
  9. http://lyndonlarouchewatch.org/fascism33.htm
  10. http://www.fcnp.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1155&Itemid=33
  11. Predictably, LaRouche claims this is the reason that Al Gore lost the 2000 election. Gore did not carry Arkansas which had he won while losing Florida the Oval Office would have been his anyway. Therefore LaRouche maintains that refusing his delagates cost Gore the election and that if they were seated Bush would have lost Arkansas.
  12. Simpsons episode 4F17 (20 Apr 1997) The Old Man and the Lisa. As an incentive for his workers at the Springfield Retirement Castle, Mr. Burns promises to take the seniors to the most duck-filled pond they ever saw. Grandpa Simpson replies: "Oh, hot-diggity! That’s how they got me to vote for Lyndon LaRouche!"http://obscurantist.com/oma/larouche-lyndon/
  13. Ford won California, and no nuclear war happened. Hmm.
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