Lyndon LaRouche is dead!


I found him repellent, so I didn’t know much about him, except that I’d occasionally encounter one of his rabid pamphleteers, he’d sometimes appear on the news during election years, and I had a relative who was a fanatical LaRouchie. A lot of things in his obit don’t jibe well with my experience of the man.

In the late 1960s, he attracted well-educated Vietnam-era liberals who found enlightenment in his stream-of-consciousness blend of philosophy, economics and science and his purported belief that the working class was endangered by a conspiracy between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Within a few years, his vision shifted far rightward and became ultraconservative and apocalyptic, and he presented himself as the moral savior of mankind.

Mr. LaRouche denounced those he deemed a danger to his cause — a rotating list of alleged villains that included prosecutors, politicians, bankers and Zionists. LaRouche followers could be confrontational with those they viewed as dangers to society.

Through that relative, I got exposed to earfuls of LaRouche in the mid-60s and 70s, and I never got a hint of anything liberal or enlightening — but then, I was getting it filtered through that relative. Mainly what I heard was strident xenophobia, a lot of America First rhetoric, and Old Time Religion and traditional roles for everyone. The most depressing thing is that, at the time, he was considered the lunatic fringe, someone so dishonest and bizarre that he wouldn’t stand a chance in any election, yet now…he’d be a mainstream Republican. That’s how far American politics has drifted into toxic dementia during my lifetime.

Comments

  1. Oggie. My Favourite Colour is MediOchre says

    I remember a run-in with a LaRouche-ist back when I was in college. He insisted that LaRouche had a plan which would eliminate poverty from the Western Hemisphere. The idea was to damn every river, connect the rivers and lakes with canals, irrigate every desert, and on and on. I asked where the money would come from. I was told that was not a problem, the US could just print it. Even as a callow freshman math major, I could see that was pure and unadulterated cow shit (and I knew about cow shit — I worked on quite a few farms when I was in high school). It was weird. He claimed to be a liberal, a Marxist, a Democrat, a socialist, yet his ideas went so far around the bend they ended up being fascist.

    I also worked some horse farms down in the Leesburg, Virginia, area. A few of the farmers had run-ins with LaRouche and his goons. Which led to the occasional horse having its achilles tendon cut. An anti-LaRouche letter in the paper garnered hundreds of reply letters. All different, of course, but only be adding or subtracting adjectives — ‘dirty’ terrorists, ‘disgusting’ terrorists, ‘demoniacal’ terrorists, etc. His goons drove around in large SUVs, in camo BDUs, carrying semi-automatic rifles. I drove by the entrance to his compound once on the way to a hay-baling job at a horse farm. The entrance was protected by piles of sandbags with firing slits.

    He scared me.

  2. christoph says

    I remember one of his campaign slogans: “The only candidate George Bush feared enough to put in prison!”

  3. says

    There were actually two faculty members at Swarthmore College when I was a freshman who were LaRouchites. Really. I followed his career over the years and it was very clear that he consciously modeled himself on Hitler. He adopted an affinity for German culture and the philosophers associated with Nazism, the Big Lie, the goon squads, self aggrandizement, homophobia, racism and anti-semitism. He was so completely fucking nuts that I couldn’t understand why he had followers, but he did. Well, of course there’s Alex Jones and Q-Anon so I suppose nothing should be surprising.

  4. says

    Oh, I should have mentioned his conspiracy theories. Among his obsessions were Queen Elizabeth (who was the world’s leading international drug dealer) Nelson Rockefeller (who was conspiring with the CIA to take over Western Europe), nuclear fusion power (already 100% perfected but THEY were suppressing it) and, after he decided that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were not secretly allied after all, putting particle beam weapons in space. I could go on.

  5. whheydt says

    The obit on him on NBC had a nice quote from–of all people–Jim Bakker, the televangelist who was in the same prison as LaRouche. Bakker said that saying LaRouche was a bit paranoid was like saying that the Titanic had some leaks.

  6. says

    I mainly remember the LaRouchies for their bizarre views of physics. Something to do with Newton being a tool of the British Empire, and us physics majors being part of the cult of Newton. Newton’s laws were stolen from Kepler, and the F=ma equation was a knockoff of an earlier theory that F = mv. I presume the whole “British Empire” conspiracy was ultimately led by the Jews, but I never dug into it.

  7. drivenb4u says

    I guess I’m lucky – I only ever heard of him from reading Bloom County, in the intro to Bloom County Babylon if I remember correctly.

  8. Holms says

    Oh, the derivatives nutbar? I ran into some of his cult back when I was in uni; couldn’t get a single straight answer out of a single one of them as to why we needed to go back to the Breton Wood system or whatever it was. It quickly became apparent that none of them really had economics knowledge, but were merely repeating the buzzwords and phrases of the cult leader. I left them to it.

  9. doubter says

    I ran into some Larouchebags in Old Montreal about 10 years ago. They were hawking anti-Obama, and specifically anti-Obamacare, books and leaflets from a table set up at the edge of a small park. I was fascinated in a gory car wreck way, so I stopped to talk to them. They saw nothing wrong whatsoever with the graphics on the literature, which featured Obama and Hitler photoshopped into shaking hands.

    I also asked them why they would bother with doing this in Canada, which had universal healthcare for over 40 years at that time. They had no coherent answer for this, so I wandered off to take one of those horse-drawn carriage tours.

  10. johnthedrunkard says

    LaRouche did a lot of his early organizing while calling himself a ‘Marxist revolutionary.’ For a while he was allied with Fred Newman, the therapy cultist who ran Pat Buchanan’s presidential bid, and founded Jews For Farrakhan.

  11. looksy says

    Oh man, I almost got recruited by LaRouche-ists when I was in college. They lured me in with math. Using geometric constructions to double the length of a line, then double the area of a square, and then they invited me to meet up with a group of “like minded people” to talk about doubling the volume of a cube.
    Definitely in the top five weirdest nights of my life. I looked them up the next day and found out they’d been banned from multiple campuses under allegations of brainwashing.

  12. chrislawson says

    looksy@12–

    I’m guessing that you weren’t a math/sci undergrad? The maths they were using as bait was at most mid-senior school level. I’m not meaning this as an insult, but it strikes me that they were trying to look like they had some secret mathematical knowledge — kind of like the old Greek mystery cults — but their “secrets” would only appeal to people who were not familiar with basic geometry. Or am I missing something? Did they dress it up in some spectacular way?

  13. chrislawson says

    siggy@6–

    So they believe that the queen of the nation that expelled all jews from 1290 to 1657 is head of a secret jewish plot to control the world? Those Zionist conspirators sure know how to cover their tracks!

  14. PaulBC says

    The Larouche movement always struck me as too marginal to be a serious threat–though I may be wrong. I encountered a few in the late 80s in State College, PA. I can’t think of anywhere else. Baltimore (apparently) had a Maoist movement that supported Shining Path and put up flyers in the city. I kind of put them in the same category (not politically but in level of effectiveness).

    Note that I do not downplay all extremist movements, particularly white supremacist movements, which have been gaining traction (and I remember thinking they were marginal when I saw David Duke’s web sites in the mid-90s).

  15. says

    Many years ago Frank Offner https://www.nap.edu/read/10403/chapter/36 told me of his long-time friend, going back to grad school days, Robert James Moon. Moon was a very smart guy, who among other things devised the concept of the synchrocyclotron independently of, and somewhat before, Edwin McMillan. However, Moon lapsed into dementia in his 60s, and LaRouche took advantage of that disability to entice him into his crackpot “Fusion Energy Foundation” – and also took every cent he could get from him. Frank was furious that his friend was being used by those crooks, but he was unable to do anything to save him.
    If I could believe in a hell, it would be a comfort to think of LL being there.

  16. PaulBC says

    “Doubling the cube” is one of the classic problems that are impossible with compass and straightedge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubling_the_cube It’s weird that LaRouche followers would latch onto that, but maybe not that surprising. Now I remember the guy who briefly promoted LaRouche had a sign that says “Rock music causes impotence” and insisted that we needed more classical music. Perhaps this appeals to somebody out there. They really seemed like the nuttiest, most disjointed movement I have ever seen. (I had a copy of their “science” magazine at one point.)

    And, yes, it does have the feel of the Pythagoreans, but anyone who has seen Donald [Duck] in Mathmagic Land shouldn’t fall for that old trick. What are they teaching the kids these days?

  17. looksy says

    chrislawson@13 and PaulBC@17
    I think that was the point of it. Draw in by “challenging” with simple things, and then bait the hook with something impossible, hoping the mark doesn’t know it’s impossible. I didn’t at the time, so I was intrigued.
    I’d like to say that they took advantage of my trusting nature, but really I was just a bit of a putz at 18.

  18. PaulBC says

    Interesting. I looked up larouche and doubling the cube and found this pseudomathematical drivel. https://larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2005/eirv32n49-20051223/eirv32n49-20051223_058-box_15_doubling_the_square_the_c.pdf

    Way to turn mathematics into total BS! I can see the appeal, though, to people who want to act like they understand deep meanings that others do not.

    “When we see objects such as cubes, are we really seeing what we think we see? Or, are we seeing a metaphorical representation of something, lurking behind the senses, which ironically also generates what we now recognize as the Archytas construction, or Gauss’s construction of algebraic roots?”

    Or are we just reading some obfuscated dime store Platonism?

  19. jrkrideau says

    The only time I ever heard anything about LaRouche was his claim that Queen Elisabeth was a drug kingpin. I guess I thought that he was a washed–up nuttier from way back. If anything I thought that he had been supplanted by Alex Jones.

    @ 8 colinday
    Interesting, as Newton’s Principia predated the Act of Union.
    James Vi & I secretly signed an early version in order have a peaceful accession to the English throne. Sheesh, I thought everyone knew that.

  20. numerobis says

    That poster is the same pitch as the bizarre anti-Clinton claim that she was going to spark nuclear war so we should vote for trump instead.

  21. KG says

    Among his obsessions were Queen Elizabeth (who was the world’s leading international drug dealer) – cervantes@4

    Oddly enough, this particular obsession is shared by FtB’s own Marcus Ranum – at least, on a thread I can’t immediately find (I think it was on Mano’s blog) he came out with some gibberish about the British Royals (“House Windsor” as he called them in a bizarre echo of Frank Herbert’s Dune) “owning” the rules governing the transport of opiates around Europe.

  22. zetopan says

    “I mainly remember the LaRouchies for their bizarre views of physics.”

    I recall some of those loons’ claims on the net, including the bit about the Queen being the head of a drug cartel, fusion energy would be practical before the end of the 20th century, and the three body problem had been completely analytically solved. Queries about evidence for the latter were always met with rambling vague references to papers that no one could ever find. Absolutely insane fruitcakes will eagerly line up after a complete crackpot, the more bizarre the claims the greater the truth must be for them. Similar to the religious claims that the miracles claimed in the bibles must be true because no one could believe such nonsensical claims otherwise. Irrationality in action.

  23. chuckonpiggott says

    I live in the county, Loudoun VA, where his HQ was. The day the Commonwealth of VA raided his house was amazing. I have never seen so many state troopers. Had no idea there were that many. That was 1986, did not realize he was still living.

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