As you may recall, the economy was supposed to have collapsed as of two weeks ago today. Right now, you should not be able to afford a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of $1000 bills.
I understand that bread baskets have been sent to headquarters in Virginia by ex-members. The sarcasm is tinged with philanthropy. LaRouche’s true believers are in serious trouble; their economy is collapsing, anyway. The group is being forced to come up with money for the IRS, and facing renewed investigation by the FEC, in the wake of events described by Avi Klein in a major article appearing in the new issue of Washington Monthly.
How LaRouche drove one of his most devoted supporters to suicide is interesting not just as a case study in political pathology (that too) but for the mediological story there between the lines. Klein makes the point that one way to understand the LaRouche cult is to regard it as the support system for a vanity press. But Ken Kronberg, who ran the movement’s printshop, also built it into a fairly successful commercial enterprise—among the top 400 in the country, at one point. The profits were looted on a regular basis to keep LaRouche in the lifestyle to which he has grown accustomed.
All of this began to fall apart over the past decade or so—with the internet playing a fairly important role in the collapse both of the business and of the cult’s ability to control interaction between current and ex-members. Efforts to recruit a new layer of youth have only complicated matters by adding to the internal tension. The group has lately been targetting MySpace as an instrument of diabolical forces. (The design is certainly evil, so they may have a point.)
As a supplement to the Monthly article, there is an interview at the Political Research Associates site with Kronberg’s widow that discusses how they tried to deal with the movement’s obvious strain of anti-Semitism. Molly Kronberg mentions that LaRouche “developed a theory that all the ‘good stuff’ in Judaism came from the (non-Semitic) Egyptians and that everything ‘bad’ came from those ‘dirty Semites’ from Mesopotamia.” If this theory rings a bell, that’s because it echoes Freud in one of his more peculiar flights of speculation.
LaRouche turned 85 just last month. Some ex-members think his recent proclamations are touched with senility, as opposed to the more cogent expressions of bizarre thought they were accustomed to hearing back in the old days. Maybe so. In any case, the whole story is just about over. Some of the followers must be looking forward to that, whether they admit it to themselves or not.