Lyndon LaRouche Mystery Theater

by Scott McLemee on July 11, 2007

Writing about the LaRouche Youth Movement finally allowed me to use some of the research material piling up for a novel that’s never quite come together.

Maybe it was the anxiety of influence. Lyndon LaRouche always seemed like a character right out of Thomas Pynchon.

It’s not just that line in The Crying of Lot 49 about “the true paranoid for whom all is organized in spheres joyful or threatening about the central pulse of himself.”

All the psychosexual strangeness in Pynchon, from V. through Against the Day, has its analog in polemics like “Beyond Psychoanalysis” and “The Sexual Impotence of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party” that LaRouche wrote in the early seventies, back when he was known as Lyn Marcus. (Everybody thinks that name was supposed to mean that LaRouche believed he was “Lenin and Marx” rolled into one. But that, alas, seems to be an urban legend, as I mention in the column.)

Maybe one of the kids now recruited into the LaRouche Youth Movement will actually write the work of magical realism that its bizarro world so richly deserves. One former member, who left in the mid-1970s, put together a pretty amazing study in the intellectual history of some of LaRouche’s doctrines, part of it available here.

It is interesting, but I still think this subject requires the skills of a novelist. Or at least of H.P. Lovecraft.

POSTSCRIPT: Chances are pretty good that it will turn out I wrote my article as a lackey of British arms manufacturer BAE Systems, and that I am, in fact, a paid asset of the Anglo-American covert intelligence operations of Baroness Elizabeth Symons.

Assuming that this is true, I am going to invite all of you to a really big party, once the check clears.

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07.11.07 at 8:50 pm



Sumana Harihareswara 07.11.07 at 1:02 pm

LaRouche always made me think of an alternate history where Camille Paglia ran for President.


jim 07.11.07 at 2:04 pm

Given the ludicrousness, and ever-changing nature, of his beliefs, it’s remarkable that LaRouche has kept it up for forty years. I suppose that once you’ve figured out how to create and lead a cult, it’s like riding a bicycle: the knack never leaves you.


c 07.11.07 at 2:44 pm

And a good cult doctrine shouldn’t make sense — its function is to bollix up the minds of adherents.


Alex 07.11.07 at 3:12 pm

The linked doc is interesting; it makes sense, although it’s heavy on the snark and contains surprisingly little information for the number of factoids deployed, until you finally get to the “assault on LaRouche”, which turns out to be “that thing, you know…where the Jewish guy came to our meeting and ended up dead.”


r@d@r 07.11.07 at 4:45 pm

i avoid “LaRouchies” like i do 7th Day Adventists handing out copies of “Awake!”, but my memory is a bit clouded – i have to go ask my brother why he used to always refer to LaRouche as “That crypto-fascist”.

i must say i do agree with most of the signs they carry on streetcorners here about getting rid of dick cheney. even a broken clock etc.


Chris Henrichsen 07.11.07 at 5:53 pm

Jehovah’s Witnesses, not 7th Day Adventists, had out Awake! No interest either way for me, but still an important distinction.


JP Stormcrow 07.11.07 at 6:17 pm

OK, you must now go add “follow increasingly bizarre LaRouche links ad infinitum” to the flow diagram in your “Story of My Life” post.

The LaRouche Youth Movement(LYM) seem to have gotten to a very interesting place indeed. Pynchon plus a dose of Ignatius Reilly would be my take. The December 2006 issue of the new journal DYNAMIS: The Journal Of The LaRouche-Riemann Method Of Physical Economics provides a good summary:

[Dems recapture Congress] LaRouche’s Youth Movement takes full credit for that victory. and identifies 3 key factors:

1) They targeted campuses with a pamphlet exposing the “Get LaRouche” tactics of Wall Street banker John Train and Lynne “Big Sister” Cheney.

2) Second, they developed their improving mastery of Bel Canto choral singing, and used it as a sharp political organizing weapon. [JP – Yes. That is a direct quote.]

3) They launched a focused study of Johannes Kepler’s major discoveries.

These three activities helped break Cheney’s new campus McCarthyism.

The Kepler theme occurs throughout the issues of the journal. Many detailed studies of what went right and wrong in early Mathematics, as far as I can tell:
Kepler -> good
Nicholas of Cusa -> good
Leibniz -> good
Newton -> bad “a half-witted hoaxster”
Cauchy -> bad
Gauss -> good
Reimann -> good

It all has to be seen and read to be believed.
I will stop here in the interest of space – but will end with one last quote:

Here, Stewart[authour of a Calculus tetbook]tacitly ignores the discovery of Cusa, that the circle is not a polygon! This might seem a fine point, but it happens to be quite crucial for the future of humanity.


KCinDC 07.11.07 at 6:42 pm

I’m glad that the LaRouchites I’ve seen lately in DC seem to have switched from “Impeach Cheney!” to “Global warming is a hoax!” in their signs and literature, and I’m very glad of it. We don’t need them tainting the idea of impeachment.

They often show up at Center for American Progress movie screenings and ask their wacko questions during the panels afterward. Fortunately they didn’t seem to have a table at Take America Back this year.


JP Stormcrow 07.11.07 at 7:08 pm

I had just scanned the beginning and end of your article – so did not see thet you had already mentioned geometry and bel canto singing as a political weapon. Fascinating – I also like the one article with a picture of the Unabomber – clearly driven over the edge by faulty mathematics.

And I agree on not having them join in common causes. I cannot recall which presidential election it was, but I distinctly recall one where the Democrats actually had to spend time repudiating various positions of LaRouche’s.


Frederick Guy 07.11.07 at 7:42 pm

I like the Inside Higher Ed piece, but you present Bronfenbrenner as more serious than he means to be when you say,

“As a review-essay, it is sober and judicious, yet suffused with a certain tone of puzzlement, as if Bronfenbrenner had to stop every so often to scratch his head.”

Bronfenbrenner’s essay is, quite simply, a joke from beginning to end. The Journal of Political Economy does not often publish long review essays even about books its editors would consider important, but it often does (or at any rate did then) publish something funny or of quaint historical interest – usually much shorter than this one – as an end-piece. The JPE is, in addition to being one of the leading economics journals in the world, the house organ of the Chicago school of economics. In the early 1970s, Marxian economics was taken seriously by small but significant minorities in many leading American economics departments – but not, ever, in the Economics Department at the University of Chicago. Bronfenbrenner notes LaRouche’s dismissal of several leading contemporary Marxian economists, but it is not such serious contenders Bronfenbrenner has come to discuss: it is LaRouche, a clown, for the entertainment of the Chicago faithful. The nature of his audience is clear when Bronfenbrenner finds that he must drop his light tone to do serious business in one footnote, because LaRouche has actually landed a blow on hometown favorite Milton Friedman’s simplistic view of deregulated markets; the professor parries with Friedman and Schwartz’s rather more sophisticated Monetary History of the United States – a cheap move, for reasons that Paul Krugman spelled out well in his obituary of Friedman in the New York Review.

One footnote, however, does not a review make. That may leave the number of serious independent assessments of LaRouche’s theories at exactly zero, which would be evidence either of a previously unfathomed lower bound for standards in the diverse community of academic editors and referees (barring that one mercifully unnamed commissioning editor from DC Heath), or a supremely powerful conspiracy, I’m not sure which.


James 07.11.07 at 8:21 pm

Finally – an organization capable of performing one a them suppressed kazoo concertos.


John Emerson 07.11.07 at 8:28 pm


John Emerson 07.11.07 at 8:33 pm

These usages arose for modern scrutiny, in the negotiations by (the enemies of Socrates and Plato,) the Persian Magi caste, with King Philip of Macedon. This occurred during the time of Aristotle’s teacher and controller, the Isocrates who headed the leading school of sophistry in Athens of that time, Isocrates’ School of Rhetoric, the same Isocrates who played a conspicuous role in the policy-discussions surrounding the mooted East-West “detente” of that time. As was famously proposed by the Persian Emperor, to King Philip’s son and political adversary, Alexander “the Great,” this was the “one world” project of that place in history: A “detente” whose intent was to end the centuries-long war between the Persian Empire and the intellectually and militarily superior Greeks, by establishing a division of the Persian Empire, between “West” (west, approximately, of the Halys and Eurphrates rivers), and “East.” The Macedonian monarchy was repeatedly offered the hereditary imperial rule over the West, on condition that Macedonia subdue those stubborn Greeks whom the Persians had never developed the wit and military skill to conquer. The added condition was, that the social model of the western empire conform to the oliagrchical model of the Achaemenids. Actually, the “Persian Empire” was nothing but the old Babylonian Empire revitalized under the “hired new management” selected by the ruling families of Babylon, the hereditary priest-caste, akin to the priesthood of the Delphi Cult of Apollo. The model of Mediterranean-wide East-West Empire, was revived, first, during the wars of the First century b.c. , in which the Capri agreement between Octavian (Augustus) and the Magi priests of Mithra, established Rome as the capital of a “world empire,” and the second phase, under Diocletian, in which the Empire was divided between an eastern and western division, the religious-cultural “balance of power” division of Europe, from the Code of Diocletian, to the present day. It was from these precedents, that the modern British Empire designed the orchestration of the “geopolitical” balance of power between eastern and western Europe, since the beginning of this century, and still attempts to do so, in two World Wars, one Cold War, and the present Anglo-French Entente Cordiale manipulation of internal Moscow strategic perceptions and policies, today.


JP Stormcrow 07.11.07 at 9:38 pm

Wow John, I think you hit the Mother Lode with that article. He lays it all out there – a whole mad history of science and more to arrive at:

The attempt to use an element of the Biosphere, foodstuffs, for abiotic power, would not be that far distant in annals of either science or morality, from raising and eating one’s children as a practical matter of producing food.

Along the way meeting the “satanic” Paolo Sarpi and his evil henchman Galileo:

The virtually criminal thing which Clausius, Grassmann, Kelvin, et al., did to the work of Sadi Carnot, was to take an expression of the quality of the human mind, the effect of the practice of the discovery of universal physical principles of the same quality as Kepler’s discovery of universal gravitation, and to treat the effects of such principles in the way in which the satanic Sarpi’s lackey Galileo had attempted sodomic rape on the body of Kepler’s discoveries of the Creator’s universal physical principle.[emphasis added]


Nick 07.11.07 at 9:52 pm

There is, of course, something very odd about the fact that the Journal of Political Economy was the only academic journal to review Lyn Marcus’s magnum opus, but #10’s explanation may not be the right one. According to Scott’s article, Marcus aka LaRouche has a longtime supporter named Bruce Director. Any relation to Aaron Director, Chicago School economist and Milton Friedman’s brother-in-law?


Scott McLemee 07.11.07 at 10:07 pm

A very good explanation of the basic LaRouche template is given in a chapter of Architects of Fear, a book from the early 1980s by George Johnson, who I believe is still a science writer for The New York Times.

World history boils down to a war between the anti-technology agrarian oligarchs (reductionist followers of Aristotle, every one) and the city-building forces of scientific progress (who are Platonists).

The whole thing started in either Atlantis or Mesopotamia, or maybe both. I can’t read my notes on that part.


r@d@r 07.11.07 at 10:50 pm

Jehovah’s Witnesses, not 7th Day Adventists, had out Awake! No interest either way for me, but still an important distinction.

i stand gladly corrected.


JP Stormcrow 07.11.07 at 11:41 pm

Not that anyone would want to watch it, but here is a link to a google video (~2 hr 30 min)of Bruce Director teaching geometry (and there is a 2nd video by the same user) to LYM students. I sampled a couple of places – it seems mostly Gauss and geometry, with some “economy” mixed in – caught one transition (about 7-8 minutes in) where somehow a discussion of gravitational “potential” leads to a discussion of economic “potential”. I can’t even quite recall how it shifted.


Kenny Easwaran 07.12.07 at 2:00 am

Anyone who compares LaRouche to Seventh-Day Adventists or Jehovah’s Witnesses is being unfair to apocalyptic religious organizations.


JP Stormcrow 07.12.07 at 5:48 am

Thanks for the fascinating post and article Scott. I had known of LaRouche’s political stuff and the weird conspiracy theories, but was unaware of the paranoid history, strange math and LYM in general.

LaRouche seems to have some similarities to Alfred Lawson (“When I look into the vastness of space and see the marvelous workings of its contents… I sometimes think I was born ten or twenty thousand years ahead of time.”) who is a “star” of Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. LaRouche is more academically “sophisticated” (Lawson’s Physics was called “Zig, Zag and Swirl”), prolific, and “successful”, but otherwise they seem to have a lot in common. (Lawson had an economic theory known as Direct Credits for Everybody.)

My personal favorite Lawson quote:

Civilized Libraries contain thousands of books that speak nothing but lies. They are labeled fiction. There are thousands of other books that average seventy-five per cent lies, that are labeled history.


JamesP 07.12.07 at 8:55 am

His Executive Intelligence Review developed a fixation on my dad at one point, thus resulting in the headline – ‘Martin Palmer: High Priest of Evil.’ (My dad was Prince Philip’s religious adviser at the time.) Such paragraphs as –

One of the more revealing expressions of the oligarchical strategy is the unwholesome symbiosis between Britain’s Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh) and his satanic religious adviser, Martin Palmer. Out of his oligarch’s pure hatred of Christianity and the modern nation-state, Prince Philip has resurrected the ancient satanic cult of Gaea, and has proposed to eradicate Christianity by means of superseding it with a mish-mash “world religion,” the latter incorporating all those degraded features of sundry religions which are consistent with Olympian hostility to science and do not promote the dignity of the individual person as “made in the image of God.”

used to give my family great amusement,


Scott McLemee 07.12.07 at 10:35 am

It took a while, but a LaRouchie has commented on my article, saying among other things:

Furthermore, anybody who knows anything knows at this point that LaRouche is not, and never was, a “right-winger”—that he is the most outspoken opponent of the neo-Cons and their fascist agenda.

When “anybody who knows anything knows at this point” that LaRouche started developing friendly connections with Birchers, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis in the mid-1970s and spent most of the 1980s telling anyone who would listen that he was Ronald Reagan’s extra-special buddy.

But you can rip off the credit cards of people buying copies of your pamphlets calling for AIDS patients to be put in camps — and shake down little old senile Republican ladies for their retirement funds in order to help Lyn defeat Communism — for only so long before the chumps grab their pitchforks.

So now he is the last representative of the FDR tradition.

He remains in struggle with the evildoers from Atlantis, of course, so it’s not like he’s being inconsistent or anything.

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