Nine years out of prison, Lyndon LaRouche is once again campaigning to be U.S. president. But his influence reaches beyond the U.S.A. to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia and elsewhere via electoral campaigns, speaking engagements, a host of well-funded organizations, and the media, including his own numerous publications and web sites.
LaRouche writes reams of endless treatises expounding on everything from politics and economy to science, philosophy, and a campaign to revise the tuning of the musical scale. Much of his writing appears to be kooky, boring or esoteric, and his actual program is hard to ferret out.
But for anyone concerned with making social change, it’s important to get to the bottom of LaRouche’s ideology. He is making a big appeal to youth, and his adherents are making their presence increasingly felt on campuses and on the fringes of the mass movements. And based on transcripts of discussion at a LaRouchite conference in 2002, his young followers clearly feel that LaRouche has provided them with a sense of purpose and a world view that offers answers to absolutely everything.
Part of LaRouche’s allure is his opposition to free trade and call for replacing globalism with protectionist national policies. On this platform, a Brazilian LaRouche supporter, Dr. Eneas Carneiro of the rightist Party for Rebuilding of National Order, was overwhelmingly elected to Congress last year.
Concerted digging, however, shows LaRouche’s program to be reactionary to the core, firmly grounded in sexism, anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia — and topped off with loopy, anti-scientific disavowals of everything from evolution to the need for environmental protections. Political novices who assume that there is something progressive about LaRouche because his followers are attending anti-war and pro-Palestinian actions need to be educated and warned: the man and his politics are fascist.
From leftist to far-right conspiracy theorist. For 15 years, Lyndon LaRouche was part of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party. In 1965, he split from the SWP, and during the 1970s, in reaction to the feminist movement, he went berserk. He published venomous, misogynist, racist, heterosexist, paranoid ravings in his newspaper and instigated physical attacks on leftists.
But LaRouche also proceeded to build up a huge empire, thanks in part to a fundraising operation that included spying on activists for the U.S. and other governments. In 1989, he was convicted of tax evasion and milking $34 million dollars from senior citizens. (For more detailed background, see Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism by Dennis King and the essay “LaRouche: Sex Maniac and Demagogue” in Clara Fraser’s Revolution, She Wrote.)
Since getting out of prison in 1994, LaRouche has reconstructed his network of propaganda, but has toned down his approach from its hysterical peak. Today, the Nazi-like elements of his politics are quite undercover — to the point that his own supporters can be unaware of them.
LaRouche’s anti-Semitism, however, is still fairly apparent — and connected to his anti-British sentiment, a pillar of his philosophy. He links his two villains with the assertion that Britain is run by a cabal of Jewish banking families.
Along with invoking the classic anti-Semitic canard of the international Jewish banking conspiracy, LaRouche also retails the myth of an “Israeli spy network inside the U.S. government.” He blames the “ongoing drive to induce President George W. Bush to launch a war against Iraq” on Israeli government policy that is being “foisted” on Bush by this “nest of Israeli agents.”
Like other rightwingers, LaRouche is cynically promoting an anti-Semitic message, thinly coded as anti-Zionism, to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. His arguments are a case of pretending that the tail wags the dog. The war drive reflects the economic, political, and military needs of U.S. capitalism, which would drop support for Israel in a minute if its interests demanded it.
LaRouche views the current war drive not as an expression of imperialist interests, but as a conspiracy to destroy the U.S. economy. The internal engineers of the scheme are “a cult of utopian military lunatics, typified by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, Henry Kissinger, or the current Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz,” who are “the real masterminds behind the attacks of September 11.”
By October 2002, LaRouche was attributing Bush’s saber-rattling not only to external manipulation, but to mental instability. “No President of the United States could support such insane policies,” he stated, “unless he himself were clinically insane.” Based on Bush’s performance, one can see that this point of view, however anti-materialist, might find sympathizers.
An unappetizing stew of racism, sexism, homophobia. In the past, LaRouche was not shy about his racism, which is tightly tied to his hatred of women. A 1973 essay was called “The Male Impotence of the Puerto-Rican Socialist Party” and a memo from the same period asked, “Can we imagine anything more viciously sadistic than the Black Ghetto mother?” LaRouche also cultivated relationships with white supremacists and spied for the apartheid regime in South Africa, according to Chip Berlet and Joel Ballman in the 1989 paper “Lyndon LaRouche: Fascism Wrapped in an American Flag.”
Today, LaRouche’s racism is usually not so explicit (except for occasional references to the British as sub-human baboons). This is not surprising, since he is attempting to appeal to Latin Americans, Arabs, and African Americans. In Seattle, the LaRouchies always attend the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and give away tons of their newspapers.
Researcher Berlet reports that LaRouche seeks an alliance with anti-Semitic Black cultural nationalist leader Louis Farrakhan, and LaRouche articles have appeared in Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam publications. In the article “LaRouche’s Anti-semitic Conspiracism,” Berlet says, “LaRouche followers and representatives of the Nation of Islam have joined to present anti-semitic public presentations describing an alleged conspiracy of Freemasons and the B’nai B’rith to create and control the Ku Klux Klan.” Go figure that one out!
In Australia, the LaRouchite Citizens Electoral Council (CEC) opposes Aboriginal territorial rights. In rebutting criticism of a 1997 CEC document called “Aboriginal ‘Land Rights’: Prince Philip’s Racist Plot to Splinter Australia,” LaRouche said: “[T]he so-called ‘aborigines’ of Australia, given the opportunities, can accomplish as much as would be reasonably hoped for from a child of any human household.”
Similarly, LaRouche’s homophobia less often takes the form of overt, long-winded diatribes than in the past. In 1974, a lengthy rant by LaRouche included statements like: “Womanhood is the fellacio of the male mouth in a man who has been brainwashed by the KGB; that is sucking penises…Most women are to a large degree homosexual in this society. The relationship between daughter and mother is homosexual.”
LaRouche still regularly labels his opponents gay, however, and in 1986, he was behind Proposition 64, a California AIDS initiative which was actually a witchhunt against the queer community.
In an August 2002 question and answer session, LaRouche revealed the startling fact that homosexuality was largely “induced by bad, evil, in a sense, psychologists.” It was “part of the countercultural operation,” LaRouche said, “to try to find ways to promote strange kinds of sexuality, which had been fringe in society…on a large scale.” The headquarters of this experiment, according to LaRouche, was Berkeley, California — “one of the great engineering places where they mass-produced homosexuals, from divinity students.”
Savior of capitalism. Although LaRouche disdains the “lunatic use of the term ‘capitalism,’ as used by Karl Marx and others,” his self-appointed mission is to rescue that very system. His prescription for doing this is a “New Bretton Woods,” an international conference that would bring back protectionist policies and a fixed exchange rate for the world’s currencies. He calls for the U.S. to return to “the American System of political-economy, expelling that ‘free trade’ doctrine against which all leading patriots of the U.S.A. have fought.”
LaRouchites see a Messianic role for the U.S. and the U.S. presidency in stabilizing the economy globally. According to an article in their August 2002 Executive Intelligence Review, “the very survival of the planet depends on effective leadership policy of the President of the United States.” To free George W. to take the necessary actions to save humanity, however, his Democratic Party opponents in “the McCain-Lieberman cabal must be crushed now.”
Among the other enemies of world salvation are environmentalists and the global justice movement.
According to a 1985 Washington Post story, LaRouchies told New Hampshire law enforcement officials in 1977 that the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance was a terrorist group financed by the Rockefellers. As a result, a nonviolent protest called by the group was met with the arrest of 1,400 people.
In 2001, at an August press conference about protests planned for the next month against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, LaRouche took on the anti-corporate globalization movement, announcing: “All reports from reliable sources indicate that the international terrorist movement which surfaced at Seattle, mobilized itself at Porto Alegre, Brazil, and created bloody violence at Genoa, is now taking aim at the U.S. nation’s capital. It is extremely important that those elements of U.S. organized labor who have permitted their organizations to be entangled in sympathy for this terrorist gang, break openly from the terrorist-style riots now being prepared.” Although LaRouche spends 99 percent of his time writing about economics, this is one of his few references to workers’ unions, or the labor movement. In Australia, however, the Citizens Electoral Council has tried to recruit out of the unions.
The need to propose an alternative. LaRouche is frequently dismissed as a nut, but people who study him say he’s a dangerous, fascist nut. As Clara Fraser said in her column: “The pundits are intrigued and puzzled by his amalgam of right and left politics, a tangled web of KKK, Freudian, encounter therapy, Populist, Ayn Rand-like, and Marxist notions. They needn’t be. His is the prototypical face of fascism, which is classically a hodgepodge of pseudo-theories crafted for mass appeal and calculated to bring about the glacial age law’n’order coveted by imperialists and impoverished super-patriots.”
As Leon Trotsky explained, fascism is a last-ditch effort to preserve capitalism — but one that attempts to attract a mass base of support by trumpeting opposition to big business and the status quo in order to win over the abused and disgruntled little guy. It employs mysticism, elevates the Great Leader, destroys unions and social movements, enslaves women, and scapegoats groups such as Jews, queers, and intellectuals for society’s ills. Even if muted in recent years, all these elements are present in LaRouche’s propaganda.
Whether the 80-year-old LaRouche can mobilize his cult followers into a full-blown mass fascist movement that survives him remains to be seen. But fighters for a better world should do everything possible to expose his destructive and paranoid message and provide a sane, humanitarian, socialist alternative to those who look to his movement for