Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not that active for the moment...

Please excuse that I am not so active at the moment, and that my blog is not updated. I am busy with something called: LIFE! Something the members in the LaRouchecult should try too. Life is wonderful!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Professors warn: cults like the LaRouche Youth Movement are dangerous!

Professor warns that cults may target students

Many cults are said to operate under the guise of nonprofits and recruit on campus.
Janna Brancolini

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2007, Daily Trojan ( http://www.dailytrojan.com/news/professor-warns-that-cults-may-target-students-1.204938 )

Updated: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Clarification: This article cites that the Los Angeles Church of Christ was accused of cult activity in 2000. At the time of the accusations, the church was not a recognized student group at USC. The church became a university-recognized student organization in 2001 and has not been accused of cult activity since.

The list of problems plaguing college campuses is extensive: illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual assault. But according to experts, there's a lesser-known, but equally-present danger: cults.

As part of Parents Weekend, the USC Department of Sociology presented "Sects in the City: Protecting Your Children from Cults" Thursday afternoon, with the aim of educating parents about how to help their children avoid cult recruitment techniques.
"Cults are known to recruit on college campuses," said the presenter, Doni Whitsett, a professor in the School of Social Work and an independent clinician. "Students are invited to a dinner, a retreat, a special lecture, and they may not know who's sponsoring it."

Oftentimes cults will operate under the guise of human rights groups, she said. Her lecture began with an anecdote about a female college student who attended a cult retreat, thinking it was an activist event to end poverty.

Whitsett prefers not to use the term "cult" because she says it's a loaded word fraught with controversy. She said better descriptions are "high-demand" and "destructive" groups. They require exceptionally high levels of dedication and sacrifice from their members, and they manipulate members by not disclosing that the group is a cult.

"The techniques are subtle," Whitsett said. "They use mind control techniques, and one hallmark of them is that you don't know it's happening."

People should be wary of groups that discourage questioning or discussion, convince members to sever ties with the outside world and refuse to let them leave, said Dr. Robert J. Lifton, a renowned psychiatrist who published groundbreaking work about cults in the 1960s.

Whitsett said experts agree that college students are especially vulnerable to destructive groups for a variety of reasons. They are transitioning to adulthood, searching for acceptance and direction, and are open to innovative ideas.
Although cults are prohibited from recruiting on many college campuses, Whitsett said these groups could be present at USC because their actions on campus do not violate university rules.

"They will meet criteria for a booth on campus, but it can be a gateway," she said. "There's no control over what happens off campus."

Although a discussion about cults on college campuses might seem sensationalist to some, groups on and around USC's campus - including the LaRouche movement and the Los Angeles Church of Christ - have been accused of cult activity in the past.

Students and parents said they were drawn to Thursday's lecture out of curiosity. After Whitsett finished lecturing, a discussion followed. Parents said their students spent hours completing AlcoholEdu and asked why a session about cults couldn't be offered as well.

"I liked the [AlcoholEdu] comment - when the freshmen come in they can spend an hour on cults and what to look for," USC parent Debra Sherman.

She added that although she is not concerned her children will join cults, she thinks it would be a good idea to educate incoming students about them.

The lecture not only discussed what students should watch out for, but also signs that parents should be wary of. Signs of cult activity include dramatic changes in grades, quitting school to go on a mission, spouting rhetoric, and a decrease in communication with parents.

Whitsett explained that if parents do notice such behavior, they should stay calm and educate themselves about the group as much as possible. She cautioned parents not to criticize the group or get angry and said that the goal is to stimulate students' doubts by asking questions, not by badgering them.

"Don't be discouraged by resistance," she said. "Kids will remember your questions when they begin to doubt. Question, but don't give advice."

According to a 2006 article in The Boston Globe, the potential cult groups on and around USC are the two most prevalent groups on college campuses nationwide.

The LaRouche Youth movement, which was started by Lyndon LaRouche in 1965, handed out "LaRouche for President" literature last semester on the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street.

LaRouche members have been accused of recruiting people on campuses and influencing them to drop out of school to promote LaRouche's political agenda. Critics say those who try to leave the group are threatened.

In 2003, a British student named Jeremiah Duggan went to Germany for what he thought was a peace protest against the war in Iraq, but was actually what critics called a LaRouche rally with anti-Semitic overtones.

After calling home worried about his safety, Duggan's body was found by the side of the Autobahn. German authorities ruled it a suicide, but independent forensic experts have said he was beaten to death.

Another group on campus, the Los Angeles Church of Christ, has been accused of cult activity. In 2000, a USC student wrote an account of her experience with the church, which is a branch of the International Church of Christ, for a USC Catholic Community newsletter.

She wrote that the church expected her to give 10 percent of her money to the church. She also had to ask permission before making decisions.

The church convinced her that she would go to hell and would abandon God if she left it, she wrote. The article reported that when she left the congregation, its members shunned her and spread rumors that she was pregnant.

In a 2003 Daily Trojan article, Rabbi Susan Laemmle, dean of religious life at USC, said the group meets all guidelines described in the "Ethical Framework for Religious Life at USC," and therefore qualifies for recognition as a student organization.

Some students said they did not consider the advice too invasive of their privacy.
Amanda Rossie, a graduate student studying print journalism who attended Thursday's event, said parents have a right to be involved with their college-age children and the decisions they make.

"I think as a freshman coming in ,,you're still a child, whether or not you like to think so," she said. "If you're taking your parents' money for school, they have a right to know what you're doing there. They have a vested interest."

Eric Holmes, a senior majoring in business administration, said that although he doesn't know of any specific cult activity at USC, he wouldn't be surprised if it exists.

"If [parents] can help their kids make the right decisions, they should," he said.

"Cults aren't what they're made out to be."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

USA, 2007: Ex. LYM Akka and jmp87 about LYM.

Akka: Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 6:15 am:

Hi everyone, I used to be a member of the LYM but dropped out. I've been reading your posts and have recognized a lot of the problems I encountered myself; especially the way the boomers are treated, and off course as, jmp8 points out, the horriffic living conditions. I was only member for about 6 months, but still I've used a lot of time afterwards to process all the new impressions and ideas I was exposed to. Like jmp87 I'm still inspired by some of the core ideas, and also the vigor and virtue og some of the youth members. On the other hand I totally recognize the cultish feats that seem to permeate the org. Contrastng the passionated intellectuals, wanting to make a difference, I saw deeply emotionally disturbed kids´who were more or less clinging on to LHL's fatherly figure, and would cite him all the time without actually thinking critically on their own; 'Lyn says this, Lyn says that' therefore its right. The reason I left was that I, first of all, was unsure of the truthfulness of the theories I was presented to - here especially how history was presented, which I found contained a lot of contradictions.

Secondly I kept asking myself: what are the long term effects of this movement on its members? And when I saw these phone teams, composed of middleaged people, calling all day, 6 days a week, I could vividly imagine how these people once were young and full of good pretensions, like the youths, but now were stuck in this obvious miserable condition - a lot of them just looked like they were worn out. This was not the principle of 'the general welfare', promoted in the campaigners.

Although I've left, I still have some contact with the movement, mainly because im trying to figure it out. How it works - and if I should support it or not. You've all been through it, and it obviously has left som deep scars in your souls. I myself am very affected by the experience and I think about it daily; It really was a turning point in my life, and In many ways I felt very connected to what it means being a human being - as opposed to the extremely superficial reality of popular youth culture today, of which I was a part. This sense og humanity is something I still cherish and is grateful for. The most fundamental discovery I made, was that life is not some relativistic soup, were one opinion was as good as any other - there is such a thing as quality, were one way of thinking supersedes another because it's based on truer axioms than the other; implicitly - that truth exists and is attainable by humans; if they seek it rigoriously and open-minded. For me, this was a wonderful idea that actually gave my existentialistic life, some sort of direction and ground for optimism. This is a grand paradox for me: how can something that brought me insights and true joy, also seem like a freakish cult that is destroying lives? XLC4life mentioned an ex-member, Zubrin I believe, who apparently has specialized in Mars or something. Didn't he get something good out of the org? I mean, is the organisation really bad in all respects, and doesn't it also depend on the individual that joins?

Excuse my english - or at least the grammar - its not my main language!


borisbad: Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 9:41 am:

Akka, I can see from your post that you went through quite a transformation and fortunately you managed to retain your sanity being in for less than a year. Clearly, people join an organization like the LYM because they are dissatisfied with what they see around them and would like to see changes. And there is certainly much to be said about the banality of much of popular culture both today and in our day (the boomer generation). But then again popular culture was never equated with higher culture even Lyn likes to pretend that in the old days everybody studied Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, etc.

The thing about Lyn is how he cloaks himself in the authority of others who actually have made great contributions whether in arts, politics, math, etc. Then he construes vast machinations to show how the bad guys (whether called Aristotelians, Synarchists, Babylonian whore supporters, dionysians or what ever) are trying to stop whatever machination Lyn is perpetuating at the moment. The key thing is that you retained a sense of independent thought that made you look a little bit behind the shadows in the cave. When people give into anything uncritically, then they get trapped into cult thought. For example, Lyn likes to praise Plato, but ask if he really wants anyone in the organization examining the apriori assumptions behind his axioms and negate them which is the method behind Plato's dialogues.

I would agree that getting out of the organization doesn't mean you have to just become apolitical or uninvolved in seeking change. I think there are many activities and groups that may espouse ideals at least partially in line of what you are looking for that don't demand the total sacrifice of your identity.

jmp87Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 1:20 pm:

Akka, In regards to being political after the movement it's absolutely possible. More than possible. Right now I'm meeting With Henry Waxman, The representative of Los Angeles County to discuss The possibility of constructing a maglev train from San Diego to Seattle. I also wrote a pamphlet up in Humboldt demanding the impeachment of Cheney and citing the violations on why he must leave. I wrote numerous other pamphlets as well talking about different discussions.

It's been a year since I've left the movement and am now friendly with almost all the members. Whether its a cult or not is a tough question because there are things that they do that are legitimate. 2 of their members got elected to the democratic party recently and many of their ideas are quite sound. For example, I've always known that Al gore is a Genocidal beast ever since I've read what he states in his book, Earth in a Balance that "the populations of human beings must be reduced to 2 billion" Now if it was just a mad man stating that then who cares but this guy is trying to enact policies based on this. The most densely populated areas are in Europe yet Gore doesn't want to kill Europeans. He just wants to kill Africans and Latin Americans. the only movement that I can think of that is really preventing gore from winning this fight are the Larouchies. There is no such thing as overpopulation. That is a fascist policy that was constantly preached by Hitler himself with the "Liebenstraum" policies. Meaning living space for the Aryans. AL Gore wants to kill all the Africans and other ethnicities that aren't caucasian because hes a sick •••••••. It's impossible to explain insanity.

Now, even though they do extraordinary political and philosophical work, does not excuse the way they treat the older members and and also the living conditions. They could easily increase the budget no more than just possibly 500 bucks per office and all the members could eat comfortably. I mean after all, they always over spend on pamphlets anyway and we would always get frustrated when we would have January pamphlets still in the office while its October. Thus we overspend on the pamphlets and don't spend enough on the food.

I would say akka is Go back to school but bring the best of Larouche's Ideas with you. For example, I had a lot of fun talking about Riemaninan Geometry with a math Professor at the college I attend ,Humboldt State University. Both me and the professor had a blast discussing the ideas. I think it was because I was making the discoveries on my own rather than just being fed it.

I live in Los Angeles Right now until Most likely late august. What local where you in. I was in the L.A Local


Akka: posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 4:47 pm:
Hi, Thanks for the advice. I am studying at uni right now, and have been doing it for some time. In the org there is a conscious idea of how university is basically brainwashing. This, though is certainly not true...I mean off course, there are nutty proffessors and ignorant kids and all that, but the great thing is you can study all the stuff you find interesting - at least in universiy I attend. You'll also be getting a degree you can use later, and, like you said jmp, still be political and make a difference for the better.

It is outright silly, in my opinion, not to get an education if you have the chance, even if you sympathize with LYM. You don't know whats gonna happen in the future, and being financially dependent on an organisation is very unwise, as I can understand from this board some of the boomers would probably leave if not they were not dependent financially on the movement, but also the social dependence has a say. Getting an education gives you a firm social network outside the movement AND keeps your family from worrying too much - plus it gives you an ability to se things from more than one perspective. A thing I think Schiller was right on, was when he wrote that one should be a part of society but not a product of it. There is no reason in isolating oneself. Just a little subjective advice.

What you said, Borisbad, is actually what I couldn't swallow; namely, this big hostile overtake of the world by various, and seemingly changing fations. Its not that I don't think conspiracies don't exist, I mean, anyone whose been into politics, knows how agreements and stuff like that gets into place, there is a lot more than meets the eye. But from what I can gather from you guys, meaning the older ex-members, is that LHL has been swithching to and fro all through his career. You say he started out as a trotskyist and was part of this leninist group up until the mid sixties, where he was pushing marxist theories - which at the time probably was popular among the youths - some of you guys joined because of those ideas perhaps. One thing I'd like to know, is whether or not the economic program he was proposing then, is similar to what he thinks now, in terms of more investment in longterm infrastructual prjoects, and a new bretton woods and those kinds o things or was it more like a communistic scheduled economy of sorts?

Another thing I find striking is this idea of antisemitism - which is what freaked my friends and family out. I must admit, I haven't met any racisme what so ever in the movement when I was there, quite the contrary, actually- you know - nobody there talked about race or religions in a judgemental manner - it was the quality of your mind, and spirit which was focused on, which is quite a relief when you come from a materially fixated culture, I might add. It seems to me that there has been a change in that respect, from what you describe with the antisemitism and all that. I couldn't help but notice that you guys were slamming Helga for the 'locust' thing. I don't know anything about the womans background, but I do know that the term 'locust' was actually used by the former SPD finance minister, Müntefering, in his explicit characterisation of the Hedgefunds back in 2005 or so, which he called 'Heuschrecken', meaning 'locusts' in german, and thats when they started using the word in the campaigners; as a reference to Münteferings term.

jmp, I'd rather keep contact on the board for now, and also keep my identity anonymous. No offence ;-)


JMP87. Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 7:20 pm:

I have to agree with akka that i didn't experience any antisemitism either. I've posted some posts about a week ago talking about the topic.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Testimony about LYM (sourcewatch.org-talk...)

I have a friend who has joined the Larouche political group based in Oakland. He works for them more than 12 hours a day, 6 days a week; the seventh day is a "reading" day in which he reads a variety of books Larouche thinks are insightful and useful. He has almost stopped visiting us and honestly believes that economic crisis is near and that Lyndon Larouche is the only one who can help our country get through this crisis; this is so important that he cannot take time off to be with us. All Larouche supporters I have met look up to Larouche as an intellectual giant, one who makes many correct predictions about future events. Most of the widely-read people who criticize Larouche, such as Dennis King and Chip Berlet, are themselves derogated by Larouche on his web site (http://www.larouchepub.com/pr/2001/010627_you_liars.html, for example). In short, while I have no time to substantiate this claim currently, Larouche's group believes that they are only ones who can save this nation from imminent economic crisis and its current political, artistic, and scientific malaise; Larouche is one of the smartest men in America; he is widely respected abroad (this has some basis in fact); everyone else is occluded from the truth and needs to wake up, and Larouche is right about nearly everything. Lar articles are pseudo-intellectual and require research or extensive knowledge to understand. No time to support it, but I'll just say this at the end: It's a wanna-be cult. Wise up before it's too late and someone you know is gone for forever. Talk to them as much as possible, point out why they're crazy and the group is nuts (they can't be right about everything; they derogate everything as being biased against them; they don't believe that any non-classical (and some classical) music has any worth) before you lose contact and only see that person a few times a year, when you can drag their soulless body away from the clutches of this group. listen up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New posts about Lyndon LaRouche!

A new post at my main "Lycurgus" site: Is Lyndon LaRouche omnipotent and omniscent, or just a macho bully? http://american-lycurgus.blogspot.com/2009/05/cult-or-no-cult-part-4-is-lyndon.html


Look at my new blog in SWEDISH: EAP, Europeiska Arbetarpartiet och LaRoucherörelsen! http://eap-larouche.blogspot.com/


LaRouche Youth Movement (from www.insidehighered.com)

The LaRouche Youth Movement


July 11, 2007

By Scott McLemee

An organization known as the LaRouche Youth Movement has become a fixture on many college campuses over the past few years. Many of its adherents are undergraduates, though members are eventually urged to quit school to work full-time for the organization. "We are in a complete breakdown of the financial system and we know that," one member told a student newspaper in California. "We can use our time in a more appropriate manner than going to school." Recruits have been tireless in distributing tracts that bear such lurid titles as “Children of Satan” (about members of the Bush administration) and “How the 'The Sexual Congress of Cultural Fascism' Ruined the U.S.A.” (an allusion to the Cold War-era Congress for Cultural Freedom).

While LYMers do support the perennial American presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, it is somewhat misleading to think of these texts as mere campaign literature – or the movement itself as essentially political. Members are recruited in part around the claim that the movement will give them a real education in classical culture, with a particular emphasis on mastering Plato and Leibnitz.

His adherents regard Lyndon LaRouche as the greatest mind of the past 300 years, at very least. "I'm probably the best economist in the world today," as LaRouche told The Washington Post in 1985. But a list of the areas of expertise behind that claim of eminence is even more astounding.Members of his youth group now publish a scholarly journal, of sorts, called Dynamis, devoted to their studies of his mathematical and scientific doctrines.

LaRouche has also determined the correct pitch for tuning musical instruments. Any other tuning bothers him, besides being incompatible with the structure of the universe. In the best of all possible worlds, people found in possession of “incorrect” tuning forks and pitch-pipes would be fined. His followers in Italy once proposed legislation to that effect. It failed. That campaign seems to be at a standstill, but it once drew close attention in the pages of Opera Fanatic magazine.

In one of his autobiographies, LaRouche explains that his mission is to create what Plato called “golden souls” – fit to rule those of us of a more silver or even bronze hue. His quest to do so began among students on college campuses 40 years ago. Members of the inner core of his organization have long since qualified to join the AARP. LaRouche himself is now 85 years old. And yet it is clear that he remains ready, willing, and able to serve as philosopher-king for the entire planet, given half a chance.

And so a few years back LaRouche's followers began recruiting new support among university students. In 2002, organizers for the movement, one of them carrying a megaphone, rushed into classrooms at Santa Monica College to spread the good word, according to the campus newspaper. By 2003, recruitment was successful enough to receive LaRouche's own enthusiastic approval."Give me 1,000 youth leaders like these," he announced that year, "and I'll take over the country."

That goal may have been a little optimistic. The figure of 1,000 new members has not been mentioned in a while. But the movement’s Web site now lists contact information for 21 cities.

Members of the LaRouche Youth Movement also make themselves visible, if no means welcome, at Democratic Party events. Perhaps “visible” is not really the right word. The LaRouchies are prone to heckle and to sing – often, in fact, at the same time. One central doctrine of the movement is that certain classical compositions (sung at the proper pitch) can transform both singer and listener in a golden-soulful way. Here, for example, is a video of Joseph Lieberman being subjected to LaRouchian bel canto yodeling

LaRouche supporters claim to be a wing of the Democratic Party -- something the party itself strenuously denies. His following has the LaRouche Political Action Committee as its electoral arm. LPAC raised more than $7.4 million in 2006, according to statements filed with the Federal Election Commission. It dispersed a grand total of $1,565 to a Democratic candidate for president.(Guess which one?) A review of expenditures (also available at the FEC site) shows a total of $462,850 going to the LaRouche Youth Movement. Another $6,223 went to Bruce Director, a longtime supporter of LaRouche who teaches the candidate’s mathematical theories to the youth group.

When they are not busy studying geometry or learning to sing properly, youth organizers are expected to meet a daily fund-raising quota. In an open letter to the father of a Youth Movement member, a former long-time supporter of the LaRouche organization described the life of a full-timer organizer as "dreary."

But one might never know that from LaRouche's speeches to the movement, which often end, "Have fun!"

The emergence of the group is all the more surprising, given that LaRouche himself has long since become the walking punchline to a very strange joke. He is known for some of the most baroque conspiracy theories ever put into circulation. Members of the LYM now deny that he ever accused the Queen of England of drug trafficking – though in fact, he did exactly that throughout the 1980s. At the time, he won admirers on the extreme right wing by denouncing Henry Kissinger as an agent of the KGB and calling for AIDS patients to be quarantined. A good roundup of LaRouche's positions and conspiracy theories is available from PublicEye.org, the website of Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank.

The movement lost even more credibility when LaRouche and several of his top associates were convicted of mail fraud in 1988. He even ended up sharing a prison cell with Jim Bakker, the disgraced televangelist. (Now there's a Platonic dialogue one would like to read.)

But most of the students joining his movement now were barely learning to read when LaRouche was paroled in 1994. He has managed to repackage himself as a former “political prisoner.” Actually LaRouche was prosecuted for making a million dollars’ worth of unauthorized charges to credit cards, which would not ordinarily count as a manifestation of high idealism. Be that as it may, LaRouche has displayed a certain knack, over the years, for pitching his message to young people. The new focus on student recruitment is, in fact, a return to the movement's origins.

In the mid-1960s, LaRouche gave rather spellbinding lectures at Columbia, Temple, Swarthmore, and other campuses – never as a professor, but rather as a guest speaker invited by radical students. His career up to that point had certainly been unusual.

Although a member of various small Marxist organizations, LaRouche was also employed as a management consultant to the shoe industry. According to some of his later statements, he was involved in early efforts to apply computer technology to bookkeeping practices.Meanwhile, he published radical tracts under the pseudonym Lyn Marcus. (He describes his early years as a revolutionary, his use of the pen name, and his pioneering role in creating accounting software in The Power of Reason, an autobiography published in 1979.)

It is often said by LaRouche's critics that his pseudonym, Lyn Marcus, was meant as a reference to Lenin and Marx – a colorful detail, though, alas, one not really supported by an evidence. A more parsimonious explanation for “Lyn” is that it is just a contraction of “Lyndon.” As for "Marcus," he claims that his nickname as a young man was Marco Polo.

But my friend James Weinstein -- a radical historian who knew LaRouche briefly during the mid-1960s -- had a different perspective. "A lot of Jews in the radical movement took WASP-seeming party names," he told me. "So here you had this guy who looked and sounded like a Boston Brahmin taking a Jewish name. He was very strange. He would show up at meetings of his own organization to hand out leaflets denouncing it."

He was, in any case, a man of numerous theories. And as protests against the Vietnam war grew, he found a ready audience for them. Lyn Marcus developed a following among radical students at Columbia University in the months just before the campus upheaval there in 1968. Several of his young disciples were part of the student strike committee. His following won occasional passing references in James Simon Kunen’s once-famous book The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary, published the following year.

Kunen describes a meeting at Columbia during which a shaggy-bearded radical orator, obviously is somewhat older than his audience, lectures on the impending global depression. Although he is not identified by name, this was almost certainly LaRouche. The beard is documented in a photograph from the period. He later cut it off – but kept the lecture about impending global depression, which has always been a staple of his ideology.

By the early 1970s, he had a following of nearly 1,000 students on campuses across the country, organized as the National Caucus of Labor Committees. It was the most bookish of far-left groups, and included some very smart people, several of them holding advanced degrees. (Quite a few also had trust funds, at least when they joined.) At least some professors must have taken the movement seriously. Writings by Lyn Marcus and other NCLC members appeared in Institutions, Policies, and Goals: A Reader in American Politics, a college textbook issued by D.C. Heath in 1973.

In 1975, Heath also brought out a curious volume called Dialectical Economics: An Introduction to Marxian Political Economy, which appeared under LaRouche's pseudonym. This was his theoretical magnum opus. It received exactly one notice in an academic publication: a review in The Journal of Political Economy by Martin Bronfenbrenner, a professor of economics at Brown University.

The LaRouche movement has inspired some excellent investigative journalism over the years – in particular the work of Dennis King, who has unearthed many a surprising and unpleasant fact about the candidate. (His book about LaRouche, published by Doubleday in 1989, is now available online.)

But it seems that no reporter has ever noticed Bronfenbrenner's examination of Dialectical Economics -- the one occasion, I believe, when LaRouche's work was discussed by a serious scholar. It is a remarkably interesting item in its own right. 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.

“As regards content,” he noted, the book was “perhaps 50 percent dialectical philosophy, with a strong epistemological stress. The remaining 50 percent appears fairly evenly divided between history (including economic history), anthropology-cum-sociology, and economics (including a surprisingly large loading of business administration).....For a 500 page introduction to economics, in sum, the economics is disappointingly thin.”

And yet there was, indeed, some economics in it. The exact kind was worth noting -- for not all of it came from Das Kapital, by any means. Bronfenbrenner discerned that the author “had the advantage of more private-business experience than the great majority of academic economists.” A good deal of that direct knowledge “has been at the exploitive frontier of ‘white-collar crime,’ bordering on fraud both in the inducement and the factum....Marcus’s experience extends to the speculative overcapitalization of capital values, creating ‘fictitious capitals’ which cannot later justify themselves by earning capacity in the normal course of events.”

In short, Dialectical Economics was the work of someone familiar, not just with Marxist theory, but with creative bookkeeping. Bronfenbrenner also wrote that the book left “a distinct impression, redolent of the 1930s, of the one-man-party member with whom the world is out of step.”

That may be one of the more insightful comments ever made by a book reviewer. But at the time, in the mid-1970s, LaRouche's "one-man party" was already a bit larger than that. An account of life in the group appeared in a memoir by two friends, Jeff Durstewitz and Ruth Tuttle, called Younger Than That Now: A Shared Passage from the Sixties (Bantam, 2001). One of the authors, Tuttle, joined the group in the early 1970s.

Members “spent countless hours reading and studying,” she wrote, “getting a better education in Western philosophy and politics than we had gotten [in college]. But that benefit was far outweighed by the brutalized and controlled nature of our day-to-day lives. Even as we were verbally flogged each day to use creative thinking to achieve ‘humanistic relevance’ in the world, the reality was that we and our comrades used most of our time in dehumanizing and mind-deadening activity.”

Not that much has changed in more than three decades, to judge by accounts of life in the LaRouche Youth Movement from people who have left recently. There is something morbidly fascinating about the phenomenon, if also terribly sad. One of LaRouche's longtime followers, the head of his publishing company, recently jumped to his death from a highway overpass after a statement by the leadership praised the dynamic youth organization while suggesting that "Boomer" members might just as well commit suicide.

Charisma is a mysterious thing, and even more so when it has a rather seedy feel -- the claims of universal genius, a la Leibnitz, suffused a quality owing more perhaps to Elmer Gantry. It is hard to imagine what the organization's future may be. Even if LaRouche is Socrates, all men are mortal, and everybody knows how that syllogism works out.

But any member of the LaRouche Youth Movement with moments of doubt can now readily get access (after a few minutes online) to extensive information on the real history of the organization as well as a forum where ex-members compare notes. Have fun!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Vaclav Havel: The Power of the powerless (1978).

Vaclav Havel
"The Power of the Powerless"


(To read my open letter to all those that still are members of the LaRuchecult, where I quote from this text by Havel, read here: http://american-lycurgus.blogspot.com/2009/05/cult-or-no-cult-part-2-to-live-within.html. The text in this linked article explains why I have posted this text here on the LaRouchesources blog!

Excerpts from the Original Electronic Text provided by Bob Moeller, of the University of California, Irvine.

{1}A SPECTER is haunting Eastern Europe: the specter of what in the West is called "dissent" This specter has not appeared out of thin air. It is a natural and inevitable consequence of the present historical phase of the system it is haunting. It was born at a time when this system, for a thousand reasons, can no longer base itself on the unadulterated, brutal, and arbitrary application of power, eliminating all expressions of nonconformity. What is more, the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for such nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures. . . .

{2}Our system is most frequently characterized as a dictatorship or, more precisely, as the dictatorship of a political bureaucracy over a society which has undergone economic and social leveling. I am afraid that the term "dictatorship," regardless of how intelligible it may otherwise be, tends to obscure rather than clarify the real nature of power in this system. . . Even though our dictatorship has long since alienated itself completely from the social movements that give birth to it, the authenticity of these movements (and I am thinking of the proletarian and socialist movements of the nineteenth century) gives it undeniable historicity. These origins provided a solid foundation of sorts on which it could build until it became the utterly new social and political reality it is today, which has become so inextricably a part of the structure of the modern world. . . . It commands an incomparably more precise, logically structured, generally comprehensible and, in essence, extremely flexible ideology that, in its elaborateness and completeness, is almost a secularized religion. It offers a ready answer to any question whatsoever; it can scarcely be accepted only in part, and accepting it has profound implications for human life. In an era when metaphysical and existential certainties are in a state of crisis, when people are being uprooted and alienated and are losing their sense of what this world means, this ideology inevitably has a certain hypnotic charm. . . .

{3}The profound difference between our system-in terms of the nature of power-and what we traditionally understand by dictatorship, a difference I hope is clear even from this quite superficial comparison, has caused me to search for some term appropriate for our system, purely for the purposes of this essay. If I refer to it henceforth as a "post-totalitarian" system, I am fully aware that this is perhaps not the most precise term, but I am unable to think of a better one. I do not wish to imply by the prefix "post" that the system is no longer totalitarian; on the contrary, I mean that it is totalitarian in a way fundamentally different from classical dictatorships, different from totalitarianism as we usually understand it.

. . . .

{4}The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: "Workers of the world, unite!" Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment's thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

{5}I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life "in harmony with society," as they say.

{6}Obviously the greengrocer . . . does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: "I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace." This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer's superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan's real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer's existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?

{7}Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan "I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient;' he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, "What's wrong with the workers of the world uniting?" Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.

{8}Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe. . . .

{9}The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

{10}Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them. For this reason, however, they must live within a lie. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it. For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.

. . . .

{11}Why in fact did our greengrocer have to put his loyalty on display in the shop window? Had he not already displayed it sufficiently in various internal or semipublic ways? At trade union meetings, after all, he had always voted as he should. He had always taken part in various competitions. He voted in elections like a good citizen. He had even signed the "antiCharter." Why, on top of all that, should he have to declare his loyalty publicly? After all, the people who walk past his window will certainly not stop to read that, in the greengrocer's opinion, the workers of the world ought to unite. The fact of the matter is, they don't read the slogan at all, and it can be fairly assumed they don't even see it. If you were to ask a woman who had stopped in front of his shop what she saw in the window, she could certainly tell whether or not they had tomatoes today, but it is highly unlikely that she noticed the slogan at all, let alone what it said.

{12}It seems senseless to require the greengrocer to declare his loyalty publicly. But it makes sense nevertheless. People ignore his slogan, but they do so because such slogans are also found in other shop windows, on lampposts, bulletin boards, in apartment windows, and on buildings; they are everywhere, in fact. They form part of the panorama of everyday life. Of course, while they ignore the details, people are very aware of that panorama as a whole. And what else is the greengrocer's slogan but a small component in that huge backdrop to daily life?

{13}The greengrocer had to put the slogan in his window, therefore, not in the hope that someone might read it or be persuaded by it, but to contribute, along with thousands of other slogans, to the panorama that everyone is very much aware of. This panorama, of course, has a subliminal meaning as well: it reminds people where they are living and what is expected of them. It tells them what everyone else is doing, and indicates to them what they must do as well, if they don't want to be excluded, to fall into isolation, alienate themselves from society, break the rules of the game, and risk the loss of their peace and tranquility and security. . . .

{14}Let us now imagine that one day something in our greengrocer snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth. . . .

{15}The bill is not long in coming. He will be relieved of his post as manager of the shop and transferred to the warehouse. His pay will be reduced. His hopes for a holiday in Bulgaria will evaporate. His children's access to higher education will be threatened. His superiors will harass him and his fellow workers will wonder about him. Most of those who apply these sanctions, however, will not do so from any authentic inner conviction but simply under pressure from conditions, the same conditions that once pressured the greengrocer to display the official slogans. They will persecute the greengrocer either because it is expected of them, or to demonstrate their loyalty, or simply as part of the general panorama, to which belongs an awareness that this is how situations of this sort are dealt with, that this, in fact, is how things are always done, particularly if one is not to become suspect oneself. The executors, therefore, behave essentially like everyone else, to a greater or lesser degree: as components of the post-totalitarian system, as agents of its automatism, as petty instruments of the social auto-totality.

{16}Thus the power structure, through the agency of those who carry out the sanctions, those anonymous components of the system, will spew the greengrocer from its mouth. The system, through its alienating presence in people, will punish him for his rebellion. It must do so because the logic of its automatism and self-defense dictate it. The greengrocer has not committed a simple, individual offense, isolated in its own uniqueness, but something incomparably more serious. By breaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted facade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety. . . .

{17}The original and most important sphere of activity, one that predetermines all the others, is simply an attempt to create and support the independent life of society as an articulated expression of living within the truth. In other words, serving truth consistently, purposefully, and articulately, and organizing this service. This is only natural, after all: if living within the truth is an elementary starting point for every attempt made by people to oppose the alienating pressure of the system, if it is the only meaningful basis of any independent act of political import, and if, ultimately, it is also the most intrinsic existential source of the "dissident" attitude, then it is difficult to imagine that even manifest "dissent" could have any other basis than the service of truth, the truthful life, and the attempt to make room for the genuine aims of life.