Psychological and Social Control in the Lyndon LaRouche Cult
“Fear and love–the emotions felt for a Father–were the emotions engendered by ‘Lyn.’ It was all part of his apotheosis, his assumption of Godlike qualities of infallibility.”
By MOLLY HAMMETT KRONBERG
(Written for the panel on LaRouchism at the symposium “Speaking with Forked Tongues: The Rhetoric of Right-Wing Extremism Today,” University of Northampton (U.K.), June 26, 2009)
Much has been written, and much theorized, about the nature of the “cadre” of the Lyndon LaRouche organization–particularly in the earlier days of the organization, in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Lyn Marcus” (LaRouche) addressing his cadre in 1974.
Concerning the LaRouche followers of those early days, the question arose repeatedly over the years, in newspaper articles and other published items and unpublished discussions: How could such apparently intelligent, well-educated, earnest youth–so many of them Jews–join and remain in an organization so obviously absurd in its philosophy and violent in its worldview, so evidently anti-Semitic, so entirely without intellectual or moral merit?
(This question does not arise so much of late, perhaps because the membership of the so-called LaRouche Youth Movement, LaRouche’s current chief organization, seems to be of a different type.)
As a former longtime member of the LaRouche organization–as a 25-year member of the organization’s National Committee (NC)–I want to address this question in memory of my husband, Kenneth Kronberg.
Molly Kronberg and her late husband Ken.
Ken was a member of the organization from the age of 23, and an NC member for 33 years, until his death by suicide at age 58, in April 2007. He was highly intelligent, extremely well-educated, earnest, sincere, and wholly dedicated to making the world a better place. Yet he was a member of the LaRouche organization for his entire adult life, ultimately driven to his death by the same vicious and destructive system of psychological and social control that has enabled LaRouche to dominate his followers so completely.
1973-1974, Year of Transformation
This LaRouchean system of “brainwashing” emerged in the year 1973-1974, a turning-point in the history of the LaRouche “cadre” organization, the International Caucus of Labor Committees (ICLC). Lyndon LaRouche (then still using the nom de guerre Lyn Marcus) was reacting to the fact that his long-time partner Carol had left him in the summer of 1972, a circumstance which had prompted him to withdraw from most human contact. (He was living at that time on Morton Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village, with no telephone.) As he emerged from that prolonged withdrawal, he announced that he was making profound psychoanalytical discoveries, which he began to test weekly in Saturday night National Executive Committee (NEC) sessions that led to his “Beyond Psychoanalysis” series.
The long nightmare begins…
That year of 1973-1974 saw the following radical developments in the Labor Committee:
April 1973, “Mop-Up”: LaRouche announces at an “NC plenum” the policy of “Operation Mop-Up,” wherein Labor Committee members are sent out with nunchaku (“numchuks”) and pugil sticks to invade Communist Party meetings, to declare that “There is only one item on the agenda”–that item being, presumably, a discussion of why the Communist Party was going after the Labor Committee–and, when the CPers refused to allow such a discussion, to beat up the meeting participants.
For two months, Labor Committee members assault Communist Party members, with broken bones and broken teeth on both sides but, miraculously, no fatalities. Then, abruptly, LaRouche calls it off.
Early Summer 1973, “RYM”: LaRouche announces a new policy, the building of a “Revolutionary Youth Movement” (RYM) based on ghetto gangs. This dangerous tactic is short-lived.
Summer 1973, The Baraka Campaign: LaRouche launches a campaign in the ghettoes of Newark, New Jersey against Amiri Imamu Baraka (LeRoi Jones), the poet and Black Nationalist figure.
Summer 1973: LaRouche begins to promote his “new psychological methods” more broadly in the U.S. and European organizations of the ICLC.
Fall 1973: In Europe, LaRouche announces the so-called brainwashing of Konstantin George, claiming that the East German Stasi kidnapped and brainwashed Labor Committee member George.
September/October 1973: LaRouche publishes “Beyond Psychoanalysis,” the first in the Beyond Psych series.
November 1973: LaRouche publishes “The Sexual Impotence of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party,” the second in the series.
December 1973: LaRouche publishes “The Case of Ludwig Feuerbach,” the third in the series.
December 1973-January 1974: LaRouche declares that Chris W, the husband of Carol who left LaRouche in summer 1972, has been brainwashed by British Intelligence and the KGB to assassinate LaRouche. Chris is isolated and “deprogrammed” by LaRouche, who takes this occasion to “isolate” (in some cases, lock up) other members of the NEC as well, and to put the organization on a quasi-military footing. LaRouche surrounds himself with “Security” (drawn from the members who were more successful–that is, more aggressive–in the “Mop-Up” period), and from January 1974 to the present day never stirs without “Security,” guards, weapons, and the like.
Scare headline from LaRouche’s newspaper during Jan. 1974 brainwashing hysteria.
Members in New York are interviewed to ascertain whether they have been brainwashed. All information discovered is written down and turned over to “Security.” LaRouche generalizes the NEC “Beyond Psych” weekly sessions into ego-stripping attack sessions throughout the organization.
The Content of Beyond Psychoanalysis
So it was that from the end of winter/early spring of 1974, LaRouche’s soul-destroying sessions–the stories of them, the fear of them, the fear of him–began to permeate the organization.
From Operation Mop-Up on, LaRouche increasingly became an object of fear for his followers, in large part because of the reckless violence into which he led the organization. Mop-Up, RYM, the Baraka campaign, the so-called Newark City Council “police riot” (provoked by an invasion of Labor Committee members into the Newark, NJ City Council)–all these were wildly violent and irrational actions that terrorized, first and foremost, the members of the organization.
A scene from Operation Mop-Up.
I can remember the first “sessions” during Operation Mop-Up–some of them held in our apartment, because we lived in a big apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a block from the LaRouche organization’s then-“National Headquarters.” Ken and I did not attend these sessions, not being members of the “squads.” We locked ourselves in our bedroom while the sessions raged in our living room, people screaming, sobbing, crashing around–being worked into a frenzy before going out on an “intervention,” or being flayed after a Mop-Up encounter, for having been too weak.
In retrospect, it is clear that LaRouche’s principal target in all this psychological and physical violence was his own followers. After the “Chris W brainwashing affair” of January 1974–as members were dragged off to New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, howling that they too were programmed to assassinate LaRouche, and as NEC members were held “isolated” under armed guard–things became worse and worse.
The teachings of Beyond Psychoanalysis became the touchstone of the organization’s social reality, and each member’s interior reality.
What were those teachings?
Above all, LaRouche demanded from his followers complete rejection of their families, their pasts, their friends–any former associations. This is why most members were pressured to quit work. Even though the “stipends” the organization paid were extremely hard for the organization to scrounge up (and for members to live on), paying them was preferable to the outside influences represented by a job–or by college or graduate school–which were far too dangerous to be tolerated.
In the year from May 1973 to May 1974, I quit graduate school, and Ken and I quit our jobs. By the end of 1974, almost no one in the New York organization held an ordinary job.
The fact that Ken and I insisted on getting married (June 1973) marked us as troublesome rebels, however, despite our other sacrifices. This was because in LaRouche’s world, the membership’s rejection of family was the most important thing. Vast swaths of the Beyond Psychoanalysis series were directed to that goal.
Act of defiance: Ken and Molly get married.
LaRouche’s central target in Beyond Psychoanalysis, and in the sessions, was the female: the dreaded Mother Image. The most destructive bond in all human society, he taught, was that between Mother and Child.
People were told to go home and denounce their parents–as fascists, as degraded, 1950s-style conformists, as soulless automata. Unbelievably, many people did. Family relations were ruptured for decades. People disowned mother and father, brother and sister, and all former friends.
That is to say: They became entirely dependent on LaRouche.
If you insisted on maintaining a relationship with your parents, as Ken and I did, you had to cover for it by claiming that your parents supported LaRouche, or were giving you money so you could devote your life to the cause, or some such ruse.
Artfully defying LaRouche: Ken and Molly with Ken’s father and Molly’s mother.
Once having abandoned family and friends, quit jobs and school, the members had no social relations outside the organization, and were therefore vulnerable to any depredations LaRouche might inflict.
In the sessions run by “Lyn” or by his “epigonoi” (a favorite LaRouchean word in those days), members were reduced to infantile states, made to confess their most discreditable sexual or other fantasies or experiences, made to confront their “Mother Images”–and then were somehow reborn, with LaRouche presiding over the rebirth.
LaRouche presented himself as the Father to these reborn individuals; the Superego, the voice in your head that told you what to do.
He was watching over your shoulder–your internal, psychic shoulder. He was the measure of all things, the standard to which you tuned your thoughts, your behavior, your self.
Rejection by LaRouche meant ego-death in the organization–and was meant to mean that. Thus every member would strive mightily to please “Lyn.” If you did not so strive, and did not strive obviously, you were suspect.
Thus the intent of Beyond Psychoanalysis was to remake members to be more useful, more biddable, more dependent.
Fear and love–the emotions felt for a Father–were the emotions engendered by “Lyn.” It was all part of his apotheosis, his assumption of Godlike qualities of infallibility.
In His Own Words
The violent sadism of LaRouche’s words, spoken and written, meant that his words had the same effect on his followers that his crazed “political tactics” had–to horrify them and to cow them into submission.
I want to quote a few characteristic passages from the Beyond Psychoanalysis series, and from a notorious speech given in January 1974, during the “Chris W brainwashing” period.
I. Brainwashing. First, LaRouche on how to “brainwash” someone, from his January 1974 speech at the Marc Ballroom in Manhattan (you can read the full text of it here).
Mind you, this was a public speech, organized for broadly through mass leafleting and the like.
How do you brainwash somebody? Well, first of all, you generally pull a psychological profile or develop one in a preliminary period. You find every vulnerability of that person from a psychoanalytic standpoint. Now the next thing you do is you build them up for fear in males and females of homosexuality, aim them for an anal identification with anal sex, their mouth is identified with fellatio. Their mouth is identified only with the penis–that kind of sex, and with woman. Womanhood is the fellatio of the male mouth in a man who has been brainwashed by the KGB; that is sucking penises….
First they say your father was nothing, your father was a queer, your father was a woman. They play very strongly on homosexual fears. It doesn’t work on women….Most women are to a large degree homosexual in this society. The relationship between daughter and mother is homosexual, so the thing is not much of a threat.
But to young men it is generally a grave threat…fears about masturbation….They say, ‘See that sheep. Wouldn’t you like to do that to a sheep?’
It’s not the pain that brainwashes, it’s forcing the victim to run away from the pain by taking the bait of degrading himself. This persistent pattern of self-degradation, self-humiliation, is what essentially accomplishes the brainwashing.
Any of you who say this is a hoax–you’re cruds! You’re subhuman! You’re not serious. The human race is at stake. Either we win or there is no humanity. That’s the way she’s cut.
II. Impotence. Next, a few excerpts from LaRouche’s “The Sexual Impotence of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party”–the emphasis is added:
Night after intervening night, the Macho beds his whore-wife with an inner sense of bloody violence and self-degradation. In the morning, this miserable existentialist arises from the bed of disgust and self-disgust. He looks with disgust at the sleeping figure of the woman with whom he has shared self-degradation, and trudges, bearing an awful load of anomie, back to the house where he lives with his madonna-wife and her children. He needs a drink so desperately, to seem to wash the wretched taste from his mouth, but the drink merely begins the cycle of the new day’s recurring nightmare. Tonight, he will sleep beside his madonna-wife, after an evening of being patron to her children, and Friday night the homosexual, he will be back with his whore-wife again….
More deeply, it becomes a sense of psychological death. More deeply explored, the infantile love of the Macho for a woman is often reified hatred of his infantile, sadistically possessive mother. It is reified because infantile hatred toward the mother is associated with a powerful dependency, such that infantile love and infantile hate become thus mixed, confused. The need to love becomes also the need to destroy, to degrade; one can love only a degraded woman (the whore-wife) and one can love the madonna-wife (the mother of her children) only by sensing this to be an act of degrading the Virgin. His madonna-wife must be chaste (i.e., a certain kind of Virgin), so that she does not deprive him of the feeling of rape in her bed. The woman, especially the madonna-wife, is a pure sadist in bed–she lures and rejects, both as her labile, sadistic mother lured and rejected her, as her mother lured and rejected her father, and taught her thus the way of a madonna with men. The whore-wife artifices the madonna-wife as caricature, as parody; she is sadistic, but is always finally conquered, the payment of price the veiled homosexual’s consummate act of degradation of both the man and herself, the payment of the “gift” to the mistress her certification as a whore. For the mistress, to discard the lover’s gift is to destroy him totally–he never existed. He is merely an object, without inner life; he is dead.
These “hard” parasitical formations are so definite that names can be given to them. “The witch” is a not-uncommon form of such a “Poltergeist,” in both men and women, since the more common potential psychoses and extreme manic-depressive “parasites” of this sort are modeled upon a parody of the mother-image. (The labile, possessive mother, or the “Schwärmerei” of a variety of surrogate mothers is a common basis for a “witch” image.) In no case is such an inferred image a mere construct; in all cases, discovery of such a Gestalt of a mental parasite-entity permits empirical demonstration of the existence of precisely such an entity. Indeed, the afflicted individual has often been aware of such a parasite within himself or herself long before, and in many cases the ingenuous appellation of the name of the parasitical entity has been made by close acquaintances (e.g., “she’s a witch”) before then….
One sees the Ego standing in the pit, confronted mostly by the mother, looking with fear of the mother at the father, and sometimes at the semi-human monsters (sometimes turned into rats or gigantic insects) along the flanking benches. Above, self-consciousness watches this horrid trial of the Ego, and sees with tearful fascination the fashion in which the images in the hallway terrorize the individual ego into self-degrading acts of “sincerity of feeling”….
As for the woman: one day, she too, tires of the monotony of tormenting her pet pathetic rapist, her husband. She becomes pregnant, and is now free to distance herself from her husband by exercising that form of more gratifying sadism she learned from her mother–the sadistic possession of her children. Through her sadism, her possessiveness, she turns her sons into Macho dogs like her husband before them, and her daughters into frigid pseudo-Virgin Marys, like herself. She and her husband meet as strangers, as hostile ambassadors from their respective worlds. He, from the homosexual world of his cronies and his whore-wives; she, from the world of the household, where she is the Virgin-Mother possessor of her victim-children….
The most conspicuous single feature of mother’s oppression of the son, daughter, and husband is her fears, her fear of rats–her demand that the family–out of respect for her fears–keep the house free of “strangers,” and do nothing to bring down the rage of the outer world upon the house. Thus, “I love and respect my mother” becomes the expression for the very essence of bourgeois ideology–and ultimately even the essence of fascism.
III. Woman as Satan. And finally, some excerpts from “The Case of Ludwig Feuerbach” (again, the emphasis is mine):
Contrary to Feuerbach’s hysterical assertion, Jesus becomes sinful by being born of woman. He acquires an infantile Ego, whose characteristic emotions are infantile fear, rage, and elation of object-possession. The Life of Jesus, its agony concentrated in the Passion [sic] of Gethsemane, is a struggle to free the soul of God-become-man, the self-conscious “I,” from the tyranny of the infantile Ego and that Ego’s desires. The self-conscious “I” conquers the Ego, and rejects the Mother during the crucifixion (crying out: “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?”). Through the death of the Ego, through the crucifixion of his body from the corruption of the Ego, his body becomes the perfect material extension of his self-conscious “I,” he has become one with God….
It is the “mother-image,” constructed from the infantile quality of the alienated, bourgeois relationship between child and mother (and mother-surrogates), which provides the “ego-ideals” of bestiality in man. “Mother-love” is accordingly the association for the individual’s general sense of the most degraded varieties of sexual feelings, otherwise the emotion of “elation of object-possession,” the warm, homely glow of gluttony epitomized by an overdose of “mother’s home-made chicken soup.”
It is with this “mother’s religion,” the superstitious cult of witches and such, that the Catholic Church compromised to become the “Mother Church.” In this is located with secret of idolatry, headed by the cult of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary is the archetypical witch, the mother of witches–the Madonna whose secret self is “The Whore of Babylon”….
Probing deeper, most children discover that their mother is usually the immediate agent most responsible for crippling both their intellectual powers and their capacity to love. Only in later childhood did her children begin to imagine themselves to “really believe” that mother-love is love….
From such an unfortunately commonplace mothering, the child also recalls her treatment of her husband. She was generally a sadistic witch, deprecating everything of importance to him, frustrating his interests and preferred activities, aborting his close relationships to his children, except for those measured doses of approved associations she permitted him. She used her children’s dependency upon her to “turn them against their father” in one fashion or another, one degree or another. The child recalls this with horror and anger, especially his (or her) horror at his own childhood complicity in this vicious household game, especially as the adult is later able to recognize that the mother did the same sort of sadistic thing to him (or her)….
Feuerbach exemplifies the point in a certain fashion. Nowhere in his The Essence of Christianity do we find an account for the name of Satan. Imagine, Christianity without Satan! Luther would wallop his ears soundly! Yet, Satan reveals herself in that book despite the author’s whim; only Satan’s name is changed, to that of the Virgin Mary. More exactly, Satan is portrayed by her real name, her Arch-Witch’s canonical name of “Holy Mother.”
What It All Means
In the passages cited above, we get a glimpse of the condition of LaRouche’s own mind–an unfettered grandiosity, the delusion of being able to understand, and to pronounce upon, any subject, and the kind of solipsistic, apodictic certainty that means, simply, insanity. We also see the condition into which he intended to drive his followers.
Anything resembling a family, whether the relationship between husband and wife, or between parent and child, or among parents and children, was to be broken to pieces as bourgeois oppression. Higher consciousness, self-consciousness, “dialectical process,” “individual sovereign creativity,” etc. were to be identified with LaRouche (sometimes posing as Jesus, sometimes, in passages from “Feuerbach” not quoted here, as the Promethean Lucifer).
The Father–as opposed to the Virgin Mary, or as opposed to the ordinary “bourgeois” witch-wife–was the figure of salvation, and that figure was not really God, it was LaRouche.
The combination of externally directed violence in action, internally directed violence in speech and writings, and psychological violence in endless sessions and “interventions,” was sufficient to shatter most members’ egos and personalities. Then those shattered personalities could be “lovingly rebuilt” into something closer to LaRouche’s heart’s desire.
Phenomena accompanying LaRouche’s various psychoanalytical breakthroughs included male NEC members beating their wives–blackened eyes, broken arms.
In the summer of 1974, LaRouche’s “Security” team ran a so-called Officer Training School on a farm in upstate New York–an exercise so brutal, so bullying, that LaRouche was forced to call it off after his former girlfriend, Carol W, confronted him.
Another phenomenon created and institutionalized by LaRouche’s Beyond Psychoanalysis was that of forced abortions–forced, if not physically, at least psychologically, on almost every woman in the organization who became pregnant. To have a child was to be ostracized, shunned, driven out.
Why? Because those who had children then had a higher loyalty and a higher responsibility than their loyalty to LaRouche. When Ken and I had our son in 1984–two National Committee members having a baby!–it was seen as a tremendous act of betrayal of LaRouche.
Defying LaRouche’s “forced abortion” policy: Molly and Ken with their son.
I don’t know how many infants were sacrificed to this Moloch over the years, but he devoured them with gusto, just as he devoured the lives and minds of his followers.
So the order of things in the LaRouche organization was: Break with your parents and your past, your jobs and your schools; maintain loveless, “political” relations with your husband or wife, making sure that any heterodoxy is intervened on by the leadership; destroy your own children; avoid contact with the “outside” world. “Lyn is Your Father.”
This is no scientific study, but I have done a survey of the family backgrounds of many, perhaps most, of the leaders of the LaRouche organization from the 1970s forward–those still in, and those long out.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, these individuals came to the organization with a history of “father problems”–fathers who abandoned them; fathers who died young; fathers who committed suicide; fathers who were distant, cold, withdrawn; fathers who were abusive, physically or psychologically.
If I had to identify one common thread connecting most of the Labor Committee leadership, past and present, it would be that.
So it was child’s play for LaRouche to interpose and impose himself as the Father Figure, who gave or withheld approval. He raised his wand and transformed you into a demigod; he bellowed and the flames incinerated you. And if, somehow, you didn’t play the game–if you refused invitations to his Musikabenden, refused to salivate over the genius of his insights–he would never forget the slight. And he would be sure to pay it back.
Now we come to the hard part of this little paper.
My husband Ken co-founded and ran for 30 years the organization’s printing and typesetting companies. He exemplified a level of independent intellectual life otherwise almost unknown in the later years of the organization, as more and more of the Old Guard dropped out.
Because the Old Guard, by and large, did drop out, more of them with each new proof of LaRouche’s devolution into sadistic tyranny.
Ken was, in fact, the last of the Old Guard who did not compromise himself totally. While LaRouche spouted anti-Semitic venom, Ken organized conferences on Heinrich Heine, or the Yiddish Renaissance. He directed Shakespeare plays. He taught poetry classes. He was a poet.
LaRouche gave the appearance of tolerating Ken’s aberrations, and his marriage to me, and the birth of our son, as long as he needed Ken for the printing and shipping of the organization’s literature.
But after LaRouche emerged in 1994 from a five-year term in U.S. Federal prison, he began a campaign of vicious attacks on Ken that continued unabated, mostly in secret but sometimes erupting into the view of the whole organization, sometimes in print, sometimes on tape–until the day that Ken committed suicide, in despair over the collapse of the printing company and over what he foresaw as endless attacks by LaRouche; aware of being legally responsible for many tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of taxes not paid to the IRS; sickened by LaRouche but unable to imagine a life outside the organization.
The morning that he died, Wednesday, April 11, 2007, Ken went into the printing company, knowing he was going to have to close the company before the week was out. He read the “Morning Briefing” of the LaRouche organization for that morning. Almost immediately thereafter, he left his office and drove to a nearby overpass, pulled his car off the road, turned on its hazard lights, and leapt to his death on the highway below.
Ken Kronberg, 1948-2007.
Why? Because the Morning Briefing, dictated by LaRouche, suggested that of all parts of the organization, the “print shop” was the worst, and that Baby Boomers characterized by the stubborn refusal to believe LaRouche–a stubbornness exemplified by the “print shop”–should either get with LaRouche’s program or commit suicide. (Read the text of the lead of that Morning Briefing here.)
The printing company collapsed chiefly because the LaRouche organization didn’t pay its bills. But, as Ken said to me two days before he died, he would be held responsible for the disaster the organization had created. “We will be vilified like you’ve never seen. He will go after us like you can’t imagine. It will be horrible.” After 36 years in the LaRouche organization, Ken could not face what he knew was coming.
In the last weeks of his life, I asked Ken what he really thought of LaRouche. After a long silence, Ken said, “Let’s just say that his god is not my God.” Then he went on: “When I was 23, I thought the universe was run by the ‘polemical method’ [a LaRouchean catchphrase], but now I know it’s run by love.”
Two days before Ken’s death, he and I were talking about the shipwreck of his companies. Enraged at the way LaRouche and the organization were treating him, I cried out, “I’ll give a press conference.” Ken smiled and said, “Mrs. Duggan, move over–eh?” I said, “You bet.”
Since then, I have been honored to meet and work with Erica Duggan, and Hugo Duggan, in their quest for justice for their son Jeremiah.
I hope that this paper in some way contributes to the process of finding justice for Jeremiah, and for Ken, and for countless other victims of the LaRouche organization–including many who are still members.
FIRST ADDENDUM, July 8, 2009
It is not necessary to call oneself a brainwasher to be a brainwasher…Since writing this paper, I have had a few discussions that convinced me to remark on one other aspect of the 1973-74 developments. That aspect was “Operation Nuremberg”–LaRouche’s “anti-brainwashing” campaign. This consisted of Labor Committee members bursting into classrooms and forums, lecture halls and symposiums, around the country to denounce and “indict” as “Nuremberg criminals” supposed brainwashers/academics whose theories supposedly conduced to brainwashing, or psychiatrists who supposedly were performing and justifying brainwashing, or foundations that were supposedly funding it, or chemists who were supposedly concocting their mind-controlling drugs in favor of (Lyn’s bugaboo of the time) Rockefeller’s drive to take over the world.In this context, for example, Labor Committee “truth squads” went after people like Nathan Kline, a promoter of lithium, who was a favorite whipping boy for left and right. (The fact that he was Jewish no doubt commended him to LaRouche as a target.)
Dr. Nathan S. Kline.
The basic theme was that psychiatry was fascist mind control.What was really going on here? In fact, with his “Chris W brainwashing” hysteria, and his “anti-brainwashing” campaign, and his attack on psychiatry, LaRouche was actually brainwashing the membership of his own organization–but we were too busy chasing these chimeras to notice.
Nor did we appreciate the irony of the campaign against psychiatry–the perfect undertaking for a group of people who were in the process of being made psychotic, and who, by being organized against psychiatry, were in many cases being organized against precisely what they needed most.
SECOND ADDENDUM, May 11, 2010
How LaRouche targets young peopleAs an addendum to this paper, I wish to lay special emphasis on the targeting of youth by LaRouche and the LaRouche organization.The organization was initially built in the 1960s and 1970s by recruiting youth from college and graduate school campuses, as I indicated in the body of this paper. Youth from that age cohort, the so-called “Baby Boomers” born in the post-World War II population boom, formed the core of LaRouche’s organization.Youth are the natural target for any such movement–indeed, for any political or social movement–by reason of their enthusiasm, their energy, their idealism, and their profound lack of experience and (often) judgment.I tried to indicate above, in the body of this statement, ways in which LaRouche exploited these qualities of youth, and in particular, how he created an environment in which their vulnerabilities were intensified: demanding that they leave college, demanding that they leave their jobs, demanding that they cut off contact with family and friends.However, as the years passed–particularly after he came out of Federal prison in January 1994–LaRouche realized that these “Baby Boomers,” now in their 40s and 50s, were no longer the reliably unquestioning cadre they had once been. Starting in 1994, LaRouche leveled a polemic against the older members of the organization, attacking them for wanting “country club lives,” for making “rotten compromises” with society and social norms, for being insufficiently radical.The LaRouche Youth MovementAt the same time, he began the process of creating and building up the so-called LaRouche Youth Movement, or LYM–first in the United States, and then in Europe, particularly Germany. Once again, LaRouche organizers were sent to swoop onto college campuses, or even into high schools, to snatch away the more vulnerable or more isolated of the youth.Once again, polemics began to fly against college, job, family–I personally witnessed a horrific scene at a LaRouche conference in Reston, Virginia in the late 1990s or early 2000s, in which the father of a youth who was being pulled into the LaRouche organization rose during the question period after a LaRouche speech and pleaded with LaRouche at least to let his child finish college before stealing him away.LaRouche refused–denouncing university education, as he always did and still does, for its corrupting, mind-deadening qualities (LaRouche is a college dropout, having twice failed his freshman year at Northeastern University in Boston). Later, outside the conference hall, the parents wept, and begged older LaRouche organization members to help them. To this day their child, once a promising mathematician, remains in the organization.
Don’t bother with an education: the world has to be saved this minute, this hour!
Numerous children of LaRouche organization “Baby Boomer” members have also found their way into the LaRouche group: One child dropped out after her freshman year in college, claiming that her professors were idiots; another–who had a full scholarship to a prestigious music school–dropped out halfway through his sophomore year, trading in his future as a gifted musician for a future hustling money on the streets or working in the LYM headquarters in Purcellville, Virginia.“Unbearable psychological pressure”Over the decades, LaRouche learned a few more things about creating unbearable psychological pressure. Since the founding of the LYM, for example, he and other LaRouche organization “Baby Boomers” active in the recruitment of youth (Harley Schlanger is perhaps the most prominent) have made sure that all LYM retreats and conferences really are “retreats”–taking place in isolated mountain cabins or isolated settings in national parks. Youth are brought there for a long weekend–say, a three-day holiday weekend like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July–and there they stay. There’s no leaving, until the conference or “cadre school” ends–one can’t get up and walk out, unless one is prepared to hike for miles down a mountain.
Another new feature of the LYM, as compared to the early days of the organization, is the mindless, endless singing in which the cult engages. Several years ago, for example, LaRouche dictated that the youth choruses should all work on Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude, as a mechanism for attaining “self-consciousness.” For years thereafter, the youth choruses around the country dutifully, deadeningly sang, over and over, endlessly, Jesu, meine Freude, destroying all joy and all meaning in the music. American cult expert Steve Hassan–who runs the Freedom of Mind Center–identifies a number of thought-stopping techniques used by various cults, including chanting, singing, and humming.
The exploitation keeps getting worse
The members of the LYM are, on average, less sophisticated and worse educated than we were in the 1970s–and therefore are easier to intimidate, control, and direct. They live in worse material conditions–many people to an apartment, no one earning an income, supported (in the United States) out of the coffers of the LaRouche Political Action Committee or LaRouche PAC (LPAC), sent from region to region around the country, never staying in one place for long.
Living in these deprived, isolating circumstances, they seem fanatical and unbalanced, slavishly devoted to the delusions and distortions that make up the LaRouchean worldview (examples can be seen on the LaRouche PAC website, where the LaRouche youth appear on “Off the Cuff,” Latest LPACTV Updates, “The Campaign Show,” etc.).
One notable feature of present-day LaRouche Youth Movement members is their refusal to give their names when they are filmed or interviewed by news media. This refusal reinforces the strong impression of cult-like behavior, implying a fear that somehow, the law will “get” them for being in the LaRouche organization, and a conviction that the only person in the LaRouche organization worth naming, or worthy of a name, is LaRouche himself.
Ken Kronberg memorial website
Dennis King’s website
“The death of Kenneth Kronberg,” by Chip Berlet, based on an interview with Molly Kronberg
“Publish and Perish: The mysterious death of Lyndon LaRouche’s printer,” Washington Monthly, by Avi Klein
Factnet message-board postings