Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr.
(born September 8, 1922) is a controversial American political activist and founder of the LaRouche movement
. He has written on economic, scientific, and political topics, as well as on history, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Journalists and government officials in China, Italy and Russia have credited LaRouche with forecasting that unrestricted financial speculation would cause the late-2000s financial crisis
LaRouche was a presidential candidate eight times between 1976 to 2004, running once for his own U.S. Labor Party
and campaigning seven times for the Democratic Party
nomination. He was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations, and was released in 1994 on parole. Ramsey Clark
, who was LaRouche's chief appellate attorney and a former U.S. Attorney General
, said that the prosecution was politically motivated, and that LaRouche was denied a fair trial.
The Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the appeal.
Robert J. Alexander
writes that LaRouche first established an NCLC "intelligence network" in 1971. Members all over the world would send information to NCLC headquarters, which would distribute the information via briefings and other publications. LaRouche organized the network as a series of news services and magazines, which commentators say was done to gain access to government officials under press cover.
The publications included Executive Intelligence Review
, founded in 1974 and known for its conspiracy theories, alleging that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of an international drug-smuggling cartel, and that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing
was part of a British attempt to take over the United States.
Other periodicals included New Solidarity
, Fusion Magazine
, 21st Century Science and Technology
, and Campaigner Magazine
. His news services and publishers included American System Publications, Campaigner Publications, New Solidarity International Press Service, and The New Benjamin Franklin House Publishing Company.
LaRouche acknowledged in 1980 that his followers impersonated reporters and others, saying it had to be done for his security.
In 1982, U.S. News and World Report
sued New Solidarity International Press Service and Campaigner Publications for damages, alleging that members were impersonating its reporters in phone calls.
U.S. sources told the Washington Post
in 1985 that the LaRouche organization had assembled a worldwide network of government and military contacts, and that his researchers sometimes supplied information to government officials. Bobby Ray Inman
, the CIA's deputy director in 1981 and 1982, said LaRouche and his wife had visited him offering information about the West German Green Party, and a CIA spokesman said LaRouche met Deputy Director John McMahon in 1983 to discuss one of LaRouche's trips overseas.
A two-part article in The New York Times
in 1979 by Howard Blum and Paul L. Montgomery alleged that LaRouche had turned the party (at that point with 1,000 members in 37 offices in North America, and 26 in Europe and Latin America) into an extreme-right, anti-Semitic organization, despite the presence of Jewish members. LaRouche denied the newspaper's charges, and said he had filed a $100 million libel suit; his press secretary said the articles were intended to "set up a credible climate for an assassination hit."
alleged that members had taken courses in how to use knives and rifles; that a farm in upstate New York had been used for guerrilla training; and that several members had undergone a six-day anti-terrorist training course run by Mitchell WerBell III
, an arms dealer and former member of the Office of Strategic Services
, who said he had ties to the CIA
. Journalists and publications the party regarded as unfriendly were harassed, and it published a list of potential assassins it saw as a threat.
LaRouche expected members to devote themselves entirely to the party, and place their savings and possessions at its disposal, as well as take out loans on its behalf. Party officials would decide who each member should live with, and if someone left the movement, his remaining partner was expected to live separately from him. LaRouche would question spouses about their partner's sexual habits, the Times
said, and in one case reportedly ordered a member to stop having sex with his wife because it was making him "politically impotent."
1973: "Ego-stripping" and "brainwashing" allegations
LaRouche began writing in 1973 about the use of certain psychological techniques on recruits. In an article called "Beyond Psychoanalysis", he wrote that a worker's persona had to be stripped away to arrive at a state he called "little me," from which it would be possible to "rebuild their personalities around a new socialist identity," according to The Washington Post
The New York Times
wrote that the first such session—which LaRouche called "ego-stripping"—involved a German member, Konstantin George, in the summer of 1973; LaRouche said that during the session he discovered that a plot to assassinate him had been implanted in George's mind.
He recorded sessions with a 26-year-old British member, Chris White, who had moved to England with LaRouche's former partner, Carol Schnitzer. In December 1973 LaRouche asked the couple to return to the U.S.; his followers sent tapes of the subsequent sessions with White to The New York Times
as evidence of an assassination plot. According to the Times
, "[t]here are sounds of weeping, and vomiting on the tapes, and Mr. White complains of being deprived of sleep, food and cigarettes. At one point someone says 'raise the voltage,' but (LaRouche) says this was associated with the bright lights used in the questioning rather than an electric shock." The Times
wrote, "Mr. White complains of a terrible pain in his arm," then LaRouche can be heard saying, 'That's not real. That's in the program'."
LaRouche told the newspaper White had been "reduced to an eight-cycle infinite loop with look-up table, with homosexual bestiality"; he said White had not been harmed and that a physician—a LaRouche movement member—had been present throughout.
White ended up telling LaRouche he had been programmed by the CIA and British intelligence to set up LaRouche for assassination by Cuban exile frogmen.
According to The Washington Post
, "brainwashing hysteria" took hold of the movement; one activist said he attended meetings where members were writhing on the floor saying they needed de-programming.
In two weeks in January 1974, the group issued 41 separate press releases about brainwashing. One activist, Alice Weitzman, expressed skepticism about the claims.
According to the Post
in 2004, local people who opposed him for any reason were accused in LaRouche publications of being commies, homosexual, drug pushers, and terrorists. He reportedly accused the Leesburg Garden Club of being a nest of Soviet sympathizers, and a local lawyer who opposed LaRouche on a zoning matter went into hiding after threatening phone calls and a death threat.
In leaflets supporting his application of concealed weapons permits for his bodyguards in Leesburg, Virginia
, he wrote:
I have a major personal security problem...[Without the permits] the assassination teams of professional mercenaries now being trained in Canada and along the Mexico border may be expected to start arriving on the streets of Leesburg...If they come, there will be many people dead or mutilated within as short an interval as 60 seconds of fire."
Regarding LaRouche's paramilitary security force, armed with semi-automatic weapons,
a spokesperson said that they were necessary because LaRouche was the subject of "assassination conspiracies".
1989: Musical interests and Verdi tuning initiative
LaRouche and his wife have an interest in classical music up to the period of Brahms. A motto of LaRouche's European Workers' Party, is "Think like Beethoven"; movement offices typically include a piano and posters of German composers, and members are known for their choral singing at protest events and for using satirical lyrics tailored to their targets.
LaRouche abhors popular music; he said in 1980, "Rock was not an accidental thing. This was done by people who set out in a deliberate way to subvert the United States. It was done by British intelligence," and wrote that the Beatles were "a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications."
LaRouche movement members have protested at performances of Richard Wagner's operas, denouncing Wagner as an anti-Semite who found favor with the Nazis, and called a conductor "satanic" because he played contemporary music.
As during the preceding decade, LaRouche and his followers denied that human civilization had harmed the environment through DDT, chluorofluorocarbons, or carbon dioxide. According to Chip Berlet, "Pro-LaRouche publications have been at the forefront of denying the reality of global warming".
According to the Foundation, LaRouche believes that a super elite (the "oligarchy") is in control of world events, a group that includes the Rockefellers, the London financial center, the British royal family, the Anti-Defamation League, the KGB, and the Heritage Foundation itself. Others include Nazis, Jesuits, Freemasons, Communists, Trilateralists, international bankers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Socialist International—all supposedly controlled by the British—as well as Hitler, H.G. Wells, Voltaire, and the Beatles as representatives of the 1960s counterculture
in Architects of Fear
(1983) compares the view to the Illuminati conspiracy theory
; after he wrote about LaRouche in The New York Times
, LaRouche's followers denounced Johnson as part of a conspiracy of elitists that began in ancient Egypt.
LaRouche sees history as a battle between Platonists
, who believe in absolute truth, and Aristotelians
, who rely on empirical
data. Platonists in LaRouche's view include figures such as Beethoven
, Leonardo da Vinci
, and Leibniz
He believes that many of the world's ills result from the dominance of Aristotelianism as embraced by the empirical philosophers
(such as Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume), leading to a culture that favors the empirical over the metaphysical
, embraces moral relativism
, and seeks to keep the general population uninformed. Industry, technology, and classical music should be used to enlighten the world, LaRouche argues, whereas the Aristotelians use psychotherapy, drugs, rock music, jazz, environmentalism, and quantum theory to bring about a new dark age in which the world will be ruled by the oligarchs.
According to Christopher Toumey, LaRouche's charismatic authority
within the movement is grounded on members' belief that he possesses a unique level of insight and expertise. He identifies an emotionally charged issue, conducts in-depth research into it, then proposes a simplistic solution, usually involving restructuring of the economy or national security apparatus. He and the membership portray anyone opposing him as immoral and part of the conspiracy.
The group is known for its caustic attacks on people it opposes and former members. In the past it has justified what it refers to as "psywar techniques" as necessary to shake people up; Johnson in 1983 quoted a LaRouche associate: "We're not very nice, so we're hated. Why be nice? It's a cruel world. We're in a war and the human race is up for grabs."
Charles Tate, a former long-term LaRouche associate, told The Washington Post
in 1987 that members see themselves as not subject to the ordinary laws of society: "They feel that the continued existence of the human race is totally dependent on what they do in the organization, that nobody would be here without LaRouche. They feel justified in a peculiar way doing anything whatsoever."