Los Angeles Herald Examiner, April 18, 1989


When I began looking into the activities of political extremist and cult leader Lyndon LaRouche for a radio documentary I was producing in 1981, the work of journalist Dennis King was already legendary among seasoned LaRouche-watchers.

At the time, little had been published in the mainstream media about LaRouche and his shadowy network, which was just beginning to recruit and organize on the West Coast and here in Los Angeles. But the group was firmly established in New York, and King's 1979 investigative series for the Manhattan weekly Our Town had quickly become the standard reference on the subject.

As one of the first journalists to break the LaRouche story, he has now written the book that will surely be the hallmark work: Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (Doubleday).

For more than a decade, King has endured more lawsuits, more libelous and slanderous personal attacks, more unrelenting 24-hour intimidation, dirty tricks and physical threats than any other reporter who tried to reveal the truth about LaRouche's neo-Nazi organization.

Long before I met him or even read his Our Town series, the first LaRouche cult member I interviewed demanded to know "if Dennis King had been feeding me stuff." When I eventually did speak to King on the phone from New York, I expressed amazement that he had a listed number, considering all the harassment. "There's no point in unlisting it," he said wearily. "Every time I change it, they find out the new one within a day or two. They've got contacts inside the phone company."

It's tempting to dismiss such comments as misplaced melodrama, but they accurately describe an occupational hazard of covering this story. I've seen the countless LaRouche news interviews, public addresses, paid advertisements and published propaganda that have attempted to smear King and destroy the credibility of his work. And I've shared his frustration at the indifference of mainstream editors who just wouldn't believe that the most sophisticated political extremist group in modern times was a story worth reporting.

Despite all that--or perhaps because of it--King has come closer than anyone else to unraveling the mystery of how LaRouche, now serving time in federal prison for tax evasion and conspiracy to commit loan fraud, was able to get away with it for so long. His book chronicles time after time when prosecuting agencies, political parties and even the press simply failed to recognize or act on the danger to democracy posed by LaRouche and his minions.

The broad outlines of the saga are by now familiar, and King sketches them deftly, filling in the picture with rich detail: LaRouche's long involvement on the radical left beginning with the Socialist Workers Party in the late 1940s and extending on through the Students for a Democratic Society in the late 1960s; gradual formation of a breakaway leftist sect in the early 1970s, followed by a sharp lurch to a far-right ideology modeled closely on classical fascism, laced with racism, anti-Semitism and demented conspiracy theories; and finally, the creation of a private intelligence service, publishing and financial empire, electoral organization and political network girding the globe.

King's book is alive with anecdotes, both amusing and frightening, of how LaRouche's various megalomaniacal schemes played themselves out. But where it's most valuable is in supplying what until now has been missing from most accounts of the LaRouche phenomenon, including my own: A systematic analysis of his political program, not as an arbitrary assortment of obsessions conjured up by a clinical psychotic, but as a fiendishly clever and coherent strategy, a "grand design" aimed at achieving world conquest.

This is not to argue that LaRouche, on some level, isn't insane. Most of us who've followed his career closely believe he is. The Nazi "big lie" propaganda technique depended on repeating an untruth so outrageous that eventually it came to be believed. The success of LaRouche's plan hinges on precisely the opposite. It is, in reality, a gigantic worldwide conspiracy so elaborate and audacious that almost nobody has taken it seriously. And it can only succeed as long as we don't give it serious attention.

Uncovering the LaRouche story has been a fascinating and frightening experience for all of us, and not only for the reasons commonly supposed. LaRouche's penchant for lawsuits is famous, and even the fear of getting sued has successfully squelched countless investigative exposes of his organization. As a sociopathic personality, he has a well-deserved reputation for sadistic cruelty toward his own followers, employed as part of his cult-indoctrination techniques, as well as a single-minded ruthlessness in hounding his political enemies.

But there's also another kind of fear that sooner or later takes hold of everyone who gets hooked by this story: As you read more of LaRouche's many publications--which is essential, after all, to understanding his motivations--you cannot escape the terrifying sense that at some point you, too, run the risk of losing your grip on reality as you get sucked deeper into LaRouche’s madness. As in all effective propaganda, threads of truth are densely woven into its fabric, and trying to unravel them is mentally and physically exhausting. It becomes as much a battle to keep your own perspective as it does to comprehend the lunacy of the LaRouche world.

Doesn't the fact that LaRouche ended up behind bars ultimately prove that the system works? Not at all. As King observes, if LaRouche's criminal convictions finally put an end to his political career, it will be due not to the strength of grass-roots resistance to fascist ideologies but, paradoxically, to its weakness. That vulnerability encouraged the kind of recklessness and rampant fund-raising fraud that eventually caused LaRouche's entire scheme to unwind.

The case of Lyndon LaRouche is a cautionary tale of how American institutions collectively failed to confront and counter a dangerously subversive political movement. Could it happen again? Indeed, it's still happening.