On April 11, 58-year-old LaRouche follower Kenneth L. Kronberg, having just been denounced and rejected as a supposedly worthless human being by his leader (in spite of over three decades of loyal service), leaped from a highway overpass bridge near Leesburg, Virginia. His suicide has triggered deep feelings of outrage among former members of the LaRouche organization.
Many ex-members attended Kronberg’s funeral, and some have joined the FactNet anti-LaRouche discussion board to vent their feelings about this tragedy. Persons joining the discussion board in recent days under anonymous “user names” are not only angry—as are the board’s older members—but also want to take action. One of them wrote on April 15:
How can it happen, that Lyn controls life and death of people, who spend their life in this organization? And starving at the end. Why nobody of all the members kicked out by Lyn and Helga are standing up?…Internet-discussions: Fine but not enough.
Another ex-LaRouchian replied:
You’re right. But what do you suggest? Some of us testified and helped send LHL [LaRouche] to jail. Many of us are still in touch with those still ‘in’, but it doesn’t seem to help….If you’ve got some idea of how to break through this mass psychosis, I’m all ears….
In response to the above concerns, I have drafted some suggestions on what might be done. My ideas may or may not prove practical, but I hope they will at least stimulate discussion.
To help people who will be leaving the cult after decades of dependency and isolation from the real world, there needs to be a hotline and a support organization. This is a priority because the 84-year-old LaRouche apparently has decided to demote or expel scores of his burned-out old timers (those whom he calls the “boomers”) so he can establish fresh and energetic LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) cadre in positions of authority. He seems to believe that the LYM’ers recruited in recent years, and ranging in age from their late teens to their mid-thirties, will carry on his legacy in an aggressive manner after he dies. He shrewdly (if nastily) recognizes that many of the boomers are tired of being 24-hours-a-day activists and are just going through the motions while longing for more personal space in their lives—and that once he’s gone they will either wander off or strive to turn the organization in a less fanatical (i.e., less “LaRouchian”) direction.
The purge is well under way in Europe, where dozens of boomers have already been forced out. In the United States, Ken Kronberg was one of the first, but there will be more middle-aged LaRouche followers ruthlessly rejected after decades of slavish loyalty. Even if most of these people do not seriously contemplate suicide, they will be disoriented and in desperate straights. They will need professional counseling, they will need the support of former members who understand their experiences and have the compassion to talk them through the crisis via late night phone conversations, they will need assistance in surviving economically and finding jobs (or training for jobs) in the real world.
The uproar over Kronberg’s death may cause LaRouche to slow down his purge of the U.S. organization, at least for a few months, but a hotline is also urgently needed to help newly recruited young people, many of whom are not yet fully indoctrinated and might get up the nerve to escape if they were to receive a little encouragement as well as transportation and an escort back to their parents’ home.
It would be easy to place a card with the hotline number on it in the hands of LYM’ers and boomers alike at the hundreds of LaRouche literature tables on campuses and busy street locations throughout the country, and at anti-war demos where they show up to leaflet. I suggest an easy-to-remember number (something like 1-800-GET-AWAY) that can be whispered to the recruit if he or she is under close watch by other members of the table team. The hotline number could also be circulated in many other ways—on the web, in campus newspaper articles, and through ex-members who’ve maintained ties with those still inside the LaRouche organization.
Anti-cult groups, mental health professionals who work with ex-cult members, and religious organizations could be approached for help in establishing and maintaining such a hotline along with a system for emergency intervention and counseling referral.
Today we have an opportunity to dismantle LaRouche’s organization once and for all. The Duggan wrongful death case, the German purges, the induced suicide of Kronberg, the emerging evidence of new financial swindles, and the increased public concern about LaRouche’s aggressive recruitment tactics on college campuses have all converged to create the conditions for successful action.
I suggest that ex-members join with the families and friends of current and deceased LC’ers, anti-cult groups, concerned campus activists and others to launch an intensive campaign in North America and Europe to “Stop LaRouche Now.” Aggressive public action—not just exit counseling—is necessary to prevent more human tragedies in and around the LC and rescue the hundreds of young people who have become trapped inside Lyn and Helga’s “living prison” (as one escapee recently called the LYM).
Elements of such a campaign already exist, but it’s time to give it a name, get everyone working together more closely, and step up the pressure—but without setting up any kind of centralized organization that might impose a single viewpoint or strategy.
What type of action would be best? Mrs. Duggan and her “Justice for Jeremiah” circle in the UK have demonstrated the effectiveness of press conferences, delegations to put pressure on government officials, independent investigative efforts, and web sites. Following the Justice for Jeremiah example, a good kickoff event in the U.S. might be a press conference in front of LaRouche’s Leesburg headquarters to present evidence of this incorrigible convicted felon’s latest federal and state tax violations.
If enough people become involved to warrant an ongoing campaign, I would also suggest the following:
Speaking tours of U.S. college campuses. The Stop LaRouche Now campaign should help to organize tours by ex-LYMers of campuses in states where the LaRouche movement is most active, countering its recruitment efforts through speeches and campus media interviews. In addition, the campaign should produce, and circulate through concerned campus organizations, a pamphlet featuring statements by ex-LYM recruits on how they were lied to and exploited. The point should be emphasized that LYM recruiters, like those for some religious cults, use high pressure tactics that work very rapidly with vulnerable individuals, and that the friends and classmates of a targeted person should take action immediately upon learning that he or she is flirting with the LYM.
Demonstrations in front of LaRouche’s headquarters and home, and at ICLC, LYM and Schiller Institute conference sites. LaRouche has always been terrified of protesters armed with cardboard posters, fancying they were a diversionary operation to help assassins sneak up on him. Many ex-LC’ers will recall how in the early 1980s several small demonstrations in New York City, led variously by the Holocaust Survivors USA, the Yippies, and the Manhattan chapter of the Jewish War Veterans, helped to persuade LaRouche to flee the city and set up shop in northern Virginia (the worst decision he ever made).
Pressure on politicians and celebrities who express support for LaRouchian causes. Every few months there’s someone new popping up to lend them credibility—no need to mention names here. The Stop LaRouche Now campaign could send informational packets, and could mobilize its supporters to send letters and emails, to Congressman X or Hollywood actor Y demanding that he or she repudiate LaRouche lock, stock and barrel. The same tactic could be used to register protests with the embassies of those foreign countries (such as China, Russia and Malaysia) that treat LaRouche as an important international figure, invite him or his top aides to government-sponsored conferences, and provide him with generous coverage in government-controlled media.
Whatever tactics might be decided on, ex-members should consider the profound effect that their standing up boldly and publicly would have on Der Abscheulicher (the “Abominable One,” as he once termed himself), who has always relied on keeping his lapsed followers fearful, disorganized and demoralized (and hence either completely silent or only active against him in a secret and hesitant way).
Just picture him waking up one morning to find, say, that a dozen or more of his former acolytes were going public—on the steps of his headquarters—with detailed new charges of illegal and unethical behavior. Imagine his and Helga’s hysteria if such a campaign snowballed, with more and more ex-members coming forward, in spite of their embarrassment or fear, and being joined by current cult members’ parents, siblings, relatives and friends—re-energized after years of despair during which they had thought there was nothing practical they could do to rescue their loved ones.
The snowball effect might finally make it possible to persuade those former high-level LaRouche followers who know where the “bodies are buried” to come forward. Some of them can tell in detail of things that the lower-level ex-members who post on FactNet or send confessionals to Mrs. Duggan only know as vague rumors. (Think such secrets don’t exist? Just reflect on how LaRouche in the summer of 2000 dropped his 15-years-in-preparation civil rights suit against the FBI—on the eve of trial—after learning that the government had served subpoenas on certain ex-LC’ers whom he knew or surmised would no longer be willing to commit perjury for him.)
A number of LaRouche aides who left the organization in the late 1980s, or since then, have remained completely silent—either because they are still loyal to LaRouche on some level or because of embarrassment over their complicity in certain deeds. But with the example of others coming forward, these individuals might finally break with the residual LaRouchism in their heads—the unexamined system of rationalizations instilled during years of indoctrination—that has served as LaRouche’s Siegfried line against exposure of his worst deeds.
LaRouche’s former inner-core lieutenants and Security staffers in the United States and Germany (and indeed some hitherto silent ex-members who were on lower leadership levels in these countries and in the ICLC’s Latin American intelligence sector) each know major pieces of the puzzle which, when finally put together, can discredit LaRouche so thoroughly that his dream of a movement to survive his death will be incapable of realization.
The most urgent question involves how Jeremiah Duggan was killed and how the cover-up was orchestrated both within the ICLC and between the ICLC and the German authorities (the recently purged LaRouche aides in Europe know all about this, but they apparently aren’t talking and certainly haven’t provided the affidavits to public officials and the media that would force the German police to act). Another important question concerns post-1988 tax violations and swindles in the organization (I understand new information on this is forthcoming). But there are many other secret things that can and should be revealed as part of a total public relations/media campaign against LaRouche. For instance we need information and affidavits on:
the existence and location of past or present offshore bank accounts; how money was laundered for LaRouche (or certain allies of his) through the bewildering network of ICLC entities around the world; the organization’s dealings with Noriega and other narcotics traffickers in Latin America and Southeast Asia; the organization’s relationship with the Spanish death squads that targeted Basques in the 1980s (and also its dealings with similar thugs and torturers in Guatemala, Colombia, Argentina and the state of Chiapas in Mexico); the relationship of the late Viktor Gunnarsson (the probable assassin of Olof Palme) to the Swedish branch of the ELP; the true extent of the organization’s ties to the CIA and German security services (which may shed light on why the German authorities still refuse to conduct a serious investigation of the death of Jeremiah Duggan); the organization’s dealings with unrepentant German Nazis, including war criminals, beginning in the 1970s and continuing for decades; the organization’s (and Lyn and Helga LaRouche’s) anti-Semitism and how it manifests itself away from the public eye; the luxurious and decadent lifestyle of Helga LaRouche—and how it is paid for; the organization’s deep involvement in Republican Party dirty tricks in the 1980s (including the names of the Republican operatives who encouraged these activities, the amounts paid, and the methods through which the payments were concealed); the organization’s meetings and other contacts with, and any support it has given to or received from, neo-Nazis in the United States, Canada and Europe (this would include not only incidents from the 1970s and 1980s but also the organization’s under-the-radar organizing efforts among Militia types in the 1990s and 2000s); and the organization’s ongoing involvement since the 1970s with Arab propaganda operations against Israel (which regime(s) have paid for such services? and how much?).
One or more important questions involving deeply held secrets of which I have no inkling, may be missing from the above list. In addition, some of the listed items may involve matters that will prove to be of relatively minor significance. It’s time, however, to bring all of LaRouche’s secrets, big and small, into the light of day—and, as Erika Duggan has urged, “tell the world”!
Ex-members who want this done should contact the former Security staffers and others with special knowledge, ask for their help in preventing any more tragedies, and invite them to meet with the Kronberg and Duggan families—as well as the families of young people who have disappeared into the maw of the LYM in recent years. Such an approach might lead to one or more of the former inner-core members revealing all. On the other hand, LaRouche’s Siegfreidstellung might continue to hold firm. We won’t know unless we try.
The above ideas are admittedly very ambitious and may be out of sync with the actual state of mind of most ex-LaRouchians. But in weighing these suggestions against other options (including the option of simply doing nothing, which for some fragile individuals might be best), I urge the community of former LC members to keep in mind the following:
You are not alone, either individually or as a group. Millions of Americans already have an aversion to LaRouche based on what they have learned about him from the media. Millions more are averse to anti-Semitism and totalitarianism in general, even though they may not have heard of LaRouche or be aware of his specific ideas. Thus, if you choose to act, you will have from the beginning widespread public sympathy (although probably not much active support at first), while LaRouche and his followers will remain relatively isolated provided that you tell, and keep on telling, the truth about them without equivocation.
LaRouche is far more afraid of you than you are of him. LaRouche has been weakened far more than most of you suspect by his recent monstrous actions and mistakes, and by the courageous battle of the Duggan family. Working together with the parents, relatives and friends of current and deceased LaRouche followers and victims, you have the power to do what law enforcement, the media and others have never been in a position to do: Get rid of LaRouche’s evil organization and influence forever.