Ex-followers submit their opinions based on decades of experience in and around the NCLC

  • "Eaglebeak" on LaRouche's self-isolation
  • "LaRouchetruth" on the NCLC chairman's dramatic personality change in the early 1970s
  • 1. LaRouche's self-isolation behind a "Praetorian Guard"

    By "Eaglebeak," FACT Net discussion board, Wednesday, August 29, 2007 (postings beginning 2:09 pm merged here):

    [Lyndon LaRouche's] isolation/self-isolation is undoubtedly key to [his] deterioration over the years.

    This is a man who has had almost no contact with the outside world since January 1974. He is whisked from place to place in the middle of the night. When the Concorde flew, he flew to Europe in that sleek rich man's toy. He never runs into anyone he dislikes or fears--he sees only those invited, pre-screened, called to his house.

    When he travels, at home or abroad, only Security and perhaps a fraction of the pathetic "inner elite" of the NEC or the real inner elite knows--it's apparently a security risk for regular members to know.

    Want to see "Lyn"? Want to talk to him? Been in the organization for 300 years slaving for him? Your chances of actually seeing or talking to the great man are very slim (as will be shown subsequently in a posting).

    You may want to "brief" him on something of great pitch and moment--but if he doesn't want to hear it, you're out of luck.

    You may want to argue with him, to fight with him--Aha! That's it! That's why you'll never get in to see him.

    The challenge of day-to-day reality, the tremendous psychological pain of having to confront the Other, of being treated like simply another human being, is far too great an inner agony--and I am not speaking sarcastically here, I am speaking clinically--to be borne.

    That is why in the old days LaRouche did not hold jobs, but sat in his apartment while his partner worked to support him--sat watching TV ("Mission Impossible") and withdrawing from the world.

    That is why the moment he could use the events of January 1974--his creation--to retreat/withdraw forever, the world never saw him again, except on webcasts or TV half-hours or on a distant podium surrounded by "security" at conferences.

    If you ever get in a fight with him, Constant Reader, you will see that he has no idea how to have an argument with another human being. He is frightened--disoriented--by the experience. He may appear passive and almost apologetic.

    But don't be fooled. Later, when it's safe, when you are gone and he is again surrounded by the Praetorian Guard of those poor guys on "security," he will rail and rave and fulminate and vituperate about you--and not for an hour or a day, but for years and years and years. And what he says about you from the safety of his windy fastness, will have a far greater effect on your life than your yelling at him will have on his.

    "LaRouche and an NEC member concocted a series of exquisitely embarrassing press releases charging the Feds with an attempt to assassinate him by colonoscopy."

    For years this anomic, autistic lifestyle was justified as "imposed on" him by security considerations--the danger that "they" (from Rockefeller, as Sancho says, to Baroness Whoever) were out to get him and to kill him.

    Bu the lie was given to that in 1989, when LaRouche was led off in handcuffs to prison. All his followers (well, almost all) expected him to be assassinated immediately. It was the greatest disaster imaginable.

    Except he wasn't assassinated. He wasn't even roughed up. He wasn't ... anything. The Federal government, run by the "administrative fascist regime" of George H.W. Bush, didn't lay a hand on him.

    In desperation, LaRouche and an NEC member (who has since quit--no wonder) concocted a series of exquisitely embarrassing press releases charging the Feds with an attempt to assassinate him by colonoscopy.

    Even those who were deeply concerned about his situation could hardly suppress a giggle.

    But really, it was madness--they should have been rushing for the exits, not smiling to discover that even the great are "human."

    LaRouche's problem isn't that he's "all too human," it's that he is passionately hostile to a humanity in whose swirling, disorderly masses he feels constantly threatened.

    It's true that bullies are cowards. But what he fears is not so much physical danger, though he is frantic about that--it's the emotional and psychological danger posed to a fragile, brittle sense of self by the rough and tumble of the outside world.

    And hence his decades-long escape, alike from those who hate him and those who love him.

    2. The Great Divide: What Pushed LaRouche Over the Edge between 1972 and 1974?

    By "Larouchetruth," FACT Net discussion board, August 30, 2007 (postings from 1:37 am to 1:47 am merged here):

    Eaglebeak’s discussion of LaRouche’s isolation since 1974, combined with my own knowledge, and what I’ve heard over the years from others, provokes a really key question. I want to throw out the question, and then later, perhaps tomorrow, provide the answer that I find compelling, which if correct would unravel in a profound way what I, at least, have never heard suggested before--the real driving force in what LaRouche has become in the last 35 years.

    I have not previously thought of LaRouche as being cut off from almost all contact with anyone but a tiny handful of brownnosers for the past 33 years, in quite the way he (Eaglebeak) lays it out. But I did, more than once, ask myself, why doesn’t he come in to the office occasionally? Certainly unscheduled visits couldn’t be security risks. It takes foreknowledge and lots of time to plan professional hits. It never made any sense.

    What Eaglebeak added that I was not aware of, is how Lyn responds to criticism in private--that he acts actually frightened, disoriented. If true, that’s quite something. Not, to put it mildly, a match to his persona.

    But I do not believe that Eaglebeak is correct in saying that he was always like this. I can’t comment on whether he sponged on his partner “in the old days” and hung out in his apartment, nor is it clear which years “the old days” covers. What I do know, and some of this comes from firsthand stories from other, older exers at the ex-member gatherings held once a year at Ken and Janet M.’s house in Jersey for a number of Labor Day weekends in the ‘90s, is that LaRouche prior to 1973 did not hide himself the way he did post-1974. Members could sometimes go back with him to his apartment in the East Village after one of his classes or a conference speech, even have a meal with him, he was relatively accessible, and of course, he kept giving his six-session classes on Marxian economics, which, curiously, completely stopped over the same time period (I just thought of that one). In fact, that course was crucial to expanding the early followership, especially in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston.

    And, equally relevant, there was an internal life in the organization, one could disagree with him in a meeting, even strongly so, and argue one’s case, and he would argue back, but he really would argue, unlike what Eaglebeak reports for later years. And there was no sense of disgrace, or fear, to do so. The internal terror of appearing to differ from the latest “line” that LaRouche put out, was absent. LaRouche was not the God relative to us peons that he shortly became by 1975--neither in our minds, nor in his own mind.

    Yet, by 1975, he had become our God. In order to appreciate the issue, which I believe is really central to advancing our understanding of him—and us—I want to review some of the predicates of that. We all remember the basic chronology: Operation Mop Up was launched in March 1973--and went on for about four months until it was abruptly stopped--in the alleged service of stopping the Communist Party from disrupting our NUWRO [National Unemployed and Welfare Rights Organization--ed.]. Around the same time, several brave members risked their lives to organize some genuine ghetto gang members, with some apparent initial success.

    "All authority, all wisdom, suddenly flowed in one direction, down from the top, from Lyn…to the lowly member."

    But the most ominous development was the aftermath of Lyn’s trip to Europe, when he announced he had assembled the leaders of our fledgling European group, mainly from Germany, Italy, France and Sweden, I believe, for a weekend-long “session,” at which he had successfully put them through an intense psychological experience and by the end, had, in this crucible, allegedly helped them make tremendous leaps of psychological understanding and strength, based on LaRouche tearing down their old “selves” and helping them forge new ones (the specifics are fuzzy on what we were told actually happened, but this is close enough). It was called the “Munchrat experience” or something close to that, being held in a city by that name. The moment he returned, he (a) promised that he would do the same with the members of the NEC and NC, and they would propagate it to the broader membership; and (b) he began a series of writings, the first several mimeographed, subsequent ones appearing in Campaigners culminating by the end of the year or the beginning of 1974, with "Beyond Psychoanalysis," the first of which, I believe, was “Mother’s Fears.”

    I don’t propose to take the time here to say much about the specifics. LYMers, the Campaigners are available on your own website; I imagine somebody still has the old mimeographed items, but they’re hardly accessible. The simple gist of the series was (and others, feel free to fill in what I’ve forgotten or overlooked) (a) everyone was “mother dominated,” which made them impotent, both politically and sexually (not that they couldn’t necessarily get it up physically, but that even if they could, the sex they experienced was degraded), (b) people needed to “confront” these internalized fears put there by our mothers in order to become liberated from their debilitating influence, (c) the Latin “macho” was the poster child for the effect of this mother domination in creating a sexist, but inwardly insecure, impotent person, and (d) that inner self was labeled as “little me,” the true identity that was too timid and insecure to face the awesome responsibility that history required of our tiny group to lead humanity through the present crisis.

    I don’t recall if this next came from LaRouche in his writings, or as repeated by his minions—I recall hearing it as coming from Tony Papert in a New York LC meeting, the charge that one was “blocking”—the perfect weapon for someone one or more rungs up the leadership food chain than you were, to put you down in a way that left you no defense. It was perfect. It no longer mattered what anyone said if it disagreed with something coming down from leadership. Your argument could be simply ignored because you were “blocking.” This, of course, only worked down, not up. No one could get away with charging someone above them on the leadership food chain with blocking. That would be a contradiction, and would imply that the leadership food chain was not an accurate reflection of the relative level to which each person had progressed in his ability to “potently” follow LaRouche’s latest dictum. So, it became a self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating bit of trickery. All authority, all wisdom, suddenly flowed in one direction, down from the top, from Lyn through the NEC to the NC, to the lowly member.

    And it all happened very quickly. And it worked like a charm, because (a) who among us wasn’t insecure about his sexual potency, especially if someone who “obviously” was ten-times more potent than we were was telling us we were impotent, (b) he held out the (illusory) promise that “help was on the way,” just hold [on] a little longer, and Lyn will reproduce the Munchrat process here, and pretty soon, you’ll all be way more potent than you are now.

    "It was like no other public speech by LaRouche then or since, being largely a collection of sexual references."

    Now, overlaid on that was the following sequence of events: I believe that Rockefeller was just starting to be singled out as the leader of the enemy side. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that we had such a defined, personified feindbild (picture of the enemy) prior to that. We had the Fraser frameup case in 1969-70, then the monetary crisis and ERP of 1971, then the anti-Zero Growth, Club of Rome campaign of 1972, as our leading focuses for activities, in addition to fighting for “left hegemony” in what remained of the anti-war and left ferment of the country. Secondly, in the fall of 1973, we were told that one of our leading Greek members in Europe had been brainwashed in East Germany over a period of months by the Stasi, acting on Soviet orders, until LaRouche discovered it, and rescued the member, whose name I am forgetting [it was Konstantin George (political name), who never agreed that anyone had brainwashed him--ed.]. As I recollect, this coincided, for the first time, in identifying the Soviet Union as specifically out to “get” LaRouche, seeing him as an enemy--I guess because we had [supposedly] supplanted the Communist Party by wresting “left hegemony” from them, so we were a real threat to their leading asset in the U.S. But didn’t we begin attacking them and claiming they were out to get Lyn right about this time?

    I am a bit fuzzy on the chronology of one other thing, which is when the real ego-stripping sessions--the most notorious being those conducted by [Gus Axios] in the New York and some other locals--took place; but I believe they took place starting in late summer and into the fall of 1973. Rich F. was a particular victim out in Detroit, an extremely aggressive, self-confident field organizer in the previous several years, induced to have a virtual breakdown from which he never recovered his self-confidence. Apparently, this so obviously got out of hand that as suddenly as it started, it ended. But clearly, enormous damage was done to the entire membership’s ability and willingness to think for themselves, question leadership, or do anything but adulate Lyn.

    All of which set the stage for the most bizarre several weeks in the organization’s history. Which were arguably the “tipping point,” or “point of no return,” between the old LC, which might have remained free enough to retain some internal political life and not put Lyn on the pedestal that he mounted during 1973 and never came down from, and the new one, which removed all checks and balances from the now paramount Leader. [At the] National Conference over Christmas-New Year's 1973-74, Lyn’s opening address to the public [part of the] conference, to which a number of members had actually invited their parents to witness and be convinced by their new guru, was a fiasco, at least vis a vis the parents. I don’t recall that many specifics, but it was like no other public speech by LaRouche then or since, being largely a collection of sexual references, of which I remember only the claim that policemen’s billy clubs were phalluses, and policemen in general homosexuals. We, or at least I, as best I can remember it, related everything he said to the BP [brainwashing plot] campaign and “made sense” of it that way. Nonmembers, needless to say, were freaked, not to mention grossed, out.

    Then we had, and I forget whether a session or two got cancelled or postponed, but we got the news, that filtered in piecemeal, that Chris and Carol W., who had been in England, had just arrived overnight, during the Conference, and that it turned out that Chris had been brainwashed over a period of months previously, and that when they tried to fly back, on a secondary airline, it was already in the air and was recalled for some reason involving them, the CIA and possibly the KGB, but that somehow they got back safely, and that LaRouche spent all night the moment they arrived “deprogramming” [Chris]. As I recollect it, Lyn did not return to the Conference, and the internal wasn’t much, as NEC members just reported what they knew.

    "Suddenly one could get in trouble for an "errant" thought that deviated from "the line," and be accused, not just of 'blocking,' but of endangering Lyn."

    Then, on New Years’ Day, 1974, we arrived in the national office on 34th Street [in Manhattan], to be told to listen to a tape recording from the previous night’s NEC meeting, including Lyn. This was the first “morning briefing.” Within a few days, it was being typed up and passed around, and the briefing has remained a constant every since. But more important, we were instructed that the brainwashing plot was part and parcel of a plot by Rockefeller to pull off a coup in the near future, and we had to go out and leaflet the general population to warn them of this. I believe that carrying out such a campaign was a major departure from any previous M.O.

    This was a real critical moment. The first one, I believe, where any significant number of members decided Lyn no longer made any sense. I don’t recall how many left in the next several months, but it was far from negligible, including one person, whose name I forget, who’d been with Lyn since the beginning, but had been out of the country on some academic activity for a while who returned, but didn’t stay long. And I recall that I had real trouble believing the substance of what we were handing out. This wasn’t what I had signed up for. I don’t recall how I ended up rationalizing it, and how successful I was. I am certain I was highly relieved when we at least stopped the mass leafleting after a relatively short period. (I guess it worked, since Rockefeller never launched his coup.)

    OK, to wrap this up more briefly. As part of the Chris W. brainwashing story, we had the revelation of the plot to send Cuban frogmen and kidnap or kill Lyn at his apartment. I believe that was the genesis of Security. I believe that whatever access people had to Lyn up to that time, it became very much more rarefied after that. There were NEC meetings with Lyn, I believe, nightly, which were attended by designated regular members, one per night on a rotating shift basis, whose job was to take notes in order to write up the next morning’s briefing, and these were browbeating sessions. Ed Spannaus was a particular target--“Lake Placid,” Lyn called him, so I was told by somebody, but it wasn’t only him who was targetted.

    The final piece of the picture was the rise of Security. Jose T, the early head of security activities, seemed to be a ringleader, but actually, as I learned from him at one of the Labor Day get-togethers, he was a lone voice of sanity, who saw right through the brainwashing, recognized immediately that Chris wasn’t brainwashed, and was probably just on drugs, and tried to convince Lyn to stop maintaining this story. He soon left, when he concluded that it was hopeless to try to change Lyn’s mind on this.

    What then happened with Security, from the standpoint of older members, is that much younger, newer, politically naïve or inexperienced, members, including people with no political credentials, who somehow managed to get assigned to Security—Jose’s younger brother comes to mind, but there were others—suddenly wielded inordinate power. The analogy to how Stalin created the OGPU, the ancestor of the NKVD (later the KGB) to intimidate the old-line leaders, came to my mind at the time, and it remains a very apt comparison. It all seemed surreal. But suddenly, one could get in trouble for an “errant” thought that deviated from “the line,” and be accused, not just of “blocking,” but of endangering Lyn. And there was no appeal, no discussion, nothing to do but accept the new regime, or quit. Which some did. From that point forward, in fact, we always had a “party line” in a sense that I don’t believe we did previously.

    "LaRouche vanished from visibility to members, except at the twice-yearly conferences…He all but never visited the offices where the members worked."

    From that point, in early 1974, I believe dates Lyn’s almost total seclusion. After all, he was under attack from the CIA and the KGB. They had already brainwashed two members, and possibly more. What Eablebeak reports dates from this moment forward.

    So, I posit that 1973 was the pivotal year, starting with Munchrat, and culminating in what I’ve described as occurring in early 1974. A mildly “democratic centralist” organization which still had room for internal debate, and even criticism of LaRouche, became a LaRouche worship society in less than a year. Ironically, the only ones, as far as I know, who ever disagreed with LaRouche subsequently were members of the NEC, such as Fernando Q., including long before he left. In fact, there was a weird period when he [was] removed from the NEC because of his disagreements, and later brought back on. That is, a few of the NEC leaders, but only behind closed doors, actually spoke up on rare occasions. Internal conferences were rubber stamps for voting in whatever leadership “slate” LaRouche handpicked, and nobody ever put up a rival slate. [It was a] complete “democratic centralist” internal dictatorship in all but name, where all wisdom flowed from LaRouche alone. And LaRouche himself, in person, vanished from visibility to members, except at the then twice-yearly conferences. He gave no more classes. He all but never visited the offices where his organization’s members worked.

    And, in support of Eaglebeak’s characterization of his difficulty in handling himself in situations where he did, on occasion, have to interact with real people in the real world, I want to merely mention that this accords with LaRouche’s disastrous meetings with foreign heads of state and other foreign dignitaries. His meeting with Indira Gandhi was a disaster, as was his meeting during the same Asian trip with top Japanese industrialists—those were, I believe, his first such meetings, but not the last. Details of his conduct will have to wait for another occasion. I have heard thirdhand reports of similar disasters when he visited Eastern Europe six or seven years ago. I encourage others who know the results of any other of his high-profile trips to share what they know, but I’d be willing to bet that the pattern will persist. (And granted, he does make a favorable impression on a few people, but I’d be willing to bet it tends to be people who start out already so favorably inclined that Lyn feels adulated in their presence.)

    Anyway, in the cases I’ve heard about, he shows absolutely no awareness of his surroundings, no ability to listen to the people he’s meeting, he is simply totally self-absorbed with his own importance, and spouts nonsense, or what his interlocutors take for nonsense. He does not interact with them. He is not really there. He is in his own world, his own delusional world.

    And otherwise, his only contact with people is with Security, and occasionally with NEC leaders. He never attends NEC meetings, even. Until Eaglebeak’s post today, I hadn’t ever put it together and realized the depths of his self-created isolation from virtually all people, other than his scripted and tightly controlled public appearances, in the form of (until they were cancelled) conference speeches and Q and A from the floor, campaign ads during quadrennial presidential contests, and in the last several years, his webcasts, where he has only a small live audience, and all questions can be tightly controlled.

    And it all began at the same time that the organization was radically transformed, in a manner that doomed it, and doomed the possibility that LaRouche might actually achieve some good in the world.

    So, the question is, why? What happened in 1973? I believe that actually, it was something that occurred in late 1972, in England, to which LaRouche reacted extremely badly. And I believe that it at least plausibly might explain everything laid out above. Any takers on what that 1972 event might be (or alternate theories)? Stay tuned.