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Introduction to Beyond Common Sense: Psycho-Politics in Australia

The vast majority of people who actually have spoken to a real live “LaRouchie” over the years largely owe the experience to a conversation with a LaRouche supporter at a card table in an airport, outside a post office, or on a big city street. Whether you were intrigued, fascinated or appalled by the encounter, it is far more likely that you came away thinking you had just met someone from a somewhat kooky but also highly original and offbeat political sect then that you had just bumped into a member of a totalitarian political cult. Cults, after all, are rather easy to spot when they spout the arcane theology of the Reverend Moon or gleefully dance to a Hare Krishna beat. Cults don’t talk about fusion energy, manned space flights to Mars, Bach’s music or reforming the Federal Reserve.

Or do they?

In Beyond Common Sense: Psycho-Politics in Australia, Don Veitch challenges our conventional assumptions about cults. Veitch exposes in brutal detail the “totalist” psychological control system that the LaRouche movement employs to keep its followers in line. Veitch’s detailed documentation of the LaRouche movement in Australia – a story which at times reads like a cross between George Orwell and Benny Hill – speaks for itself. Here I only hope to provide the reader with some historical context.

The LaRouche movement first began in the late 1960s as a self-identified Marxist organization first known as the “SDS Labor Committees.” In 1969 it became the “National Caucus of Labor Committees” or NCLC. Although the American Left was littered at the time with self-proclaimed “Marxist-Leninist vanguard parties,” as late as the spring of 1973 the NCLC still remained a surprisingly decentralized student-dominated organization. That spring, however, everything began to change. By early 1974 the group was well on its way to becoming a political cult subject to the whims of its leader, Lyndon LaRouche (then best known by his alias “Lyn Marcus”).

LaRouche’s decision to introduce his own patented brand of “Marxist psychology” – dubbed “Beyond Psychoanalysis” (hereafter, “BP”) – proved critical to the NCLC’s transformation. LaRouche claimed that the insights he had achieved in BP would give the organization the ability to produce psychological geniuses capable of leading a world revolution. In reality LaRouche’s hodgepodge of a theory proved central to his ability to consolidate the group’s leadership under his own unquestioned authority once he claimed that his special “Promethean” insights made him uniquely immune to any political or psychological weakness derived from “bourgeois ideology.”

Most important of all, BP gave LaRouche the excuse to organize what soon were dubbed “ego-stripping” sessions. During these late-night encounter group-like conclaves, leading members were pressured into revealing intimate details of their personal life even as “session leader” LaRouche remained exempt from attack. LaRouche used the results to claim that any serious challenge to his political leadership wasn't “political” at all but motivated by a member’s personal psychological problems and projections (famously dubbed “mother’s fears”). Should anyone still dare to seriously dispute LaRouche, he or she would run the risk of yet more “ego-stripping” and – if all else failed – declared mentally ill and/or some kind of “agent” and summarily bounced out of the organization.

Once LaRouche felt secure in his power, however, the entire BP phase of the NCLC largely came to an end. For one thing, the BP sessions if carried out by someone other than LaRouche always ran the risk of spiraling out of control as happened, for example, in the NCLC’s Boston local. The mere threat of being brought to LaRouche to endure a new round of brutal psychological attack proved more than enough incentive to successfully intimidate leading cadre. At the same time using classic “carrot and stick” methods, cadre who uncritically went along with LaRouche were promptly rewarded with leading positions.

Most important of all, the vast majority of NCLC members who joined the group during their radical youth still believed in its economic and political analysis and proved willing to tolerate a great deal in the pursuit of a higher goal. By the late 1970s, however, the NCLC’s politics began to radically change. LaRouche now openly courted leading members of the far right even as the pages of New Solidarity became more and more filled with ugly anti-Semitic rants. Not surprisingly, from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, the NCLC witnessed a wave of resignations from long-time members, some individually and some in larger groupings both in the National Office in New York and most strikingly in Detroit, the center of the sect’s mass organizing efforts for the entire Midwest.

The revolt clearly stunned LaRouche. Now thanks to Don Veitch’s reporting, we know that when LaRouche decided to rebuild his organization, he made sure to employ the BP techniques he had once reserved for a select group of leading cadre on a far more micro-level. From LaRouche’s perspective, it was far better to have a smaller organization with even more indoctrinated members than a larger one with organizers who could still think independently enough to potentially threaten his grip on power. Beyond Common Sense’s unflinching depiction of the way BP was used in Australia to consolidate LaRouche’s position as a secular messiah also shows just how easy it is for an ostensibly “political” organization to function sociologically very much like a religious cult.

Yet it also would be wrong to exaggerate the existence of the BP-inspired internal control system to fully explain the LaRouche group in a mono-causal or reductionist manner. It is equally important to acknowledge that the vast majority of recruits to the LaRouche movement joined the sect because of its ideas and utopian promise.

In the late 1960s that idealism came clad in beards and bellbottoms. Today the tiny LaRouche movement claims to be leading a new scientific and cultural renaissance in opposition to a looming “New Dark Age.” It employs claims about science, art, history, philosophy and European high culture to attract new members, especially college students. The group’s ruthless deployment of bogus psychological techniques and severe forms of mental coercion – both on new recruits as well as on longtime members – still remains surprisingly well concealed.

The special kind of psychological pressure that trained LaRouche recruiters deploy on potential new young members at “cadre school” retreats in both Europe and America also has almost never been documented in detail in spite of the fact that coercive measures that the group deliberately employs in order to “convert” new members undoubtedly played a major role in the story of a young British student named Jeremiah Duggan, who died under highly mysterious circumstances while attending one such “cadre school” in Wiesbaden, Germany, in March 2003. Now thanks to the availability of Beyond Common Sense on LaRouche Planet, the endemic psychological abuse of members of the LaRouche organization – one of the ugliest and most destructive aspects of the LaRouche cult – has finally been brought to light.

Hylozoic Hedgehog for LaRouche Planet

Research Note:

For more on Don Veitch – as well as for an important letter from a former leading Australian LaRouche follower (“Martin Strange” in Beyond Common Sense) – see “STINKBOMB POLITICS”: THE DON VEITCH REVELATIONS (405 Kb.).

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