Pdf file downloadable here
NEW YORK: JULY 1966JANUARY 1968
In this period of rising radical ferment among youth and minorities . . . our first task is to train a cadre of organizers, of Leninist "boomers," who can take to the boondocks of U.S. society to explain the current economic situation, to present the strategic world and national prospects for socialism, to penetrate every facet of radical ferment in student, minority and working-class movements.
Lyndon LaRouche: The Coming American Socialist Revolution (SWP Internal Discussion Bulletin, 1965)
After officially breaking with the organized Trotskyist movement in July 1966, Lyndon LaRouche (who now used the pen-names "Lyn Marcus" and "L. Marcus") first began teaching his "Elementary Course in Marxist Economics" at the Free University of New York. FUNY was two big rooms, divided into five classrooms, in a loft at 20 East 14th Street, just off Union Square.1 Founded a year earlier, FUNY opened its doors for its second summer session on 5 July 1966. Besides LaRouche's class, students could attend "Mao for Beginners," "Marxism and American Decadence," "The Russian Revolution in Literature," "History of the Left in the United States," "Perspectives for Revolutionary Change," "Psychoanalysis and Marxism," "Introduction to Marxism," "Vietnam National Liberation Fronts," and "Theatre against the War in Vietnam." FUNY's catalog describes LaRouche's "Elementary Course in Marxist Economics" this way:
A few months shy of his 44th birthday, LaRouche was a tall, thin man with a beard, thick glasses, and a New England-Brahman accent. His classes on Marx were nothing if not original. Along with Capital and the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, LaRouche covered the ideas of the "young Marx" as expressed in texts like The German Ideology, Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. LaRouche also incorporated Emile Durkheim's books Elementary Forms of the Religious Life and Suicide, the mathematical ideas of Kurt Gφdel, Lawrence Kubie's Neurotic Distortions of the Creative Process, and arguments about the impact of cybernetics on the future composition of the work force all as part of a course on Marxism.
THE L. MARCUS/SIDNEY HOOK EXCHANGE
Just as his first class started, LaRouche ("L. Marcus") received additional notice when a polemical exchange about Marx between himself and the well-known Marx expert Sidney Hook appeared in the pages of the 10 July 1966 New York Times.2 The exchange was prompted by an earlier article of Hook in the Times critical of theories celebrating the "young Marx." From the 10 July 1966 Letters to the Editor Page in the Times:
The New York Times exchange with Hook only seemed to bolster LaRouche's Marxist credentials that much more. Years later a future Labor Committee leader named Steve Fraser recalled the impact that LaRouche's FUNY class had on him: "He [LaRouche] ranged over the widest imaginable intellectual landscape. . . . He would show how the tool-making capacity of monkeys was supposedly connected to the falling rate of profit. It was mind-boggling and thrilling. It also demanded a higher intellectual effort than I had ever faced, and a certain moral rigor . . . LaRouche challenged you existentially."3
LaRouche soon developed a following. An August 1966 HUAC investigation of FUNY supporters, for example, includes the names of Anton (Tony) Chaitkin, and Robert (Bob) Dillon, both of whom would help LaRouche and his partner Carol Schnitzer Larrabee launch the West Village CIPA (Committee for Independent Political Action) and later the Labor Committee. Born in 1943, Chaitkin first became radicalized as a California teenager over the issue of the death penalty and the 1960 execution of Caryl Chessman. He later recalled: "In New York about two years after the JFK assassination, I saw a poster on the street for an ad hoc 'Free University' conducted in a loft on 14th Street. I attended an economics class taught by Lyndon LaRouche."4 As for Bob Dillon, he was a radical anthropology student at Columbia, who would later spend time in Iran working on his doctoral thesis.5 Ed Spannaus, a Columbia School of Social Work graduate student and a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, first heard LaRouche lecture at FUNY in the fall 1966 term.6 In the 1988 edition of The Power of Reason (113-14), LaRouche recalls that in August 1966 off the success of the first independent FUNY class, "there was a gathering in the tiny living room" at his Morton Street apartment. "The discussion was the theme 'What should we do?'" This August meeting seems the likely date for the initial planning of what later became the West Village Committee for Independent Political Action, better known as West Village CIPA.
LaRouche's early supporters included a core group of Columbia students who on 8 February 1967 had risked expulsion (as well as loss of their draft deferral status) when they staged an anti-CIA recruitment sit-in at Dodge Hall and by so doing enraged Columbia President Kirk. Among the 18 students who sat in, five students in particular, Bob Dillon, Tony Papert, Paul Gallagher, Ed Spannaus, and Richard Sober, would go on to play important roles in the early SDS Labor Committee. They were associated with the PLP tendency on campus as was another protester, the future Weatherman leader John Jacobs ("JJ"), who, in turn, had been a supporter of PL's earlier May 2 Movement. The official SDS chapter at Columbia, dominated by the "Praxis" group, actually voted on the day of the Dodge Hall sit in to officially state that SDS as a whole did not sanction the protest. Ed Spannaus believed that the only reason they were not formally expelled was because a March 1967 Ramparts expose of CIA funding of the National Student Association (NSA) now made it politically too difficult for Kirk to completely get rid of them.
LIVING WITH LYNDON
During this period, LaRouche lived with his companion Carol, who had been a former SWP member. From a Jewish family in New York, Carol worked in the Child Welfare system before getting an MA that enabled her to teach mathematics at a high-school and college instructor level. In 1977, the Labor Committee's Campaigner Publications published her book Energy Potential: Toward a New Electromagnetic Field Theory. Dedicated to Michael Faraday, the text included a translation by another Labor Committee member of two rare papers by Bernard Riemann: "Gravity, Electricity, and Magnetism," and "A Contribution to Electrodynamics." A long-time member of the group's National Executive Commitee (NEC), she and her husband Chris broke with the organization in the 1990s.
Years later, Carol White recalled what it was like living with Lyndon, whom she first met when they were both members of the SWP and both on the rebound from failed marriages:
LaRouche was also a poor loser: "Lyn did fancy himself a high level chess player. He could certainly beat me, but the one time I won he flew into a flit and said I won because I was such a bore to play with he couldn't concentrate. He was beside himself angry that I was pleased with my once-in-a-hundred victory."
Life with LaRouche was challenging on many levels for Carol:
LaRouche's hopes to create an independent career as a management consultant had also collapsed:
LaRouche even had a series of rituals when it came to writing:
LaRouche's use of rituals went back to his childhood. Carol recalls that, "One of Lyn's great grievances about his mother that she would have him put away his play things. This Lyn said destroyed his concentration span. He had lots of ritual demands. He may have been a very difficult child for his parents to deal with, never mind their own problems." From a child who had not been allowed to fight back and yet was repeatedly struck by his father, LaRouche now bragged that he enjoyed hitting others, Carol in particular:
LaRouche could suddenly turn violent without any warning:
Carol felt that LaRouche's assault on her was especially strange given a famous incident inside the Manhattan branch of the YSA/SWP that took place when they both were members. Two YSA comrades, "Ted and Chan," had become a gay couple while in the YSA. The SWP, however, banned homosexuals from the organization claiming they posed a "security risk." Former SWP leader Barry Sheppard reports that Farrell Dobbs decided the two could still be party members as long as they were "discreet." During a YSA party in 1963, however, they got drunk and began "necking" publicly. Both were both expelled a few days later and the group actually strengthened its ban on homosexuality. Carol recalled LaRouche saying that the two men had been treated terribly by the SWP.
FUN WITH MATH
At the time LaRouche and Carol lived together, she received an MA from the Courant Institute of Mathematics at New York University (NYU).
THE MASS ORGANIZING PERSPECTIVE
In both his class and in West Village CIPA, LaRouche advanced his own ideas for mass organizing.7 One of the most compelling arguments he offered to radical students involved mass organizing of different groups of the population into united efforts rather than on a "single-issue" basis. In so doing, LaRouche echoed the ideals of the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rosa Luxemburg's writings on the "Mass Strike" were particularly influential; LaRouche's partner Carol's later use of the pen name "Carol La Rosa" was quite possibly homage to her.
The mass organizing perspective meant in practice that any idea of dividing the working class along racial, ethnic, craft, or other lines so that one section of the working class could benefit only at the expense of another was fundamentally flawed as a radical strategy. LaRouche argued that such "constituency" organizing was naive in that it accepted the idea that the postwar capitalist economy had now entered into some new kind of crisis-free "post-industrial age" and that poverty could be solved simply by redirecting already existing resources through social pressure tactics. LaRouche argued that this view was fundamentally "Left Keynesian" and not Marxist.
LaRouche argued that at its core Marxism believed in capitalism's structural inability to escape repeated economic crisis. During the mid-1960s, the post-war boom fueled by U.S. economic dominance of Europe in particular inevitably drew to a close. Capitalism's more sophisticated ideologues were therefore now trying to recycle old Malthusian notions of "limits to growth" and the idea that everyone had to fight over a "fixed pie." LaRouche stated that just as Marx had opposed Malthus in the 1840s, radicals today had to attack "limits to growth" arguments. Instead, there had to be a common push for expanded investment in things like infrastructure, education, and housing that would benefit "the class as a whole" and not just capitalist speculators.
Factnet contributor and former Labor Committee member "LaRouche Truth" recalled LaRouche's argument this way:
LaRouche's ideas seemed especially meaningful to a small band of radical graduate students at the Columbia School of Social Work. They argued that the organization of welfare mothers in particular for decent living standards should be part of a broader effort that involved improving mass transit, building new housing, opening new schools with high teaching standards to prepare students for a modern economy, and preventing subway fare increases that would hurt working-class families. They also studied how the Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s had tried to organize tenant unions and other groups around broader progressive political demands. The idea was that endorsing a general demand for productive investment could overcome the "ruling-class" tactics of divide-and-conquer, which pitted "lazy black welfare mothers" against "greedy white racist trade unionists" to marginalize all forms of social protest.
This was a core idea from the very beginnings of the Labor Committee: socialist forms of organization should not reinforce limited "pluralist" beliefs, which were themselves seen as merely "alienated" or "parochial" expressions of a false capitalist identity shared not just by greedy capitalists but by the population as a whole, as specific reflections of the dominant capitalist ideology. For that reason, LaRouche and those he gathered around him strongly opposed "student syndicalist" arguments that students were "a new class."
The group that eventually coalesced into the Labor Committee wanted to employ a "class-wide organizing" perspective to overcome such "alienated" forms of existence. But others on the left argued that the Labor Committee downplayed the particular concerns of blacks, women, and other groups and acted more as an arrogant group of white super-intellectual elitists who refused to deal meaningfully with oppressed people over immediate issues that in the real world actually mattered most to those people's own lives. For its part, the Labor Committee argued that those "immediate issues" could never be solved without some larger programmatic class unity. For example, the Labor Committee insisted that it was impossible to truly transform ghetto schools if the students in those schools knew that no matter how hard they tried, they were still going to be confronting mass unemployment once they graduated.
Using terminology taken from Marx, the Labor Committee contended that the real task of revolutionaries was to help change the narrow "class-in-itself" idea of bourgeois identity that "fetishized" one's job, skin color, or sex as self-defining into a "class-for-itself" world view that saw each individual struggle as contributing to an overall mass revolutionary movement. At the same time, the idea of "Marxist expanded reproduction" led the Labor Committee to stress Marx's opposition to all forms of Malthusian ideology. As a result, from very early on the organization took a highly critical view of the arguments about "limits to growth" that had taken root in sections of the new ecology movement.8 The Labor Committee instead stressed the crucial role of scientific innovation in aiding human population growth. The Labor Committee's rejection of New Left hostility to science led the organization from as early as 1969-70 to actively champion the development of nuclear fusion technology. But all this still lay several years in the future.
WEST VILLAGE CIPA
In that same summer of 1966, when LaRouche was teaching his first course at FUNY, the West Side Committee for Independent Political Action (West Side CIPA) was launched to try to elect an openly Socialist candidate, James Weinstein, to the 19th Congressional District centered in Manhattan's largely liberal Upper West Side. An ex-CPer who left the party in 1956, Weinstein a former editor of Studies on the Left with an M.A. in history from Columbia was the author of a study of the U.S. Socialist Party from 1912 to 1925 when the Socialist Party ran serious electoral campaigns. Through West Side CIPA, he hoped to reinvigorate the idea of Socialists running for elections. West Side CIPA published a newsletter entitled 19 named after the 19th Congressional District out of its headquarters at 388 Amsterdam Avenue. The 9 September 1966 issue of 19 includes a lead article by Leif Johnson, a longtime SDS activist and future Labor Committee leader, who at the time was a member of 19's editorial board. Johnson's page-one article, "The Subway Shell-Game," is a very early example of proto-Labor Committee attempts to organize against proposed transit fare hikes.
West Side CIPA was part of a larger national project inspired by some former CP members and other older independent radicals, who had been influenced by the 1948 Henry Wallace campaign, to try to re-launch left-wing electoral politics in the wake of postwar anti-Communist witch hunts. National CIPA was established in a meeting held in Chicago in 1966, with the Rev. James Bevel playing a prominent role in its founding. Jim Weinstein never expected to win the 19th Congressional District, but his campaign was one of the first attempts by an avowed Socialist to reenter the electoral arena in the post-McCarthyism era. Another prominent New York New Leftist named Stanley Aronowitz likewise played a leading role in CIPA.9
West Side CIPA soon inspired other CIPA groups across New York's 19th Congressional District, including Aronowitz's Lower East Side and the West Village-Chelsea CIPA chapter, where LaRouche now established his own independent presence in the New Left. As a radical intellectual, LaRouche had been active in meetings of the Socialist Scholars Conference and other leftist gatherings, circles where he had encountered Weinstein and Aronowitz. In his 1974 Conceptual History of the Labor Committees, LaRouche (referring to himself in the third person) describes what happened next:
LaRouche, who lived with Carol in an apartment at 65 Morton Street in the heart of the West Village, would be so organizationally identified with West Village CIPA that he kept it in operation well after the end of the Weinstein campaign. In an early New Solidarity series on the early history of the Labor Committee, LaRouche described the creation of West Village CIPA. He further recalled: "The major recruiter for CIPA was Bob Dillon. The first publication of CIPA was a mimeographed document called "A Second Front against the War in Vietnam" oriented towards housing and related issues. Third Stage of Imperialism appeared in April 1967 by Marcus and published at the initial instigation of Robert Dillon Third Stage became an essential founding document of the NCLC."12
THE DEBATE OVER "CLOWARD/PIVEN"
One of the most important arguments that LaRouche advanced namely, that American society was actually decaying and that the Left had to push for massive rebuilding of modern schools and affordable apartments for working people flew in the face of the dominant radical strategy for welfare organizing at the Columbia School of Social Work. That strategy was embodied in the ideas of Professor Richard Cloward and his wife, Professor Frances Fox Piven, both of whom taught at the School of Social Work. Cloward and Piven helped design the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), which they hoped would deliberately "bankrupt" the welfare system. Cloward and Piven announced their new monkey-wrenching strategy in an article in the 2 May 1966 issue of The Nation entitled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty." They argued that welfare activists using extremely militant and confrontational tactics should try to dramatically increase the number of people on welfare, which would then bankrupt local governments. The federal government would have to replace all the bankrupt local welfare agencies with a new federal income redistribution plan that would guarantee a living income for all Americans, employed or not.
To CIPA's network of social work grad students like Ed and Nancy Spannaus, the "Cloward/Piven strategy" sounded unworkable. In their view, Cloward and Piven saw the Great Society programs in fundamentally "reformist" "Left Keynesian" terms, adhering to the idea that the basic crisis in American capitalism involved structural inequality and unfair income redistribution rather than long-term economic decay.13 Did Cloward and Piven really believe that the federal government could somehow rearrange the budget and pay for the new "living income" plan without seeking additional tax revenue that would inevitably come out of the pockets of working people? The key issue was that any kind of revenue raised for massive infrastructure development should come from "non-productive" capitalist speculators and real estate interests, not the working class. Only in this way could there develop a larger "class-wide" coalition capable of uniting white male workers with black female welfare mothers. LaRouche's arguments now provided them what seemed like a viable radical alternative to the Cloward/Piven plan for "bankrupting the welfare system."
THE WEST SIDE TENANTS UNION
Around the time they first met LaRouche, Ed and Nancy Spannaus were living at 14 West 82nd Street between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue. In the summer of 1967, the Spannauses and Tom Karp another School of Social Work grad who went on to become an early Labor Committee member helped launch the West Side Tenants Union (WSTU), whose headquarters was located at 73 West 83rd Street.14 A New York-based radical named Paul Gallagher now became active in WSTU organizing as well.15 In a 4 January 1971 issue of New Solidarity, LaRouche described the WSTU this way:
The role the WSTU played as a "Marcusite project" is noted in Rick Rhoads' article "Len [sic] Marcus: Guru of Non-Struggle" in the autumn 1968 issue of PLP's theoretical magazine Progressive Labor. According to Rhoads: "An item in the [1 January 1968] newsletter of the West Side Tenants Union, a Marcusite group, reads in its entirety, 'An Interview with City Councilman Ted Weiss is also planned for next month. A number of stewards [building reps in the tenants union] volunteered to work on this." Rhoads then comments: "Weiss is a Reform Democrat, elected with the energetic support of the Communist Party, and he is the darling of New York's 'left liberals.' To set up an 'interview' between this phony and tenants, while in no way discussing who he is and what he stands for, is the job of reformists, not revolutionaries." What is most interesting for our purpose, however, is the fact that West Village CIPA arguments were now entering the Upper West Side through the WSTU. LaRouche also reports that research done on the housing situation in New York by WSTU members was "reflected in Leif Johnson's report on the housing crisis published by the Metropolitan Council on Housing." (Dialectical Economics, p. 452, fn. 1)
THE RETURN OF RED ROSA
Inside the larger Left, the new CIPA network was frequently (and somewhat aptly) described as "Luxemburgist" because of the group's positive view of Rosa Luxemburg's economic views in The Accumulation of Capital as well as her writings on "the mass strike."16 Greatly influenced by the 1905 Russian Revolution, Luxemburg combined her argument that capitalism had not escaped breakdown economic crises with her belief in the importance of the mass strike against the SPD "right," which was centered largely in the trade union movement. Once CIPA organizers later became active inside SDS, the "Luxemburgist" label helped distinguished it from more traditional "Leninist" party formations. In a Factnet post,Dennis King who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the time recalls how other radicals viewed the early Labor Committee's politics:
TOKEN RESISTANCE: THE NY SDS TRANSIT PROJECT/ SDS LABOR COMMITTEE
The formation of the CIPA network coincided with the rise of SDS as an organized presence on campuses throughout the region. Radical groups of all kinds now concentrated on getting their message heard inside SDS and winning new recruits. A valuable profile of the proto-Labor Committee's early involvement with SDS appeared in a series of articles that began on 18 December 1970 in New Solidarity. Article one was co-written by Steve Komm and Tony Papert, both of whom played leading roles in Columbia SDS.17 From their text:
In Conceptual History, LaRouche writes about this early period: "The first Labor Committee was formed at Columbia University during early November, 1967, as a coalition between the CIPA members of Columbia SDS and the majority of the PLP members of that same SDS chapter."
The proto-Labor Committee's attempts to get SDS involved in a coalition against transit fare hikes includes an announcement from the "Committee to Stop the Fare Increase," which listed its headquarters at 2035-7 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The Committee Chairman was Joe Carnegie, a black transit worker and the head of the "Transit Workers Union Rank and File Committee for a Democratic Union." The Executive Secretary of the Committee to Stop the Fare Increase was none other than "Lyn Marcus." Kim Moody, a future leading International Socialists (IS) activist, was listed as a Secretary of the group, as was Jim Haughton, a long-time Harlem community activist and head of Harlem Fight Back, an organization devoted to securing jobs for black workers on construction sites.
The idea of organizing around a possible subway strike may sound odd, but in reality the transit issue was highly politicized. As soon as Mayor Lindsay took power in January 1966, the Mike Quill-led Transit Workers Union (TWU) hit the city with a crippling 12-day strike. The strike marked the beginning of a long struggle between Lindsay and the major New York unions that culminated in the fall 1968 United Federation of Teachers (UFT) strike. In the winter of 1967, then, it seemed possible that a new subway strike might break out sometime in January 1968. The CIPA-allied Committee to Stop the Fare Increase and the NY SDS Transit Project were preparing for just that possibility.
Additional print evidence of the proto-Labor Committee's role in SDS comes from this period. In the 5 February 1968 issue of New Left Notes, for example, longtime SDS and West Side CIPA member Leif Johnson wrote an article entitled "NY SDS to Organize against Transit Fare Increase." It opens: "During the spring term, people from Columbia, City [CCNY], Brooklyn, and Queens College SDS and other chapters in the region are undertaking a campaign to block a fare increase on the New York City buses and subways." The first major leafleting "took place in December 1967." In his New Left Notes article, Johnson adds that in Boston a similar fare campaign was being waged, although he gives no details. Presumably, however, this campaign had some connection to Progressive Labor, since Tony Papert, at the time the head of Columbia's PL chapter, had lobbied at the November 1967 Princeton SDS meeting for what would become the Transit Project. PL leaders such as Jeff Gordon were active in meetings of the SDS Transit Project until sometime in March 1968, when PL became increasingly concerned about the LaRouche network's growing influence in the Transit Project. From LaRouche's Conceptual History of the Labor Committees:
CONCLUSION: FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
A useful summary of the way early Labor Committee members viewed organizing comes from Vin Berg, a Swarthmore College student who once had been close to PL. In a New Solidarity article, Berg argued that the standard radical method of organizing remained rooted in "the anarcho-syndicalist conception of a society composed of local, properly autonomous self-interest groups which must each conduct their independent struggles, federating only on temporary ad hoc bases."20 In contrast:
Against Old Left groups like PL, the Labor Committee argued that there was no need to spend decades buried away in some obscure local trade union local. The looming intertwined economic and social crisis would force some new form of mass organization of the working class, much as the mass strikes in the auto and trucking industries in the 1930s helped build the CIO. Revolutionaries could help to guide these movements in a "class- for-itself" direction. For this reason, the Labor Committee viewed itself as a "caucus" formation inside a much larger "mass strike" process and deliberately rejected the "Leninist" "vanguard party" model as hopelessly obsolete.
LaRouche had first developed that new view of organizing in his FUNY classes. For two years from the summer of 1966 to the spring of 1968 he pulled together a core group of experienced New Left activists out of those classes into the proto-Labor Committee. He convinced less by intellectual razzle-dazzle than by presenting an organizing perspective that, he argued, was rooted in his conceptualization of basic Marxist theory. In short, his strength came most from his ability to present his interpretation of Marx's views and their current relevance for leftists looking for new ways to organize. His real genius was not that he was more esoteric than the next egg-head but that he managed in his classes to unite "thought" and "action" in a very powerful presentation. In just this way he challenged his students "existentially" as well as academically. If he were just another left academic, he never would have been able to exert the kind of influence that he now began to enjoy.22
The openness of some activists to LaRouche's "mass strike" views also reflected deeper changes inside the New Left, as many radicals now increasingly abandoned more reformist politics. Leif Johnson expressed the increasing sense of alienation many radicals felt in a 26 June 1967 article for New Left Notes. Johnson downplayed "Vietnam Summer," a 1967 anti-war effort described by the historian Kirkpatrick Sale as a "liberal bell-ringing campaign" to mobilize grass-roots support for opposition to the war. According to Johnson: "Vietnam summer is a liberal protest. It was initiated by top liberals, it acts upon liberal assumptions, it proceeds on liberal undemocratic methods of organization and leadership. The underlying purpose of this liberal strategy is to recapture leadership of the peace and civil rights movement, to blunt the awakening of our radical, anti-liberal identity, and finally to lay the groundwork for leading us into a coalitionist liberal-progressive third party movement."23
Yet the truly critical events that shaped the early Labor Committee did not just involve seemingly arcane arguments over competing Marxist interpretations of capitalism. Instead, the organization would be molded by two key events in New York in the summer and fall of 1968. They were the Columbia strike in April 1968 and the New York City teachers strike that began early that fall. In both these crises, the tiny Labor Committee network would play a remarkable and remarkably controversial role.
1 For LaRouche's background in the Trotskyist movement, see Smiling Man from a Dead Planet, particularly the chapter "The 'Many Theories of L. Marcus'" available at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.ManyTheoriesofLMarcus. For the history of LaRouche's use of pseudonyms, see the appendix in this book on PL's "History Gurus."
In a 1988 version of his autobiography The Power of Reason, LaRouche says he first began teaching a 13-week class on Marxist Economics at FUNY in April 1966 (113). When he began teaching at FUNY, he was still a member of Tim Wohlforth's American Committee for the Fourth International (ACFI). However he resigned from the ACFI that May when he and Carol joined the Spartacist League. A Spartacist League economist named Shane Mage, whom LaRouche knew, also taught economics at FUNY. LaRouche began his second class for FUNY's summer semester sometime in late June or early July while still a member of the Spartacist League. In late July 1966, he quit the Spartacist League; his formal letter of resignation is dated 24 July 1966. LaRouche finally became his own man, so to speak, in the midst of the second session of his Marx class. Also see on LaRouche's break with the Sparts, https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/bulletin/v02n34-aug-sep-1966-bulletin-tifopt-ocr.pdf.
For a brief description of FUNY, see Edward Grossman, "New York's Schoolhouse for the Left," in the April 1966 issue of Harper's as well as Roger Vaughan's FUNY profile ("It's a Groovy Thing to Do") in the 20 May 1966 issue of Life. For a detailed look at FUNY, see The Investigative Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities House of Representatives Eighty-Ninth Congress Second Session August 16-19, 1966 and available on the web. FUNY had been largely created by dissident PL cadre allied to the May Second Movement (M-2-M) that PL officially disbanded in February 1966. FUNY later was known as the Free School of New York since the state ordered it to drop the name "University" in its title as it was not an accredited institution. It later mutated into Alternate U. (For more on Alternate U, see end note 11.) For a report on FUNY's launch, see "Radicals Set Up Own 'University,'" in the 11 July 1965 New York Times. For a valuable overview of FUNY, see Toru Umezaki's 2013 Columbia University PhD thesis, The Free University of New York: The New Left's Self-Education and Transborder Activism, available at https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/.../Umezaki_c. Umezaki further stresses the extremely close connections between FUNY and the Bertrand Russell Foundation led in New York by John Gerassi. Umezaki lists both "L. Marcus" and "Robert Dillon" as teaching at FUNY but he has no awareness of their roles in the future Labor Committee. He does say that Dillon was disciplined by Columbia for protesting the CIA's role on the campus.
Some of FUNY's founders published Liberation USA out of 5 St. Marks Place to advance the views of M-2-M members who refused to liquidate into PLP. Instead, they launched the short-lived American Liberation League (ALL). Liberation USA was one of this faction's publications. Although its first two issues that I examined were not dated, they may have been published before FUNY's creation as there is no mention of FUNY. ALL enjoyed close relations with the New York wing of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. The writer John Gerassi, who headed the New York branch of the Russell Foundation, issued a statement that read: "We are at one with the efforts and perspectives of the ALL. We hail its formation and look forward to the closest association." Edited by future Weatherman Gerry Long, Liberation USA's staff included future Weathermen John Jacobs (JJ) and James Mellen along with Larry Meyers, FUNY founders Allen and Sharon Krebs, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation member Russ Stetler, who was then with the New York branch of the Foundation before he replaced Ralph Schoenman in London as Russell's personal secretary, Raymond Agostini, Constance Long, Marcia Steinbrecher (the then-wife of the avant-garde film maker Hollis Frampton), and Leonard Liggio, an anti-Vietnam War right-wing libertarian who at the time co-published a journal called Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought. Liggio also taught a FUNY class on American imperialism while Hollis Frampton lectured on film at FUNY as well. (For more on FUNY and film-making, see Umezaki.)
Activists from this network helped launch the "extra-parliamentary Left" in New York that objected to the pacifist tactics of groups like the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee and demanded a more confrontational approach to street protests that culminated in the 1967 demonstration outside the Plaza Hotel against Dean Rusk. (For more, see Chapter Two on the Labor Committee and the Columbia Strike as well as the appendix "SDS: Three Puzzles.") Along with Stetler, Allen Krebs soon decamped to London as well where he helped launch another FUNY-style school in London known as the Anti-University based at 49 Rivington Street, the former location of the Bertrand Russell Foundation. Short-lived due to lack of funds but also very influential in the London scene, the Anti-U opened its doors in February 1968.
For an invaluable discussion of the still obscure M-2-M/FUNY world in helping to shape the future Weatherman SDS tendency, see chapter 13 of Milton Viorst's book, Fire in the Streets: America in the 1960's (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1979), 472-76. The chapter is devoted to former Weatherman Jim Mellen. On the proto-Labor Committee anti-CIA protesters at Columbia, see the articles in the Columbia Daily Spectator for 9 February and 14 February 1967. The full list of protester's names is given in a 14 February 1967 letter to the editor by the students and available at http://spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/columbia?a=d&d=cs19670214-01.2.14&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-cia+recruitment++february+1967-----#.
2 The fact that the Times published LaRouche's letter must have made him ecstatic. He had just begun teaching his first class at FUNY, and now "L. Marcus" was on the pages of the New York Times clanging swords with a famous Marx expert. The exchange of letters in the New York Times was provoked by Sidney Hook's article in the 22 May 1966 issue of the Times entitled "Speaking of Books: Karl Marx's Second Coming." At the time he wrote it, Hook was teaching philosophy at NYU. It is a long article that basically attacks the "New Left" notion of Marx, which Hook believed exaggerated the importance of Marx's early writings, such as his 1844 Paris manuscripts.
In the exchange with "L. Marcus," Hook's comments reflect his contempt for people like Fromm and Sartre, whom he believes distort what is central to Marx and that is his theory of economic determinism. Hook's critique of the New Left reading of early Marx is very much in line with "Old Left" views not to mention the position of Soviet Marxist scholars. They, like Hook, read the 1844 Manuscripts as a juvenile attempt to develop a theory which only really came to full ripeness in later works like The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto. Hook's fundamental point is that the theory of economic determinism remains at the heart of Marxism. He rejects that theory, but argues that it is central to the mature Marx. Marx's youthful writings are therefore best read as part of his evolution from Young Hegelian abstraction to his mature position. One of the ironies of Hook's position is that it was Hook who first brought the writings of the young Marx to the attention of an English-language audience, with his early 1930s book From Hegel to Marx, which was reissued in 1962 as a University of Michigan paperback.
In the late 1920s Hook was living in Berlin studying Marx's ideas and working with the Institute for Social Research ("the Frankfurt School"). The ISR helped arrange the copying of Marx's rare manuscripts from the SPD archives in Berlin and the delivery of them to Moscow's Marx-Engels Institute (MEI). Hook received an invitation from the great Russian Marx scholar David Riazanov to spend a summer at the Marx-Engels Institute in 1929. While there, Hook was able to read for the first time Marx's early unpublished writings, which Riazanov was preparing for the first edition of the collection of Marx and Engels' writings known as the Marx Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). However, Marx's early work remained almost entirely ignored until the late 1950s, when the Russians began translating these texts into English. They then caught the imagination of the early New Left in the United States as well as in Western and (importantly) Eastern Europe. They became even better known after the Frankfurt School's Eric Fromm wrote about the texts as well.
3 Dennis King, Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (NY: Doubleday, 1989), 14.
5 Bob Dillon gave a five-week course at FUNY entitled "The Origin of the Village Commune in Vietnam: CIA Anthropology in Vietnam" that began on 11 July 1967. See the FUNY journal Treason (1/1, Summer 1967) where Dillon is described as a "Marxist Anthropologist" grad student as well as a "co-founder Village CIPA." (The same issue lists "L. Marcus" as giving a 5-week class on "Dialectical Materialism" starting on 15 August 1967.) Dillon bitterly broke with the LaRouche organization in 1973 and his contributions to the early group have largely been forgotten. He died on 16 December 2005 at age 61.
6 For more on Ed and Nancy Spannaus and their role in CIPA, see the appendix on CIPA and the Columbia School of Social Work. In May 1995, Nancy Spannaus gave a series of presentations on the origins of the Labor Committee, a presentation that clearly differs from this work. Nonetheless, parts of it are still useful, particularly on this very early period that she discusses in her first lecture. For her presentation, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txKCZNXg76s.
7 Perhaps one of the most important articles LaRouche wrote during his sojourn in Tim Wohlforth's American Committee for the Fourth International (ACFI), an article that helped form the programmatic basis for West Village CIPA, appeared in the 14 February 1966 issue of the Bulletin under the title "Tax Landlords, Not People! An Alternative to Lindsay's Anti-Labor Program." In it, LaRouche writes: "From Wall Street's point of view, New York City is merely a money-farm, its people so much livestock, to be milked, shorn and flayed to the limits of long-suffering popular endurance." Yet what is most striking is the article's attempt to translate LaRouche's grand economic ideas into programmatic actions over tax policy, which he sees as key to future radical organizing in an urban setting:
It was just this "practical" attempt that Wohlforth later mocked in his "Many Theories of L. Marcus" article published in the Bulletin on 16 December 1968 (Vol. 5, No. 8-9). Here Wohlforth comments that after LaRouche left the formal Trotskyist movement in the summer of 1966, "he happily threw himself into the construction of a student intellectual circle which transforms the Transitional Program into liberal reformist tax proposals, denies Leninism on the question of the party, and refuses at any time to assess historically the question of the Fourth International."
8 One of the most popular books in the early Labor Committee was Ronald Meek's work, Marx on Malthus, first published in England in 1953. In 1973 Ramparts Press issued a new edition entitled Marx and Engels on the Population Bomb.
9 For Aronowitz's memoirs of this time, see "When the New Left Was New" in Social Text, 9/10 (Spring-Summer 1984).
10 Aronowitz was also on the editorial board of West Side CIPA's publication 19, along with Leif Johnson. The 20 June 1966 issue of the Workers League publication Bulletin of International Socialism carried an extensive attack on Aronowitz and Weinstein that mentions the formation of CIPA. LaRouche resigned from the Workers League (still the ACFI at time time) in May but it is possible that the article attacking Aronowitz and Weinstein was written by LaRouche for the publication. In any event, the article no doubt reflects at least some of LaRouche's views at the time. See https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/bulletin/v02n32-jun-20-1966-bull-intl-soc.pdf.
11 The full text of Conceptual History is available here. During 1967 and 1968, LaRouche and Carol ran "West Village CIPA" largely out of their West Village apartment. In February 1968, for example, West Village CIPA issued a leaflet that announces a five-session seminar on "the revolutionary method in American history." For session one examining the early U.S. socialist movement, students were asked to read Theodore Draper's Roots of American Communism. The leaflet continued:
The first February 1968 issue of The Campaigner was published by "The Campaigner Association," which, not surprisingly, was located at 65 Morton Street. It was devoted to transit issues and entitled "N.Y. Transit Crisis." The first editorial board was listed as: Gary Nickerson (editor), Joe Carnegie (TWU), Phyllis and Bob Dillon, Paul Gallagher, Ed Spannaus, Jim Haughton (of Harlem Fightback), Carol LaRouche, L. Marcus, Tony Chaitkin and Tom Wodetzki. The second issue of the Campaigner came out in March 1968 and was advertised as "Election 68." (I have not seen this issue.) These early issues were published under the auspices of West Village CIPA. One of the original members, Tom Wodetzki (Wodetski) helped found Alternate U (sometimes called Freespace/Alternate U/"Alternate You") located at 69 West 14th Street/530 Sixth Avenue. Stanley Aronowitz calls Alternate U "the surviving incarnation of the Free University" and says it collapsed in 1970. It seems possible then that LaRouche and Wodetzki crossed paths at FUNY/Free U/Alternate U world. For a profile of Alternate U, see Gloria Steinham's "The City Politic" column in the 10 March 1969 issue of New York magazine. Alternate U played an important role in the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation movement because it hosted gay activist meetings and dances.
12 See the 4 January 1971 issue of New Solidarity. A member of West Village CIPA named Phyllis Hipwell designed the cover for Third Stage. Third Stage was later excerpted in Donald C. Hodges, Readings in U.S. Imperialism (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1971). For an analysis of Third Stage, see the chapter http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.FromJohnDieboldToEugenDuhring in Smiling Man from a Dead Planet.
13 The early Labor Committee arguments against Cloward/Piven would later inspire Ed and Nancy Spannaus and other NCLC social work professionals in the early 1970s to organize the National Unemployed and Welfare Rights Organization (NUWRO) as the Labor Committee alternative to a then-collapsing NWRO.
14 Karp later moved to San Francisco, where he served as an early Labor Committee organizer there before disappearing from the organization.
15 One WSTU publication was listed in a collection on New Left writings: "SPANNAUS, ED AND PAUL GALLAGHER: Who Pays for Poverty? Boston: New England Free Press, ca. 1968. 8 1/2 x 11 in. Four-page leaflet. (The authors, identified here as "community organizers of the West Side Tenants Union," were followers of Lyndon LaRouche. This essay appeared originally in Viet-Report.)"
16 A key leader in the left-wing of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the early 1900s, Luxemburg strongly opposed Eduard Bernstein's arguments that capitalism had freed itself from major economic crises and that the SPD should now turn to a reformist or "evolutionary" road to socialism that stressed coalitions with other groups and an active SPD role in the parliament.
17 At the time Komm was an independent member of Columbia SDS. Papert led the Progressive Labor Party faction in Columbia SDS.
18 After being threatened with being sued over its name, the Free University changed its name to the Free School.
19 What happened at Columbia will be examined in the next chapter of this book available at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABChapter2COLUMBIA.
20 Vin Berg, "The History of the Labor Committee (Part Seven): From U. of Penn. Sit-In to Bomb-Plot Arrest," in New Solidarity, 12-16 April 1971.
21 Vin Berg, "The History of the Labor Committee (Part Six): The Making and Breaking of the Penn Strike," in New Solidarity, 29 March-2 April 1971.
22 LaRouche became a better teacher over time. At FUNY, Carol would discuss with him how to make some of his arguments clearer to his audience. LaRouche took innovative ideas from his students and incorporated them into his own presentation both to increase the intellectual heft of his argument and also to explore subjects and issues that his audience members raised in the question period. LaRouche's agility in folding ideas and research from others into his own arguments offers one key to his growing success. As for Carol White, her 1977 book Energy Potential can by found at http://www.wlym.com/archive/pdf/iclc/energypot.pdf. It reflects in part the larger work of the NCLC's Fusion Energy Foundation (FEF), an outgrowth of the organization's "Science File" in the National Office. FEF first began operating as the organization's scientific front group in November 1974.
In the 1988 edition of The Power of Reason (113-14), LaRouche reports that he continued to give his course "at various locations, including the New School for Social Research, and at various campus locations around New York and Philadelphia into the spring of 1973." As a twice college dropout from Northeastern; the Labor Committee simply rented spaces on various campuses like Columbia for his classes. Carol White, however, reports that he did indeed teach a one-night-a-week paid adult education class at the New School. In 1972 he also received a $2,000 advance for Dialectical Economics, a book based on his "Marxist Economics" classes that he had been offering since 1966. (The book was finally published by the Lexington, Massachusetts-based publishing house D.C. Heath in 1975 under the name "Lyn Marcus.") In a 20 January 1974 New York Times article entitled "How a Radical-Left Group Moved Toward Savagery," reporter Paul Montgomery also writes that LaRouche "taught in adult education classes at the New School for Social Research." Montgomery, however, was in error when he stated that LaRouche's first wife, Janice Neuberger, was "a psychiatrist" when LaRouche was married to her. She was never a psychiatrist. When LaRouche married her, she was employed as a secretary at the SWP's national headquarters in New York City.
23 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, 345.