I’m sorry that A______’s friend is living in the La Rouche compound. He is the leader of a dangerous cult based on all kinds of paranoid political fantasies. La Rouche passes himself off as a conservative Democrat, but he is no such thing. He is a fascist.
I knew him when I was in college. He called himself Lyn Marcus back then, a conflation of Lenin and Marx, and was a revolutionary communist. He was the head of a group called the Labor Committee, and, although I never joined them, I knew them very well. He stood apart from the Stalinists (Communist Party) and Trotskyists of the old left and was contemptuous of the disdain for ideology and confrontational tactics of the new left. For these reasons, I found him an attractive character, but I never cared for the high level of discipline in his organization. The Labor Committee was strong at Swarthmore, so Lyn Marcus spent a lot of time there, and I got to know him pretty well
To understand Larouche, you need to know something about Mussolini, whom he resembles. Mussolini also started out as a revolutionary communist and editor of the party newspaper, Avanti, before WWI. The Second International split over the issue of whether the proletarian revolution could happen before the bourgeois revolution was complete, i.e., before the bourgeoisie had completely wiped out all vestiges of feudal privilege. In the Russian Social Democratic Party, those who believed that the bourgeois revolution needed completion first were the Mensheviks, and those who felt that the proletarian revolution could seize power before that became known as the Bolsheviks, who left the Social Democratic Party under the leadership of Lenin, who founded the Third International. The remnants of the Second International thought the bourgeoisie needed the support of proletarian parties to help complete the bourgeois revolution. To their disgrace, they became nationalist parties who supported the war.
Mussolini, was essentially a radical Menshevik who thought he was serving socialism by helping the bourgeoisie complete its revolution and started the Fascist party to accomplish that end. He started attacking proletarian political parties and institutions like unions. His “black shirts” would carry out “punitive expeditions” against left wing political opponents. One of their favorite tactics was to force feed people large amounts of castor oil, a foul tasting, powerful laxative that would cause their victims days of terrible discomfort and humiliation. Hitler modeled the SA on Mussolini’s black shirts.
It wasn’t long before Mussolini started attracting a lot of right-wing energy, but he, himself, did not understand that he had started a right-wing movement until much later.
Larouche is in the same mold as Mussolini. The Labor Committee was a left wing revolutionary group with a blind spot. They argued that all nationalist liberation movements were, by definition, petit bourgeois and should be opposed. I argued that national liberation movements could be potentially revolutionary if they had a proletarian base, and those that had that potential deserved support. The Panthers were a good example of a black movement that had a proletarian base and was potentially revolutionary. They didn’t last long enough to develop a full-blown class analysis, but they were headed in that direction, as was Martin Luther King just before he was assassinated. But the Labor Committee established itself in opposition to genuine proletarian groups, and I wanted nothing more to do with them.
A year or so later, after my own political group had disbanded, I heard a news report that the Labor Committee had attacked the Philadelphia offices of the YWLL, the Young Workers Liberation League, a Communist Party youth group. The report mentioned that someone named, B_____ G____ had been arrested for assault because he had been kicking someone in the head. I knew B______ G____ very well. He was in my class at Swarthmore and had been in the Labor Committee. I couldn’t imagine B______ behaving this way. I knew then that a dangerous corner had been turned; the Labor Committee was mounting punitive expeditions against the left, like Mussolini. They had become a fascist group.
The late sixties and early seventies was a pre-revolutionary moment in American politics. That moment was squandered by the ideological naiveté of the leadership of the new left, who eschewed ideology and the slow, hard, work of political education in favor of confrontations with power, a foolish tactic. We needed a Lenin, and, instead, we got Abby Hoffman who combined confrontation with clowning. The energy of that moment was finally dissipated in the absurdist, self-destructive political theatre of the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Had it been different; had that moment matured into a revolutionary phase marked by true proletarian political activity, there would have been a more concerted, serious, fascist reaction. That fascist reaction could have been led by Lyndon Larouche. He is that dangerous.
Because that moment failed to mature, he is only the leader of a paranoid cult instead of a fascist movement, a danger to those around him, like A______’s friend, but not to the world at large.