Facing the truth about one's years in the LaRouche cult

It's hard to admit to yourself "that you spent good years in pure hate of people all the time, while exploiting other members based on getting in good with Lyn or someone above you."

Jan. 4, 2010 Factnet posting by "xlcr4life" (explanatory notes and reading list added by Lyndon LaRouche Watch)

The hardest thing for any ex-member of the LC/LYM1 to do is to finally realize that the whole damn concoction was nothing but a farce and there were very few redeeming qualities. If you talk to other members about what they remember being in, they'll talk about very close relationships with friends that they made in the org. Other relations with members may have included domination, yelling, mental abuse and endlessly screwing over people. It is very hard to admit that you were part of a horror show and that you actively partook in it or saw it happen so much that you looked the other way.

How many friendships and relationships were ended by shipping off someone to another part of the country? How many relationships were ended by small-time Beyond Psych sessions?2 How many otherwise good people were turned against others who did not sell that EIR sub?3

This is not true for everyone at different levels. In smaller locals, there is a close circle of friends who work together and by being farther away from higher-ups, they are farther from the lunacy. It is like being in a small group of soldiers who day to day are with each other and have to look out for each other. You move up the line and there is a whole other universe of self-delusion in a cult of personality where Lyn pits sectors4 and people against each other for that coveted spot, just a bit closer to him.

It is also a real self-examination moment to look at what was written, said and done based on pure hate--on anti-Semitism and other forms of hate against gays, environmentalists, etc. The whole damn thing revolved around hate, which was disguised by singing songs and poetry. When I watched some TV documentaries about newly discovered movies of Nazis and their staff singing and drinking away while Jews were being imprisoned, I thought of how easy it is to use such escapism to not think about what you are next door to. We hijack a half-millon-dollar retirement fund, the entire life savings of someone, don't pay them back or take their calls--and now they are the enemy for going to the police while we discuss Plato and virtue!

I can't blame people for staying in and having their attachment to the LC based on cultural reasons or having close friends or a spouse in. You can see that in how close people felt to John Morris and Gary Gennazio when they perished in their gasless LaRoucheMobile.5 That closeness and bond also was what keeps those very same people in who accept their conditions and do not recognize the sort of abuse they are being put through daily for a madman.

It really is a very hard idea for ex-members to accept the fact that, yes, they sold books that promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Yes, they sold copies of New Solidarity including Holocaust denials by Lyn. Yes, they wanted to send gays with AIDS to camps. Yes, they thought that wiping out native peoples was a good idea for the sake of "progress." Yes, we worked with the Apartheid regime in South Africa and supported many a dictator. We can go on and on and find that looking at these things today means admitting to yourself that you spent good years in pure hate of people all the time, while exploiting other members based on getting in good with Lyn or someone above you.

I was very fortunate in that my area was one of being by myself a lot and not having to conduct myself this way. Instead, I made Lyn look halfway presentable by keeping him in the background and promoting what I thought were great ideas. People don't wish to think about that, and I don't blame them. However, don't pretend it never happened or neglect to ask yourself why you accepted this lunacy for so long.

I was a nobody with a capital N in the LC. I expected things to get better and kept on making excuses to leave. What was supposed to happen and what actually happened became so far apart, that the final curtain came down on the cheap parlor tricks and my point of no return was reached. In hindsight, those moments came along a lot--and I should have left earlier then I did.

The lack of compassion towards other members in starving them or getting them evicted from their home with their meager possessions seemed so strange for an org which wanted to feed and house the Third World. It seriously shook me when I saw the entire life savings of our supporters being signed over for a promissory note while we skipped out on bills. A never-ending party was talking place at Club Ibykus6 while members were given five bucks a day. People wore ragged clothes and froze in the winter while Helga7 cleaned out Saks. We wanted to feed the world with tractors while members begged each other for a bite of a Whopper brought into the office by someone whose squad made cash.

As a nobody with a capital N, I read a briefing which described a 15-course dinner at Ibykus with Helga and some ELC leaders which had a full regiment of LC singers and players perform like minstrels.8 This was at the same time that all of the local cash was sent to the National Office for another security emergency. The NC also ordered that cash given out as stipends earlier be handed back to [meet this presumed crisis]. My exit counselor attended this and other similar shindigs and told me how Helga's dogs got to eat the leftovers before the members were allowed to. I wrote a letter to an NEC member in charge of the USA ops and asked how is it that members are literally starving on a few bucks each day while we devote half of the briefing to reporting on 15-course dinners.

I had a hard time seeing these so-called geniuses who smoked pipes and drank three-dollar bottles of wine talk down to me,9 and then see myself as a serf who will be this way for decades and decades. I had a real hard time listening to idiots who talked about the stock market, bond funds and housing who had no pot to pi$$ in and no clue of how to invest or buy a damn house or even put oil into a car. Yes, they couldn't find the filler cap to put oil in the engine and prevent the engine from seizing up, but were now experts on the auto industry or some other field.

When you finally admit that you were conned and clear yourself of the illusions, your life is so much better. I am sometimes surprised at an ex-member who will use a connecto-filled theory to explain simple transactions that my kids have no problem unerstanding.

Another bitter thing for ex-members to accept which we discussed this year is how many had bad or nonexistent fathers. This was a real eye-opener when the issue was raised by a few here. That question was never raised in the LC while you were busy trashing your mother and other women. It is also a hard thing to think about how many members had certain traits which could be viewed as semi-ADHD or quirky which made them susceptible to cults. Besides the submissive roles, there are also dominant roles where a cult environment is a place to carry out that trait in a bad way against others.

All in all, the illusion of being a genius along with other issues can make you fall into a cult pretty easy and stay there.

It was very hard for anyone in the LC when the NBC verdict came to accept that Lyn was viewed as a small-time Hitler.10 After all, weren't we all in the LC to stop Nazi genocide [planned by] our enemies? However, if we later saw a candidate running for a high office who COULD win, and who said and wrote EXACTLY what Lyn did, then wouldn't we be the first to proudly point out how that person is a big-time Hitler ? Even if Lyn is only being called a small-time Hitler, what does that make the org which is working around the clock distributing the Protocols of Zion and Holocaust numerology centerfolds, while rewriting the history of Nazi rocket factories...Yes, it was crazy no matter how many cantatas you sang.

I always suggest that people read Steve Hassan's books [see reading list below] and use them to sort out what happened. It is not until you understand how cults work and how they worked on you that your head will start to clear up. It is also no accident that the cult has had a far more enormous problem with being viewed as a cult than a bunch of Nazis. Life would be far easier in this age of instant info for Lyn if there were no ex-members around to write about what took place. The cult would like you all to be silent and not raise your voices or help create the over 9 K posts about Lyn and the cult of personality that we find here [on Factnet].




Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan (Park Street Press, 1990). "A major contribution...For the first time, a skilled and ethical exit counselor has spelled out the details of the complicated yet understandable process of helping free a human being from the bondage of mental manipulation."--Margaret Singer, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.

Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves by Steven Hassan (Aitan Publishing Company, 2000). "Hassan's approach is one that I value more than that of any other researcher or clinical practitioner."--Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University; past president of the American Psychological Association.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949): One of the greatest masterpieces of 20th century literature, this novel explicates and satirizes totalitarian methods of control, including language games and psychological terror tactics similar to what LaRouche would use. Link is to the george-orwell.org free online edition.

Articles and essays

"Denial Makes the World Go Round" by Benedict Carey, The New York Times, Nov. 20, 2007. "In [the] emerging view, social scientists see denial on a broader spectrum--from benign inattention to passive acknowledgment to full-blown, willful blindness--on the part of couples, social groups and organizations, as well as individuals. Seeing denial in this way, some scientists argue, helps clarify when it is wise to manage a difficult person or personal situation, and when it threatens to become a kind of infectious silent trance that can make hypocrites of otherwise forthright people."

"The Inner Ring" by C.S. Lewis (Memorial Lecture at King’s College, University of London, 1944): "Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things." Those ex-LaRouche followers who once belonged to, or yearned to belong to, LaRouche's circle of top disciples will find this essay especially illuminating.

"Pawns of His Grandiosity: Psychological and Social Control in the Lyndon LaRouche Cult" by Molly Kronberg (paper submitted to the "Speaking with Forked Tongues" symposium at the University of Northampton (U.K.), June 26, 2009). "The combination of externally directed violence in action, internally directed violence in speech and writings, and psychological violence in endless sessions and 'interventions,' was sufficient to shatter most members' egos and personalities. Then those shattered personalities could be 'lovingly rebuilt' into something closer to LaRouche's heart's desire."


[1] "LC" means the Labor Committee (or Labor Committees), short for National Caucus of Labor Committees, LaRouche's cadre organization of longtime followers. "LYM" means the LaRouche Youth Movement (called the LaRouche Jugend in Germany), founded by LaRouche in 2000.

[2] "Beyond Psych sessions" refers to the LC/LYM's ego-stripping personality destruction-and-rebuilding sessions that are supposedly based on principles articulated in "Beyond Psychoanalysis," a 1973 article by LaRouche.

[3] In the 1980s, LaRouche followers were a fixture at U.S. airports where they manned tables displaying attractively printed propaganda. They would accost wealthy-looking passers-by, attempting to sell them subscriptions to Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), LaRouche's weekly newsmagazine. The subs were $399 each, and sometimes the purchaser would end up with a nasty surprise--unauthorized additional charges of hundreds of dollars to his or her credit card account (this practice would ultimately trigger an investigation resulting in LaRouche's indictment). Also, the card transactions were often misreported to the Federal Election Commission as donations to one of LaRouche's interminable campaigns for U.S. president, allowing the cult to double the payment amount by obtaining campaign matching funds. Even the Communist Party USA's People's World ended up sympathizing with the capitalist CEOs who were fooled by this scam and who ended up being listed, without their consent, as LaRouche donors in public FEC filings.

[4] "Sectors" are the basic subdivisions of the bureaucracy at LaRouche's national headquarters, e.g., intelligence, editorial and finance.

[5] Gennazio and Morris were two LaRouche followers whose car ran out of gas late at night in June 2008 on a Michigan highway while they were apparently traveling from Chicago to Detroit on an organizing assignment for LaRouche. They were struck by a passing dump truck while parked on the side of the road and attempting to fill the gas tank. Xlcr4life wrote on Factnet several days later:

"I have sympathy for the victims but not a drop for this sick cult that sends its members out in LaRouchemobiles each day. If you had any experience with the cult you would know that when the income gets tough, you have to conserve cash to bring back to the office. What were the circumstances that allowed someone to run out of gas on an interstate late at night? The F'ing cult raises several million for LPAC. Can't members be given gas credit cards so no one ever, ever runs low on fuel late at night? How many hours and for how many straight days were these two deploying? How many more hours did they need to drive? Does anyone have a cell phone or AAA card to safely call for fuel? Did their car have a functioning fuel gauge? I have seen a few LC cars where you had to guess what was in the tank. You also tried to leave just enough fuel in the car for the next squad if you were ordered to conserve cash for stipends when you returned to the office."

Gennazio was 66 and had been a member of the LaRouche cult since the early 1970s. Morris, also a longtime member, was 48.

[6] "Club Ibykus" is a reference to Ibykus Farm, the estate where LaRouche lived in luxury before being sentenced to five to 15 years in federal prison in 1989. The farm was sold while LaRouche was in stir but his followers bought him a new country home after the Clinton administration let him out on parole in 1994.

Ibykus Farm in the 1980s.

[7] "Helga" is Helga Zepp-LaRouche, a German national who is Lyndon's second wife.

[8] The "ELC" is the European Labor Committee with headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. For decades, the German ELCers lived better than the U.S. NCLC members, who essentially financed the ELC's activities. The German ELCers looked down on the U.S. organization in an arrogant Teutonic manner; hence, to use the term "minstrel show" in describing a performance by amateur NCLC musicians in Virginia for the entertainment of visiting members of the German branch office is quite appropriate.

[9] This is a reference to high-level followers of LaRouche in past decades who regarded themselves as an intellectual elite within the org as well as in society at large, and who took to smoking pipes in imitation of their leader. When xlcr4life mentions their "three-dollar bottles of wine" he is pointing out that although they regarded themselves as extremely important people--indeed, as world-historic Renaissance-type figures--LaRouche paid them stipends that were barely enough to live on.

[10] In 1984, LaRouche sued NBC and the Anti-Defamation League for libel in U.S. Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, after NBC-TV's "First Camera" broadcast a report highly critical of him. One of the points at issue was an on-camera statement by Irwin Suall, fact-finding director of the ADL, calling LaRouche a "small-time Hitler." Here is the full statement: "He is a small-time Hitler, if I can put it that way, in that he regurgitates many little things that Hitler did but he does it in a somewhat ambivalent way, in a somewhat camouflaged way."

The trial jury found that NBC had not libelled LaRouche on this or any other point. Indeed, they awarded NBC $3 million in punitive damages on a counterclaim (later reduced by the judge to $200,000).