Berkeley grad student says 'no' to

Dr. LaRouche's Ideological Straitjacket

"The first thing that really turned me off...was the narrow way they [Lyndon LaRouche's followers] looked at literature (and paintings) and their insistence that all written works have a single, specific political intent."

Factnet posting by "Mr. Doran," 08-10-2008, 02:27 PM:

Hi, I'm new here [on Factnet]. I was never a LaRouche member, but I was best friends with one who eventually drifted out of the fold. He was on the West Coast, and his name (I don't talk to him anymore) was Adam Stevens. He was in the L.A. office and through him I met Harley Schlanger [a longtime leader of the California LaRouche movement--DK]. He was friends with a higher-up speaker named Ted [this is a reference to Ted Andromidas, another longtime LaRouchian--DK]....

I have been reading the occasional LaRouche literature since about 1990; I find various thing interesting and salvageable, but the apparently intentionally obfuscatory, autodidactic rambling on an overly wide variety of subjects has always struck me as self-indulgent and illogical. The "the sky is falling" tone and the "[fill in blank] is Satan" talk always made me laugh, as well. I occasionally see LaRouchians on campus; I agree with some of their ideas, but they seldom know what they are talking about very deeply, and resort to incomprehensible things about Gauss. I am a doctoral student at Berkeley in Ancient History, and I know ancient Greek and Latin and can read French, Italian, and German, so I don't think that it is me who is just stupid.

Anyhow, I am wondering if any of you ex-members out there know about [names deleted--DK]...and this horrible woman who used to call my house from their office in, I believe, San Leandro. I'll remember her name eventually....About 48, blonde, watery eyes, annoying voice, was in charge with telephoning people on a list who were not members but thought of as "friendlies," a bit of a moron (fancy that), always urging me to go to meetings. I went to one--they picked me up and dropped me off--and it lasted about 12 hours, and there were so many bloody names and dates (this is when I was 21 and did not know history well--I'm 38 now) that I could not keep track of them, and was forced to assume that they were trying to dazzle me.

Factnet posting by "Mr. Doran," 08-10-2008, 10:49 PM:

I met Harvey Schlanger once at a thing in Oakland which was supposed to be about the crack epidemic in Oakland but turned out to be about African politics. Seemed terribly nice, but he hated the Ian McKellan "Richard III" because he thought the scene of Richard urinating was in bad taste. That reaction was too prissy for me and alerted me to the Puritan nature of many of the official LaRouche aesthetic pronouncements. I heard that Ted, if we are talking about the same person, had a routine he would do while orating that involved taking off his glasses and wiping them with a cloth--sounded horribly staged--and that he would repeat the same silly speech about Hamlet, including quoting a few special lines, which you see in every single LaRouche article in Fidelio (I used to subscribe to it and largely liked it), The New Federalist (godawful; I got it for a year, then realized it was aimed for the Midwestern Christian populist types--not me), certain of the "special reports," and various other of the house organs....

I think the first thing that really turned me off from these people in 1991 (the first time I went to one of their meetings) was the narrow way they looked at literature (and paintings) and their insistence that all written works have a single, specific political intent. This is about as far from what I believe as I can imagine--plays and novels are usually just not like that and present multiple viewpoints through multiple characters.

Plus, the single, specific political intent of each literary work MUST (in their eyes) fall into one of two camps: either The Camp That Believes That Humans Are Little More Than Beasts or else The Camp That Believes In The Inherent Dignity Of The Human. I have read a lot--a lot--of Aristotle and Plato in the original Greek and LaRouche's silly generalization of Aristotle as being in the former camp and Plato being in the latter displays both immense ignorance of the original authors plus ignorance of the modern scholarship on them.

The obeisance displayed by the movement's followers toward the Official Party Line on each artistic work was simply sickening. Adam Stevens (my friend who was involved in the L.A. chapter) got very animated and even rude in a conversation I had about Dostoevsky, insisting that Dostoevsky was a "piece of ****" anti-Semite (my god, that word is overused), a "blood and soil" Romantic nationalist who adhered to the "bestial" nature of man. This may be partially true, but we do not look to literature for simplistic answers but for an authentic-seeming experience and for questions and partial answers. It is silly to have a party line toward each author and it is simply degrading to subsume your own sovereign opinion on an artistic work to the allegedly superior and correct belief of a supposed genius--and this would be true even if the genius in question were NOT manifestly senile as LaRouche is.