How the LaRouche Youth Movement recruited my son

"His 18th birthday is probably the saddest day of my life. None of his friends came. There was nothing to celebrate. He wasn't leaving to become an adult, but to become a shadow, a LaRouchite..."

Justice for Jeremiah public meeting,
Wiesbaden, Germany, March 27, 2009

I am the mother of a French youth captivated by the LaRouche Organization in August 2005 when he was only sixteen. I am here today to explain not only what happened, but how it happened so fast, as well as what my understanding of this organization and the Schiller Institute is today.

The young people of this organization will probably say, as they have been taught to do, that we are calling for repression of their right of free speech. However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that it is the lack of knowledge of and the misappropriation of these rights that drove us to the barbarisms that so revolted the conscience of humanity. In fact, any legitimate political or cultural organization should be subject to scrutiny.

The LaRouche Organization posts members of its youth groups in cities where the student population is the most important. They establish themselves on busy street corners with signs carrying violent messages, often lies, which provoke strong emotions, guilt and worry. In social psychology this is called trapping.

The day that I met this group with my son, the sign read "Stop Bush's War in Iran," although there is still no war in Iran. However, this statement must have frightened both of us that day, and appealed to our sense of being world citizens. I suppose our steps slowed down enough to show some form of hesitation.

A young attractive woman in her early twenties came towards us carrying a newspaper in her hand. On the first page I read the title New Solidarity (in French, of course). A man of about 35 held up a magazine called Fusion, immediately inticing my son, whose eyes were focused on the colorful magazines exposed on a table.

Although my son previously seemed to have adopted ecological values, he was suddenly engaged in conversation about the virtues of nuclear power. All I could really make out of it was that this man found my son to be "very intelligent." My son was beaming. And who wouldn't like such a compliment?

In fact, in social psychology we call this kind of maneuver labelling. In a few minutes my son was captivated by a form of identification that called for him to abandon his former values. Once trapped, packaged and labelled, my son was ready for the next step of the indoctrination process.

The foot-in-the-door tactic

There, before my very eyes, the LaRouche "salesman" put his foot in the door. He offered a small math problem to my son. It was probably the same problem that Socrates proposed to the slave in Plato's Meno. Socrates' goal was indeed to prove that there was no need to learn what was taught by recognized professors in order to establish a theory on the resolution of mathematical problems, thanks to the form of negative questioning by the Master to the student.

This is a technique that is used today in a commercial form to convince people to buy something that they don't really need by convincing them that they have certainly made the best possible choice. The LaRouche organization uses this technique to produce the desired response as well. The inevitable "success" contributes to make the "student" believe that not only is he "gifted," but also that he doesn't require any formal education to become just as competent as any professor! How could I suspect that a small problem--in appearance, a game of sorts--had already set in motion the process of inducing my son to quit school and to join the LaRouche Organization!

Before my son had finished with his problem, the young woman had time to focus her attention on me. Here I'll summarize: She used a sort of marketing maneuver known as “the foot in the door” in order to prepare me to contribute to the funding of the LaRouche Organization. She convinced me to give her my telephone number. She said she wanted my opinion about the newspaper.

After this adventure, we both went on our way having given away our phone numbers and without at all realizing the very strong psychological processes at work. And how could it be otherwise? Social psychologists say that more than 65 percent of people fall for this type of sales pitch.

Free trial with "no obligation"

A few days later, another person called. This person on the phone was not the young woman that I met in the street, but I suppose one who was more accustomed to dealing with adults. She wanted me to come to their office to talk about the newspaper, which I thought to be rather strange. As I hesitated and began to fumble with an excuse, she added, "of course there is no obligation."

Caught by surprise by the fact that I was not obliged to furnish an adequate excuse for not having even read the newspaper, I accepted the proposed appointment. What do social psychologists say about the "no obligation" line? More than 84 percent of people who have been prepared by the above marketing tactics unreservedly submit to a "free trial" when there is no obligation.

In the meantime, this group must have called my son as well, because he asked permission to go to a meeting of a youth section of this "new" political party. As I had started to feel uneasy about this group, I decided to read the newspaper that they had given me. I asked my son to put off going to this meeting. However he became very insistent and angry about my refusal. I had never seen him so stirred up about something before. I believe now that he had been given the chance for a "free trial with no obligation" as well.

The problem in this case is that instead of accepting a commercial obligation, the person accepts a moral one and is engaged by his own acts. And, the LaRouche Organization makes a very efficient use of this no obligation maneuver. They insist upon it so much that the person who has in fact freely committed himself believes himself to be as free to leave. However, the fact is that the person has yielded on the only freedom available to him the minute that he gets involved in the LaRouche Organization. Leaving it will be much more difficult indeed.

Nevertheless, my son went to this meeting without my permission. I was left with only an address and a telephone number for reaching the group. I called and they assured me that he would be well taken care of and even accompanied to the subway afterwards. It's strange how a polite reception on the phone is enough to reassure parents!

The day came also for my appointment. However I decided not to go. Perhaps I had some old resistances that I had acquired from my experience with sales people. I had also read the newspaper that they'd given me, and had concluded that the different conspiracy and total-state theories (combined with a kind of humanities course) of LaRouche might be part of a political delirium. When the woman called me back in order to request money and became belligerent when I refused, I just hung up saying that I couldn't be so easily manipulated.

Hooking him quick

My son's adventure was much more of a disaster. I had not understood how fast he'd been hooked. Once he'd been to the first meeting, he was already well engaged. He had some special readings to prepare, Gauss or Leibniz. For an intellectual, that couldn't be bad. Or could it? I hesitated for a moment.

They had even given him some responsibilities, which helped to elicit a form of behavior predisposing him to engage further and further with the LaRouche Organization. Each question coming from him or from others outside the group was exploited, sometimes in advance, to ensure his continued participation. The pressure on him grew daily.

His high school's nurse realized that my son wasn't quite himself and asked me if he was involved in a cult. She gave me a telephone number and a website to consult. LaRouche’s organization was indeed on the list! I tried to get my son to look at it, but he violently refused, explaining that it was the political opponents of LaRouche that tried to silence him by accusing him of all sorts of things.

At this point I thought that I had done everything possible to prevent my son from participating in this group, except for locking him up! I tried sending him to a psychotherapist. I threatened to go to the police. I forbid him to go out, except to go to his classes. He stopped going to school. He said that he didn't need to go to school in order to be a physicist! This was just two months after meeting this group on the street.

The police couldn't help

I finally went to the police. They told me that since he would soon be 17, there was no use in filing a complaint. He would leave home by the time that my complaint went through. Instead, we left Paris. I cut off Internet. When he lost his mobile phone, I didn't renew it. I stopped giving him an allowance. His former friends from his old school tried to help him. They convinced him to come back to school. He did this until the end of May. Unfortunately, between times, he had managed to give an address to the LaRouche group and began receiving their newspaper. I learned that he made and received calls on my professional phone. There seemed no way to prevent their invasion of my home.

Near the end of May, less than one month before taking his exams for the end of the high school cycle, my son announced that he would neither continue school, nor take the exam. He said that he would leave as soon as he was 18. In the meantime, he continued reading the "suggested" materials of LaRouche's Solidarity and Progress party (mostly articles from LaRouche's press).

He also engaged in a form of frenetic proselytising in our town with his friends or anyone that would listen to him. He seemed to be convincing himself more than anyone else, and he seemed to feel very guilty for all the world's problems. Even though he got a part-time job for a couple of months, I think that he probably did this in order to delude me. I think that the group also wanted to "test" his commitment. They were careful not to accept him as an intern before his 18th birthday.

My son's 18th birthday is probably the saddest day of my life. None of his friends came. There was nothing to celebrate. He wasn't leaving to become an adult, but to become a shadow, a LaRouchite, or, as one American journalist put it, a "minion" of LaRouche. My son is now twenty years old. It's been almost four years since he met this group on the street. He could have accomplished many things.

The stage of total commitment

Unfortunately, my son has only spent his life and energy either on the street spreading information about LaRouche's disguised anti-Semitic totalitarian program, repeatedly indoctrinating himself, asking for contributions for the group, selling LaRouche press materials and thereby contributing to this so-called political leader's personal fortune, or drowning himself in the LaRouche "humanities" program. I ask myself if he has become a total LaRouche Man.

A word about the LaRouche Man program: This so-called humanities program for youth is far from being a simple criticism of corruption by an interested party, or a return to human values. LaRouche calls for the creation of a new system that must come about through youth, through a party that is hard to situate using our traditional markers of left-wing or right-wing.

This system leaves way nonetheless for anti-Semitism. In fact LaRouche says quite plainly in his 1977 book, The Case of Walter Lippmann, that his ideology is based on a form of humanism where "natural law" prevails. Is this the same "natural law," and in the same language, that Hitler found so convenient as he prepared the Nazi laws proclaiming the "natural superiority" of one race and the "inferiority" of others?

Totalitarian ideology doesn't necessarily define itself by being racist at the outset. This factor can be momentarily dormant and awake in situations of subjugation. Totalitarian systems are only identical to one another because they call for total control of most or all aspects of human life. Indeed, it is this dimension that gives them a huge potential for exterminatory violence. And so we must ask ourselves if it is so with the LaRouche Organization. Has LaRouche simply shaken up old categories in order to create a new totalitarian system?

The creation of new totalitarian groups takes place today out of cultural centers all over the world. From the outside, these centers sometimes seem to have been founded to insure peace and fraternity, to renew culture and sometimes even to place themselves outside of the political domain.

This was the case for the Zayed Center in Abu Dhabi in the Arab Emirates, opened in 1999 by the Arab League to facilitate dialogue between Arab and Occidental cultures, and closed at the end of the summer of 2003 by its financial directors because of its acquired reputation of having become a haven for fanatical anti-Semite conferences and press. Lyndon LaRouche, Helga Zepp-LaRouche and their associate Jacques Cheminade, as well as many other occidentals known for their anti-Semitic or Holocaust denial viewpoints, were regularly invited to participate in these conferences after 2002. LaRouche expressed his regrets at the Zayed Center's closing in texts still available on the Internet today.

Jeremiah Duggan had good reason to be terrified

Wasn't Jeremiah Duggan right to be terrified by what he discovered here in Wiesbaden? Indeed any one of us could be horrified. A totalitarian group has an absolute or total vision of the truth. Those that are not in the group or oppose it are rejected by it and don't even have a right to exist. In coming to The Schiller Institute our youth expect to be enlightened. Instead, after being manipulated to receive and to accept totalitarian goals, they are indoctrinated to propagate LaRouche's principles through disguised language.

In France the LaRouche Organization is listed on page 23 of the Prime Minister’s 2005 report for having cult tendencies. In the United States there are numerous documents available, many written by LaRouche himself, which expose in detail the extremist ideology and potential violence of this group. Indeed, the extreme changes in the personality of the members of this group make the organization seem more like a political cult than a party, with all of the characteristics of such groups. Nevertheless, like many totalitarian groups in the past, the difference between a cult and a full-fledged party is mostly a question of numbers and mandates.

This group acts and gains influence quickly without any form of incentive or constraint. They use recognized methods of captivating and manipulating. One small contact in the street is enough to get the young person to participate in a self–indoctrination process or conference that will follow rapidly. One conference at the Schiller Institute is enough, not only to insure an indefinite participation, but also to train the youth to track and to "capture" others.

The question that we must ask ourselves is: To what extent is the Schiller Institute, the European headquarters for this organization, another Zayed Center, for example? They held an international conference here just recently--in February 2009--in Russelsheim (Hessen) where for the French youth alone there were at least 90 participants, including one of the 1995 French presidential candidates, Jacques Cheminade. On their program LaRouche calls for nothing less than immediate reconstruction of the world! How many of the world's youth will be programmed by LaRouche's elite army tomorrow?

I am relating all this because I hope to convince you that it is necessary to investigate further in order to unveil the possible crimes of the LaRouche Organization and to stop its financing rather than simply to feel sorry for the parents or for its members. It is necessary for you to contact your political representatives, your advisors on cults, and your religious spokespersons to alert them to this situation here in your own community, and to request a new and full investigation into the death of Jeremiah Duggan.

Even if it could be concluded, after proper investigation, that Jeremiah ran into traffic on a weekend trip more than a thousand kilometers from his home, we mustn't ignore the reasons for this ultimate act. Indeed, if he was running in terror to escape an even greater danger, this mustn't be ignored. Any complete and legitimate investigation will stand up to scrutiny.

I hope that my own son will understand that I am making this statement out of love and respect for him as well. I wouldn't be able to look at him straight in the eyes without requesting a proper investigation and commemoration of the death of another youth who, like my son, believed that he was selflessly embracing the adventure of life by joining with the LaRouche Organization. Justice for Jeremiah is justice for us all.