Book Review - Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism
This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1993, Volume 10, Number 1, pages 95-97. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism.
Doubleday, New York, 1990, 415 pages.
Who is Lyndon LaRouche? If one is at all interested in the cult scene, one might have heard something about Mr. LaRouche. Perhaps one has heard that he is a member of the far right and hates Jews, or that he has been in prison for tax evasion. During this past election, I spotted posters espousing his presidency in the tourist areas of Seattle. In picking up Dennis King's book, one would probably hope to end up understanding something more about the motivations of Lyndon LaRouche. In particular, a good biography of LaRouche would offer an integration of what he has done with why he has done it. Perhaps "New American Fascism" would refer to a movement that he has created, and the book would integrate the culture of the United States and its ripeness for cultism with something about Mr. LaRouche's personality character.
In reading this book, I found that 99% of the words pertained to what LaRouche had done, and the remaining, if that, on the question of why. Moreover, "New American Fascism" was not explained in any cultural context; it was more of a description of LaRouche's infiltration into mainstream politics without an explanation why this might be happening at this time. Not only was the lack of analysis frustrating, but without an explanatory framework for why LaRouche did what he did, it was difficult to integrate all of the facts presented in the book. The book reads like a dictionary. Each entry might be more or less interesting--for example, LaRouche's contacts with various American politicians had a pleasant behind-the-scenes gossipy quality--yet, there was no forest to be found for the trees.
A total of two and one half pages (pp. 4-6) were spent on LaRouche's family background, which, if expanded, might have helped us to understand how LaRouche came to be. There were suggestions that his childhood was unhappy (not surprisingly). Since his parents were Quaker, he was told that under no circumstances could he fight with other children (even in self-defense); thus, he experienced "years of hell" from bullies at school (p. 4). It is interesting, then, that LaRouche, apparently in the opinion of many, turned into an international bully and a cult leader who essentially bullied his own followers into submission. Also, there seems to have been some hypocrisy in this family's espoused Quaker values. King describes LaRouche's parents as "ferocious sectarians who accused their co-religionists of closet Bolshevism and embezzlement of religious funds" (p. 4). However, King does not go further into this background, nor does he propose any hypotheses about how it might have affected LaRouche.
On the positive side, there are a lot of interesting, if not shocking, descriptions of LaRouche's (and his cult followers') activities and beliefs. For example, LaRouche had a particular dislike for Henry Kissinger and went all out to try to get him. To name a few things he did to annoy Kissinger: LaRouche circulated a leaflet entitled, "Kissinger: The Politics of Faggotry" (p. 151), and had his followers harass Kissinger in Europe with "schoolboy pranks, crank calls," and so forth (p. 150). He also disseminated an article called "How Henry Kissinger Will Be Destroyed" to Kissinger's audience when he spoke at Georgetown University (p. 151). Still, one is left not really understanding where all the loathing for Kissinger came from. Of course, it is alleged that LaRouche hates Jewish people, but why did he single out Kissinger and why did he insist that Kissinger is gay when Kissinger is married and there is no reason to believe that he is gay?
King's description of LaRouche's beliefs and activities makes for enjoyable reading in the way that a horror movie can make for good entertainment. If King is accurate, then LaRouche (and his followers) are about as cynical, sociopathic, and exploitative as they come. For example, King writes, "the LaRouchians had come to believe that really clever conspirators never carry out an assassination themselves, but simply spread hate propaganda about the targeted person which might trigger an attack by some disturbed personality or fanatic. That way they can never be held legally responsible" (p. 153). This book is full of endlessly disturbing descriptions of LaRouche's hunger for and abuse of power.
Back to the problems with the book. Essential in a biography is something about the biographer's relation to the material. King does not say a word about how he knows so much about LaRouche or why he is interested in his subject. This would be helpful information for the reader. If, for example, King were an ex-follower, that would be interesting to know.
In sum, if one were to write a dissertation on Lyndon LaRouche, this book might be helpful in its comprehensiveness. It covers, with completeness, LaRouche's activities from about age 19 onward. However, it will not be a satisfying read for one who wants to understand what makes Lyndon LaRouche tick, or for one who hopes to walk away from the book with a greater understanding of the sociopathic mind.
Andrea Bloomgarden, Ph.D.
West Chester University Counseling Center
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1993