LaRouche PAC

So the LaRouche PAC has been posted up the last few weeks at 3rd & Market, with a bunch of aggravating signs about Greece, Glass-Steagall, and so forth. In classic LaRouche fashion, they have these stupid posters with Obama sporting a Hitler moustache and other nonconstructive inflammatory things designed to provoke people and pull them into discussions/arguments so they can espouse their conspiracy theories.

I had a friend in college (UC Berkeley) that joined and left the LaRouchies multiple times, and dropped out of school as a result. They are a really scary cult. I want to write about that story, so people realize how fucked up they are.

Basically what would happen is my friend would start going to the LaRouche discussion meetings in the evenings that are open to the public, and would get really cauhgt up in that. Then he’d start also going on their weekend retreats from time to time. The way these work, you go out to some cabin or something in the middle of nowhere, you don’t have your cell phone or a way to contact the outside world, and they have this highly structured schedule where you talk about LaRouche politics and ideology all weekend for 16 hours a day. Then since he was spending all of this time in the evening meetings and weekend retreats, he’d stop going to classes and would spend time canvassing with the group. At one point, he had effectively moved out of the Berkeley co-op he was in and was living in some house that they had somewhere in Berkeley or Oakland that they let people stay in who are sufficiently dedicated to the cause (and who are spending some minimum amount of time canvassing, donating money, or doing who knows what else).

I remember the first time he joined the group. At first he was telling me about this cool group that had these interesting math/geometry discussions, and didn’t mention it was the LaRouche movement. Maybe he didn’t even know at first. Apparently there’s some sort of shadow organization where they’ll do these tracks focused on less political stuff like math/philosophy, and then they try to use that to get you to start going to the more “philosophy” focused discussions, and then that leads into the actual political arm of the organization which is their real interest. He’d be telling me about how they were doing these interesting Euclidean geometry discussions, and talking about logic, and somehow this math/geometry thing was related to the general concept of rationality, reasoning, and higher level thought and philosophy. Anyway, I was like “yeah that sounds cool maybe I’ll check it out some time” and never went for whatever reason, I guess just because it sounded too weird to me. Then over the course of the semester, he started telling me about more of the stuff they were discussing, and started getting into the politics of it. At the time I was fairly up to date with what was going on with national and international politics, but not nearly as knowledgeable as someone who spends all day reading/talking about this stuff, so we’d get into these discussions where he’d be espousing these weird views about whatever was the topic of the moment and I would just be like “OK, whatever, clearly I don’t know as much about this issue as you but I still disagree—I’m not going to debate you on this, let’s talk about something else.”

Then basically the last time I hung out with my friend that semester, we were walking around talking about stuff, and he started telling me this really crazy shit about how Lyndon LaRouche actually was controlling the Democratic Party, and somehow also had Congress and the GOP under his thumb, and all of this really out there stuff. Lyndon LaRouche would issue these internal memos where he’d be predicting various political/economic events, most of which either sounded to me very vague or were not substantiable. From my point of view, the things he predicted correctly would be used to “prove” that he was controlling the Democratic Party or whatever, and then for the stuff that didn’t come to fruition there would be some excuse about how something had changed at the last minute and LaRouche had to steer in a different direction. My friend didn’t realize how bullshit this was. I was just like WTF I don’t even know how to explain how crazy this is, and didn’t really see him for a few weeks after that.

The next time I saw him was during the finals week of that semester. I was going down into the UC Berkeley main stacks (read: huge campus library) to do some studying or whatever. So I randomly run into him, and we’re talking and he asked me what I was doing down there. So I was like “Uh….. I’m studying for finals… why else would I be down in main stacks during finals week?” and during the ensuing discussion I realized that he didn’t even know that it was finals week at school, and had completely stopped going to classes or following anything related to actually being a student at UC Berkeley.

What happened is he failed all of his classes that semester and was put on academic probation. His parents found out, because they were paying his tuition and rent and whatnot. They found out about the LaRouche stuff and freaked out, and they got him to take a semester off of school, live at home with them, and they got him out of the cult. He basically came to his senses, realized that the LaRouche thing was ruining his life, and decided to quit the movement and go back to school again.

The next semester that he was actually back in school we start hanging out again and he filled me in on what happened, how the LaRouche movement is a cult (duh, I had already figured it out by this point), and all of that stuff. But these people from the LaRouche movement kept calling him. We’d be hanging out and he’d get a phone call and be like “hold on, I need to take this”, and then he’d spend an hour talking to the person about how he had left the group and wasn’t interested in going to their meetings. I don’t know why he didn’t just stop taking the phone calls, or hang up immediately, but somehow he’d always get dragged into a long discussion.

Predictably what happened is at some point he ended up going to one of their meetings, didn’t tell me or his parents about it, and got dragged right back into the cult. Then he stopped going to his classes again and cut off contact with me and the other few friends he had (although looking back, I think I might have been his only friend outside of the LaRouche movement at the time). Then he got kicked out of school since he had failed all of his classes one semester, took a semester off, and then failed all of his classes again. His parents found out and lost their shit again. My friend and his parents were from Bulgaria (I think he had come over to the United States in middle school), and they got him to somehow move to Bulgaria so that he could actually get the fuck out of the LaRouche cult and try to get a job or go to school there. I’m not really sure of the details because he had deleted his Facebook (or maybe that’s when I had deleted mine), so I didn’t really keep in touch. I did hear a few years later that he was still in Bulgaria, so I think things worked out.

tl;dr Fuck the LaRouche movement. It’s a fucked up cult. Do not try to talk with them or engage with them, it’s a waste of your time. The best thing you can do is ignore them, and if you see anyone reading their literature tell them they’re a fucking cult. There’s a bunch of this stuff documented on the internet. Usually the Wikipedia articles are informative on the matter, but the LaRouchies have been in a multi-year edit war with Wikipedia trying to remove any damaging facts about their organization, so what’s on Wikipedia is not necessarily trustworthy at any given moment.