This is the first election cycle without a Lyndon LaRouche campaign since 1976, a milestone in many ways. One of them is personal: My first coherent political memory is being taken into the voting booth by my father to vote in Delaware's (by that point irrelevent) Democratic primary to prevent "this crazy person, LaRouche," from winning by default.
The great Conor Clarke of the Guardian has a TNR piece on that crazy person. He asks the question no one else bothered to ask: Since everyone else is running this year, why aren't you?
"I've stepped out of the presidential campaign," he grumbles with an unexpected New England lilt. "After all, I'm close to eighty-five now. And a candidate should have at least eight years [left] before running for the presidency of the United States."
It's too bad. Not even Duncan Hunter musters the combination of bitterness, slashing political attacks, and terrifying psychosis that LaRouche gets across in a 1000 word profile.
The prospect of darker times is a subject LaRouche brings up a lot. In the course of an hour-long conversation, he warns that "the worst financial crisis in modern history [is] in the process of hitting" and "the world financial monetary system" is "disintegrating very rapidly"; that "civilization may not be here when we come to our senses"; and, rather cryptically, that we are approaching a "Tower of Babel." And, just as he has done for decades, LaRouche maintains that he is the only one with the qualifications to save us from an unappealing fate. "My personal identification will go back to ancient Greece, to Plato and so forth, but more immediately to Franklin Roosevelt's tradition, which was essentially to save civilization from a nightmare."
Clarke makes some effort to understand LaRouche's current obsession, very visible if you live in a big-ish city or college town: Absorbing gullible twentysomethings into a leaflet- and choral-song based cult.
"He's a very tall guy, very imposing, and he can drop so many names--Plato, Leibniz, Kepler, on and on," says one former devotee. "You have no idea what the fuck he's talking about, yet you think he's a genius."
It's a description LaRouche is perfectly happy to cultivate, especially since he is now hard at work on a new "educational program" for the [Larouche Youth Movement]--which, he says, starts with "questions of the Pythagoreans," then dips into "[Carl Friedrich] Gauss's 1799 doctoral dissertation," and then moves on to the work of nineteenth-century German mathematician Bernhard Riemann. "If you don't understand Riemannian dynamics," intones LaRouche, "you don't know how economies work." He chose the curriculum based on "the kind of things that a leading cadre of economists"--like himself--"should have mastered."
One 2006 interaction I had with the LaRouche guys is memorialized here.
UPDATE: What the hell, it's Friday. Here's a video.