Political Figures

Barack Obama, Teenage Years, Hawaii

Political Figures, Religion, Sexual History, Social Movements

The Lyndon LaRouche Movement: Precursor to Qanon

Unless living under a rock, most of us are aware of the Qanon Conspiracy Movement. Well, for my moss loving rock-dwelling friends, it is the belief that society is under the control of a cabal of pedophile elites engaged in widespread child sex trafficking and torture, for the perverse pleasure, as well as to accrue from terrified children a secretion that purportedly extends life and acts as a fountain of youth.

We always have had the random village crackpots. We would humor them often with our supposed agreement as we hurriedly tried to get away. This conspiracy, however, takes it to new and absurd levels. Quite a large number of Americans, and not just Americans, sincerely believe in this conspiracy. It now has significant ramifications on how our democracy functions and how members of families interact with one another. Many famous people have been harassed and had their reputations unfairly maligned. Adherents toss around names like Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres, Hillary Clinton, and The British Royal family as members of this supposed cabal. Well, it appears they are aging and getting old, just like average Joe schleps as you and me.

The conspiracy, like many conspiracies, utilizes the standard tiresome anti-semitic tropes. In addition, this particular conspiracy also includes a fair amount of homophobia and class warfare resentments. The latter is why I do not necessarily deem it a solely right-wing conspiracy. There seems to be enough craziness for all to partake here. Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels once said that the bigger the lie, the more apt people believe it. The extent and strength of the Qanon Conspiracy have surprised me; however, the suspicions, targets, and a belief of implausible and vile secret agreements among many various actors are in no ways new. It is the standard playbook of conspiracy theories.

Many aspects of the Qanon Conspiracy have much in common with Lyndon LaRouche and his cadre of particularly active followers from 1975-1995. LaRouche was born in New Hampshire in 1922 to French-Canadian immigrant parents who converted from Catholicism to the Quaker faith. The social activism prevalent in the Quaker faith influenced his developmental years greatly. He immersed himself in philosophy teachings, such as Kant, Rousseau, Locke, and Hobbes. Over time, his philosophical leanings became increasingly more hard left, and he developed an affinity for Trotskyite Marxism. He became very influential and active in The Social Worker’s Party. However, his leftist leanings tended to remain old school. He had a good deal of disdain for the new left that emerged in the late sixties that was more concerned with individual personal freedom and expression than economic control and determinism. In fact, he was not opposed to meeting with individuals and groups of pretty far-right persuasion to foil his opponents on the left.

As the seventies progressed, LaRouche became increasingly erratic and schizophrenic regarding his political philosophy and politics. He would, at different times, meet with the Black Panthers to attempt alliances and then meet with The Ku Klux Klan with similar intent. Depending on how he woke up that morning, he seemed to be either a fervent anti-racist or fervent racist. Also, while many of his followers were Jewish, antisemitism became more and more a prominent feature of The LaRouche Movement. He had a bizarre obsession and antipathy towards former Secretary of State Henry Kissenger of The Nixon Administration. He saw him as a mastermind of sorts, even long after he had left government. His list of enemies also included The Rockefellers as well as the purely ceremonial British Royal Family. He felt The British Royal Family was the leading world player in narco drug trafficking and later was in cahoots with The Soviet Union to bring about the demise of The United States. In his earlier years, he met with the Soviets and supported their goals and aims.

However, this changed entirely in the eighties, and the Soviets became one of his central paranoid fixations of groups and individuals who desired to assassinate him. He said this was due to his support of S.D.I., the laser missile defense system that later became espoused by President Reagan. His beliefs became more and more strange and controversial. He favored the quarantine and separation from the rest of society of people who were H.I.V. positive or had AIDS. He accused the 1984 Democratic Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale of being a Soviet agent. LaRouche never tired of making dire dystopian predictions of worldwide economic collapse and plague, which he felt shadowy elites encouraged for not clear nefarious reasons. This mindset especially reminds me of its similarity to the Qanon Movement of today.

Additionally, the tactics of their followers and the movement regarding waging all-out smear campaigns against opponents are also strikingly similar. Opponents of Larouche were either accused of being either a homosexual, a terrorist, or a drug pusher. I quote below directly from the Wikipedia article on Lyndon LaRouche.

The LaRouche movement has been described as cult or cult-like by critics and anti-cult organizations.[237][238][239][240][241]
A 1987 article by John Mintz in The Washington Post reported that members lived hand-to-mouth in crowded apartments, their basic needs, such as a mattress and pillowcase, paid for by the movement. They worked raising money or selling newspapers for LaRouche, doing research for him, or singing in a group choir, spending almost every waking hour together.[242]
The group is known for its scathing attacks on people it opposes and former members. In the past, it has justified what it refers to as “psywar techniques” as necessary to shake people up; Johnson in 1983 quoted a LaRouche associate: “We’re not very nice, so we’re hated. Why be nice? It’s a cruel world. We’re in a war and the human race is up for grabs.” [243] Charles Tate, a former long-term LaRouche associate, told The Washington Post in 1987 that members see themselves as not subject to the ordinary laws of society: “They feel that the continued existence of the human race is totally dependent on what they do in the organization, that nobody would be here without LaRouche. They feel justified in a peculiar way doing anything whatsoever.” [242]

The LaRouche Movement was never anywhere near as prominent as The Qanon Movement, but there was not an insignificant number of core dedicated followers. In 1986 LaRouche Democrats even won some reasonably high up primary slots that were to be under the Illinois Democratic Gubernatorial Ticket under Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson ended up running under a different party label in protest. While the LaRouche Movement was never as prominent as The Qanon Movement, I kind of wonder if he had been more active in the internet age during his prime if his cult following would have indeed been much more significant.
Fashion, Political Elections, Political Figures, Religion, Sexual History, Social Movements

The Presidential Election of 1928: The First Culture War Election

There are certain presidential elections that I would call culture war elections. These would be elections where issues relating to what degree of freedom one is entitled to, or conversely, what obligation and conformity individuals in a democratic, pluralistic society should adhere to in their interactions with others and the community at large. These issues tend to involve religious freedom, gender issues, appropriate forms of protest, law and order, and the degree to which government should regulate personal behavior. Some of the presidential elections I would consider heavily dominated by culture war concerns would be 1968, 1972, 1980, 1992, 2016, and 2020.

However, the first modern-day culture war presidential election I feel would be that of 1928. I mentioned in a previous post that I consider the 1920s to be the first decade of the modern age. The 1920s witnessed a level of societal change, especially regarding gender, sexual mores, and the introduction of Hollywood mass entertainment. I would say that perhaps only the 1960s saw more societal change within a ten-year time period. Conservative society, which favored the status quo, was greatly alarmed by the advent of flapper girls in free-flowing knee-high dresses and smoking in public.

Conservative society had what can be called a pyrrhic victory at the start of the decade with the passage of Prohibition, which outlawed alcohol. In many ways, the law only ended up glamorizing the consumption of alcohol as a hip and inviting activity. The urbanization and arrival of many immigrants from southern Europe at the start of the century furthered alarmed many in WASP society. It is with this background in mind that one can understand better the cultural significance of the election of 1928.

Al Smith, the Democratic Candidate, was a politician straight out of Tammany Hall, New York City, and a Catholic. I often thought that anti-Catholic sentiment was a thing long in the past, from the mid-nineteenth century and “The Know-Nothings” of the 1850s, a sort of bizarre, quirky belief. However, the internet has shown me, much to my bemused surprise, just how much anti-Catholic sentiment remains even to this day among many Protestant Fundamentalists and evangelicals. Many go so far as to say Catholics are not even Christian, which seems a bit perplexing considering Protestantism came only into existence fifteen hundred years after the supposed time Jesus lived, and Christianity began. This sentiment was even more prevalent in 1928 and, along with The Monkey-Scopes Trial, just two years prior, increased the anxiety of those opposed to the secularization of society and suspicious of modernity. While they gained a victory of sorts with the defeat of Al Smith, it was at best very brief and not far-reaching. Five years later, Prohibition, their core cultural war issue of 1928, would be repealed. I would say the 1950s and the 1980s were the only two decades where society became more conservative than the decade that preceded, and even then, it would be for a relatively brief period.
Political Elections, Political Figures

Spiro Agnew: Moderate Turned Rightist Henchman

In earlier times presidents were expected to act......well presidential. Often surrogates were given the task of delivering talking points that were more vindictive and partisan in nature. Spiro Agnew, the governor of Maryland, was asked by Richard Nixon in 1968 to be his vice presidential running mate. His political reputation as governor of Maryland was pretty centrist in nature. However as Vice President his political philosophy began to evolve quickly to the right, and indeed became to the right of Nixon. He developed a reputation of being The Nixon’s Administration figurative executioner of sorts. He was famous for his verbose flowery attacks against hippie university leftists, outspoken racial minorities and the counter cultural values espoused by the new left. It should be pointed out however that even Agnew’s most bombastic barbs were probably still tame compared to what Trump would sometimes utter as President. Was the evolution of his political philosophy sincere or was he acting out a role Assigned to him? I do not know. I guess many ask the same question of Trump as president, considering his Democratic Party leanings of his past. Agnew had no part in The Watergate Scandal, but resigned on October 10, 1973 due to an unrelated matter of receiving kickback bribes while governor of Maryland. He pleaded “nolo contendre” to these charges. I am no lawyer but I think it is kind of like pleading guilty while not actually physically stating so.

Political Elections, Political Figures

Adlai Stevenson II: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again. However, Keep In Mind, You Still May Fail.😜

Adlai Stevenson II was the Democratic nominee that ran against Eisenhower both in 1952 and 1956, but was unsuccessful both times. He tried for a third time to get the Democratic nomination in 1960. However he was bested by John F. Kennedy. His political philosophy was best described as being of the old school classic liberal flavor which was heavily influenced by his progressive Christianity of his Unitarian Denomination, although Unitarianism of today is more of a humanist organization and not necessarily Christian. He was well known for having a great sense of humor that was of the dry kind. Below is an example of his humor where he vetoes legislation while governor of Illinois that would have barred cats from roaming freely outside for the sake of saving birds.

“It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming…the problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to solve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problem of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency. For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from Senate Bill No. 93.”