Friday, August 12, 2005

The Crackpottery Barn


The past two days I’ve filled in at my old job, an advertising firm in the city, which has required me to take the train and expose myself to the cranks of Cleveland. For some people, this is a burden and something to be avoided. Not so for me. If there is a rally or a march or a protest, I swing by to check it out. (There was one, in front of the courthouse protesting someone’s innocence.) If corporate shills are passing out free juice, candy bars, bags of new flavored chips, whatever, I try to nab a sample. If a nut in a sandwich board is standing out in front of Tower City, his sign reading of how aliens are really angels known as Elohim, by golly, I go up and read his message. And if anyone, anyone, is handing out fliers, leaflets, brochures, coupons, samples, I go up and get one.

Which is how I came to be reading two little magazine-like handouts from Lyndon LaRouche’s Political Action Committee (LaRouche PAC), one entitled “Recreate Our Economy!” which also identifies itself as “LaRouche’s Emergency Reconstruction Policy.” This is the drier of the two tracts, though it isn’t without its entertainment value. This little economic dealie was tucked inside the far more hysterical titled and written “LaRouche on ‘The case of a Vice-President’s Mass Insanity,’” which includes the short “Cheney’s Guns of August” predicting a nuclear attack launched against Iran in August. Nineteen shopping days left to Armageddon, folks.

The cover of said pamphlet includes a picture of a snarling Dick Cheney (is there any other kind?) superimposed over of photo of Adolph Hitler and the Reichstag all doing the wave. “Cheney’s Guns of August” is a 400 word prediction of nuclear war billing itself as “the now-celebrated statement issued internationally on July 27, 2005.” I must have missed that celebration when I was deshingling my in-laws’ house. No real evidence is provided in this statement, but it’s a measure of the kind of thuggery in D.C. that this is one of the more persuasive arguments LaRouche makes.

What follows for the next 32 pages (23,000 words!) is a rambling, shambling essay that circles the globe and encompasses Platonism, Pythagoras, squaring the cube, Napoleon, the Treaty of Westphalia, Ptolemy, Pericles, Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, Franklin Roosevelt and how Churchill managed to undermine all of FDR’s domestic policies, Nicholas of Cusa, Kepler’s discovery of universal gravitation, Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, Bach motets, Nietzsche, and ending with Joan of Arc. And I left out half of the nitwittery.

LaRouche seems to have convinced a surprisingly large number of people that he’s an intelligent man — and there’s little doubt that he’s very well read — but the argumentation presented is too broad, to opaque, and too syntactically and grammatically challenged to be the work of a first rate intellect. Thus, dimmer bulbs getting hold of this type of material will be awestruck by the Greek references and suspect that the rest is as brilliant as that. (I’m surprised LaRouche doesn’t forgo Plato, who is relatively more straightforward and graspable, for the far vaguer and tonier Aristotle — though Aristotle has already been made an idiot’s patron saint by the libertarians.)

This Greek Gambit is the bookworm con-job supreme. To the average joe, a little dash of Greek and Latin terms provides instant credibility. Who else would read Plato but a first-rate saint and genius? Bolster this with a shotgun blast of hundreds of historical references and this blizzard of material snowjobs disaffected, crackpot youths into handing out your pamphlets on street corners and addled trust fund babies into shelling out their inheritance. The man’s a visionary.

The laughs start with the title, however. This is the case of one person’s “mass insanity.” Mass? Is Cheney’s head that big? Is he suffering from gigantism? If I shot and killed Lyndon LaRouche would that be mass murder? Mass insanity seems to suggest that there are millions of Cheneys, if not hundreds, or at least dozens. From the administration’s stance on cloning, we must guess and, for our own sakes, hope this is not the case. Just under the title is a black and white photo of LaRouche standing in front of a curtain backdrop with an American flag furled just over his shoulder. Looks legit, eh? This is furthered by the caption, “Democratic Party leader Lydon H. LaRouche, Jr.” That’s odd — I don’t recall LaRouche winning any elections, holding any offices, receiving any appointments, heading any committees, or in fact doing anything of any substance whatsoever, though the back of the pamphlet tells how “the LaRouche Youth Movement spearheaded the mobilization against Bush’s Social Security looting scheme.” On closer inspection, you will note LaRouche has hedged his bets against some kind of fraud charges by subtly confessing he was the “leader” small L. In other words, a nobody.

The work seeks to prove that by impeaching Cheney first for crimes, the door is then opened to impeach Bush on the grounds that he is a mental incompetent. I have no problem with that per se, but the method, the method by which we get to this is filled with so many crank notions and pseudo-intellectual rubbish that it boggles the mind—which is precisely what it’s supposed to do. Along the way, we are treated to such hysterical items such as the caption for LaRouche’s sequel to “Children of Satan,” “Children of Satan II: The Beast Men” which reads “The Larouche in 2004 Presidential campaign circulated millions of these pamphlets, exposing Dick Cheney and his ‘beast-men.’ Cheney’s importance lies in the function he performs as a mere tool of his higher-level Synarchist masters.” That pamphlet features, naturally, a photo of Snarlin’ Dick. Under the Veep’s third canine portrait we are treated to “Cheney is admittedly more of a dumb brute than his predecessors such as Mussolini, Goering, Goebbels, and Hitler, ‘but he shares the same kind of passion, without the burden of excess intellectual powers.’” Really? Mussolini was an intellect?

Then we get such windy statements as this:

From the standpoint of the relevant correction, away from
Cartesian-like. mechanistic models of the individual in society, such as that on
which Dr. Post's mechanistic rationalizations have largely depended, and, into
the relevant dynamic view from the standpoint of historical development of
cultures, and within cultures: the basis for all competent systems of law is
located in the subject of that specific quality of immortality which sets the
human individual apart from the category of Hobbesian-like, Thrasymachus-like
beasts, beasts such as those of our contemporary so-called "neo-conservative"
followers of Chicago University's malignant protégé of the Nazi "Crown Jurist"
Carl Schmitt, Professor Leo Strauss, or the Bush-Cheney pair.

And:


Once the implications of a reductionist Euclidean geometry are
recognized in the method of Descartes, the extent of corruption of modern
scientific and other education by the influence of the application of the
Cartesian method to virtually every area of contemporary education, since
approximately the last decades of the Seventeenth Century, becomes a source of
deep insight into the way in which the mental faculties of our educated strata
in general, and the hysterical fanaticism which that conditioning has imbued
among our professionals. The progress of the LYM implies the unleashing of a
vast intellectual potential within our population, if the systemic corruption of
Cartesianism were removed from public education.

And lastly:

When these choral works are performed according to the composer's
intention, there are passages which prompt a sense of exquisite beauty in the
audience—and the director. This effect is a reflection of the same principle of
modality most famously associated with Beethoven's Opus 132 string quartet, and
is associated also with the same modality, the pivotal Lydian modality within
the Ave Verum Corpus. The manifestation of this experience of agapic passion
assures the director who has crafted the performance that the interpretation of
the composition is correct. It is, reciprocally, the function of those
modalities which defines the way in which a well-tempered composition must be
performed, in order to produce both that moment of passion, and to discover that
the crafting of the subtler, model adjustment of tonalities within the
performance of the work has been correct, and has caused the entire piece to be
experienced as a single seamless idea, from beginning to end. It is that effect
which proves to the musicians, and the sensible audience, that the
interpretation is a correct reading of the way in which to conduct, as Wilhelm
Furtwängler prescribed, "as if between the notes." The principles of the Bach
well-tempered system have nothing to do with reductionist mathematics of the
scale, but the obligation to evoke the relevant moments of passion in a way
which generates that unity of effect.

All of which has dick to do with Dick.

This kind of book learning preening shows us unequivocally that LaRouche is less interested in making the case so promised in the title, but in showboating and name dropping the Top Dogs of Western Civ. Like most third-party candidates for president (and first and second party ones too), LaRouche is little more than a puffed up ego crammed with bombast and self-regard. Certainly he’s 100% correct when he writes “What Dick Cheney is doing today is disgusting. He is a threat not because he is disgusting, very disgusting, but because his actions are a threat to the future of mankind,” but why does Gauss and Louis Pasteur have to get involved? Why do we need to know that the “LaRouche Youth Movement” makes “doubling the square” and “doubling the cube…the subject of day-to-day educational work”?

The economic pamphlet is filled with another long-winded essay, this one actually sticking more to the elements of economy and supplied with more graphics (thus making it significantly shorter). The first page again shows us the fearless “Democratic Party leader” under the bold headline “LaRouche Intervenes” though it’s never spelled out who, what, or how he intervened and what the results of said intervention were. For serious furrow-browed sincerity, LaRouche’s essay is section and paragraph numbered like a scientific treatise or bill before Congress, thus paragraph three of section four is headed with a bold “4.3” fooling someone I’m sure into thinking this is some legit shit.

Nevertheless, LaRouche can’t resist showing off his faux erudition and we get pointless drift offs into the Monroe Doctrine, the fall of the Muller government in Germany, FDR (again), Venetian financiers, Nicholas of Cusa (again), Napoleon (again), Reagan and SDI (sigh, again), the Treaty of Westphalia (yes, that old rag again), Kepler (Christ, him again? What the fuck does he have to do with economics?), and of course, Plato and Pythagoras. No word on whether the Youth Movement’s efforts to spread the good news about the cube being squared have helped out in that area.

This pamphlet is padded out with a couple of “dialogues” LaRouche presents as some sort of seekers desperate for answers approaching the guru. The claim is made that they are “moderated” by a third party, though this third party merely serves up the questions to which LaRouche filibusters typical answers. The questions are supposedly emailed and written in to LaRouche from all kinds of Washington, D.C. insiders, lobbyists, etc. This is probably similar to the advertised “LaRouche Debates The Senate.”

Each of these magazine-sized pamphlets mentions on its cover that there is a suggested donation of $5 per, though I managed to nab them for nothing at all. There were so many laughs in reading this ridiculous twaddle that I would have gladly paid five dollars for at least the Cheney one. However, should you feel the urge to peruse this kind of thing, you can easily find many of LaRouche’s crackpot notions in html and pdf formats from his site.

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