Paranoia and power: the marshalling of a U.S. cult
Paranoia and power: the marshalling of a U.S. cult
Jeffrey Steinberg, director of security and operations for the U.S. Labor Party, is a deeply suspicious man. “Why would Maclean’s want to do a story on us? ” he keeps asking. For three days now, calls requesting an in terview with the USLP ’s elusive national chairman, L.H. LaRouche, have been unanswered, appointments put off. Finally, a decision is made. One of the three heavy doors opens and the young, stern Steinberg emerges. "Look,’’ he says, "we've been conducting an investigation. You're just a Maclean’s agent sent here to update their intelligence file on us.
Maclean’s is an evil publication. We can’t give you any information. There won't be a story. ”
"We must save our youth and our nation from the destruction the British monarchy has projected for us,” warns the apocalyptic Lyndon H. LaRouche, chairman of the minuscule USLP, an organization whose bizarre antics are becoming increasingly vociferous.
Central to the complex and disturbing web of conspiracy tales spun by guru LaRouche and his more than 2,000 radical, but decidedly unpredictable, disciples is the unshakable conviction that it is the official policy of the British Crown to foster mass-scale drug addiction to destroy the United States and, in the process, restore itself to world domination.
Late last month, taking some time off his third futile attempt to become U.S. president (in 1976 he received .0005 per cent of the votes), LaRouche led his energetic and youthful followers in joining the National Anti-Drug Coalition, an array of legitimate organizations and addictions experts—to the discomfort of some coalition members. “These people are weird. We should stay as far away from them as possible,” confided the worried head of a prominent New York institute active in drug education.
Weird they are; and preposterous beyond belief. Last year, the USLP published Dope, Inc., a 400-page unbelievably detailed document alleging that Britain is carrying on a $200-billion-ayear opium war against the U.S., much
of the operation conducted through Britain’s northern “colony”—Canada. The report accuses the Royal Bank of Canada of having directly ordered the government of Guyana to plant marijuana to raise foreign exchange income; four other banks (Montreal, Nova Scotia, Toronto Dominion and Commerce) of being “intimately implicated” in laundering drug money out of Southeast Asia; the Hudson’s Bay Co. of being a mere front for the “grand old families of the opium trade”; and CP Air of being responsible for carrying (knowingly) much of the heroin that reaches North America. There’s an entire chapter devoted to exposing the evil machinations
of the Bronfman family, who “funded the FLQ (Front de Libération du Québec) as an extension of earlier efforts to assassinate de Gaulle.” That’s not all. The hippie movement was a British-planned resurrection of the ancient Egyptian cult of Isis (a nature goddess whose followers proved stubbornly resistant to early Christian teachings), as part of a plot to wreck U.S. social and moral fabric, and the hit parade has been organized on the same principles to recruit youths for deranged Dionysian worship.
The USLP’s international headquarters in Manhattan shelters an organization
whose operations are
cloaked in mystery and
whose obsession with security is so complete that no visitor is allowed even the most innocent glance beyond the perpetually
locked office doors. A bemused, grave receptionist, entombed in bulletproof glass, communicates with visitors through a pickup telephone. Youths with identity tags hanging from their belts address each other in hushed tones and militaristic formality, and speak of “strategy,” “deployment,” “attacks.” They carry impressive titles such as “chief of staff” and “director of security and operations.”
The USLP, formed in 1973, is the political arm of the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC) — an international cadre of intellectuals personally trained by LaRouche and numbering between 1,500 and 2,000 in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe and South America. At least 1,500 other supporters form political-front organizations such as the USLP, with “cells” in 33 major American cities and full-fledged parallel organizations in several European and South American countries. In Canada, the 200 or so active supporters call themselves the North American Labor Party, and maintain cells in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. For his zealots, LaRouche has prescribed a strict ideology that interprets the world as a battleground between those who favor evolution and salvation through technology and industrialization (like himself), and the “effete pederastie environmentalist sun worshippers” (otherwise known as “proponents of solar energy”). Their
old heroes are Plato, Alexander Hamilton and the American Whigs; today they are the West Germans, Soviets and Japanese. The villains include the Rockefellers and Kennedys (all “British agents”), Ralph Nader, Ivan Illich,the International Monetary Fund and any-
one who deviates even slightly from their fanatical doctrines. The USLP is stridently anti-Zionist and pro-Arab.
Most members of the NCLC were recruited from the new left movement during the Vietnam War, but their current extreme hostility toward the new left is based on their belief that the decentralization of power, worker and community control, equality for women and minorities and environmental safeguards mean a return to a primitive social condition and chaos. The key to LaRouche’s global strategy is nuclearfusion energy, the building of 2,500 nuclear reactors in the U.S. by the year 2000 and the export of 1,500 1,000megawatt-capacity nuclear reactors to the developing world by the same date.
One U.S. psychologist describes the USLP members’ robotized language and behavior as “clear-cut hysterical symptoms.” But the clinical diagnosis does not alter the fact that their religious devotion, persistence and ability to marshal information on topical events usually assure them an influence disproportionate to their numbers. Earlier this year their protests threatened to delay considerably the merger of the giant Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporationemdash;which they accuse of financing opium and heroin traffickingemdash;
with the U.S. Marine Midland Banks Inc. By petitioning New York state banking regulator Muriel Siebert, they could force a hearing and delay the merger for almost a year. In British Columbia, where the Vancouver operation is the most active in the country, the North American Labor Party has been ecstatic over the province’s compulsory heroin treatment program and is ever hopeful of a triumphant alliance with a group of Social Credit MLAs. Their arguments and activities haven’t unduly alarmed the RCMP whose spokesman tautologically replied, when asked what information they had on the USLP: “We are advised that we know of them.”
The USLP’s harassment of prominent American scientists and intellectuals, while less systematic now than in the mid-’70s, remains a favored tactic. Lester Brown, a food expert with the Overseas Development Council (an organization partially funded by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations) was virulently harangued whenever he spoke during the entire summer and fall of 1974. He was picked because he favored labor-intensive agricultural production instead of high-technology and capitalintensive techniques.
The most intriguing mystery regarding this mysterious group is the source of the estimated $3 million a year needed to pay for the phone bills, office space, salaries (well below the minimum wage) and the array of publications pushing their fantastic grand design. They publish the twice-weekly New Solidarity (in six languages), four monthlies, and run a wire service, principally between the New York and European headquarters in Wiesbaden, West Germany. LaRouche has said the USLP gets “conscience payments,” i.e. funds in excess of several hundreds of thousands of dollars (according to former members and their families) from members turning over family inheritances.
To the unwary, the complex, intricately woven arguments of the LaRouchies will be compelling, if not awesome. But as critics note, the exaggerated precision of their conspiracies, the inflexibility of the delusions that can explain all contradictions form a picture of a “closed, paranoid cult.” Theirs is a refuge in intellectual madness and the profound irony is that they have no insight whatsoever into their hysteria while professing to save America from people such as themselves. But, then, that is the nature of paranoia.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.