My Experience of the LaRouche Organization: “A LIVING PRISON”
What I write here is based on my personal experience of being a part time and then full time member of the LaRouche organization between the years of 2001-2003 in France.
LaRouche leaves behind him a trail of noisy scandals. LaRouche was protected for a while by various authorities. The EAP (German Branch of the Movement) was under observation by counter-espionage forces for a while, but the surveillance of the group was stopped. The conclusion that the group was an extreme right-wing movement was rejected in 1980 because they stated “the group was lacking in an extreme stand for nationalism.” It is in these terms that the president of the German counter-espionage authorities, Heribert Hellenbroich, expressed himself. (Spiegel, 1984)
But how could an investigation be properly initiated by this federal administration of counter-espionage when the president of this administration himself was the very own brother of the general secretary of the LaRouche related EAP, Anno Hellenbroich?
When an organisation sells its information to the highest bidder, it is no wonder that in the long-term it would obtain the “official” favours from different levels of the Government (including the military quarters) or receive financial backing from businesses.
Unfortunately many people have been duped by the “front names” of organisations founded by Jacques Cheminade and its associates in France in the 80’s. To name a few: The European Workers Party, Drug Alert, The Schiller Institute, the Academy of Humanistic Studies AEH, the Foundation for Energy Fusion FEF, the Life Club, France and its Armed Committee, the CATTANOM Committee, the EIR, Culture and Tradition, Beethoven and the Great Masters… These groups were destined to infiltrate the political, scientific, military, religious and cultural arenas. This is how this network finance themselves.
A living prison:
The problem is that when you are a member of this movement all criticism is seen only as a vast conspiracy against LaRouche; in other words, the snake is biting its own tail…
This is where it becomes important to understand the cult phenomenon, the living prison that prevents you from thinking for yourself and which binds you to thought patterns that deny your past, your emotional safeguard, your intellectual and moral standards, everything that has moulded your own identity and uniqueness since your birth. This in other words, is all about making a change of personality. It becomes then impossible to question the Guru, the leader, the Guide. This is LaRouche. These are his ideas. You are not allowed to live in the “other world” anymore, the world of the ungodly and the world of the enemy. You have crossed to the other side, and to go back now would mean self-betrayal and self-denial, it would be like “jumping into a minefield” (dixit LaRouche).
One becomes completely child-like again and subject to the groups teachings and the leaders wishes. The irony of the matter is that LaRouche himself, who had studied mental manipulation, when he was thinking of deprogramming members who he said had been kidnapped by the CIA (actually a lie), describes very well how one can, in three short days, change the “axioms of a person’s thinking”, and “tear off the mask of the persona bourgeoisie” by intensive sessions that he called “psycho sessions” or “ego stripping”, as well as “school for managing executives,” using a much milder term.
Please refer to his brochure called “Beyond psychoanalysis” published in the 70’s in the United States. In short LaRouche in my opinion and from my experience makes his money from selling methods of mind control!!!! (One cannot help but recognise the similarities between the LaRouche organisation and such parties as the Nazi Party or the Soviet Stalin Party, and one can conclude that he has made use of some of their methods.)
One must also demystify what one thinks about cults. Most people do not think that they could become a victim of a cult. First of all, because they have no idea of what a cult looks like. The media most often depict a guru as some type of mystical, weird, and stoned person wearing a turban. Secondly, the cult phenomenon has only been properly studied in the last thirty tears. And it is takes a lot of work…
People often say that one must be very naïve, or have a serious problem, to fall into a cult, but most cult victims are highly intelligent, idealistic, and educated people, even if some of them were not completely comfortable when they first met the group. This is what is not realised by the general public and should be understood. From what I have seen it is so often the case that the new recruit is so often deceived and misled.
It is all about how gradually one loses one’s own way of thinking, one’s ability to question, one’s own will, under the pressure to fit a mould, a frame that was not ours to begin with.
This is why, around the age of twenty, when one still has the time to ask oneself good questions, and one does not yet have many responsibilities to consider, one becomes the ideal prey for cults, in particular those who tend to be more of a politically alternative nature. But even in later years, when one is 30, 40, or even 60 years old, the same thing can happen. It is my belief that the human spirit is vulnerable at all ages.
What happened to me was that little by little I lost touch with who I was and the problems I had to deal with.
You do not take time out anymore to look at all the angles of your problem. The wheel has been set in motion, and you have been taken in. At first the contradictions between yourself and the group are clear and evident, but the more the group intervenes, using psychological pressure, compulsory physical presence, meetings and indoctrination…the more your critical faculties and your immune system is breaking down. You can no longer come out of it alone. This is where I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH it is most important for family, friends and teachers to act quickly at that particular time, in order to avoid what may come next. You have swallowed a bit of the bait, and they will not let you go. Luckily, most do not go beyond this stage, and are able to retract soon enough. For others, a long “unlearning” process will need to take place but with feelings of guilt nevertheless, proof that the manipulation was already effective in them.
At the early stage some members can become quite euphoric. One feels as if one is becoming freer, throwing everything away from our youth; in fact, they have seduced you and are making you feel “loved” in a nice cosy cocoon. They will tell you that you are exceptional, that you don’t need to sweat over all your old problems, that people have always lied to you because you are the best…and that in fact, people have stolen the best from you. Your parents have robbed you, “just look at the world that they have left you…your teachers have let you down, see all the things that they did not teach you, and look at your friends, it is about time that they changed, and anyway, they don’t understand anything about anything.” These statements will be readily understood by most people especially young people, but taken to the “ninth” degree by cult members.
At the first encounter, The LaRouche recruiter will screen you and have established a small file on you, which will be useful by them in order to recruit you; this file will enable them to find out what YOUR PROBLEM is. They will then label you and may declare that you have “potential”, in which case you will be undergoing a close scrutiny in order to make you CHANGE.
The recruiting techniques revolve around the problems that the potential member would be experiencing at the time, and the need for him/her to change, “using violent shocks if necessary”, and the taking on of a new personality who will lead the “inner battle” between the old and the new “self”. In other words, if you are “smooth” as far as the cult is concerned, you are of no interest to them. To be smooth means to not ask disturbing questions, not contradict, argue, or discuss matters, and to accept all appointments without reluctance.
In general the people who are “smooth” are not all simple-minded but can be used to do small jobs like distribute leaflets outside underground stations or to stick posters up on the streets. But usually these people do not stay long in the group, as they become too much of a burden or “unable to understand what the organisation is really doing.”
As far as those who “stay”, whether they want to or not, they are now part of the elite, the new Martin Luther Kings, the new world leaders, potentially of course, and when there is a confrontation or difference of opinion, they must never open the debate or argue, but “show the way”. This is what they will try to teach you, using whatever means they can.
As one of the ex-members of this group expressed so well : “If you do not agree with LaRouche, then it is you that has the problem and the task is to try and find out where your problem lies”.
As weeks go by, you become more and more estranged from the outside world, and more and more lonely inside the group, but you do not realise this right away. You feel like you are part of a group of friends, an army of revolutionaries, a humanistic academy, a political party unlike any other…You are alone to face your doubts and your fears which are omnipresent, but you cannot share your concerns and questions with your peers because this would arouse suspicion in them or would come across as a lack of commitment to the group.
In other words, you are trapped.
There is no-one, either in the group, or outside the group, who understands you. You are isolated. It is then that you must make a choice. If you leave the group, you feel like the whole world is collapsing under you feet, but if you remain in the group, you are fighting against yourself.
In any event, you have been trapped by this method. You have been broken.
They have used your own identity against yourself.
Let me explain: Specific methods are used on you to get you recruited.
These methods induce you to share a part of your life, of your experience, a recollection of some event, a certain trait of your personality. By doing this I came to trust some of the members of the group and in the end I was cornered by the leader Cheminade and asked very private and personal questions about my family and my past experiences. They were deeply personal questions. In another case I know about a member was asked about whether he was having sexual relations with his wife. If the member can answer then you prove your loyalty and this is the way you have passed the test.
So there is a concentration on making you reveal or expose your inner most secrets. It may sometimes have to do with “psycho-sexual problems.” They will attempt to portray it as something extremely negative, a horrible sight in your eyes, and you will start feeling guilty about it. This makes you feel that yes you do need to change. Sometimes your “problem” is exposed publicly to the whole group in a meeting in order to further humiliate and inhibit you even more.
To make things public is the best way to make them taboo. The purpose of this is to make you fight against yourself, no matter what is happening.
Even if you are able to be stronger enough to resist being emotionally manipulated or to withstand the mental assault on your identity and then you do decide to renounce being part of the group, you will still be changed. You will have to live with this monster that they have created within you, and even if you join the group you will have to keep the monster within you quiet.
I consider that you do not join the organization as such – its more that you have given in to the pressures and “have been recruited.”
In other words, you do not have a choice, and the harm has already been done.
I consider that I did not join the LaRouche organization – I was psychologically kidnapped by the movement. It is a very perverse thing. A very dangerous thing that operates like an attack on everything that allows you to be yourself.
They made me believe that I had a choice in whether I was going to join or not, but this freedom of choice is only an illusion. I thought that I decided to join of my own free will, Therefore I found myself getting more involved and then becoming a full-time member I believed I was making my own autonomous act of your will. But looking back now I see that this was not the case. I was taken down a path of deception that led to my recruitment.
How is this deception accomplished?
You are quickly made to take actions like selling newspapers on the street so that you will be drawn in. Selling the newspapers has a powerful influence on making you more convinced and convincing. This whole process happens very quickly, over a period of a few weeks or even just a few days. New recruits are deliberately and as soon as possible sent out into the streets to meet others. It is a way to make them confront their own doubts. This is a very subtle and effective way of recruiting, since you meet people who may have the same hesitations as yourself, the same interrogations, the same criticisms, but since you are in the position of the person who does not need to be convinced, you take on the role of the one supporting the organization. Even if you know little and are not really convinced of what you are saying, you are led into a situation where you try to convince someone else. You are saving the world and you get a rush from this. The other person becomes your double, and you will be able to experiment on him as on a guinea pig. If at this point you hear any outside criticism like you are in a cult or are fascist this only intensifies your resolve. This is because you are offered no answers to these criticisms and only encouraged to despise the people who criticise you. You feel more one with the organizers because you appear to be criticized.
Added to this you find that you have less time for yourself and the organization cultivate a permanent sense of urgency. The end result is that one spends ones entire time organising a system which is purposely disorganised.
“The practical aim of the movement is to train as many people as possible in its organisation, and to set them in motion: the political aim of the movement, which would serve as its aim, is simply non-existent.” (Hannah Arendt : the Totalitarian System, ed. du Seuil, ).
On a practical level, members of the group do not do much. They attend meetings, go out in the streets, travel or make phone calls. But all of these activities make up a lot of work for the member, and can become a real slavery. The draining is mostly of a psychological nature. As a hamster spinning its wheel in its own cage, a cult member has no real understanding of the consequences of his actions.
So everything I did was done and it was actually not what I intended to do in the first place. I was following the movement, adopting a passive attitude and behaviour. I see now how it had the affect of making me give up on my sense of having my own initiative, as well as self-confidence and sense of humour.
Apart from the harassment and the psychological pressure involved in my recruitment, I was also influenced in other ways. This is why the organisation holds choirs in each of their branches, where members must learn to “embellish their soul” with the “great Genies” of German classical music or with nationalistic war tunes. These choirs meet during conferences using a form of mystical liturgy that is supposed to have the effect of inciting the younger “contacts” to share the enthusiasm created by the group in “harmony”.
The long conferences, the processions, and the singing all replace times of free discussion and deliberation.
There was never the time or the encouragement to read other books or study alternative viewpoints - You are told only to read books written by LaRouche. Nor was there time to think.
The movement emphasises the fact that while out in the streets, it is important to find the right “pearl”, to be able to “touch” someone in order to “turn him around”. In this way the members rapidly become experts in mental manipulation with the people they encounter. They have learned to “target the problem”, to “discover the flaw”, to “feel the potential”… These procedures are then automatically reported to the leader who will consider them and monitor the advancement of his small troops. That is as long as they bring in the money.
If the person approached does not give any money this means that the member is not taken seriously. It is also through guilt about doing nothing to help with world problems that the leader and recruiters put pressure on the younger potential recruits to interrupt their studies and give up their university courses.
You are told constantly that you do not learn anything in the Universities.
The better performing students who achieve success in their studies, are systematically put down and treated as “careerists”, “sophists”, “idiots savants”…
Helga Zepp Larouche encourages members to approach underage students on school premises. Some of the members of this organisation were recruited at the age of 15, 16, 17, or 18 years old.
Some of these young people have spent their life in the group. I know of cases when the organisation convinces members to leave their jobs, and to make false statements to the ANPE in order to obtain unemployment and social benefits or minimum wage.
So how do members of the group survive financially?
It varies from one to another.
For the younger members there is hardly any option other than receiving their small allowance to eat at lunchtime and in the evening. Some members do not even have social security coverage. The savings or income of their parents is rapidly reduced in the unfortunate event that the parents decide to help their child financially whilst in the group. In fact you are encouraged to ask your parents for money so that the organization will not have to pay you all that much. Even told to take out a loan and even get into debt because it did not matter you were doing work to save the world. At first the fresh recruit is always assured that he will not lack anything, and that a small allowance will be given to him each month (an approximate and irregular amount of 200 Euros. Many parents are in fact trapped into a situation where they give money to their children because they don’t want see their children so deprived of basic needs.
I believe there is fraud, since on one hand the organisation is making considerable profits in the USA (one only needs to look into their campaign accounts), and on the other hand, they deliberately give less money to the recruits in order to make them more dependent and vulnerable. It is because if they have less money they are less likely to take a train to go home for instance or to survive on their own. In other words, the poverty of the members is paramount to their subservient and dependant attitude to the group. The little money that we had served to pay the rent and even with this there were problems.
I was exploited, stripped financially, and in the end completely dependant on the movement. I saw the same thing happen to others.
Sympathising members of the organisation are solicited to give financial support, but rarely are they aware of the sectarian and totalitarian aspects of the group. There are therefore several levels of fraud involved. Sometimes the LaRouche movement portrays itself as a “Press agency” which sells information to enterprises on a “cold” list, other times as a Political lobby exchanging information for the possibility of infiltrating various political or other networks, or even a Political party that supports its followers…But what is it really that is the question?
The main obvious cover of Larouche in France is the political party: “Solidarité et Progres” It is my opinion that it is a real shame that the French authorities stubbornly refuse to admit that yes it appears to be a political party but my view is that it also has in many respects all the regular aspect of a cult. This means that it can operate without restraint and families are left unable to do anything.
The indispensable fiction.
Fiction comes first and foremost through a line of coherent but lying declarations that are thrown at you by the members.
One feels portrayed as right versus wrong. This simplistic view of things, which seems strange at first, does not refer to a specific problem within the organisation from which one could develop an opinion. The aim is that the “system” which will encompass their whole way of thinking would be as acceptable and irrefutable as the Truth. In other words they will make you feel like you have the gift of proving the truth, and that the conclusions of their theories are irrefutable. But what is worrisome is not so much the content of their dubious and repetitive texts, as much as the method with which they will bombard you with loads of information and postulates that will not allow you to take the necessary time and distance to realise how deceptive the organisation is.
The sheer amount of information, they bombard you with is relentless. There are so many meetings and improvised appointments. During these gatherings, the leader constantly increase the level of tension within the group, beginning with strong declarations such as : “we are at a crucial point in our history”, or “history does not serve the same plate twice” or “some people here today do not understand how important we are…”
The use of language is also derived from fiction.
It is frequent for members to engage in discussions or speeches whose real meaning they do not master, making use of rigid/frozen expressions, word-of-mouth statements, a mixture of watered down soup, humanism, and financial crashes…so much so that the member will completely lose touch with the reality of their own speech. I look back and see myself being overcome with all these declarations and thoughts. I think back to how my reaction was to respond and regurgitate all this. It came as words out of my mouth like I was preaching a sermon from which there would be strange and straightforward opinions.
The “organisage” (Anglicism) does not indicate dialogue, political discourse, or propaganda, it simply describes the process of “self-recruitment”, whether conscious or not, that a member of the group goes through as he or she approaches a potential or new member. Maintaining the cohesion of all the members of the organisation rests upon a fictitious world-wide conspiracy. Followers become suspicious and hostile towards the outside world and do not consider differences and divergence of opinions. Society’s pluralistic approach to life thus becomes a source of intolerable confusion for the formatted mind of the disoriented and unstable member. Therefore whoever is not part of the organisation is against the organisation.
In order to reinforce the idea of a conspiracy, it is also necessary to cultivate the idea of secrecy within the group. This is where it becomes important to create an artificial hierarchy based on criteria of loyalty to the leader. His disciples never know everything…and in any case they will be taught only what they should ever need to know. This defiance in regard to the “base” of the structure will from time to time require a pseudo court case, or what we could call “purges”. The vulgar ways in which some of the members are approached in private, especially females, have the effect of electro-shocks designed to break down their moral values and confuse the criteria of respect that belongs to humankind. The follower will feel mistreated, but instead of reacting against this, will continue in the denial of own self. The purpose is to destroy the integrity of the individual.
Consequently the member will not be able to exist as an autonomous and free individual, but first and foremost as a “member” of the LaRouche organisation.
The person will see himself or herself only through what he can bring to the movement. This “shrinking” of the individual’s uniqueness and personal concerns conveys the sense that you have sacrificially given yourself up for the good of the organisation and ultimately for the leader himself, who regularly sends his secret police to test the loyalty of his followers. In this regard I suggest you read Aristotle’s writings on tyranny : Les Politiques, V11,1313-a (not recommended in the group).
Within the organisation, a feeling of terror and tension is permanently maintained in order to avoid any creating of bonds and trust between the members.
Terror leads to isolation and isolation to more terror. Not knowing right from wrong anymore, not knowing whom one can trust, not even knowing if one can trust oneself: this is the end result that we can see in young people after a few months spent inside such a destructive organisation.
Coming out of such a destructive organisation can be described as an “unravelling” of oneself: in order to breathe and to be free once again, it is necessary to “untie” ones anxieties, traumas and taboos. It is clear that it is harder to come out of a such a group than to join one, but I can say that ex-members can find freedom and their true self again. The most important thing to remember is that you will need help to come out. It is crucial that you share your experience with others, and must not be ashamed of it. Listening to your relatives or specialists in the field as they have the best tools to come out of such a group. If you can only open one eye to begin with, eventually you will see more and more clearly, and one day your vision will be complete. Be confident, and do not give up.
French Student (This student has made her statement legally verified to the Lawyers of Erica Duggan.)
Beware of going to places where you are in Isolation:
It was in the Winter of 2002 we just came back from a cadre school, which was in a very isolated place in the mountains. Some people at this cadre school who were new contacts wanted to leave and they managed to leave. Then Jacques Cheminade was upset by this and then on our return I overheard the following conversation:
Cheminade said he was upset that recruits had left the conference. He made the suggestion that in the future cadre schools should be organized in even more isolated places and he mentioned a little island in the area of Brittany. This was so that the cadre people would not be able to leave once they were attending the school. Looking back on this it is my opinion that Cheminade knew what he wanted – he wanted to trap people – stop them from leaving until he had done his job of subjecting them to their methods of recruitment.
At these times you have to endure long hours and little sleep. Exhaustion makes new recruits more open to suggestion and influence.