Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Weird Order

The '70s were a good time for cults of personality and conspiracy theorists. It had nothing to do with whatever nefarious devices the folks at the Charles Stark Draper Labs were working on at the moment (and indeed, they had come up with a secret weapon that could bulldoze entire neighborhoods in East Cambridge and disguise it all as urban renewal). No, we're talking about the really kooky stuff. Sun Myung Moon was head of a weird cult, but he was not a conspiracy theorist (he was more likely to hatch the conspiracies). L. Ron Hubbard was out there (and I mean really out there), and he and his merry band of Scientologists were all about self-help and science fiction. Hubbard wrote a whole series of best-selling books of very bizarre science fiction, and he also wrote "Dianetics", a self-help book that was being revised into new editions long after Hubbard's death in 1986. You always knew you had encountered a Scientologist on the street if they offered you the opportunity to take a free psychoanalysis test. The ads for "Dianetics" were always hard to miss; they always asked profound questions like "Why does life suck?" (Page 11), followed by the erupting volcano.

But when it came to off-the-wall conspiracy theories and dogged persistence, no one could touch the followers of Lyndon LaRouche, the third member of that Unholy Trinity. In the early '70s, LaRouche became convinced that Henry Kissinger and Nelson Rockefeller were plotting the end of the world; by the mid-70's, he decided it wasn't world destruction they were plotting, but the wholesale de-industrialization of America (and damned if that didn't happen!), for the benefit of that secretive world order that included the Queen of England, the Bilderbergers, the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. In 1984, LaRouche decided that the worst thing that could happen to America would be to freeze all our nuclear weapons production; he preferred to build defensive beam weapons in space to shoot down the incoming nukes of the bad guys (because it was high technology, man!) He was also convinced that movements like Greenpeace were part of the Trilateral conspiracy, because nothing symbolized deindustrialization like environmental stewardship.

LaRouche's minions could be found in some of the largest airports in the country hawking their wares and trying to warn the rest of the world about the coming global conspiracy. And they could be found on college campuses like MIT, trying to get nuclear power plants built over the dead bodies of baby seals. They were the sworn enemies of the Clamshell Alliance, which was trying to stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. And they were the only thing standing in the way of the Queen of England's plot to take over the world by getting us hooked on drugs.
You could always tell LaRouche's followers by their neat JC Penney dress pants, no-iron white shirts, clip-on ties, short hair and glasses. And you could never get rid of them. Once they glommed onto you, they woudn't let go until you'd bought something, anything from them. And signed a petition. They claimed to be Democrats; LaRouche himself ran against Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia in 1990 while he was serving a prison sentence for tax evasion. LaRouche has largely dropped out of sight in the last couple of years - although some people maintain that he is secretly Lou Dobbs.

1 comment: