PREFACE: THE GOLDFISH BOWL
Pdf file downloadable here (506 Kb)
"A popularized mythology is like a goldfish bowl. No matter how cleverly the fish chooses his direction within the bowl, he can never escape it in such a fashion. No matter how cleverly he adapts to the environment of the bowl’s medium (e.g., popular mythologies), whoever moves the bowl moves him in a corresponding direction."
One night in the winter of 1986 I found myself in the Les Halles district of Paris talking with the French artist and writer Jean-Jacques Lebel. Once the conversation finally got around to the craziness of the 1960s, Lebel quoted a saying popular in his anarchist circle. It went like this: “The theory of one person is madness but the madness of three people is theory.” However, in the case of the NCLC it seems clear that the madness of one person really was theory and the rest of this book attempts to explain just why that was so.
Now a brief description of how this text came into existence. Smiling Man from a Dead Planet: The Mystery of Lyndon LaRouche began in 1986-87 as an attempt to better understand the NCLC’s trajectory from a Marxist sect to an anti-Marxist political cult by 1979, the year my study concludes. Thanks to Dennis King’s book Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism , however, the interested reader can pursue the story from the very late 1970s into the late 1980s. Even though King and I fundamentally differ over his claim that the NCLC is a conscious Nazi or crypto-Nazi organization, his book provides much invaluable information and reflects years of dogged investigative reporting. I personally learned a lot from it.
All that said, even with this work and King’s, the last two decades of the NCLC’s history from 1990 until late 2009 – over half the time it has been in existence – remain terra incognito. The NCLC also operated in Europe as well as America. The European side of the NCLC’s saga remains largely unknown, although in 1994 a former member of the German organization named Aglaja Beyes-Corleis wrote an important memoir entitled Verirrt: mein Leben in einer radikalen Politorganisation . In short, there is a tremendous amount that we simply don’t know.
It was just this sense of unanswered questions that motivated me some two decades ago to return to the weird world of Lyndon LaRouche. My original text was a one draft affair of some 230 single-spaced pages written on an electric typewriter in under five weeks. After completing the manuscript, I shared it with a few other researchers with a specialized interest in LaRouche but decided to best leave it “to the gnawing criticism of the mice” (so to speak) rather than turn it into a book as I felt the degree of detail that I brought to the subject would only interest a specialist readership. I also wrote the manuscript primarily as an attempt to clarify many of the issue raised by the NCLC in my own mind. My initial attempt, quite simply, was meant most of all to enable me to think outside “the goldfish bowl.”
More recently, however, the success of LaRouche Planet has convinced me that even though the readership for such a specialized text will remain limited, there are enough people who might be interested enough in the topic to justify publishing a revised electronic version of the original study. Besides updating the chapters, I have also added some later research. My chapters on “Wiener World,” for example, are completely new as is my study of Technocracy, Inc.
I should also note that in preparing the LaRouche Planet version of Smiling Man from a Dead Planet, I have omitted one long section from my original manuscript that focused on the period from April to November-early December 1973 (or from “Operation Mop-Up” to “Beyond Psychoanalysis”). Instead, I have tried to incorporate much of this material throughout the revised manuscript.
Finally, in looking at the NCLC – which I consider a political cult – it is always wise to ask whether or not it really is worth the time and effort to understand such a strange organization. While the obvious answer is clearly “no,” I believe it is still worth the effort by at least a few people to take a closer look if only so that the rest of us don’t have to. My peculiar fate was to be one of these few people. The result of my effort now lies before you.
Hylozoic Hedgehog 15 September 2009
Bouquets and brickbats (Jeff, that’s a metaphor) can be sent to HylozoicHedgehog@gmail.com
JUNE 2013 UPDATE: My new book How It All Began: The Origins and History of the National Caucus of Labor Committees in New York and Philadelphia (1966-1971) is now available at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABcover. I have also fixed typos and other errors and added a few new reference sources in the electronic version of both Smiling Man from a Dead Planet and How It All Began. Finally, a detailed study of the LaRouche movement in Australia, Don Veitch's book Beyond Common Sense: Psycho-Politics in Australia, is now available on LaRouche Planet at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.BeyondCommonSense.