“The Movement Still Depends on Me”
READ: LaRouche's private life
Lyndon LaRouche’s 1972 Letters from London
In August 1972 Lyndon LaRouche wrote a series of four letters to “Carol LaRosa,” his long-time companion and first collaborator in his project of creating a new socialist movement from scratch--the project that grew into the International Caucus of Labor Committees.
The letters were handwritten; Carol subsequently retyped them and sent the transcribed letters, plus the handwritten original of the first letter, to a long-time leading Labor Committee member in New York. This person’s papers, including the letters, have now entered a library collection, which is how they have become public. The obvious typos in the manuscript have been corrected but their content has not been edited otherwise.
For more on how the letters came to be written and their significance for the history of the Labor Committees, see the Appendix.
[London] Aug 25 
In event there is a snafu, here is the summary. (I may merely pass through Paris en route to Koln, where serious working sessions are set up.)
This was the poorest possible month for direct organization building and contact work--holidays, but I have accomplished several things far more important. I know the necessary British tactics firmly and also know the internal situation in I.S. far better than the I.S. leadership does. In large part, the latter reflects the fact that I am a professional while the whole I.S. leadership--like most of the British "left group" leadership, is an astonishingly ignorant and amateurish bunch of shopkeepers.
Internally, I.S. is on the verge of an internal crisis that will, left to itself, stop I.S.'s growth relative to Grant, Healy, and IMG. That is, membership losses from suspensions, expulsions, and resignations will approximately equal recruitment. As a result of an opportunistic effort to steer an uneducated group of students and ex-students “to the workers", with a smattering of program, merely increasingly hyper-active leafletting and newspaper sales, I.S. is generally decomposing into three spontaneous proto-f actions at each branch locality.
The largest tendency is a "mindless activist” cult, which grows increasingly nasty as it builds up resentment at the futility of its own frantic milling about. A smaller tendency is a loose, half-conscious collection of persons who grope vaguely for some sort of political sense, without knowing in the least where to begin. The group is made up, in each locality of "organization hacks”—very much like the "big toads” of small SWP puddles.
The “big toads,” leaning strongly toward the increasingly acerbic "mindless activists,” attempt to muddy every sharp political difference by insisting "we're all in basic agreement,” and “settling differences" by changing all motions into the most idiotically rigid organizational procedures. The national leadership has thrown a sop to the minority political ferment by organizing the most incredibly banal "educational program".
The result, suppressed differences have already assumed the life-forms of bitter little cliques. In this atmosphere, censure, suspension, and expulsion are becoming rampant.
The organization will tend to degenerate rapidly unless an 180° turn is made within a month. Symptomatic is the August wave of limiting branch meetings to once a month, for the announced goal of permitting more frequent fraction meetings weekly—such as union fractions which ponder over itty-bitty trade-union tactics. A petit-bourgeois total political adaptation—or, strictly, apolitical adaptation, to the most backward trade-union mentality. They are thus violently depoliticizing their membership.
[I.S. head Tony] Cliff has three alternatives—no more.
(1) move into "deep entry" into the Labour Party, to attempt to compete with Grant. His attempt to tail unions will tend to pull in increasingly in that direction.
or, and here is the important material :
By mid-1973 the crisis in Britain will have escalated to a potential far more profound than that involved in France of May, 1968. The 10% rise in average prices since Sept., 1971 is being exacerbated by (1) an impending, ghastly statutory rise in rents, under the Housing Finance Act, (2) sharp de facto as well as de jure cuts in welfare services and the miserable supplementary income program, (3) an imminent (Sept 10) sharp rise in London transport fares, the wedge end of a pattern for all Britain, (4) unemployment, including loss of essential secondary family income.
As of the 1st of the year, Britain, suffering a 7% rate of retail price inflation, faces a 20% rise in food prices, plus a 20% retail price jump in other commodity categories as a result of a 10% (estimated) Common Market Value-Added Tax (Vat).
Then, the U.S.A., in Jan 1973, will take a proposal to the IMF meeting which will commit the USA to long-term, S.D.R. convertibility of the Eurodollar at the price of substantial trade and finance concessions from the Europeans and Japanese. If this goes through, a reduced outflow of US dollars will mean British unemployment returning to 12-15%. If the agreement is postponed British unemployment may Increase somewhat more slowly, but under continued high rates of inflation. Add, then, several monetary crises by mid-1973.
The British worker is not yet beaten. He has a Labour Party and the strongest union movement in Europe. He is disposed to use this power, badly or well.
Unless we do something to alter the course of British history--which is not impossible, at all--the following general succession of events is inevitable.
This means either a new 1926 defeat, or a defeat by default (ragged strikes, each defeated). After the defeat of the working class comes an Enoch Powell regime.
The only alternative would be a "bolshevik tactic,” a small, but increasingly hegemonic "government in the wings" on the left of a Labour government, with growing left-hegemony to win over the leadership of a general strike--Bolshevik style.
This alternative is by no means out of reach, provided we are neither cynical nor lacking In absolutely ruthless hubris.
At present, in Britain, there are three on-going, but unconnected major class-struggle actions in motion. First, and key, a temporarily-waning resistance among local LP councillors to the HF statute. The second is the builders' strike. The third a large, growing but left-and-labor-deprecated Claimants’ Union. If these can be connected in a united front on a programmatic basis, there is a vacuum in explosive Britain’s left labor ranks which can transform a small new such organization into an Increasingly left-hegemonic and increasingly mass-based potential government.
An essential paranthetical: No one in Britain knows either what the Labour Party is or what to do about it. In shorthand, the LP Is Britain’s 1918 SPD. Luxemburg's 1918 proposal to tne Spartakusbund for a united front intervention In both the SPD and USPD is the best precedent to use to make the relevant point. The key is to always find the relevant point of intervention into the LP tactically.
That present point of intersection is the largely unsupported motions in the LP pre-conference discussions for sabotaging the implementation of the HF statute re council housing. Now, there is mindless chatter in some CPGB, IS, etc., circles about local rent strikes, but no real organization behind the dammed few, mostly wavering LP councillors who offered to refuse to carry out the statute.
The immediate task is the link a vanguard of the striking builders to the housing fight by "expanded low-rent housing construction" adding the explicit complementary demands on welfare, etc. Using a few housing, builders, and Claimant forces as a nucleus, rallyaround this with the aim of raising the HF resistance motions to first-rate importance at the LP conference. Using such a tactic to establish an ongoing organization (a programmatic united front).
The place to start is Camden (a section of London) in which there is a council faction resisting the statute and where we have the means to focus an effort which can be a hub for dispersed actions throughout Britain.
There is a student (NUS) leader at a nearby college who has agreed plus our few people here wish to start.
We are pressuring I.S. to collaborate with Grant on this tactic. A few better I.S. cadre are for the tactic to varying degrees. If I.S. accepts (its third alternative), we win. If I.S. refuses, we have our needed leverage to build our tendency rapidly.
This is in preliminary motion now. Chris must see Ed Harriman and Joan in that order as soon as possible. I am working on the layout of the tactic with Ed.
What we must do, in addition to linking every possible contact to a Camden hub, is to get a major propaganda campaign going here on both British prospects (outlined above) and the tactic itself. Thls means heavy N.S. coverage of Britain plus intensive key distribution of N.S. and pamphlets addressed to this here as well as Socialism or Fascism? (Maximum pressure on I.S. and secondary pressure on Grant)
We must aim at either taking out a key section of ISers facing expulsion and demoralization otherwise or collaborating in a u.-f. with I.S. (Without my book, of course, the whole effort be untenable)
This is short--too short to cover and substantiate every aspect, but do not be cynical about it, or discount anything!
The CPGB is in real left hegemony here. It controls most of the militant nucleii, and has a firm grip on a future “minority movement." That is our opponent: to get at the reformists, we must go through the CPGB by, mainly, the tactical policy I have summarized.
In any case, I absolutely do not wish to see you for perhaps months or longer to come, and will not meet you in Paris under any circumstances. It is just as I must break off this sketchy letter--even on so important a topic as this contains. I have no idea how we’ll handle the NEC problem, but when you're there, I won’t be. We’ll have to do our necessary political collaboration in writing for some time to come.
It's not that you haven't been generous in your own queer fashion. That Chicago trip and the sneaky business--for which our movement will soon have to suffer once the CP decides to use a juicy scandal--are not forgivable matters. I can accept your weakness of character as an offsetting flaw, but I need not explain any more.
The problem with you weakens my political effectiveness. Every time I think of you--which is as infrequently as I can manage--I am depressed. You must permit me to be free of seeing you. That you owe to the movement. Find your own niche and make your contribution as well as you can. Do me no more damage.
P.S. But write on political matters. That’s necessary, however much I pay for it personally. Personally, you died in July. Now, you are an empty, stinking hulk with a residual political value, which latter must be treated with the respect your person does not merit--Madame “Vin Berg."
Therefore, since you are as obviously sadistically inclined as your Paris meeting proposal indicates, I have instructed the NEC that for at least six months, I will not attend any meetings at which you are present. Therefore, except in emergency, I will not attend NEC meetings.
I shall be explicit for this one time.
It is impossible for me to ever have a close personal relationship again. In large part, this is practical not emotional. Older women in this society are too fixed in their bourgeois character development to be tolerable to me. Younger women is a silly proposition at the age of fifty onwards. It just practically impossible. Anyway, your vile treachery, considering the unusually deep basis for our exceptional relationship, has without doubt destroyed my capacity for personal trust of individuals in any sort of personal basis. There is no basis in this society, on which I can trust any one person.
I have, otherwise, the richest possible personal life in the importance of my existence to the future human race. Yet, I have been long conditioned to also having a close personal relationship. Until those latter habits die of atrophy, any strong reminder of my useless capacity for personal relationships will continue to drive me into an incapacitating period of rage. I need time to adjust the balance of my daily life habits to my circumstances.
Until then, I absolutely do not wish to see you under any circumstances, or to be reminded of you as anything but a dubious political asset, for some time to come. To this end, your proposal on the Paris meeting signffies to me that you still take pleasure in the vilest abuse of me in the manner suggested to you by Vin Berg’s hideous behavior. I can not trust you one iota on that point. Therefore I have instructed the NEC that I will be attending very few NEC meetings for the next six months. I will not be at any meeting where you are present. If you appear, I immediately leave.
This should be only a minor problem, in actuality. You are incapable, morally, of anything more than a secondary or tertiary political leadership role, and are so demonstrably irresponsible in your subordination of political imperatives to personal whims and impulses, that you can not be allowed to occupy any actually key position in which the organization would be significantly vulnerable to the scandals you would create in your personal conduct, or your instability in confusing personal impulses with politics. You will play a significant role in secondary and tertiary matters, but will simply get out of the way whenever issues of major initiative are involved.
In any case, you have usually contributed only silly, usually cynical efforts at sabotage whenever I had to push anyway. Your voice and vote on such important decisions could not, therefore, be missed on such exceptional occasions.
I am truly sorry, but the movement depends still upon me. You will have to bend to my requirements one way of the other.
Unfortunately, because of your suggested "menage a trois" meeting, I will not meet Chris, even alone. His toleration of the Chicago trlp spectacles, his condoning such a Paris meeting discredits him personally with me. I do not trust him personally, whatever his other potentialities. Discipline for essential political principles--which you and he lack--is the foundation of character for a political leader.
I regret very much that I must permit my own personal problems to intrude now. I have no alternative. My rages over you destroy my political functioning. My political functioning happens to be a political principle, since there is no one who could even partially assume my unique duties as a leader who must be able to function at all times.
I will depend upon Chris’ mental powers to adduce what he must know from my written word. If he proves himself capable of rising above the wretched level of your protege on the basis of work here, I shall then be able to tolerate personal exchanges with him.
I will not visit anyone in Paris.
Meanwhile, I have other problems. Not only have I still received no word on funds or arrangements from Vienna, I have just received news from there suggesting a last-minute effort to create a pretext for excluding me. I have calculated I can not afford to stay a week in Linz at my own expense, so I may be in NYC on the 10th, after doing important work in Koln.
Nasty little treacherous swine are all around.
He sat there, asserting as fact things which we all knew were lies--worse, the other ISers knew that I knew that Cliff was lying.
There is no hope of having an honest factional struggle within 1S. Only a nasty, conspiratorial approach will accomplish anything. The kernel of the approach should be educational work based on my book and New Solidarity. There are many good people in IS--from Hallas on down, but Cliff and his hacks run the show by the most miserable devices. You could envisage a fruitful honest discussion with others, but not with Cliff running things.
Our outside pressure, through New Solidarity circulation, will be the key to the situation here. We must have first rate inside facts on every key tactical development in the British labor struggle--from Ed, Cris, et al. That will be most urgent so that our week-to-week analysis of the situation is most concretely located even in terms of the predicates.
In sum, I presented my full analysis and tactical outlook for Britain, insisting that the victory or crushing of the British labor movement depended on this tactic. Cliff's answer: "If what you say were true, I would shoot myself." (The man is really a fool.) His opposition to what must be done clearly establishes the basis for factional struggle against him. Cliff is opposed to doing what must be done. With Cliff’s policy the defeat of British labor is absolutely guaranteed. That is the theme of the proper struggle.
For our outside work we will concentrate on Camden (a locality In North London) where several opportunities coincide with the presence of one of the few remaining L.P. council hold-outs against the HF statute. Our work, as far as I can see, must be propagandistic. Our best potential access now is the NUS, a potential place to establish a base for launching other work. The fact that no one in Britain has an active approach to tnis tactical arena gives us an opportunity to recruit the nucleus of a propaganda machine.
Events are with our perspective--provided we can begin to capitalize on our empirical vindication in time.
Chris must urgently meet Ed H. at first time.
Lyndon P.S. Sept 4--9 I will be at .....
There are some really gifted individuals in IS who have been defeated and almost broken by Cliff by following the tactic we reviewed in NYC (eg Hallas). What will make a serious impact on serious IS members is a straight NCLC identification. Since Cliff swinishly refused to even discuss, no serious person will challenge the justice of raising the factional issue within IS (at least, not to himself or herself privately). If we are serious about the Road to Power in Britain, Cliff has to be broken; if we do not set out openly to smash Cliff, no one will take our politics seriously.
How is it that an organization of perhaps more than 1,000 members has been built by fish peddler Cliff?
First, despite everything else, Cliff has one essential personal quality which you foolishly deprecated: tenacity and drive. Otherwise, Cliff is a zero.
Secondly, Cliff didn't build IS: Healy did, by creating a vacuum to the left of the CPGB. Cliff zeroed in on radical students hostile to the LP and recruited them for the perspective of recruiting radical militant workers also disaffected with the LP. (Grant got those still oriented to he LP and IMG picked up those even a vacuum abhorred.)
Cliff controls the IS because no one else has real drive, and by appealing to the philistine sentiments of the backward and theoretically ignorant majority of the membership: after all, as the fellow appeals to the mob in 1492, “everyone knows the earth is flat."
The “mindless activist" majority, infuriated by its own hyper-activity, is in a lynch-mob against the potential politicals in the ranks. Either we recruit the victims of that hostility--or IMG will. There is no opportunity to build a faction by polite or discreet methods. A quick hard raid which aims to create the maximum shock effect, so that we, not IMG, recruits the on-going fall-outs of potential politicals from IS's imminently high turnover rate. We have to recruit at the exits, not in the membership discussion inside. That itself will produce the necessary internal effect.
Only one draft internal document could be prepared now. It should be a special recapitulation of our “Road to Power in Britain," openly quoting the NCLC arguments, and demolishing Cliff's already known counter arguments. The main argument against Cliff will be that he attempts to answer Marxian economic analysis with headlines from the writings of bourgeois propagandists and deny that the future contains anything not found in some stale, century-old yiddish joke. For the initial document, this should be said politely but definitely. When Cliff reacts, a short, short document denouncing his fish-peddler’s socialism is required.
PS Key is the lead British article in Sept 4 New Solidarity.
Lyndon LaRouche’s 1972 letters from London were written when he was more widely known by his “party name,” Lyn Marcus. He was by then the national chairman of the National Caucus of Labor Committees, but he had not yet achieved the total dominance over the organization and its members that he would seek and attain over the next 15 months.
These letters throw a spotlight on how the interplay between Lyn’s politics and his personal life helped shape the Labor Committees. In particular, it’s an example of Lyn’s genius (as much instinctive as deliberate) for using his own personal issues to achieve more and more power over, and fealty from, the Labor Committee membership.
The Back Story
Lyn and Carol Larrabee met in the early 1960s when they were both members of the Socialist Workers Party in New York. The two were at loose ends; both their marriages had recently fallen apart, and they were both disillusioned with the SWP’s policies and low intellectual level. Lyn was in those days using Lyn (or Lynn) Marcus as his political nomme de guerre; Carol used several different pseudonyms.
In 1964 Lyn moved in with Carol in her apartment at 65 Morton Street in the West Village. She worked as a teacher and paid the bills, while he devoted himself full time to politics. (Barry Sheppard, who knew Lyn when both were in the SWP, recently wrote that in the early 1960s Lyn “was supported serially by the women who lived with him,” but that may in fact be a reference to Carol rather than to a string of other girlfriends. See , footnote on p. 327.)
In 1965 the couple joined a split-off from the SWP led by Tim Wohlforth (the germ of what became the Workers League); in 1966 they briefly signed on with Jim Robertson’s newly created Spartacist League. Disappointed in Wohlforth and Robertson’s failure to appreciate his ideas, Lyn became convinced that he should form his own organization. In July 1966 he began teaching a class on “elementary Marxist economics” at the new Free University. The class brought together a group of young radicals who then helped Lyn and Carol form the West Village Committee for Independent Political Action (CIPA).
In 1967 West Village CIPA allied with a group of dissident members of the Progressive Labor Party and formed the core of the SDS Transit Project in New York and the SDS Labor Committee at Columbia University. By the time of the 1968 Columbia student strike, this grouping, with Carol as one its leading members and Lyn as its chief theoretician, had become a significant actor in the New Left in New York and Philadelphia.
After exiting SDS, the group took the name National Caucus of Labor Committees. It underwent a major split at the beginning of 1971, when a faction led by Steve Fraser left to form the Socialist Labor Committee. The SLC proved short-lived, but the NCLC thrived. Later in 1971 it enjoyed a burst of recruitment after President Nixon’s surprise Aug. 15, 1971, announcement that the U.S. was abandoning the Bretton Woods system and the gold standard--a move that appeared to validate Lyn’s predictions of impending financial collapse. In the wake of that success, the NCLC stepped up its efforts to recruit members from the Communist Party USA and establish itself as the “hegemonic” left organization in the United States.
What Led to the Letters
The summer of 1972 must have been a difficult time for Lyn. The 1930s-scale crash he’d insisted would happen within 12 months of August 15 had failed to materialize. He was explicitly basing his claim to lead the Labor Committee (and the imminent U.S. socialist government) on his predictive powers, yet those powers seemed to have waned. (We won’t even mention his forecast that a victory by Democratic candidate George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election would be the first step to the imposition of a liberal-fascist regime.)
Meanwhile the Labor Committee’s propaganda assault on the Communist Party USA had run into obdurate, occasionally violent resistance, and the wave of CP recruits he’d foreseen had not materialized. The Labor Committee’s Greek-exile “sister organization” in Europe, the Epanastasi grouping, which Lyn had conducted as a personal side project with little involvement from the rest of the NCLC’s American leadership, had collapsed, with the large majority of the Epanastasi group rejecting Lyn and the Labor Committee. In the U.S., the NCLC’s strike-support and other organizing efforts continued to yield occasional temporary gains, but no significant or long-term victories. There was never enough money to pay the printing bills and office rent. By the spring and summer of 1972 the Labor Committee was experiencing serious demoralization, a condition that was widespread on the left as mass marches and student strikes gave way to political backlash and disco.
Lyn had used the Fraser split of early 1971 to install himself as national chairman of what had previously been an amorphous, decentralized, and formally leaderless group. In the summer of 1971 he’d insisted that the coming economic chaos, as well as the poor performance of many of the group’s secondary leaders, required an even more centralized executive. Therefore the National Executive Committee, which had been merely the New York members of the organization’s geographically diverse National Committee, was narrowed to a chosen few of Lyn and Carol’s closest collaborators and redefined as a policy-initiating body, with Lyn at its head.
But the more power Lyn took into his hands, the more the organization and its moods became his responsibility--a responsibility that must have weighed heavily that summer.
Lyn’s troubles were personal as well as political. He and Carol--who was by then using the pseudonym “Carol LaRosa”--were unhappy with each other, unhappiness that he often exhibited in public. Sometime in the spring of 1972 she decamped to a vacant room in the apartment of some other LC members, leaving him in possession of the Morton Street apartment.
A month or two later she returned, however, and although their relationship remained tense the couple planned a European vacation together. Meanwhile things were looking up on the European front. Lyn had been invited to speak at a socialist scholars’ confab put on by the Bertrand Russell Foundation in Linz, Austria, in mid-September, a few days after Lyn’s 50th birthday. And Chris White, a British student and member of the British International Socialists, had been recruited in New York in the spring of 1972, and there was excited talk about an LC propaganda offensive against I.S. in London. Lyn and Carol took Chris on a driving tour of New England and then brought him along to Chicago for what was supposed to be a major LC “intervention” there into a convention of a CP front group, Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy (TUAD), over the July 4th weekend.
The intervention turned out to be a bust. The 60 or so LCers, most of whom had traveled from New York for the occasion, were summarily barred or tossed out by the CP and its “husky workers,” as were the members of the Spartacist League and several other left sectlets who’d shown up. Far from being a gathering of political trade unionists, the convention turned out to be a get-together of CP faithful who were mobilizing support for McGovern against Nixon and had no sympathy with the LC’s recipes for revolution. In the excitement of the moment Lyn talked tough about fighting back against the CP bouncers who’d ejected him, but he and the rest of the LC contingent ended up being forced into a rather ignominious retreat.
(For the Spartacists’ take on the TUAD convention, see the September 1972 issue of Workers Vanguard )
That same weekend, we learn from these letters, Lyn discovered that Carol had become romantically involved with Chris, who was some 15 years younger than Carol (and about a quarter-century younger than Lyn). As originally planned, Chris left Chicago and returned to France, where he had been doing graduate work. Shortly thereafter Carol took the ticket she’d originally purchased for her European vacation with Lyn and used it instead to join Chris in France.
In August, therefore, Lyn was on his own when he went to London, where he met with various contacts (including many provided by Chris) before heading to Cologne (where “Jannis Tzavellas” was supposed to be salvaging what remained of the Epanastasi network there) and thence to Linz. It was during his London sojourn that he penned these letters to Carol.
Letter #1: Aug. 25, 1972
The first pages of Lyn’s first letter to Carol show that he still regarded her and Chris as political collaborators who could be trusted to carry out the Labor Committee’--that is, Lyn’s--policies. Indeed, he seeks to convince them, as he has apparently convinced himself, that they and a handful of collaborators can quickly defeat British I.S. leader Tony Cliff and take over first I.S., then the British Labour Party, and shortly thereafter the British government, by following his tactical prescriptions.
But after laying out detailed marching orders for Carol and Chris for several pages, Lyn seems to suddenly recollect his personal feelings, and he becomes increasingly angry. He appears to have no interest in winning Carol back. Rather, his main goal seems to be to punish her for her disloyalty by ejecting her from the NEC (as becomes clear in the next letter), while insisting that she continue to collaborate with him politically.
His comment about Carol’s “queer” generosity probably refers not to the support she’d provided while they were together, but to her offer to cover the rent for the Morton Street apartment for the next 12 months, even though she would no longer be living there with him, so that he wouldn’t have to worry about a place to stay. But this still left Lyn without any income. With Carol in a new relationship, on a different continent, and the Labor Committee chronically broke, Lyn had to wonder where his next ream of typing paper would be coming from. No wonder, therefore, that he felt betrayed by Carol, whom he called “Madame Vin Berg” in reference to a member who’d come under criticism for allegedly sleeping with political contacts.
Letter #2: Aug. 26, 1972
In his second letter Lyn begins with an apology for the angry tone of what he wrote the day before--but that immediately triggers a further outburst of fury. He insists on interpreting Carol’s suggestion of a meet-up in Paris as a sadistic insult and a deliberate effort to hamstring his “political functioning,” a glimpse of the paranoia that soon came to dominate the organization.
This provides the pretext for his renewed demand that the NEC make a choice: Lyn or Carol. The other members of the NEC at that time were Ed and Nancy Spannaus, Leif Johnson, Tony Papert, and the newest addition, Gus Axios, one of the leaders of the now-collapsed Epanastasi group. Except for Gus, who’d only been added (at Lyn’s behest) the preceding summer, the other NEC members had worked with Carol since at least 1967. Now Lyn was threatening an ultimatum: if Carol and the NEC insist on Carol maintaining her (elected) position on the NEC, Lyn will take his marbles and leave.
It was this threat that led Carol to send the series of letters to an NC member and close friend back in New York, retyping them to save postage. She presumably wanted to prove that it was Lyn, not she, who was confusing the personal with the political.
In this letter Lyn’s self-pity reaches comical proportions, as he bemoans the impossibility of ever achieving a “close personal relationship” again--clearly his 50th birthday a few weeks hence was much on his mind--and blames this incapacity entirely on Carol. Yet though he may be furious at her, she is also apparently the only person with whom he feels sufficiently intimate to unburden himself about his perceived lack of romantic prospects. His fears that the CP will make an issue of his personal problems reflect both his paranoia and his grandiosity.
Once again he seems intent on convincing himself of the argument he wants to make: in this case, that the world’s future depends on his getting his own way, and that what’s damnable is not his vulnerability, his weakness, but Carol’s failure to behave as he wishes--her “vile treachery.” He proceeds to insult her at length, in terms reminiscent of his earlier attacks on Steve Fraser, Dave Goldman, and others whom he’d perceived as failing to acknowledge his supremacy. He also refuses to meet with Chris, making a tortuous argument that this reflects political judgment rather than personal anger.
While Lyn’s hurt feelings were no doubt genuine, forcing the NEC (and the organization as a whole) to choose between the organization’s two founding members was also a significant power play.
On the NEC and in the organization generally, Carol was the only other leading member who was more or less of Lyn’s generation (she was approximately ten years younger) and could claim a similar grounding in the Old Left. She was far more likely than any of the others to challenge Lyn in public, which obviously angered him. Eliminating her would increase Lyn’s power and force the rest of the NEC to acknowledge that his whims trumped any nominally political considerations.
Letters #3 and 4: Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, 1972
In the final two letters Lyn seems to set almost all personal animosity aside in favor of issuing detailed instructions for how the campaign against Cliff and I.S. should be waged by Carol, Chris, and the I.S. recruits he believes they will soon gather around themselves. The personal storm would seem to have subsided. Clearly he believes Carol and Chris are well qualified to be his representatives in Britain, as long as they follow his guidance.
Despite the relatively businesslike tone of the third and fourth letters, Lyn had by no means forgiven Carol. During his time at Linz, he repeatedly flew into rages about Carol in front of the small Labor Committee entourage that had accompanied him to the conference, complaining about her “existentialism” and lack of political commitment and insisting that, now that he was 50 years old, sex was something he could live without.
His anger did not abate when he flew home in mid-September. Carol had already returned to New York to prepare for a more permanent relocation to London, where she planned to live and organize with Chris. Many members recall a meeting of the New York local where Lyn, just back from Europe, denounced her harshly and at great length for her purported crimes, including moving to London without the organization’s permission (although Lyn was actually the only source of objections to the move). When she nevertheless departed for London a few days later, Lyn demanded that the NEC eject Carol from the organization.
Carol later said that Lyn threatened to quit the Labor Committee altogether--walk away from the organization he and Carol had founded--if the NEC did not agree to throw Carol out. By this time he had succeeded in making himself so central to the organization that his departure would have likely destroyed it. At least he was betting that the rest of the NEC would think so. This was a dramatic gamble on Lyn’s part, given Carol’s prominence in the Labor Committee and her close ties to many of those who’d been members since its earliest days. But Lyn also had built up a keen sense of the vulnerabilities of his fellow NEC members.
Carol later said that the NEC--including the Spannauses, Carol’s friends--at first resisted Lyn’s emotional blackmail. But his threat to leave evidently worked, for they soon agreed to, if not expel Carol, then at least suspend her LC membership. Ed Spannaus was put in charge of circulating the statement of suspension, which was unmistakably written by Lyn.
This “NEC Statement on the LaRosa Situation,” dated Sept. 20, 1972, charged Carol with “political irresponsibility in defying the NEC’s request that she not return to Europe to do political work,” a crime that posed dangers more “dangerous and far-reaching” than breakaway leader Steve Fraser’s actions in the Bavarian split. (This was obviously preposterous, since Fraser had led between a quarter and a third of the membership out of the organization, whereas Carol had engaged in no factional activity.)
The NEC statement went on to say that Carol would have been allowed to “function fully as a NEC member” had she stayed in New York for some months longer, and insisted that “no one is attempting to legislate Carol’s personal life.” But Carol’s “pattern of skepticism and resentment toward Marcus’ development of a concrete perspective for Britain” could be “disastrous for our European work,” the statement charged, because such an attitude threatened to “accommodate to ultra-democracy and the ‘rights’ of new members to ‘make their own mistakes’” among our European recruits. Now the issue is no longer Carol’s deleterious effect on Lyn’s functioning, but on the tiny European (mostly German) membership, with whom she had been up until that point in little or no contact.
To underline its importance, the statement was sent out under unprecedented security, in numbered copies, to LC local executives only, with no Xeroxing allowed and all copies to be returned immediately to Ed Spannaus at his home address. “We can take no chances on this falling into the hands of our enemies, most especially the CPs,” the statement warned. But it insisted that the person being protected was not Lyn, but Carol. “Any disregard of the above [security instructions] will be treated as a personal attack on Carol and a breach of organizational security,” the statement said, before launching into its own extended attack on Carol as a political leader.
Still, Lyn had not forgotten Carol’s “residual political value.” A postscript at the end of the four-page document noted that “subsequent to the NEC’s action, an understanding has been arrived at, by which Carol will have a limited defined role” that will include “collaborating directly with L. Marcus on important special assignments, outside the arena of immediate political work.” However, “the general suspension will remain in effect.” There is no effort to disguise the fact that Lyn, and not the NEC, is making all decisions in this matter, and that Carol’s role in the organization will be defined by Lyn however he sees fit.
After the statement went out, Carol and Chris endured a brief period in organizational limbo. Just a few weeks later, however, Lyn told LC members in Europe that limited personal and political contact with Carol and Chris would be a good idea. Within a few more weeks Carol and Chris were once again acknowledged as leading members of the organization, although no formal notice was ever issued. The whole suspension incident was simply treated as though it had never happened. But Lyn’s power to singlehandedly define organizational policy, without any debate, had been decisively demonstrated.
It was probably no coincidence that at around the same time Carol was allowed out of the LC dog house, Lyn began a new relationship. His new companion was, despite his earlier qualms, a woman several decades younger than himself. She was also gainfully employed and presumably took up the responsibility of paying Lyn’s bills. Once Lyn was again taken care of, he resumed friendly relations with Carol and Chris, writing them letters about his personal life and visiting them during his European tour in the summer of 1973. All was apparently forgiven, but later events proved that Lyn’s fury had merely gone underground.
The emotional turmoil that Lyn suffered in the wake of Carol’s departure was almost certainly what led him to the soul-searching about his own psyche and the Labor Committee’s future that led directly to the organization’s increasingly psychological and internal focus. By the late fall and early winter of 1972 Lyn was talking openly about putting the membership through a new kind of psychological process. Together with rising LC star Christine Berl he began using “the woman question” as a wedge to force both male and female members to embrace a deeper level of commitment to the organization and to Lyn’s special role and special insights.
These ideas dominated the LC’s end-of-year conference. Then in January 1973 Lyn began writing about conflicts between the bourgeois persona and the revolutionary self, childhood fears, and other concepts that were codified that fall in Beyond Psychoanalysis. And in February he held the first psychological “sessions” in New York with a small group of visiting German members, including the future Helga LaRouche. Although few foresaw it at the time, the organization was well on its way to Operation Mop-Up, Lyn’s December 1973 mental rape of Chris White and the associated January 1974 brainwashing panic, and the Labor Committee’s transformation into a full-on cult.