David P. Goldman has offered us on of the most interesting self revelations from an intellectual that I have seen in a long time. In an essay titled "Confessions of a Coward" Goldman, a Jewish intellectual, revealed a prolonged career as a follower of an out and out anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche. One of the most interesting and disturbing things about the LaRouche movement is its roots in the far left. As Goldman explained:
During the 1960s, LaRouche was a one-man Trotskyite splinter group, teaching free-lance courses on Marxist economics at whatever venue would have him.LaRouche began to acquire a following just as the anti-nuclear movement took off.
He culled student radicals with an intellectual bent who were repelled by the mindlessness endemic on the left in the late 1960s. LaRouche’s pitch was insidious: How can you justify yourself morally unless you know that what you are doing is right? There existed a science of mind, LaRouche claimed, that would enable the adept to reach the right conclusion. . . .There is more than a passing resemblance to the anti-nuclear movement here, but without a central cult leader figure. What the anti-nuclear movement had in common with the LaRouche cult was was a need to establish an identity, The anti-nuclear movement might also be described as a stone soup ideology. Despite its embrace of a green identity, and its professed despite to protect the environment from the wicked nuclear industry, in fact anti-nuclear Greens have an extremely shallow commitment to the protection of the environment and to environmental values. As I explained on Rod Adams blog yesterday,
And that is where LaRouche had us. His intellectual method resembled the old tale about stone soup: Having announced that he had the inside track on the hidden knowledge that underlay Western civilization (one of his essay was titled “The Secrets Known Only to the Inner Elites”), he attracted a small parade of intellectual orphans, whom he then put to elaborating the details. By the late 1970s he had collected some highly credentialed acolytes, including a group of physicists and mathematicians at his front organization, the Fusion Energy Foundation.
I view myself as being far more pro-environment, than the so called "greens." I take the Greens to task for their inconsistent commitment to environmental values. I criticize Greens for their semi-secret commitment to burning CO2 emitting natural gas, for their very anti-environmental commitment to burning biomass, and the creation of liquid fuels from harvesting vegetation from the land. i also criticize greens for such anti-ecological practices as stripping the soil in solar power facilities, and disturbing soil and water resources in the construction of windmills. There are significant attacks on wildlife habitat associated with both solar and wind projects. Because of my attacks on anti-environmental practices among the greens, I might get mislabeled as anti-environment. Quite obviously this is not the case.I have argued that both the right and the left have taken on tribal aspects. Tribal ideology has taken on a major role in explaining who they are, and why they oppose other tribes. Tribes sometimes fight for silly reasons as the Book of Judges illustrates in the story of the war of the Ephraimites and the Gileadites under their tribal leader Jephthah. The quarrel between the two tribes was due to the unexpected failure of the Ephraimites to back the Gileadites in a war with a third tribe. The Gileadites claimed that the Ephraimites failed to respond to a summonds while the Ephraimites claimed that they had not been summonds. After a fracus over the dispute the Ephraimites headed for a ford of river Jordan with the intint of going home, but the Gileadites were waiting for them.
4 Immediately Jephtha collected all the men of Gilead together and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead went striking Ephraim down, for they had said: “Men escaped from Ephraim is what YOU are, O Gilead, inside of Ephraim, inside of Manasseh.” 5 And Gilead got to capture the fords of the Jordan ahead of Ephraim; and it occurred that when the escaping men of Ephra·m would say: “Let me pass over,” then the men of Gilead would say to each one: “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he would say: “No!” 6 then they would say to him: “Please say Shibboleth.” And he would say: “Sibboleth,” as he was unable to say the word correctly. And they would lay hold of him and slay him at the fords of the Jordan. So there fell at that time forty-two thousand out of Ephraim.
The modern tribes now use words like nuclear power and global warming to decide who belongs and who doesn't.
Lyndon LaRouche was a true genius of the tribal system in American politics, because he realized that loyalty to tribes was irrational, and thus the shibboleths of the LaRouche tribe needed to be deeply irrational. if rationality and indeed commitment to rationality were a standard for tribal membership, then members would quickly fall away when ever the tribe started behaving irrationally. Fighting a war over whether or not an unreceived message was sent is of course irrational.
Central to the identity of modern political tribes is the claim to posses unique knowledge which is not shared by the other tribes.
LaRouche claimed to trace a tradition of secret knowledge across the ages,That knowledge demonstrates that not only are members of the tribe good, but members of other tribes are evil.
In LaRouche’s Manichean view of the world, a conspiracy had suppressed the truth in the service of evil oligarchs. Starting with Aristotle, it continued through to the nominalists, the British empiricists, and that supposed pinnacle of modern evil, Bertrand Russell. The Venetian Inquisition, the British Empire, the Hapsburg family, the Rockefellers, and the Trilateral Commission all figured variously in this grand conspiracy against LaRouche’s supposed intellectual antecedents. Jewish banking families kept popping up in LaRouche’s accounts of the evil forces.What LaRouche required of his followers was a sacrifice of their identities out side the movement, and a sacrifice of their capacity to engage in rational, critical thought.
Loyalty to the tribe, and in the case of the LaRouche movement, loyalty to the tribal leader proceed critical thinking. Breaking free of the colt had more to do with changing life circumstances, than simply applying critical thinking skills to the irrational cult concepts. Goldman relates that beginning in 1981
nearly all his key people had quit. Once they began to engage the real world at a serious level, they broke free of LaRouche’s spell.We see many members of the green anti-nuclear cult beginning to break free, often in response to changing life circumstances. They usually don't loose their commitment to the environment, but they do loose their willingness to recite the green tribal shibboleths. Those who are no longer recite the shibboleths are of course traitors. After Patrick Moore broke with Greenpeace and began to act as a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry, former Greenpeace associate Paul Watson attacked him viciously
"You're a corporate whore, Pat, an eco-Judas, a lowlife bottom-sucking parasite who has grown rich from sacrificing environmentalist principles for plain old money."Moore viewed things from a different perspective:
"There's no getting around the fact that 6 billion people wake up every morning with a real need for food, energy, and material."It is a flaw of the Greenpeace types that they fail to understand this human reality.
"Their idea is that all human activity is negative, while trees are by nature good, . . . That's a religious interpretation, not a scientific or logical interpretation.Of course it is not. Real science does not support their conclusions about nuclear power and thus is an anathema to Greenpeace,
It should be noted that the Greenpeace cult and the Lyndon LaRouche cult emerged at the same time from the left. Both movements rejected the enlightenment tradition was central to the moderate left for the last two centuries. Both turned their back on the values of the enlightenment, including the value of rational, critical thought. Both cults are paranoid, and were either to prevail their prevalence would be a dead end for human civilization.