I've never had a specific request to do a review before—so when one finally came in, I could hardly resist. After my previous article on talking to the Larouche People, I got two requests for a review of LaRouche's January 11 webcast. One person thought it would be amusing. Another, I believe, thought it would change my life, or something like that. So I tracked down a transcript of the webcast. The transcript itself is approximately 24,000 words—but I can break it down into the only two you really need to know: Don't bother. However, somebody will probably want a better explanation for why I was so phenomenally underwhelmed.
The brunt of the webcast is LaRouche preaching to the choir. I think. He could have just been rambling—but I assume the hard-core LaRouche were with them. He says that Roosevelt persuaded Britain not to join Hitler during World War II. Really LaRouche? That's quite an allegation. Perhaps you could support it? Oh. Never mind. You've already moved on to the next tangent, about how anybody who doesn't believe in conspiracy theories is a brainwashed Nazi. (I wish I were making this up....)
The talk, while lengthy, was relatively simple. It started out with a broad pronouncement that "what has to be done to save civilization, global civilization, not just here, must be done largely within a span of the coming 90 days, or less." Additionally, we need to get rid of Bush and Cheney. I think Bush is supposed to be involuntarily committed. I'm not sure what LaRouche wants to do with Cheney. Perhaps euthanize him? No. That's unfair of me. Just "chain him, and his wife, up at night."
Following this dubious account of current events is an even more dubious account of history and how that all that is evil, warlike, and cruel comes from the "Anglo-Dutch Liberal system." For example, LaRouche says that, "Napoleon Bonaparte didn't know he was a British agent, but what he did in destroying Europe, continental Europe, with his wars on Europe, weakened Europe to the extent that the British Empire has controlled—with the exception of the Roosevelt Administration—world politics, in Europe especially since the assassination of President McKinley." I might quarrel with much of LaRouche's construction of history—but there really isn't enough substance to it to even interact with.
Following LaRouche's faux history, we get his economic thesis. If anything in this three and a quarter hour address is worth refuting, it's LaRouche's economics. Here is LaRouche's economic thesis in a nutshell: While neo-classical economists say the economy is growing, the per capita physical output of this economy is shrinking. Tangible goods are a better way of evaluating wealth than numbers in a bank account because money is a thoroughly constructed good and only has the value people give to it. Similarly, services and the service economy are ephemeral. Therefore, we should look exclusively at manufacturing and agriculture when we evaluate wealth.
Here is the counter-argument to LaRouche's thesis: LaRouche undervalues intellectual products and capital. Once we have a certain base of tangible goods, we look for value in intellectual goods. For example, a book or CD contains much more value than the medium it is printed on. LaRouche's thesis would equate a completed novel with a blank book. Similarly, technology enables a smaller workforce to produce sufficient tangible goods. Thus, a decrease in the percentage of people in manufacturing need not be equated with an economic collapse. Rather, it may indicate technological and cultural growth. Separating physical value from overall value is artificial and misleading. Additionally, as a nation suffering an obesity epidemic, we scarcely have a problem with producing too little food. LaRouche's approach might be classified as a critical theory, next to Marxist, Gramscian, or Feminist theories. LaRouche's theory, however, is not a particularly notable theory or even a particularly good one.
After this less than stellar economic talk (I won't call it analysis), LaRouche talks about education. His view of education is much like his youth movement's. He spoke in broad, largely inaccurate generalizations about universities and university education. It made me wonder what had happened to give such an "esteemed" thinker such a negative view of Universities. At my school, I never memorized formulas without first deriving them. We read primary sources, particularly in philosophy. We were encouraged—even expected—to think independently, even to challenge our professors. Where had LaRouche gone to get such an unpleasant experience? Northeastern University. And surely he was their best student, graduating at the top of the class? No. He failed out the first time around. The second time around, he left, apparently voluntarily. Oh. And this all happened approximately sixty years ago. Maybe I'm in a better position to judge the quality of my education than LaRouche.
Beyond this, LaRouche declared a lot of things bad and other things good. The Anglo-Dutch bankers: bad. Nuclear fusion: good. Lynn Cheney: bad. Keplar: good. The Charleston (yes, the dance): the "most rotten cultural thing." Desalinization: good. And what about the environment? "Don't complain about the environment: Change it! Don't worship the environment: Change it! It stinks! Change the baby, it stinks!"
The lecture ended with a "dialog." This consisted of the M.C. asking a series of questions, most of which had supposedly come from U.S. Congressmen. Of course, none of Congressmen are named. Curiously enough none of the questions in any way challenged LaRouche's authority or questioned his wisdom. Similarly each question played exactly into what LaRouche wanted to talk about next. Dare I suggest that these questions may not have come from actual members of Congress? And LaRouche's answers to the questions? More of the same.
So, what can we expect from the LaRouche people next year? I suspect there will be a lot more singing. They will also probably claim credit for the Democrats taking over Congress. I suspect we will hear a lot about the English and how they are running the world. Fortunately, LaRouche mentions that he has "chosen" not to be President at this time, so we might not hear as much LaRouche 2008.