Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 20, 2019

Chatting up the LaRouchites

Filed under: Kevin Coogan,LaRouche — louisproyect @ 7:51 pm

On my way back home yesterday, I spotted a LaRouchite table at the same place near my high-rise on the Upper East Side that they usually occupy. I hadn’t seen them in over a year and stopped by to ask them if I could take their picture. Go ahead, they said. I had more ambitious plans, however. I wanted to do a video based on an encounter with them, something that had never occurred to me before even though I used to like to stop and give them a hard time for a minute or two before heading up to my apartment.

This time I wanted to put them at ease so I could allow them to deliver their usual spiel, something many of my readers have never seen given their relative obscurity as opposed to thirty years or so when Lyndon LaRouche was on TV all the time. I told them that I was in Columbia SDS in the sixties and used to go to his lectures—a total lie. I also told them that I read “Dialectical Economics: An Introduction to Marxist Political Economy”, which was only a white lie since in my ongoing series about LaRouche, I found it useful to browse through it to get to the bottom of the theories that morphed into his later fascist ideology.

Finally, I was struck by how much the interviewee’s emphasis on high culture and restoring humanity’s faith in itself, combined with their technocratic obsessions, dovetails so neatly with Spiked Online. LaRouche and his cohorts emerged out of a certain distorted version of Marxism as I pointed out in the first installment (https://louisproyect.org/2017/07/31/this-is-what-american-fascism-looks-like-the-lyndon-larouche-story-part-one/) in my series on LaRouche. Will Barnes wrote an analysis of “Dialectical Economics: An Introduction to Marxist Political Economy” that I highly recommend (https://libcom.org/library/capitalism-productivism-lyn-marcus-dialectical-economics), especially since it took the book seriously on its own terms. Although I would never mistake LaRouche’s politics with those of some of the young people writing on ecology for Jacobin, I only hope that they would read Barnes’s article just to make sure they don’t go too far with their nonsense.


  1. Had me at Verdi tuning. LOL.

    Comment by david walters — April 20, 2019 @ 8:10 pm

  2. Ethan Iverson wrote about how he had to transpose everything down a half step when he was the pianist for Mark Morris because they used old fashioned tuning.

    Comment by freetofu — April 20, 2019 @ 9:05 pm

  3. I actually mentioned Stefan Zucker (the opera fanatic) to the guy, who had never heard of him, I guess. Zucker had his own ideas about tuning that turned into a feud with LaRouche:

    By Joseph McLellan May 27, 1989

    Question: Why has Lyndon LaRouche rented the Lisner Auditorium for tomorrow night? Answer: He wants to change the way people sing. Strictly speaking, the rental was made not by LaRouche, who is currently residing in the Alexandria city jail, but by the Schiller Institute, the cultural wing of his right wing political organization. But the institute, founded by LaRouche’s wife, soprano Helga Zepp-Larouche, will be promoting his publicly stated ideas tomorrow night in Foggy Bottom, when it sponsors a benefit concert labeled “In Defense of the Human Singing Voice.” The purpose of the concert, according to the institute’s advertising, is “to support the international campaign to lower tuning pitch to A=432.” This is not as sinister as some of the things that have been associated with or attributed to LaRouche, but perhaps it deserves a few minutes of thoughtful attention. What the audience will hear in exchange for its $15 tickets on Sunday night will be scenes from “Aida,” “Don Carlos,” “Rigoletto” and other operas sung slightly and consistently off-key — as a matter of principle. Members of the Lubo Opera Company (the odd name is the Bulgarian word for love) perform at what they call “Verdi’s pitch,” with the A above middle C (the second space on the treble staff) tuned to 432 cycles per second, a fraction of a half-tone below the current standard pitch of A=440. At an international conference held in Milan last year by the Schiller Institute, it was stated that this was the pitch favored by Verdi and therefore the pitch that should be used in his operas.

    This is a simplification and perhaps a deliberate distortion, according to Stefan Zucker, publisher and primary writer of Opera Fanatic magazine, an aptly titled periodical published at irregular intervals from an address on Manhattan’s Riverside Drive. Issue No. 3 of Opera Fanatic, dated simply “1989,” devotes 14 pages to an exhaustive discussion of pitch and LaRouche. According to Zucker’s research, Verdi gave his approval to various pitch standards at different times and was interested primarily in establishing a single, universal standard. “I would like one single tuning pitch to be adopted for the entire world,” says a letter written by Verdi in 1884 and quoted in Opera Fanatic. “The language of music is universal; why then should the note that has the name ‘A’ in Paris or Milan become a B-flat in Rome?” In 1862, according to Opera Fanatic, Verdi had said that A=435 was “too low,” but in 1886 he insisted on a tuning of A=435 for performances of his “Otello.”

    The Schiller Institute, working through two friendly legislators, has introduced a law in the Italian Parliament to make A=432 the mandatory pitch standard for all Italian music schools, opera houses, orchestras, public radio and television and other musical organizations “in any way subsidized by the State or public agencies.” Use of tuning forks, etc., that do not conform to this standard would be punishable by fines ranging from 100,000 to 1 million lire (approximately $75 to $750) and “confiscation of the non-standard object.” At last report, the bill was running into complications in committee. A list of those who have endorsed the bill reads like a “Who’s Who” of opera singers. The Schiller Institute has collected more than 300 distinguished names, including Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Joan Sutherland, Peter Schreier, Montserrat Caballe’, Marilyn Horne, Birgit Nilsson, Carlo Bergonzi, Sherrill Milnes, Christa Ludwig, Renata Tebaldi, Fedora Barbieri and Ruggero Raimondi. Some of the singers may agree with LaRouche’s politics; Tebaldi and Barbieri are running for the European Parliament on his Patriots for Italy ticket, according to Zucker. But most seem simply interested in putting the high notes in easier reach. “When one feels the physical strain in the high notes … that means that the tuning pitch is not natural,” said Bergonzi in a statement distributed by the institute. Domingo is quoted by the institute in a complaint that contemporary tuning “no longer allows for us to use the chest voice.”

    Many musicians interested in lower tunings are unconnected with LaRouche or the institute. Specialists in historic performance have reached a widespread consensus on tuning at A=415 (a half-step below A=440) for 18th-century music, though a few mavericks tune to A=420 or slightly higher. Violinist Joseph Swensen, who has just finished a series of performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, tunes to standard modern pitch but would favor a universal adoption of A=415 for the benefit of old violins (by Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri, etc.), which were made when lower tunings were standard. “The great violins of the 17th and 18th centuries were not made to be tuned this high and it’s very dangerous,” Swensen said in a recent interview. “In a relatively short time, we will see the great violins turn to dust, primarily because of pollution but secondarily because the pitch continues to go up … We are destroying these instruments, which are great works of art, because of the desire of the music community at large to sound more and more brilliant … It’s difficult for me to see any value in that. There is also something very beautiful about the sound of the violin when it is tuned to the pitch at which it was made to be played.” Spokesmen for the Schiller Institute say that the organization’s interest in the question is humanitarian — to restore authenticity in musical interpretation and to pitch the voice at a point where singing is more comfortable and natural. Also involved, apparently, is a sort of number mystique that finds this tuning in harmony with the period of the earth’s rotation. Zucker has taken a firm lead in opposing the legislation.

    “Irrespective of authorship,” he says in Opera Fanatic, “the bill should be defeated.” His stated reasons include the feeling that artistic questions of this kind should not be the subject of legislation (“there is something oddly dissonant between such laws and democracy”), that no single pitch standard is appropriate for music of all periods and places, and that A=432 is too low for music of the last 150 years and too high for music of the 18th century. The current standard, A=440, is “a consensus developed after years of theorization, discussion and experimentation — a consensus that has endured since the beginning of the century,” Zucker insists. Musically, Zucker’s strongest argument is that a lowered tuning would “diminish the brilliance and excitement” of music composed in the last 150 years. This argument may be an index of his own interest in the question of pitch. He is a tenor proud of the heights his voice can negotiate with ease, using forgotten techniques he traces back to tenors Giacomo Davide in the 18th century and Giovanni Battista Rubini in the 19th. An ad for his own recording in Opera Fanatic bills him as “The World’s Highest Tenor.” In contrast, he notes in Opera Fanatic that “because of the vocal techniques in use today, few singers manage the high notes of early 19th-century Italian opera comfortably. Most would be thankful if the A were lowered.”

    There never has been a universally accepted standard pitch, though A=440, which began to be the norm in some places as early as the 1830s, is almost universally used today except in historic-instrument performances. In the 18th century, from studies of organs, tuning forks, pitch pipes and unaltered wind instruments, scholars have traced tunings for A that ranged from under 400 to over 450. A=415 seems a reasonable compromise because it is compatible with modern tuning. When A is set at 440, A-flat is 415.3, close enough so that an organ tuned to the modern standard can be used a half-tone down without retuning. It is also fairly close to the pitches found in tuning forks used by well-known 18th-century composers. Handel had one that put A at 422.5, while Mozart’s registered A=421.6. In the 19th century, the fluctuation was equally wide, though efforts at standardization became strong toward the end of the century. Today, although A=440 is proclaimed standard, some of the world’s most respected orchestras tune higher. The Boston Symphony uses A=445 — a practice that produced some jarring discords at a concert in the Kennedy Center in the 1970s when the orchestra played a concerto with a piano tuned at A=440. The Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan reportedly tuned regularly at around A=448, and the Vienna Philharmonic reportedly tunes at around A=444. All these figures refer, moreover, to the pitch at the beginning of a concert. By the end, the pitch has frequently gone up perceptibly because pitch tends to rise along with the temperature in the room.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 20, 2019 @ 9:12 pm

  4. The core of LaRouche’s ideas have always been rooted in technocracy a la the 1930s and the 1950s. That’s why he supported the Left Opposition “planner” types against Bukharin. He followed Trotsky in seeing Bukharin as a “capitalist restorationist” opposed to full central planning. Much of this goes back to LaRouche’s father’s role as a technology consultant as well as his own work with computers in the 1950s at the same time he was following the socialist planning debates in the Soviet Union as well during that period.

    On technocracy and its echoes of LaRouche, see


    On the Soviet debates in the 1950s on planning and its reflection inside the NCLC, see


    The key term to keep in mind is “cybernetics” a la MIT and the Macy Foundation. LaRouche was exposed to all this, oddly enough, in Boston in the late 1940s and 1950s.

    Besides “cybernetics” the other key name is “Norbert Wiener.”



    LaRouche’s Trotskyist Left Opposition “planning” model was updated to fit the cybernetic revolution model in the late 1950s.

    Marcuse was doing something not entirely dissimilar by the way in the concept of the “new working class” as a replacement for old blue collar labor. This same debate was most sharp in the “Triple Revolution” thesis made famous by left liberals in the early 1960s. Everyone was trying to imagine a post Fordist working class model. This had roots in things like the container revolution that wiped out the Harry Bridges union in San Francisco for example. The most wild vision of the future was probably developed by the Russians with LaRouche most in tune with the Russian line.

    The best history on all this in English is Slava Gerovich’s From Newspeak to Cyberspeak.


    Gerovich was supported by Loren Graham, one of the very few Americans who had some understanding of Soviet science and who also taught at MIT.

    Anyway, if you want to find LaRouche guilty of the crime of “productivism” (whatever that is), the crime had its roots in Trotsky, MIT, and Soviet planning models from the late 1950s.

    As he moved to the right as the Left collapsed, the SDS Labor Committee lost any democratic frame and became more like pure Howard Scott Technocracy with LaRouche now fully embracing the role of a kind of super-management guru for world capitalism. Internally the organization became a pretty weird and often very nasty cult as well as Marx went out the window and LaRouche remodeled himself quite literally as a Platonic “philosopher king” and the NCLC as a new “Platonic Academy.” I’m not making this up.

    In one sense, LaRouche became a kind of mini James Burnham “managerial revolution” type. That he was so less effective in advancing his ideas was due to his inability to resist sounding crazy and paranoid because he was crazy and paranoid. But his worldview could appeal to the powers that be on both the left and right as it was so fundamentally anti-democratic and elitist. Thus his grandiose ideas could make sense to military types in Argentina on the far right and Chinese belt and road planners in “Communist” China as well. In that sense, it’s no surprise that today the LaRouchies are big fans of Trump, Putin, and Xi.

    Comment by HH — April 21, 2019 @ 2:35 pm

  5. “Gerovich was supported by Loren Graham, one of the very few Americans who had some understanding of Soviet science and who also taught at MIT.”

    Reply: Graham is great. From a review I wrote years ago:

    Loren Graham’s “Ghost of the Executed Engineer” is a penetrating study of the fate of one such engineer who stood up to Stalin.

    Peter Palchinsky, a civil engineer, joined the Communist Party shortly after the 1917 revolution. Palchinsky supported the idea of planning. He believed that the Soviet Union opened up possibilities for industrial development that were impossible under Tsarism. He thought that engineers could play a major role in the growth of socialism.

    Palchinsky argued against the type of gigantic enterprises that had captured Stalin’s limited imagination. He noted that middle-sized and small enterprises often have advantages over large ones. For one thing, workers at smaller factories are usually able to grasp the final goals more easily.

    He also believed that the single most important factor in engineering decisions was human beings themselves. Successful industrialization and high productivity were not possible without highly trained workers and adequate provision for their social and economic needs.

    His differences with Stalin’s pyramid-building approach erupted over the Great Dneiper Dam project, one of the most fabled 5-year plan projects. Palchinsky made the following critiques. The project did not take into account the huge distances between the dam and the targeted sites. As a consequence, there would be huge transmission costs and declines in efficiency.

    full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/computers/cyrev.htm

    Anyway, if you want to find LaRouche guilty of the crime of “productivism” (whatever that is), the crime had its roots in Trotsky, MIT, and Soviet planning models from the late 1950s.

    Reply: I don’t know if I coined the term or not but I use it to describe a tendency toward reading the Communist Manifesto undialectically. It takes a passage like this as a cue to support technology and productivity as some kind of goal in itself:

    The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

    The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 21, 2019 @ 3:07 pm

  6. Everything I have read by Graham has impressed me greatly. I find him almost unique in his ability to get Soviet science.

    Stallnist giganticism/productionism (which I also see in Trotsky) never left Russia. John Dunlop from Hoover has a really interesting book called The New Russian Nationalism that came out in 1985. In it, he discusses a brand of Soviet writers called “the village school” that actually had what we might call right-wing roots in a kind of sentimental volkish/nationalist glorification of peasant Mother Russia. It’s tempting to call them “the village idiot school” but I won’t. Many of them were big shot Soviet novelists and they no doubt reflected Slavophile tropes in Russian literature.

    Politburo ideology gurus like Suslov needed them (as opposed to shooting them) to prop up a dying ideological system by any means necessary. I’m sure they genuinely despised the “Decadent West” and America in particular as well. But the village writers helped organize successful opposition to a giganticist plan in the Brezhnev era to flood vast areas of Siberia when the planners wanted to divert two vast river systems.

    These same super-planners helped destroy the Aral Sea, one of the world’s worst ecological disasters. There is a great book to be written on the cotton mafia in the south and its ties to Moscow in plotting out the murder of the Aral Sea.

    What is interesting about the late 1950s is that there were debates over cybernetics with anti-centralist seeing cybernetics as a way of decentralizing state control and super-centralists who saw cybernetics as a path to an even greater command economy. There was a famous Polish economist named Oskar Lange who tried to develop a new model for the East Bloc to solve the consumer crisis as well. I think Lange and others believed that if you could keep track in real time of what real people were buying and to what extent demand was you could create a cybernetic loop back into industry to adjust production. In short, they thought you could under socialism develop the very information exchange that capitalist markets supposedly generate autonomously only you could do it with much greater accuracy and without all the distorting aspects of capitalist competition. He was considered one of the West’s most brilliant economists until he returned to Poland after the war and became a non-person here.


    I have to admit it’s all a bit vague in my mind now as I worked on all this a long time ago but in my section on cybernetics and the Soviets, I tried to include enough bread crumbs/footnotes for interested readers to pick up the debate. I found it all very interesting because the world these guys envisioned in the late 1950s with computers and the information economy is not foreign to at least certain parts of the “advanced capitalist sector” today. Gerovich gives a glimpse of that thinking. The CIA was also extremely interested in it as well.

    As I remember, Gerovich’s take is that in the Soviet context it was all a gigantic fantasy because the economy was so backward that they could not even imagine building anything like it in the real world. And it’s true that the Soviet computer industry was built to some significant degree by American CP types with technological training who fled to Russia to avoid being caught by the FBI for their espionage activities. I think they were part of the Rosenberg ring that got away. The irony of it all is that the Stalinist ideology types denounced for years anything related to cybernetics as part of a capitalist plot while the military-industrial complex was desperate for computer technology in part because they could use it to model atomic bomb explosions.

    Comment by HH — April 21, 2019 @ 5:23 pm

  7. Speaking of Oskar Lange, here is his last paper, which he wrote shortly before he died, and which was on using computers to do socialist economic planning.


    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 21, 2019 @ 8:34 pm

  8. Even Milton Friedman conceded Oskar Lange’s abilities as an economist. Here are his comments from his (and Rose Friedman’s) memoir Two Lucky People.

    A steady stream of foreign visitors came through Chicago. One visitor was Oskar Lange, a Polish economic theorist, who later became a member of the Chicago Economics Department, leaving at the end of the war to become Poland’s representative to the United Nations, and then returning to Poland to become a cabinet minister in the communist government of Poland.

    He left Chicago in 1945, a year before I arrived to join the faculty, so I never got to know him better, though I reviewed a book of his.His lasting fame in economics is mainly for devising, along with Abba Lerner, a market-oriented model of socialism. He maintained that a socialist system cold combine efficiency and freedom by playing at capitalism. The technical economic analysis is excellent –Lerner was a first-rate theorist and Lange the rare socialist who had truly mastered economic theory — but the analysis is essentially static and does not acknowledge the system’s inability to simulate incentives provided by rights to personal property. Lange himself did not escape the corruption of power after he returned to Poland. By all reports, he ended up a tragic figure, a willing puppet of the communist regime, never able to achieve in practice what he had preached in theory. He abandoned his wife, who returned to the U.S., a sad and lonely figure. When he traveled abroad, it was with another woman, widely suspected of playing a dual role as companion and communist watchdog.

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 22, 2019 @ 8:52 am

  9. Someone should write a serious biography of Lange. He’s not easy to read without some serious training in economics and math that I lack but he was obviously part of the Left that believed you could build a humanist brand of socialism that could manufacture shoes for workers that didn’t fall apart in a couple of months. People forget that in the late 1950s there was something much mocked later called “socialist humanism” that in the East as well as in the West looked to texts from the early Marx and helped inspire a “New Left” in both the East Bloc and Western Europe and America. This is the time that Marx’s early writings took on a prominence once they first began appearing in the late 1950s in English and other translations.

    The command from above bureaucrats never knew what to do with guys like Lange. They needed people like Lange because, for example, the famous worker uprising in Poznan in 1955 over economic conditions terrified the ruling elite. They expected people like Lange to magically solve the issue without a) discomforting their own hold on power and b) not losing “Big Brother’s” approval. The way the Polish CP “solved” their problem in the 1970s was to meet consumer demand by getting hopelessly in debt to Western banks, thus triggering the debt crisis that led to Solidarity, martial law, and the ultimate and little-mourned collapse of Communist rule.

    Looking back, it was the invasion of Hungary in 1956 that blocked serious economic reform in not just the East bun in Russia as well. Something similar happened in 1968 with the destruction of Prague Spring. Instead, the model the East followed was to embrace a kind of pseudo-Communist/pseudo-nationalist identity that satisfied no one in the long term while the USSR became a second-world economic exporter of oil and other natural resources along with weapons to generate foreign currency to reinvest in its own semi-delusional military-industrial complex until the whole thing finally collapsed in the 1980s when Gorbachev tried to fix the thing and in so doing brought it all down.

    Putin’s improv ideological jam of Holy Mother Russia Church, nationalist chest-thumping, nostalgia for the Leave It to Beaver kids of Komsomol, Great Patriotic War “Greatest Generation” hype, and dopey Russian TV game shows while the real economy remains screwy should not come as a great surprise. The great surprise was Gorbachev and he utterly imploded a few years after taking hold of power.

    Seen from the view of today, Lange can look like a tragic figure as, arguably, does any reformer who still believed in some kind of socialist/humanist anti-capitalist vision. However Lange obviously felt there was an ability to develop a real socialist economy and he saw cybernetics as one way to make the leap into the future. If you are someone like Slava Gerovich, all this seems like an utterly delusional project. If you read the CIA stuff, they were like Lange and thought it wasn’t impossible. But to what degree it was delusional and to what degree it was a political defeat for the anti-Stalinist left is a question that a great bio of someone like Lange could explore. One could also ask whether Dubcek was a delusional fool with Prague Spring or a heroic reformer who got crushed by military force.

    One could ask the same question about the revolutionary movements of 1848 that were also led by lawyers and journalists and who had no military answer to Prussian power.

    Were they fools or heroes?

    For that matter, what about the New Left both in the East as well as in the West?

    The fact that Lange is a non-person both in the East and West says a lot about the level of political discourse today.

    Comment by HH — April 22, 2019 @ 3:43 pm

  10. In this article, that Mark Lindely and myself wrote a few years back, while mainly about Hayek, included discussions about the socialist calculations, including the well known one between Hayek and Lange. We also provided some brief background him too.(https://www.academia.edu/3291616/The_Strange_Case_of_Dr._Hayek_and_Mr._Hayek)

    Lange had started out as a Socialist, but during the Second War, he adopted a pro-Soviet stance, becoming close to Stalin, and eventually joining the Polish Communist Party. During the 1930s, he was a major participant in the socialist calculation debates, facing off against Friedrich Hayek. Under Poland’s postwar Communist regime, he was a leading proponent (along with other economists like Michal Kalecki, Włodzimierz Brus, and Tadeusz Kowalik) of reforms of Poland’s socialist economy, in an effort to make it both more efficient and more democratic. In 1956, in the midst of the turmoil that swept Poland, it seemed for a while that these reformers would get their chance, But Gomulka, who was swept back into power there, was able to stabilize things without having to undertake radical reforms. So these reformers never got their chance to create a democratic market socialism in Poland. Their reform proposals were neither accepted, nor rejected as such, but were quietly tabled after things had stabilized in Poland.

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 22, 2019 @ 6:09 pm

  11. Wow! Thanks. The appendix on Lange is really fascinating. I had no idea he was anything but an economist before reading it. That he was also an ambassador to the US, a UN ambassador, a Polish liaison between FDR and Stalin, etc., was all a revelation to me. Hilarious to read that Hayek thought a Labour victory would reduce England to serfdom. I remember hearing a talk by the fellow who wrote the recent book on the founding of Bretton Woods and the debate between Keynes and Harry Dexter White. If I recall correctly, he said that David Rockefeller in particular went out of his way to promote Hayek’s ideas in America.

    It appears as well that Kowalik is about to publish an English language bio of Lange as you mention in fn. 129 so we will learn much more. I never heard of Kowalik before but I see he published a collection of essays on Lange as well as

    Kowalik, Tadeusz.
    Title From Solidarity to sellout : the restoration of capitalism in Poland / by Tadeusz Kowalik ; translated by Eliza Lewandowska.
    Imprint New York, NY : Monthly Review Press, c2012.

    BTW: There is also a book on Soviet planning for a market economy written as a novel called Red Plenty by Francis Spufford. There is also what looks to me a slightly mad project of a five volume attack on Hayek edited by Richard Leeson. Volume Three is entitled:

    Hayek: A Collaborative Biography
    Part III, Fraud, Fascism and Free Market Religion

    I don’t know if any other volumes appeared.

    Finally, it strikes me just reading the Lange section in the appendix that we are at the worst possible moment when the super capitalists have all the information they need and that Lange thought could be used to solve the calculation problem as posed by Hayek via information technology for socialist planning. The world of cybernetic feedback has arrived but at a time when socialism is totally flat and capitalism has never been more powerful, more creative, and more destructive all at the same time.


    Oh well . . .

    Comment by HH — April 22, 2019 @ 7:38 pm

  12. My take on “Red Plenty”:


    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2019 @ 8:04 pm

  13. Kowalik actually passed away from cancer back in 2012. BTW Mark Lindley last spoke to him on the phone on the weekend before he passed, Kowalik suffered from cancer, and apparently up to the end, he was confident that he would beat, although his family knew that he was terminally ill.


    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 22, 2019 @ 8:24 pm

  14. Heinrich Blucher would have loved LaRouche given LaRouche’s use of Brand X Platonism to justify his “philosopher king” role as a cult leader.

    What a shame that Kowalik died before finishing the Lange bio. The obituary is really interesting. Kowalik sounds like an amazing guy.

    Comment by HH — April 23, 2019 @ 3:32 am

  15. Concerning Kowalik, also see this piece.


    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 23, 2019 @ 8:53 am

  16. LaRouche in death has ceased to be a threat to anyone. I suppose sheer relief causes a certain lingering interest–what a grotesque and, in his time, frightening figure! All the same, I still don’t know why people persist in taking this crank seriously as a thinker.

    Platonism indeed–everything he ever said or wrote was a ploy to draw attention to himself personally and gratify his compulsion to manipulate.

    No doubt this sinister goofball possessed the makings of a real intellect–and drew better minds into his destructive orbit–but what is the residue? We already have an impossibly large number of honest-to-god difficult thinkers whose work defies comprehension–Roman Ingarden for example.

    Why add this thank God finally deceased con artist to a menu that includes hundreds if not thousands of better minds, any one of whom could absorb a lifetime of study and elucidation with no addition to the sum of human happiness or light shed on the echec in which revolution, mired in the sordid localism of actual politics, stands against the triumphantly suicidal hegemony of the capitalist world system?

    As long as that holds, until the globe burns up and life goes extinct, the world’s parasitic Few will be able to laugh at the Many and there won’t be a thing anybody can do about it.

    I say let the LaRouchies bury LaRouche.

    HH–I think you deserve better.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 23, 2019 @ 7:11 pm

  17. The site “LaRouchePlanet” which posted my two studies has a name that is meant to be funny and ironic but can be taken to be somehow pro-LaRouche and his ideas given the name, which can sound misleading. It was actually created by a European ex-member now living in England as part of a project to post accurate information, internal documents, etc. on him rather like what people fighting Scientology do. All done in his spare time.

    My involvement was to post two long studies, Smiling Man from a Dead Planet and How It All Began. I also helped with some photos from Columbia in 1968. I have no interest in promoting LaRouche’s ideas. Still, in determining where some of LaRouche’s ideas came from, I was led to examine the late 1940s world of MIT, Norbert Wiener, the Macy Foundation, business management theory, and other ideas that I do find interesting. It all stemmed from the “first information revolution” following in the wake of Turing and Enigma.

    These ideas later echoed in SDS in “new working class” theory, in Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man, in the Triple Revolution theorists, and in Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. There was even a U-tube of a sound recording of James Cannon giving a lecture on Triple Revolution in the mid-1960s that I don’t think still exists today. It led me to appreciate Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans as well. What I further learned is that there were similar things brewing in post-Stalin Russia that led me to Loren Graham, Slava Gerovitch, Dirk Struik, the CIA’s John Ford, the purge of MIT’s math department, Lange, and Norbert Wiener going to Moscow and meeting Kolmogarov.

    This all served as a kind of frame for “Marxist humanism,” “Marxist existentialism,” “convergence theory,” and the emergence of the New Left with the publication of the early Marx writings and their stress on “alienation.” Throw in Miles Davis/Dave Brubeck, berets, beatnik coffee houses, Tom Leher, Howl, folk Bob Dylan on top of the civil rights struggles, decolonization/Bandung/Castro, Vatican II and whatever else in that Billy Joel song and you the Port Huron Statement, the New Left Review, Tom Hayden signing the Triple Revolution Manifesto, and films like Doctor Strangelove and Jules and Jim. Also a time when the Left was genuinely cool.

    Comment by HH — April 24, 2019 @ 5:11 pm

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