LaRouche: Extremist of the Right or Left?

Times Staff Writer

Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., who scored a political coup in Illinois on Tuesday when two of his followers won nomination to top state positions in the Democratic primary, has been called a left-wing extremist and a right-wing extremist.

He has run for President. His National Democratic Policy Committee has pushed candidates for everything from water commissioner to Congress.

Presidential Race

LaRouche, 64, of Leesburg, Va., first ran for the presidency under the banner of the U.S. Labor Party in 1976, collecting about 45,000 votes nationwide, and campaigned unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party nomination in 1980.


He made his biggest splash in 1984, raising enough money to earn federal matching funds for his campaign. In network television advertisements, he outlined his proposal for a $200-billion crash program to give the country a “Star Wars”-type anti-missile laser beam shield to protect the country from “the very real threat of a thermonuclear first strike by the Soviet Union.”

LaRouche has been at odds with both Republicans and Democrats. During the 1984 campaign, he charged that President Reagan was “drugged” and that Henry A. Kissinger was “a Soviet agent of influence.”

Attacks World Bank

He has variously called for nationalizing education and taking away the Federal Reserve Board’s authority over the U.S. money supply, promoted nuclear energy and attacked the World Bank for “hideous policies.”

LaRouche is the first officially declared candidate for President in 1988, according to his aides. His National Democratic Policy Committee claims 30,000 members and says it has fielded several thousand candidates for public office. It says its candidates have won more than 200 races for posts as high as Democratic precinct chairman.

The group’s members raise more than $3 million for the organization annually by selling books and pamphlets in airport terminals and bus stations.

LaRouche was born in 1922 in Rochester, N.H., and was raised by Quaker parents in Lynn, Mass. He was a conscientious objector at the beginning of World War II and was assigned to a work camp in New Hampshire. He later joined the Army and served as a medical corpsman in India and Burma.


After the war, he worked as a management consultant and joined the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party. He is married to Helga Zepp, a West German who oversees his European political activities.

Adviser to SDS Faction

LaRouche was an adviser to a splinter faction of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1968 and later founded the National Caucus of Labor Committees, which openly advocated a “new Marxist world order.”

Many political observers say LaRouche has moved to the extreme right since those early days. But he told The Times in an interview in 1984 that “our positions are the same. We’ve changed our tactics. You work with who you can, when you can.”