Friday, September 11, 2015

The Lyndon LaRouche Edit War, 2003-2007

What follows is yet another case where Wikipedia was willing to break its own rules to slam a group the administrators and editors despised. In doing so, they paved the way for all the edit wars that followed to the present day.

Lyndon LaRouche

It is impossible to find anything neutral online about LaRouche; the Encyclopedia Britannica has no article on him though they mention his standings in various presidential elections. Wikipedia has 45 pages on LaRouche, who last ran for election in 2004, and all of it is either negative or close to it. Why?

Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr. (b. 1922), a Quaker and non-combatant World War II veteran, joined the Socialist Workers Party (a Trotskyist organization with a long history) in 1948, then left the SWP in the mid-1960s, opting to go off and form his own organization, the National Caucus of Labor Committees, which produced New Solidarity magazine. In 1971 LaRouche began creating more magazines with sources from around the world (usually NCLC members); his critics claimed he was building an intelligence network a la the Scientology Guardian's Office/Office of Special Affairs, but using the magazines as fronts for intelligence gathering and outlets for the juiciest bits. In the summer of 1973, NCLC members began attacking other Left-wing groups, breaking up meetings in an action called "Operation Mop-up" because LaRouche had gone paranoid. After this point, LaRouche shifted to the Right, though he would mostly run for President as a Democrat (in 1976 he ran on his own U.S. Labor Party.) The U.S. Labor Party was also used to run candidates for a number of offices during the 1970s. In 1978, the members of Executive Intelligence Review (one of those magazines I was talking about) published the mother of all drug-conspiracy books, Dope, Inc., which accused the Queen of England of being the world's greatest heroin trafficker. I read that tome in a college library; I grew up reading UFO books and other esoterica, and I could not follow EIR's chain of reasoning. That the book was nearly 700 pages long and printed on the same grade of paper as a state voter's pamphlet didn't help things. LaRouche spent the '80s running his small empire from Leesburg, Virginia, publishing Fusion* through the now-defunct Fusion Energy Foundation, writing editorials and books. The Fusion Energy Foundation would net LaRouche a short prison stay in the early 1990s for mail fraud, and the magazine and foundation were dissolved. LaRouche was out of prison by 1995, after serving five years.

The most important thing that LaRouche did (at least for our narrative) was found the Worldwide LaRouche Youth Movement in 2000, a group of college-aged proselytizers selling literature on street corners, attending lectures by LaRouche or his second wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche, and arguing with college students in the quad, while traveling across the country (or Europe) in vans and living in poverty. The idea that young people would abandon college to pitch LaRouche was too much for certain editors at Wikipedia, but there were critics of LaRouche in print and online before Wikipedia.

The Prehistory of LaRouche Criticism

The first people to comment on LaRouche's swings were probably the anti-war and campus Left groups, but any documents from those groups to that effect have not made it online as far as I can tell. In the context of the LaRouche edit war, the two major critics are Dennis King, who wrote Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (1989), and John Foster "Chip" Berlet, who is a journalist on far-right groups and senior analyst at Political Research Associates of Cambridge, MA. Pretty much both accuse LaRouche of running a cult of personality, of being an anti-Semite (while weirdly having Jewish staff members) and of being homophobic. Chip Berlet would involve himself in the Wikipedia edit war, while Dennis King also edited Lyndon LaRouche articles while running his seldom-updated Lyndon LaRouche Watch website (last posts date to 2014.)

The Edit War

Instead of writing paragraphs, we are going to use a timeline.

November 2003: An IP address expands the Lyndon LaRouche BLP ("biography of a living person") with material from a now-defunct CafeProgressive blog "Lyndon LaRouche is OK." Insertions reverted two hours later. The IP used was, which is in central Mexico.

May 2004: Herschelkrustofsky (Daniel Platt) shows up, begins editing on LaRouche and other political figures.

June 2004: The War begins when Adam_Carr (Dr. Adam Carr), an Australian political operative later accused of tacking on unflattering material to the BLPs of Australian politicians, rewrites the LaRouche BLP from scratch, using material from Dennis King's book. Editor Sam_Spade tried to get the two sides to reconcile, and was later driven off Wikipedia.

July 2004: The first Arbitration Committee case. Herschelkrustovsky vs. Adam_Carr and  
Homey (who later became AndyL and possibly John Kenney in real life.) Dan Platt was topic-banned from the LaRouche BLP, and any information from a source connected to LaRouche was considered "original research" and thus could be reverted out of existence. Homey account was deleted later.

November 2004: The plot thickens as SlimVirgin (Linda Mack/Sarah McEwan) begins editing LaRouche articles.

December 2004: Chip Berlet (as Cberlet) begins editing LaRouche articles.

February 2005: The second Arbcom case. This time it's SlimVirgin and Cberlet vs. Herschelkrustovsky. They accused Platt of using sockpuppets (Weed_Harper,, possibly C_Colden) and the charges stuck. Platt was convicted of sockpuppeting and put on "parole." The three accounts listed as sockpuppets were blocked.

December 2005: The bizarro Nobs01 Arbcom case, with Cberlet vs. Nobs01, Rangerdude, Cognition, Herschelkrustovsky, Sam_Spade. Chip Berlet claimed that he was being ganged up on. Cognition was banned outright, others were given blocks, Rangerdude quit. Nobs01is still on Wikipedia as of this writing.

May 2006: A one year ban is doled out to Herschelkrustovsky for Arbcom "parole violations."

June 2006: Will Beback (William McWhinney) pushed to have Daniel Platt's account deleted during the ban just to be a dick. No consensus is reached (though the "cabal" members voted to delete.)

November 2006: Dennis King begins editing LaRouche articles as Dking.

July 2007: Cberlet and Dking complain about pro-LaRouche editors in an arbitration request. Wikipedia now claims that all of them (NathanDW, Marvin_Diode, MaplePorter) were sockpuppets of Daniel Platt.

October 2007: The bloody end of Herschelkrustovsky. Adam_Carr had written an article titled Views of Lyndon LaRouche and the LaRouche movement which was defamitory of the subject matter. William McWhinney called for it to be fully protected, then called for Platt to be permanently banned (bringing up that he was a moderator at Wikipedia Review.) The goon squad agreed, and Platt was done.

Like a Frankenstein's Monster it still lurched on with a 2009 Mediation Cabal mediation that failed, and a 2011 Mediation Cabal mediation that ALSO failed. McWhinney was involved with both. Sometime after October 2007 Cberlet quit, and Dking still has an account, but it's abandoned.


All of this effort was expended over a man that never got a major party nomination and whose group is at most 500-2000 people. Only Wikipedia would create this; you would not see this sort of fighting over a LaRouche article in a "dictionary of American political parties and figures".....the writers would crank out a balanced article on the subject and move on to the next topic. Every controversial article on topics and figures which get the blood boiling should have been a quadruple-locked stub on Wikipedia to keep fights from happening.


* This is what Ivan Stang (Douglas St. Clare Smith) wrote about Fusion and LaRouche-ism is his classic book on mail-order kookiness, High Weirdness by Mail (1988):

If political groups are really cults, then this is the People's Temple of politics, with Jonestown around the bend. Fusion is a science magazine, sometimes concerned with unsung alternate-energy sources, always pro-nuke, and twisted subtly but definitely toward that strange mix of farthest-right and off-the-wall that LaRouche philosophy exudes. Like the goofiest senility-amplified crank theories, but on a big budget. SCARY to think where their money is coming from. Approach with caution; these guys can afford to use the kind of tactics the poorer hate groups fantasize about.

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1 comment:

  1. Handily contextualized, especially with the timeline. Best analysis I've seen. Thank you.