From recruitment to total commitment
Baldur Von Schirach, head of the H Youth Movement in June 1933,
«This youth learns nothing but to think G, to act Gn…These boys enter at the age of ten in our organisation, and often there they breathe a fresh breath of air for the first time. After eight years in the Youth Movement, we take them right away into the party, in the Work Front, etc. Then the W takes them in hand for a new treatment and when they come back, we take them again so that they don’t fall, then into the S, the S and the rest. Then they will never ever be free in their entire life».
The youths that meet up with the Organisation in the streets meet up with it accidently. They aren’t out on any quest except that of life itself. If they are curious, as most young people are, they are attracted to all sorts of manifestations without knowing before hand what they are getting into. It would even seem that the most attentive and intelligent young people are the first victims. However, their vulnerability is that of all youths because their identities are not yet consolidated, their points of anchorage are easily challenged.
From Recruitment to Indoctrination
The Organisation posts members of its youth groups in cities where the student population is the most important. They establish themselves on busy street corners with signs carrying violent messages that provoke strong emotions, guilt and worry. In social psychology this is called trapping. Although the “trapping” message of any ordinary advertising campaign usually transmit powerful positive clichés, these signs are made to appeal to the innermost archaic fears of the individual: his fear of being instrumental, his fear of inertia, his fear of destruction, his fear of being helpless. These statements nearly always disqualify a public leader or accepted value. These messages touch upon not only the individual’s sense of physical integrity and security, but also upon his morality. Theses contradictory messages are even designed to inhibit thinking.
In fact, not only the recruitment of the youths begins with the capture of their attention, but also so does their indoctrination. One such sign that I have seen carried the rather ironic message: “Stop Bush’s War in Iran”.
Incongruity of the message seems to be the usual case, although occasionally the cited prediction will be fulfilled. However, the materialisation of these predictions is of lesser importance. What is of utmost importance is the powerful unconscious message. Even though The Organisation portrays these messages as that of being the absolute truth, reality as it is certain to come about, the unconscious message is there to incite the youth to act, and to act in spite of adverse reasoning. In other words this messages is saying: If you don’t take suitable action, the prediction will come about. The message that is addressed to the youth is not a request to criticize the reality of the statement, but one that interrogates his deeper values of courage and solidarity and provides a readymade solution.
As the youth in H movement are manipulated to believe that one remains youthful by accepting unacceptable ideas as being new, by marching with the Hitler youth group, they will be defending progress, the youth in Larouche’s movement are brought also to accept that fear of dissonant ideas or criticism is not only incompatible with the truth and with reality itself, but those who refuse to intervene are irresponsible and even infantile. Only are courageous and true those that participate in a militant action. This group praising, as well as the mission of the movement is clearly stated in their newspapers. Everyone else is a liar, as for truth is said to be unbearable for anyone of our culture that does not belong to the movement.
Let me translate an extract from the French version of the Movement’s : The article, which appears regularly, is entitled :
What can one do?
“A non infantilised adult, who wants to intervene in history, must arm himself with double courage, a quality that puts him often in dissonance with his immediate entourage. He must first accept the reality of the situation and its privisibles consequences. Next, in his entire personal and public life, he must act on this truth as “for real”. For the most of my fellow citizens infantilised by a culture of lies and thus of irresponsibility erected as a value, nothing is more unbearable than the truth, whatever it maybe.”
Although our culture encourages young people to adopt morals that are in the keeping with the laws and values of their respective countries, suddenly their beliefs are challenged. The recruiter quickly takes the opportunity to confront the youth on these beliefs and links the overt message to the recruiter’s own fears of annihilation, referring to a supposed genocidal goal, or conspiracy, of the person or people who are attacked by the message.
In addition to isolating the youth from his former values, by indicating to him that it does indeed take courage to speak out against the establishment, this calculated manoeuvre of incongruous messages is meant to trouble the very foundation of these values. In other words, through a form of questioning which is not at first view easy to illustrate, the youth is led to admit that the older generation are liars and genocidal idiots!
Once the youth is a bit shaken, the recruiter takes the opportunity to add that members of the Larouche movement act courageously, putting their lives on the line. And, as another parent, A. has noted L. as often promising: offered immortality. Let me read another small citation in order to give you an idea of these promises that attack the moral integrity of our children:
«If you do not believe in truth, then you’re incapable of immortality; you’re incapable of a sense of what you would be willing to die for. And, if you don’t have a commitment to a sense of what you would be willing to die for, what positive purpose, you have no morality; you are only a sophist, a sycophant of popular opinion.»
This purpose of this rhetoric is clear enough for a naturally sceptical person or someone that is convinced that he is dealing with a twisted discourse, as are often used in sects. However, the ordinary individual that listens, especially after having already submitted himself to several sessions of preparation, so to speak, as the more experienced members give vent to the truth’s of the only Great Leader of Humanity available, finds himself increasingly uneasy: “Do I believe in truth?” “Am I capable?” “Will my life’s work end with me by my own fault?” “Shouldn’t I be willing to die for something that I believe in?” “Is that what having a purpose is?” “Am I immoral for having doubted, for having spent my time in other directions?” “Am I a hated sophist, a sycophant, whatever that is?” These questions are cause for deep puzzling existential doubts. The youth’s values began immediately to waltz and he is thus pre-packaged to be sent where he can find all the answers that he will ever need.
Back on the street in Paris, the recruiters listen carefully to the potential adept, not to exchange opinions with him, but for an opportunity to find him a very intelligent person. In fact, in social psychology we call this kind of compliment, this manoeuvre: labelling. In a few minutes the new recruit finds himself captivated in a form of identification that call for the abandon his former values as well as to accept others that are completely inverted. This inversion of values is blatant to parents that know their children and have talked with them before and after the meeting with this group, although it might be difficult for outsiders to admit that such a change is possible in so short of a time.
Once trapped, packaged and labelled, the youth is conditioned for the next step of the indoctrinating process.
From indoctrination to total commitment
But just how does the Organisations “salesman” put his foot in the door? The methods they use are age old and offer just that attraction to our youth today because to them these methods they don’t seem like they are based on modern sales methods Did you ever imagine that when you answered a questionnaire concerning your tastes, for example in books, that the questions themselves were designed to prepare you for the purchase of a book collection, but also to suggest even a particular kind of collection and to convince you that you have certainly made the best possible choice?
The members often use this kind of device in the street, modelling their own questions after Socrates’ methods demonstrated fully in the Meno. Anti-Aristotelian, it is an argument against linear thinking in ourselves. However, these questions, as the marketing questionnaire, are oriented to make them “buy”, and to make them buy the whole line.
Socrates’ goal was indeed to prove that there was no need to learn what was taught by recognized professors (Sophist’s in other words) in order to establish a theory on the resolution of mathematical problems, thanks to the form of negative questioning by the Master (here Socrates, in the street; the older member) to the student. The L. organisation uses this technique to produce the desired response as well. The inevitable “success” contributes to make the “student” believe that not only is he “gifted”, but also that he doesn’t require any formal education to become just as competent as any professor, or to become a hero!
How can anyone suspect that a small problem, in appearance a game of sorts, quickly incites the youth to quit school and to join the Organisation! This is not only a math problem, not only a commercial technique, not only an introduction to Plato, but already a very technical course on how to manipulate others and a way to achieve unity of the group:members are no less but convinced that they belong to the most intelligent group of young people in the world, but there is absolutely no need for any special talent to be a recruiter. They are just following L. guidelines.
And as with other marketing campaigns, once the questionnaire is completed, the L salesman comes out with his favourite line: “of course there is no obligation.” What do social psychologists say about the “no obligation” line. More than 84 percent of people who have been prepared (conservation effects) by the above marketing tactics unreservedly submit to a free trial when there is no obligation.
The problem is that instead of accepting a commercial obligation the person accepts a moral one and is engaged by his own acts. Had not the L salesman played already upon the youth’s existential doubts and fears? With the condemnation of the youth’s parents and teachers as sophists, or even outright liars, the youth can be expected to quickly quit school in order to discover what Larouche says to be the truth. As A. has cited L. saying:
“So therefore, if young people shift their education away from the usually approved courses, and the usually approved behaviour, into discovering, rediscovering, re-enacting, the discovery of certain universal physical principles, then, they know truth. Because, once you know the tests, for defining discovery and proving a universal physical principle, then you know what truth is. If you can’t do that, you don’t know what truth is. If you read a textbook, you don’t know what the truth is—because most textbooks lie, anyway. Most professors lie! They have to consider their careers, too, you know.”
The organisation recommends that the youth who attends these meetings subscribe to the Newspaper of the local party faction. The sale of printed material of this organisation is perhaps their major form of revenue. I found the issues that I have read to be a savy mixture of alarming information combined with a vast humanist and scientific culture as well as a political slant against every current political institution, without being quite able to define what the author was talking about. They are pretty much an expanded form of their panels, carrying incongruous, subliminal messages. I would perhaps momentarily conclude that the conspiracy and total state theories of the author might be part of a political delirium.
Nevertheless, once a youth attends a first meeting, he will already be well engaged. At theses meetings they sing classical music, which contributes to consolidate the group, not only by their participation but also by their isolation from other young people their age. They also must prepare for these reunions by reading materials that are suggested and participating in the next reunion. These new responsibilities contribute in soliciting a form of behaviour predisposing them to engage further and further with the Larouche Organisation. Each interrogation is also used to continue to strengthen membership.
The reading material is not only carefully chosen for its overtly human values that no parent could possibly condemn, but the selection conveys at the same time powerful inverted messages as well. Among these messages include: the belief in a conspiracy to forget the exploits of some of the world’s greatest men. This is a real celebration of martyrdom. By suggesting to the young adepts that the men who die for their ideas, the men who are insufficiently recognized in their lifetime, that these men are the most valuable, Larouche conveys not only the idea that he himself is one of these great-men, but indeed that anyone of them might be called to die to defend the ideas of their movement. Here is what one of the young leaders, of the French movement says in a conference at Bh en 2003, after a long build up about Joan of Arc and a few words about L. condemnation for tax fraud she gets to making her point:
«The reality is higher than that. So you don’t have to worry about dying, you don’t have to worry about this "being not considered good", because if you know you are fighting for the good, nobody can touch you. They can’t get you to flicker. To get the point about life, because that is the paradox: We die, that is the paradox of our life. I’m going to die, you are going to die, so what do we live for?…»
This idea of dying for ones ideas is of course only suggested by the fact that, according to L., the greatest ideas of our times were often very difficult for man to admit. It also preludes a call for resistance to anyone or any idea that might intercede. However, sometimes this celebration of martyrdom is forthright, as can be seen in this paper by this young L. Included in the package are of course all of L. idiosyncrasies. In fact, the notion of martyrdom conditions what L. considers t.o be the truth. This amalgam of sentimental truth and scientific truth sidesteps the condition of peer recognition and of the work of time. Unfortunately, L. even prepares a barricade against this reasoning with his repeated references to Socrates and to Plato and especially to the newly installed fear of the perverted sophists: parents or teachers. For these ancient Greek thinkers, scientific truth is inseparable from the notion of ethic. Curiously, although he uses somewhat different rhetorical devices, L. use of language is in a way quite similar to that of the Greek Sophists whom he condemns. For the ancient Greeks who valued sophisticated language as much as science, before Socrates’ condemnation, rhetoric is truth!
So what is truth to L? Isn’t it his personal gut feeling of right or wrong? Aren’t these truths determined by his certitudes? This has nothing to do with science of course, accept in the sense that our values oblige that scientific research be limited by our morals. However coupled with his ideal of courage and martyrdom and dealt out to youth by way of rhetorical twists, his certitude becomes a powerful concept that appeals to our youth’s search for new heroes to guarantee and consolidate their identities. This form of rhetoric allows L. to perch himself in the heavens with easily found superheroes that dethrone the young person’s former figures of their ideal.
As you probably all have realised, people that don’t deserve it at all can also stake a claim to greatness. Here is what one modest infantryman wrote from his prison cell where he should have remained:
“The one that wants to be the leader holds with supreme authority and without limit, the heavy weight of total responsibility. Only a hero can assume this function.” H
Wasn’t this young man right to be terrorised by what he discovered in Wn? Indeed anyone of us could be horrified. From what we have learned here, according to L one should be willing to die for his ideals or his truths. If Larouche is like other totalitarian leaders, we might assume that those that are not in the group or who oppose it, are rejected by it and don’t even have “a moral right to survive”. The most conscientious being can be so rapidly and profoundly influenced by the Organisation that one could expect them to become violent at any moment, as they have in the past. The Question that we must ask ourselves is: To what point is the r Institute, the European Headquarters for this Organisation, another Z Center? They held an international conference recently in February 2009 in G where for the French youth alone there were at least ninety participants, including one .... On their program L. called for nothing less than revolution and immediate reconstruction of the world! To what point is their call for revolution or even resistance, a call to terrorism? To what point is the call for martyrdom different from that of suicidal groups? What can L. Soldiers of the truth be called on to do tomorrow?