Seattle attracts some very strange people.
When I first moved to the Emerald City in 2004, I remember coming across a group of young political activists protesting George W. Bush. Of course, that's normal in a place like Seattle, but what wasn't normal was that this same group of activists didn't like Al Gore. (I seem to recall a banner that depicted Mr. Gore as a giant blob, sort of like Jabba the Hutt.) The LaRouchies wouldn't have much use for Barack Obama, either. Who were these people? I had to find out.
So, way back in 2004, I decided to engage one of them in conversation, which I quickly learned was like entering an alternate universe where up is down and the Pope is Hitler.
Somehow, we shifted from politics to science. They believed that "reductionism" -- the notion that complex phenomena are best understood through a process of reducing them down to simpler parts -- was Satanic. Not wrong or oversimplified, but Satanic. As in something the Dark Prince himself would approve of. They also didn't like Isaac Newton very much.
Where did they get such bizarre beliefs? They got them from the politician they were supporting for president, Lyndon LaRouche. When Mr. LaRouche isn't trying to get elected to political office, he writes essays like, "The Pagan Worship of Isaac Newton."
Now things were getting clearer. This was less a political movement and more of a cult, complete with its own version of science and religion.
Needless to say, Mr. LaRouche hasn't been a major player in U.S. presidential elections. His devotees have vanished from the streets of Seattle. Today, he's 95 years old, and one might be tempted into thinking that his political days are behind him.i
And one would be wrong.
Foreign Policy magazine reports that Lyndon LaRouche is now running a pro-China political party in Germany. It says that he continues to "lead a global political network with a devotion to conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, and a belief in a looming doomsday economic collapse that will kill billions."
In other words, Lyndon LaRouche is some strange combination of Paul Ehrlich, Ray Kurzweil, and Alex Jones, with just a dash of Naziism. If that's not a winning campaign, then what is?