Jeremy Corbyn Interview Highlights LaRouche Movement

From the Daily Mail:

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the annual meeting of a group allied to the ‘neo-Nazi’ LaRouche movement, it has emerged.

The frontrunner in the Labour leadership race was interviewed by video link at the annual conference of the Citizens Electoral Council in Australia, in March this year.

…A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is very concerned about the associations between the Australian Citizens Electoral Council and the La Rouche movement. 

‘He was of course completely unaware of these links at the time of his interview, which focused on banking regulation.’

This is somewhat different from the controversies involving Corbyn’s associations with Islamists – although he’s distanced himself on some specific points (scaling back what he meant by describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, for instance), it’s clear that he accepts Islamists as allies in a broad “anti-imperialist” movement (he also has links at the constituency level – Paul Stott, for instance, draws attention to “the deep relationships he has developed with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in north London over the past decade, including running constituency surgeries out of the Ikhwan’s Finsbury Park Mosque”).

By contrast, the spokesperson’s statement in the Daily Mail is an implied repudiation of the LaRouche movement as a whole. It should be pointed out that the Mail‘s article is overegged – the interview was actually pre-recorded rather than provided to the conference by video-link, and he addresses his comments to an interviewer (a certain Gabrielle Puet) rather than to an imagined conference audience. The headline, that he “spoke at” the LaRouche meeting, is even more misleading. In this instance it’s credible that Corybn didn’t know anything about the CEC – television pranksters for years have shown that there isn’t much due diligence when it comes to persuading politicians to appear in front of video cameras.

However, the Mail‘s focus on the LaRouche movement as an obscure cult actually overlooks a more interesting point: that LaRouche is not quite a political pariah so much these days. Panos Kammenos, who heads Greece’s right-wing minority coalition partner, has spoken at LaRouche events, and there’s some cross-over appeal on the left. Back in January, I noted one well-known LaRouche group boasting of having 200 “prominent signers” on a petition; according to a blurb:

As of January 19, 2015, the list of prominent signers to the Schiller Institute’s petition, “Why the US Must Join the BRICS” continues to expand, totaling now over 200, with the newest signers including author, activist and Princeton Professor, Dr. Cornel West and filmmaker Sean Stone from the United States. From Italy, Paolo Grimoldi, member of the Italian Parliament and founder of the Parliamentary group, “Friends of Putin,” [“Amici di Putin“; Grimoldi is with Lega Nord – RB] has added his name to the petition this week, along with a number of other prominent Italian, Swiss and German leaders.

As I noted that the time, these “prominent” signatures were gathered despite the text’s self-evident bad faith: first, some bland comments about “cooperation” against ISIS, al-Qaeda and ebola; then, support for Russia’s opposition to “a Nazi coup” in Ukraine, and condemnation of  the US and Europe’s current “suicidal geopolitical policies of the past which led to the two previous World Wars”.

Last year, Political Research Associates noted the presence of the LaRouche movement at Occupy Wall Street.

The LaRouche movement also has links with Vladimir Yakunin, a member of Putin’s inner circle. Yakunin runs the “World Public Forum”, and the WPF’s “Dialogue of Civilisations” events have featured a remarkably broad – and in some ways bizarre – range of high-level politicians, academics, and religious figures from around the world. The WPF, like Putin’s Russia in general, has crossover appeal for elements both on the left and on the right, and one WPF event saw Helga Zepp-LaRouche billed alongside Noam Chomsky (who spoke by video link). The WPF has also endorsed and promoted the LaRouche petition noted above.

It seems to me that the LaRouche movement is benefiting from same kind of generalised discontent that the television station RT articulates so well, but packages so speciously. It will be interesting to see whether Corbyn’s rejection of the group prompts any kind of reaction.

Footnote

The topic of the conference at which the Corbyn interview was shown was “The World Land-Bridge”, referring to a bridge that would link Siberia to Alaska; this is a concept for which Yakunin has himself shown enthusiasm (and it’s a dream that was also shared by the late Reverend Moon, as it happens).

There is also a shared interest in the Silk Road, and Yakunin and Zepp-LaRouche have appeared together to discuss the subject in China.

One Response

  1. Richard – I find Russia Today fascinating, not least because it is so hard to place in terms of left and right. Its shouty version of a US shock-jock, Max Keiser, appears to be able to dip-in and out of a small group of supporters on the left in Britain – from Class War to George Galloway. He has 137,000 followers on twitter – more than an elected politician like Chuka Umunna.

    On other occasions RT has turned to speakers very much on the far-right in Britain, for example from the BNP, and treated fascists with a seriousness the mainstream media is yet to afford them. They even dig up some best forgotten figures from the political fringe – consider Chris Bambery prominent in the SWP until his 2011 resignation – who appears on RT as a ‘political analyst’. Gone are the days he was lucky to sell ten copies of Socialist Worker outside Tesco on a Saturday morning!

    This breaking up of daily news media (if you don’t like RT you can watch the Islam Channel, Press TV, Fox News, Sky, BBC etc etc ) no doubt plays a role in giving us such a broken up and divided set of debates, with ever overlapping political formations. The bigger question is – if this what it looks like now, how will it look in 20 years time?

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