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Thien, a student in Paris

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Kathrin Kindt
Thien, a student in Paris
Paris, 2006

Thien realised that he was not really listening any more. Instead of making notes or writing down the projected formulae, he had started doodling concentric circles and labyrinths all over the page of his notebook. He decided to leave the Economics lecture in Statistics I early, so he squeezed past the other students in his row and was relieved as he closed the heavy wooden door to the lecture theatre behind him and the lecturer’s voice went silent.

He hurried down the stairs to the foyer and, a little hesitantly, crossed the square in front of the ancient, venerable University building, passing his fellow students milling about in all directions.
It had been set up there again – the stand with the home-made political posters and a small, improvised book table belonging to the group calling itself “Solidarity and Progress”. A fine name for a political group, thought Thien. Three young men were moving around the stand, holding up copies of a newspaper and trying with varying degrees of pushiness to grab the attention of the mostly young passers-by. Nearly everyone quickened their steps as they went past, as Thien himself had always done up to now. Today, though, he hesitated, as his eye fell on a poster depicting the African continent painted over with a network of roughly drawn blue lines, and underneath, clearly hand-written, “Africa needs a modern water system! LaRouche has a plan!”

One of the young men spoke to Thien straight away. “Well, have the wise profs in there told you how the children in Africa can be helped, how they can be saved from starving, how they can be given a future worth living?” Thien smiled. “That’s not actually in my schedule of lectures!” “So what good is studying if it doesn’t deal with the world’s major problems?” “Formulae and figures! All the facts need to be evaluated and taken into consideration!” said Thien, thinking of the statistics lecture he had just left early. The young man laughed, and his laugh seemed to be mocking him. “Facts, facts, facts! Theory that’s just an end in itself and destroys individual creativity! Only the really creative mind can finally solve the problems facing us. Even the Ancient Greeks and Romans understood that, and real mathematicians like Riemann and Einstein. It’s possible to be creative with maths and figures!” “How do you mean? I have the feeling at the moment that all the formulae and rows of figures are just going round and round in my head.” “Yes, and you’re not the only one!” The young political activist was standing in front of Thien and looking at him with sympathy. “There’s a method,” he said, “for finding a creative access to mathematics with small experiments on yourself and then applying your findings to a new, fair economic system that’s not dictated by the financial oligarchs in Wall Street and the City of London.” “And who can do that?” Thien’s interest was aroused.

Now the young man even smiled slightly. “We are an internationally active youth movement. We are fed up with the baby boomer generation telling us what to do. We are doing our own studies and linking them with our political struggle for a fair world economic order. Ever heard the name Lyndon LaRouche?” Thien shook his head. The young man became zealously enthusiastic. “That’s hardly your fault. LaRouche is boycotted by the media in Europe. He is a genius and statesman from the USA, where he is very well known and has run as a candidate for president several times. You should get to know him and his theories for saving the world. Read our newspaper ‘New Solidarity’! A new issue is brought out every month by us, the party activists. We write a lot of the articles ourselves.” Curious now, Thien bought a copy.

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“Leave us your phone number. Then we can let you know when we’re doing an interesting event.” Thien scribbled his phone number on the small sheet of paper that was suddenly held out to him. The three young activists gave him a friendly wave as he walked away from the stand.

In the Métro he had a look at the newspaper. On the front page in large letters framed in a red box was a call for action by readers to recruit a thousand new readers for ‘New Solidarity’, so that even more people could get to know LaRouche’s ideas. Beneath this was a photo of a grey-haired older man with a round, friendly face and a knowing smile on his lips. It was Jacques Cheminade, the chairman of the French LaRouche Party. He had written the leader article, with the headline, “Our Project! Why The City of London and Wall Street are our enemies!”

Leafing through the paper, Thien found an article which was announced as a contribution by the scientific team of the American LaRouche movement, “Back on the Path to Unlimited Progress. A Fast-Track Program for Nuclear Fusion.”
Back in his room, Thien put the paper to one side. He still had books for a university seminar on his desk and had to give them his full attention.
Late that evening André called him and asked whether he had read the ‘New Solidarity’ and which article had especially interested him. Thien mumbled something about having a lot of reading to do for uni, but he had found the article about nuclear fusion interesting.
“So come to our office next Sunday afternoon, then we can have a chat. We activists will be meeting up and discussing things and singing together.”
Thien was hesitant. “I don’t know if I’ll have time. I have to read stuff for uni on Sunday too.” “But our movement is all about the things that are really important. We are no longer willing to put up with the state of the world. We want to fight for LaRouche’s political proposals to be finally put into practice! Surely you can spare a little time for that? Just come by and get to know us! Our office is in Rue d’Albert 43 in the Clichy district. It’s a kind of industrial estate with a lot of small firms. Just go through to the inner courtyard and then take the door on the right to staircase four and up the stairs. Then you’ll see a metal door. Ring the doorbell. That’s our office!” Thien said, “Okay, I’ll do my best to come. What time are you meeting?” “Get there at around eleven in the morning! That’ll do!”
Thien said he would be there.

On Saturday evening, André called again. “Hi, Thien! You haven’t forgotten our appointment, have you? We’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!” Once again, Thien said that he would be there.
Until then, Thien had had very little interest in the various political parties and organisations in France, but he had always given a lot of thought to how people in Africa and Latin America could really be helped and how the injustice in the world between rich and poor countries could be eradicated. So why ever not go to the office of this young man who had so determinedly put forward his organisation’s ideas, and find out more about his movement?

So at around 10 o’clock on Sunday morning he set off for Rue d’Albert 43 and found a plain and rather unsightly brick building. The signs of several small businesses were displayed in the passage leading through to the rear courtyard. He could not find any sign bearing the name of the “Party Solidarity and Progress.”.

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Just as André had described, he went in through a side entrance on the right-hand side of the courtyard, an entry door painted brown, and then up four flights of stairs until he reached a plain grey-painted metal door that gave no indication of who was to be found within.                                                               
There was a buzzer button to the right of the door, but no name or company plate. Hesitatingly, Thien pressed the buzzer. After a while the door was opened a crack and a slim young woman with light blonde plaited hair and round glasses peered out at him. “I’m Thien. André invited me to come here this morning.” The young woman smiled and let Thien enter the hallway. She was dressed in jeans and a colourful T-shirt, so Thien immediately assumed she was a fellow student. As he looked around, André came out of a room to the left. “Good that you’ve come. This is Thien!” André introduced him to the young woman. “He’s interested in our movement.” “This is Tina from Berlin,” he introduced the young woman to Thien. “She’ll be supporting us here in Paris for a few weeks. She’s a LaRouche activist as well and is leading our choir practice today. By the way, we all speak English with each other here.” Thien looked askance at André and Tina. “You have a choir here? Do you sing workers’ songs?” They both laughed.

“The choir is an important part of our movement. But we have high standards for the songs we sing. They aren’t just banal stuff or pop songs. We do music from the Classical period, when it reached its zenith and really provided people with a moral example and allowed them to be creative. For instance, we sing Bach’s cantata ‘Jesu, meine Freude’. I’m sure you know it.” Tina had turned to Thien, who shook his head.

From the small hallway they had gone through a plain wooden door into the larger room from which André had emerged. The room seemed to Thien to be a sparsely-furnished office. There was a large, plain desk with a work surface covered in light grey, and with four round, chrome legs, placed diagonally in the left part of the room. On it were an open laptop and a printer. A grey, plastic chair had been pushed back a bit from the table. It seemed to be where André had been sitting and working on the laptop when Thien had rung the doorbell. There was a second grey, plastic chair next to the first.
To the right beside the desk was a wide and fairly deep wooden floor-length bookcase, apparently home-made, containing paperback books, a few files on the top shelf and, on the lower shelves, sheaves of printed A4 paper next to a pile of ‘New Solidarity’ newspapers and a few brightly coloured magazines bearing the title ‘Fusion’.

On the wall opposite the door Thien noticed a comfy-looking dark blue sofa which was a bit the worse for wear. All in all it reminded Thien of a students’ co-op house. In noticeable contrast was the impression made by the huge, dark-framed portrait photo of an elderly man hanging on the wall directly over the sofa. The elderly man in the portrait looked sternly at the viewer with dark eyes that look small because of his thick glasses. Those glasses were huge with a rather old-fashioned black metal frame and added to the seriousness of the man’s expression. Above his high receding hairline, his dark blonde hair was combed forward at the sides to his temples. The portrait showed him in a dark suit with a dark tie and white shirt, with his head tilted slightly towards the viewer. His lips were closed without the hint of a smile, which emphasised the impression of a respectable, attentive and critically observant superior.

To the right of the framed photo an American flag was draped in light folds on the wall. The arrangement looked ceremonious and in contrast to the sparse furnishings seemed to set the tone in this room, being the only wall decoration.
André said proudly, “That’s him. Lyndon LaRouche, the great American statesman and economic genius! He has set out the four fundamental laws of economics which will bring the whole world

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security and wealth when they are put into practice.” “What four laws?” Thien asked, curious. Was   everything really this simple? André replied quickly, almost as though reciting by rote,
“(1) Immediate re-enactment of the Glass-Steagall law instituted by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, without modification, as to principle of action separating investment and commercial banking for private customers. (2) A return to a system of top-down, and thoroughly defined, National Banking. (3) A Federal Credit system to generate high-productivity trends in improvements of employment to increase physical-economic productivity and standard of living. (4) Adopt a Fusion-Driver ‘Crash Program.’”

André went to the bookshelf with Thien and took down one of the paperback books. It was ‘The Secret Economy – Solving the Crisis in the Global System’. André handed it to Thien. “Read this book. It’s very topical. You can find out all about LaRouche’s economic theory and assessment of the political situation.” André rummaged among the newspapers and magazines and gave Thien a copy of the magazine ‘Fusion’ with a photo of Einstein on the cover with the caption ‘At last you can think like Einstein’. “This magazine comes out several times a year and includes important essays on Economics and Physics written by experts in our movement.”

“There are some important people in our movement,” said André. “Come and have a look at this video.” He had led Thien to the desk, where they sat down together in front of the laptop. André looked through data files and clicked on a video in which an elderly black woman, Amelia Boyton-Robinson, was being introduced. André said that she was an important representative of Martin Luther King’s American Civil Rights movement and was his companion and took part in the famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and actually organised it with Martin Luther King.  He told Thien, that she now was an active and convinced member of the LaRouche movement and liked to meet members of the youth movement. The video showed Amelia with the leader of the French LaRouche party Solidarity and Progress, Jacques Cheminade, the grey-haired elderly man with glasses and a knowing smile with whom Thien was already familiar from the pages of the New Solidarity newspaper. Thien was impressed. This woman had achieved great things for the rights of black Americans and risked her very life. And now she was a member of this movement!
André carried on talking about his movement’s big political plans and how they wanted to convince people about LaRouche’s brilliant ideas and lead them back to the Classical ideals, the aim of which was the education of a creative person.

They had both seated themselves on the sofa and Thien leafed somewhat hesitantly through the magazine. Everything he had learned was whirling around in his head. Then solemn classical music penetrated through from the background; Tina had placed Brahms’ Requiem in the CD player on the shelf and switched it to play.

André’s voice sounded solemn, too, soft but penetrating, as he suddenly started talking about death and about how the world was imminently facing an absolute economic breakdown and a nuclear Third World War which would result in the deaths of most of the world’s population. LaRouche had prophesied this, he said, but at the same time shown a way out of this impending catastrophe. He said that it involved putting his four iron Laws of Economics into practice in the whole world as quickly as possible. It was worth fighting for, he said, and going without the comfort and conveniences of ordinary citizens. The generation of our parents, he said, had been bought with drugs and the cult of Rock’n’Roll and didn’t give a shit about the future of the world and its population. But he, Thien, could help save the world by joining their movement and becoming a member.

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Thien felt increasingly uneasy. André had told him that he had dropped out of his art studies to have enough time to fight for LaRouche.

Gradually, a number of young people dressed casually like students in jeans and T-shirts had come into the room and positioned themselves in a loose semi-circle in the completely unfurnished right half of the space.

Tina went determinedly over to them. “Shall we start? Let’s begin with a few voice exercises!” Upon her hand signs, the semi-circle hummed ever higher chords one after another.
“Come on, let’s join in,” said André, taking Thien lightly by the sleeve and pulling him up from the sofa. “But I can’t sing,” protested Thien. “Come off it, everyone can sing if they’re properly directed and if the music is uplifting.” André’s voice veered between sternness and forbearance.
Both took their places among others in the semi-circle and Tina intoned energetically, “Jesu, meine Freude”. She was unhappy with the way the singing sounded not quite in harmony. “We must work on that. Now to start with I want you each to sing the first couple of lines of the cantata on your own so that I can put you right.” Tina’s voice sounded bossy, and with a serious expression on her face she looked round the group and gave the person standing immediately to her left the signal to start. This was too much for Thien. He withdrew cautiously from the group, sat down on the sofa and leafed through the magazine that André had given him, without reading it. The choir rehearsed for a while, but Thien could not hear any real progress.

After Tina had rather abruptly finished the choir practice, the young singers moved away and one by one left the room. One young man, who gave Thien a warm greeting and introduced himself as “Sebastien”, stayed back in the office with them. André rejoined Thien on the sofa. “You’ll come to appreciate this choir work in time,” he said. “It’ll clear your mind and help you free yourself of the banalities that go by the name of art these days. Pop songs and rock music have nothing to do with our culture.” Thien could not share this assessment, but instead of answering he stood up. “I have to go now,” he said. “I have to read some stuff for my seminar tomorrow.” “Don’t forget to read the things I’ve given you,” said André. “They’ll do you a whole lot more good than all that academic stuff you have to read and learn for the uni.” André gave him a serious look. As he was leaving the room, Thien noticed a video camera over the door. André called after him, “You can still join our youth movement today!” “I’ll have to think about it,” said Thien. “I don’t know if I can join you.”
Thien left with the reading matter in his rucksack.

He had been there for more than three hours, and as he walked down the stairs he felt differently than usual. His thoughts were whirling in confusion and he recalled various fragments of what he had learned and heard. It was good to have spent the morning with these politically active young people and not just to discuss things but to listen to music together as well. Most of them were pretty relaxed. But he found the strict way Tina acted in the choir practice strange. But there were some important people in the organisation, like that old black civil rights activist, and LaRouche himself seemed to be a respectable boss. In any case, André was right in his criticism that most people in his parents’ generation did not care about the state of the world. They lived only for their jobs and spent their free time with superficial distractions involving alcohol and other drugs. Maybe things really should be completely reconsidered – the whole world of the parents’ generation was not right – he should free himself of it – André had disparagingly said “mummy’s boy” – a new political concept was needed-   a new paradigm, as Sebastien had called it – But why was there a video camera in the office? Was everything under surveillance there or was it just to film anybody breaking in at night?

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André rang him again the next evening. “Are you coming next Sunday?” he asked. “Sebastien is giving a little talk about the colonisation of Mars. We’re all looking forward to it!” “No, I can’t,” said Thien. “I’m going to my grandparents in Le Havre next weekend for my grandfather’s 75th birthday.” “Well,” said André. “You don’t really need to show up there, do you? Does eating too much and talking about the weather and your other relations really matter to you?” There was a slightly derisive undertone in André’s voice, but then he became serious. “Sebastien’s talk is dealing with something that is important for the future of humanity!” Thien hesitated. “No,” he said, “I must go. My grandparents are supporting me while I study. I like them a lot and I can talk to them.” “Oh well, then, if you’re sure…” André’s voice sounded reserved, but then became friendly again. “So I’ll see you on Wednesday lunchtime outside the Mensa, then. We’re doing a stand on ‘The BRICS countries: reconstruction instead of self-destruction.’ It’s really cool how Russia and China are helping the Third World countries and applying LaRouche’s economic ideas. Come by and give us a hand!” Thien promised that he would come by.

Over the next week he had several meetings with a small working group that had to prepare a paper on ‘Globalisation Tendencies in the World Economy’ for an Economics seminar. As they were supposed to be giving the paper at the next meeting of the seminar on Thursday that week, the working group was pressed for time to get the paper ready. Extra meetings were arranged and they met on Wednesday from the morning right through to the late afternoon to put the finishing touches to it.

Late on Wednesday evening André called. “Hey, Sleepyhead! Where were you this lunchtime? We were waiting for you at the stand. We had a load of interesting chats with your fellow students. We sold five newspapers and got a donation of 10 euros. A great success! So where were you?” Thien mumbled something about the working group and the seminar paper that they had to get finished. “Are you still sticking to your semester plan? What the hell for? LaRouche has said all there is to say about globalisation and made an outstanding assessment of it. The nation states should think about their own economic strengths; globalisation is whipped up by the financial speculators in Wall Street and the City of London so that they can make their huge profits from it. The world population suffers because their jobs are being destroyed. Unfortunately our politicians have been bought by the financial oligarchs and act in their interests. We have to fight against that with our selfless commitment to the aims of the LaRouche movement. You can be part of it! You’ve got what it takes!”
Thien was touched. Nobody had ever taken so much trouble and been so persistent before in trying to win him over for any movement or cause. In truth, he had hardly made any real friends during those first six months living in Paris and studying at the Sorbonne. That group of young people he had met on that Sunday morning were certainly very likable. “I’m going to visit my grandparents at the weekend,” he told André. “There’s no way round it. But I can come to your meeting on the Sunday after, or aren’t you meeting then?” “Yes, of course,” André assured him hastily. “Be on time, and read the articles in the ‘New Solidarity’”. Thien promised.

 Le Havre, that weekend On Saturday morning, Thien arrived at the Gare du Havre on the train from Paris. Leaving the station, he set off along the wide Boulevard Strasbourg. It was not far to Rue Jean Baptiste, the narrow side street where his grandparents ran a small Vietnamese restaurant.

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He was glad to see his grandparents again. He had been living with them for the past few years since his parents had moved to Lyon to work in the Renault factory there.
His grandparents had come to France with their two children from Saigon in 1973 and had managed to find a foothold in Le Havre. In Saigon they had worked in the kitchen of a small French hotel, and it was the French manager of the hotel who had helped them to emigrate when the French colonials withdrew leaving Vietnam to the American occupiers. The couple began in Le Havre with a take-away food kiosk before later taking over this restaurant. Their elder son, Thien’s father, learned the car construction trade and married in 1984. Thien was born three years later. His parents moved to Lyon at the end of the 90s. Thien stayed with his grandparents and carried on at the grammar school in Le Havre where he gained his school-leaving certificate in 2005. He was happy living with his grandparents, who did all they could to make sure that he was successful at school and were now proud that he had started a degree course in Economics at the Sorbonne in Paris.

As he entered the small restaurant from the street, Thien noticed that the round table at the very left of the dining room had been laid for himself and the family. He had been looking forward very much to the traditional Vietnamese meal that was awaiting him.
There were no customers in the restaurant yet. His grandparents emerged from the kitchen in their white cooks’ jackets and caps and gave Thien a tender hug. Behind them came his uncle Linh, also in cook’s clothes. He had been helping his parents run the restaurant for several years now and would soon take it over on his own. He, too, welcomed Thien with an embrace. “Sit down, you must be hungry,” he told him. Thien sat at the laid, round table with his grandparents and Linh served them with a bowl of Pho Bo. Thien loved this pleasantly spicy soup with rice noodles, fresh vegetables and beef. He tucked in heartily.

All three ate in silence at first. Then Thien’s grandfather asked him, “How are you getting on with university in Paris? I expect you’ve learnt a whole lot of new things. Do tell us about it all!” Thien told them slightly hesitantly about the lectures and seminars and about the seminar paper on globalisation he had been involved with. His grandparents listened attentively.
In the meantime a group of four customers had come in. Linh took care of them, but managed in between whiles to bring his family a plate of Gio Cuon, spring rolls wrapped in transparent rice paper and filled with vegetables, herbs and chicken meat.

All three helped themselves to these and drank green tea from small glasses. “Have you met a lot of people in Paris?” asked his grandmother. Thien hesitated before answering. “I’ve met a group of people who are in a movement with political aims. They were very friendly to me and invited me to their office. They practiced choral music there.” “You must tell us more about that later,” said his grandmother, looking searchingly at him as though his facial expression would tell her more. Both his grandparents had stood up and went back to work in the kitchen. Even more customers had arrived by now.
Thien took his rucksack up into the small flat that his grandparents had set up there. His Uncle Linh lived with his family a few streets away. Thien went back down to the kitchen, put on a white jacket and helped prepare the food.
In the late afternoon, when the last customers had left, they locked the restaurant door and sat back down at the round table. This time Linh joined them. Thien’s grandmother had set a bowl of Che Chuoi down on the table, a thick, white broth made mainly of bananas and coconut milk. Thien ate a large portion with gusto.

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“So tell us more about this group you’ve met in Paris,” said his grandmother. Thien made an effort to relate coherently what had happened over the past week. He told them about André, Sebastien and Tina, about the group’s political aims, about its brilliant leader in the USA, about newspapers and books, about their office... They listened in silence. Only his grandmother occasionally interjected a question, and she wanted to see the magazine ‘Fusion’ with a picture of Einstein on the cover.
They all went up to the flat for a rest. The restaurant would be opening again at 7 pm and in the evenings there was a lot more to do for the many customers who stayed until late and ate large amounts of food.
It was not until the next morning that Thien and his grandparents were able to sit together again, with noodle soup and tea.
“I’ve been thinking the whole while about your group and had a look at their magazine,” said his grandmother, coming straight to the point. “It’s obviously an American sect!” Her voice sounded concerned as she spoke very urgently and looked Thien seriously in the eye. “No-one can be so wise all on their own that he understands the world better than all the rest of humanity and that he alone knows what is right for all people. Why is this American not famous all round the world if he’s such a genius? Why do his followers think so little of university education which lets you learn a great deal and get on in life?” Thien tried to put up a defence. He had expressed similar questions, but André had brushed them aside.

The three of them sat at the round table talking for a long time and very earnestly about the movement Thien had come into contact with, and about the situation in the world, about work and affluence and the interests of the individual. Thien tried to take and defend the movement’s position. His grandparents argued against him, on the basis of their own experience, some of which Thien had been witness to. He valued their upright attitude, which, he had the impression, they had not yielded even under the hardest of conditions in their lives. He noticed how concerned his grandparents were and he could understand that they absolutely did not want to see him neglect or even give up his studies. They had done so much to help him come this far and they had had to work so hard for all these years. Thien had been witness to that, too, when he had helped them out in the restaurant from time to time.

“We aren’t baby boomers, or whatever else this group calls the older generation,” said his grandfather. “You know yourself that we’ve hardly had any time off in all these years. And we don’t hold with drugs, apart” – and he winked at Thien – “from a little glass of brandy every now and again. But one thing is clear. These young people from this American movement who you’ve met in Paris have too much faith in some old man who talks a lot and does nothing. They’ve stopped thinking for themselves and doing anything good for humanity. They’re in a trap!”
“We’d rather you didn’t have anything more to do with them.” His grandmother’s voice was serious,
stern even. She had never spoken to him like this before. She had always been full of understanding
for him, even when things had gone badly. With that their morning discussion was ended, as there was work to do in the kitchen and it would not be long before the first customers came into the restaurant for lunch.
Thien could accept his grandmother’s admonition, recalling his own doubts in Paris, and so he promised, when he left them a few hours later, that he would break off contact with the group.He travelled back to Paris on the train late on Sunday afternoon. His grandmother had given him a bag full of Vietnamese food to take with him. As he said his farewells he saw how his grandparents trusted him.

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Paris, the following fortnight
André rang late on Sunday evening. Thien had told him that he would be arriving back in Paris at 9 pm. “So how was the old man’s birthday, then?” “Well after all my grandfather is ten years younger than Lyndon LaRouche,” blurted Thien spontaneously. “We had some delicious Vietnamese specialities together but there was no time for a big celebration. My grandparents had to work for their small restaurant. They couldn’t just close it.” “When are you coming to see us again? On Sunday?” “I don’t have time for now,” said Thien, trying to sound determined. “I have to do an important Statistics exam in two weeks and I’ve got a lot of work to do for it before then.” “You’re very attached to your studies,” remarked André, once more slightly mockingly. “Maybe you’d like to join us on Friday evening. We’re meeting in a pizzeria near our office. We’re having a little party for Jean’s birthday. And you’re invited. There’ll be a couple of very young and pretty activists from the USA there, Alice and Kesha. You’ll be able to meet them.” “Thanks for the invitation,” said Thien, “But I won’t be able to make it. In any case, I need to think about all this.” This time Thien´s reply came too quickly. André answered with in a particular voice: “Think about it? Yes, in principle that’s not wrong, of course. But you really must read the texts I gave you. Without them there’s no basis for you to think about anything.” Thien mumbled a few words in farewell and hung up the phone without waiting for André’s response.

He had a lot of work to do in preparation for his Statistics exam. But he nonetheless took the time to go to the University library to search the internet to find out more about LaRouche and his movement.
He was astounded at how many links he found on the internet when he entered the search term ‘LaRouche movement’. First there were a lot of the movement’s own websites. He did not look at those. What he was interested in were the critical sites. He found one very extensive text published by the official French sect advisory organisation ‘Mivilude’ which warned against the manipulative way the LaRouche organisation drew in mainly young people, and described the organisation as totalitarian and anti-Semitic. An article from ‘New Solidarity’, published in Germany, from 1976 was quoted, in which LaRouche’s wife, Helga Zepp LaRouche, wrote openly about the “Holocaust hoax”.

The term “financial oligarchs”, which André had used as well, was code for ‘Jews’ and was a fixed part of the LaRouche ideology and his organisation’s campaign of hate.
Thien also found LaRouche’s curriculum vitae rather odd. He was already politically active at a young age and founded various political organisations. One, the ‘US Labor Party’ sounded left-leaning. LaRouche was considered to be a follower of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotzki. Later he lurched to the right, although his organisation, with its many branches all over the world, continued to purport to be on the left and supporting the interests of the workers. The European offshoot was for years called the “European Workers’ Party”.
LaRouche himself was convicted in December 1988 with eleven of his closest colleagues for tax evasion and credit fraud and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. When he began his sentence in 1989 he told the press that he was afraid he would be murdered in prison.
But just five years later he was able to leave his cell, alive and well. He had managed to carry on running his organisation from prison, even running for US president in 1992. His followers saw him as a political prisoner and kept faith in him the whole time.

Thien was very moved when he went to the website of the ‘Justice for Jeremiah’ campaign and read about the death of the British student Jeremiah Duggan who had studied in Paris and had come upon

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those same young activists from the Solidarity and Progress party that had also been in touch with Thien.
They had travelled together in March 2003 to a conference and cadre training seminar in Wiesbaden in Germany, and Jeremiah, according to the police report, had been run over by two cars there and killed.
His parents did not believe that this was “suicide”, as the public prosecutor’s office in Wiesbaden assumed, refusing to investigate further. They were demanding a full enquiry into the circumstances of the death and a specific investigation into the LaRouche organisation with its totalitarian structure and bizarre techniques of manipulation. They were trying to shed light on their own on the facts leading to their son’s violent death and asking for witnesses who might be able to shed light on the matter.

The information Thien garnered from the internet confirmed his grandparents’ spontaneous assessment from what he had told them. Thien was determined to keep his promise to them.
He did not respond to the calls André repeatedly made to him over the next few evenings.
He wrote an email to the address of the ‘Justice for Jeremiah’ campaign.
Hello,” he wrote. “My name is Thien Duong. I am a student in Paris. I am very moved by what happened to Jeremiah. I came across this evil organisation a month ago...

--- end