Riemann, Cantor, and Lyndon LaRouche

Campaigner and Cantor

Facsimile of January-February 1976 issue of The Campaigner, from http://www.wlym.com (itself a subdivision of science.larouchpac.com)

While looking for hints that Grothendieck’s influence on Alain Badiou, which is undeniable (if somewhat warped),  may have included face-to-face meetings, I came across a treasure trove of archival material documenting Lyndon LaRouche’s conviction that he is a latter-day Riemann or Cantor.   This page, for example, greets you with the message

The report you are about to experience was produced to make clear why LaRouche refers to his economic forecasting methodology as the “LaRouche-Riemann Method.” In doing so, we’ll explore the central feature of economics: our characteristic activity, as a species, is built upon mankind’s willful implementation of creative discoveries which re-define our relationship to the universe around us. To do so, we’ll enter into one crucial aspect of Cantor’s work, and the breakthroughs of Bernhard Riemann on implicit geometry and transcendentals.

Other pages introduce the unwary visitor to the thoughts of Kepler and Fermat and to the Mind of Gauss, where you can read what appears to be a complete proof of quadratic reciprocity, followed by this enigmatic comment:

Gauss found that, actually, the 4n+1 primes, because of their relationship to -1 and the Pythagorean Triples, were not really primes. They were really representations of the Complex Domain. This investigation can wait until the pedagogicals on Gauss’s work on Biquadratic Residues.

Evidence of the affinities of the LaRouche movement with mathematics are easy to find on the internet; for example I am looking forward to spending 3 hours and 20 minutes watching a YouTube video answering the question Does Mathematics Make You Stupid?  But practically all the links I’ve found lead back to the LaRouche movement itself.  There is at least one exception, however:  The Campaigner, the theoretical journal of the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC), actually did publish the first English translation of Cantor’s Grundlagen einer allgemeinen Mannigfaltigkeitslehre, the first of his fundamental articles on set theory.

The cover of the issue containing Uwe Parpart’s translation is pictured above.  The translation is widely referenced — I discovered its existence in the bibliography of Peter Hallward’s 2003 book on Badiou, for example.  It’s also listed at the beginning of Joseph Dauben’s Chapter 46 of the perfectly legitimate Landmark Writings of Western Mathematics 1640-1940, edited by the late Ivor Grattan-Guinness — though Dauben adds that the translation in W. B. Ewald’s From Kant to Hilbert is “preferable.”  It seems you can even buy a copy of the NCLC translation on amazon.com.   It’s not listed on MathSciNet, on the other hand, and LaRouche doesn’t seem to have been mentioned on MathOverflow, so its existence may be as surprising to most readers of this blog as it was to me.

P.S.  The LaRouche people used to have a table on rue de Chevaleret in Paris, when the Institut Mathématique de Jussieu was in exile there, but I assume that was just a coincidence.

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One thought on “Riemann, Cantor, and Lyndon LaRouche

  1. Richard Séguin

    When I first saw this, I thought to myself, “What? Is that guy LaRouche still here?” I remember seeing his half hour presidential campaign commercials in the 1970s in which he talked about some crackpot economic theories and other strange ideas. He seemed dark — really dark — and it was hard to believe that it wasn’t a sick joke. And he’s now comparing himself to Riemann or Cantor? I just looked at the Wikipedia article on him, and discovered that I greatly underestimated the extent of this story …

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