In Tribute to Mark Burdman
by His Wife
by Mary Burdman
It requires the keenest of minds, to study, comprehend, and refute your enemy—especially when that enemy is the international imperial/financial oligarchy which is driving the world towards economic depression and war today. Unless you have the clearest sense yourself, of the wonderful tradition of European culture, from Plato, Leibniz, Shakespeare, Schiller, and now Lyndon LaRouche, you cannot effectively hunt out and engage such an enemy. Unless these ideas of Western culture are the active principles of your own thinking, you might be able to strike at him, but not turn him inside out, to expose to all, the twisted workings and motivations of an evil mentality. Doing exactly this, was the genius of my dear husband, Mark Burdman, who died in Wiesbaden, Germany, on July 8, at the age of 55, after years of illness.
Mark was not a formal scholar of history or philosophy, but brought other weapons to bear in his lifelong commitment, to rid the world of those institutions trying to destroy human progress. He had a wonderful, ironic sense of humor, which saw everyone, no matter how "powerful" or "famous," for what they truly were—good or bad. He was not mean, but sharply insightful into the weaknesses and pomposities of those who want to bend human history and culture to their own ends, and he would always be laughing, and making others laugh, at them. Mark's own background, of Russian, German, and Lithuanian Jewish grandparents who immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, was a key element of this humor. His "tales from Brooklyn" always struck me, an Irish Catholic, as his version of the Parables of the New Testament. There was always a story, or a flash of wit, from Brooklyn, to elucidate any situation.
At the heart of Mark's life, was his dedication to the work, political and philosophical, of Lyndon LaRouche, who has committed his life to freeing humanity of these oligarchic parasites, and creating a truly republican and just new order for the world. Mark was a revolutionary, in Lyn's likeness and in the likeness of the American Revolutionaries Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. During his 30-year association with Lyn, Mark was always leading the way among his colleagues, in finding out the latest frauds and falsehoods that the international oligarchy were trying to impose on humankind.
Mark exposed the most evil thinkers whose policies have brought the world to its current crisis. These were led by Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells. In current history, Mark wrote tirelessly on the crimes of the Club of Rome, Henry Kissinger, Prince Philip, Samuel Huntington, Tony Blair's New Labour, Robert Cooper, and many, many more, for their evil-minded lying that mankind must starve, must go to war, must shrink our minds and souls into pessimism and despair. Mark knew, very well, the banality and mental and moral constipation of such "influentials" as listed above, and was merciless in exposing it. Looking back through the pages of EIR for coverage on these issues, you seem to always find, that Mark had written the first article or exposé, sometimes years before.
This prescience grew out of his way of looking at the world, and his constant dialogue, whether through discussion or through reading, with Lyn. Mark was truly a world-citizen, and would not view issues "bent" through any narrow ideology. He thrived on (positive!) paradoxes, and on the unpredictable, and this quality shaped the course of his life and work.
Mark's mind was always occupied, with the idea of how things would and could be changed. He always took new initiatives from LaRouche as the basis for discussion with his contacts in leading institutions all over Europe, and took in those contacts' responses and reactions, as the basis of further discussion with Lyn, and with many other colleagues. Mark was always thinking, speaking, and writing, in many dimensions. He thought on the grand scale, but at the same time always looked at "everyday" events, for their potential to shape current history.
Nothing was ever "established" or "set." Even in the last days of his life, when years of illness had made him extremely frail, he would not be confined to a fixed view of any situation, or (almost) any person.
Mark got especial joy, years ago, from mocking the hapless Francis Fukuyama, whose End of History lasted a matter of months. Mark wrote that his own pet Labrador had a better-organized understanding of the unfolding future than Fukuyama. Mark knew, that history is never done, and he gave his all, to help shape it for the good.
An old, dear friend, Leonardo Servadio, wrote of Mark after learning of his death: "I think that speaking, investigating, and questioning was his way of loving the world. And I saw in his continuous desire for activity, intelligence, and discussion, the joy and total dedication which I otherwise see only in playing children: the pleasure of continuous discovery."
Mark lived paradoxes—that was the best way to hunt out new ways to confound those he wanted to confound. Always at heart a New York City American, he lived most of his working life in western Europe, especially Germany. Mark did this in the tradition of such great Americans as Franklin, Washington Irving, John Quincy Adams, and LaRouche himself, who all spent long periods living in Europe—and working with and for America and Europe together.
Mark's mind was hardly confined to just the two sides of the Atlantic. His earliest adult political work was on Southwest Asia, and particularly on the role of Israel, whose first leaders brought the great traditions of German Jewry, to the region of Palestine. As a Jew, whose family lost many members to the Nazi regime, Mark chose, from 1980 on, to live in Germany, a nation and culture he loved as dearly as his own. Our daughter, Jessica—actually, Mark's step-daughter—also half-Jewish, grew up in Germany in that tradition. His friendship with Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who brought to Mark the work of Nicolas von Kues and Friedrich Schiller, deepened his love for his adopted country.
Mark developed political and strategic dialogues with thinkers and policymakers in many European nations: Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Austria. But, again as a paradox, it was in Britain that he found most of his discussion partners. Mark loathed and made the most wonderful fun of the British ruling classes, especially the nasty Prince Philip. Mark got to the heart of the anti-human "environmentalist" policies, which set "nature" above mankind, of Philip, Prince Charles, and their ilk, whose brutal contempt for humanity, wants to "curb" all growth of human life. One of Mark's favorite set of articles, exposed the "great Apes" project, a demand to grant "human rights" to gorillas and chimpanzees. No fault to the apes; they were certainly not consulted. Mark foresaw where such efforts would take the British royals: when EIR published its Special Report on the "Coming Fall of the House of Windsor," in October 1994, I looked back in the pages of EIR and found an article on exactly this topic, by Mark and myself, published several years earlier.
Yet, amidst his incisive attacks on these British oligarchs, Mark also opened dialogues with the best strategic minds. He found these thinkers especially in Scotland. Chief among them was the late Prof. John Erickson of Edinburgh, who was, after Lyndon LaRouche, one of the greatest influences on Mark's thought and life. As Mark wrote in his early 2002 memorial on John's death, "Most important, to me, was his ruthless integrity and commitment to truth, his refusal to compromise with cheap-shot fads." John, wrote Mark, "often struck me more as a poet in the way he metaphorically shaped ideas and concepts, than the engineering-minded military strategist that he was 'professionally.' " He was also possessed of a wonderful ironic wit. [EIR, March 1, 2002]
John Erickson was one of the greatest strategic thinkers on Eurasia, not only on the history of the Soviet High Command's great victory over the Nazi invasion, but also on the danger that there would be another great Eurasian war today.
His 20 years of discussions with John on these matters, became the basis for Mark's rapid response to the new strategic situation opened up by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union: both the enormous potential for development of Eurasia, and the dangerous outbreak of new wars.
It was during the buildup to the first George Bush war against Iraq, that Mark met Prof. Grigory Bondarevsky of Moscow, whose life work was committed to the study of the history and development of the Eurasian Land-Bridge. In his memorial for the Professor [EIR, Sept. 26, 2003], Mark wrote how struck he was, that so many of the Professor's colleagues and friends, said of him, "He was my teacher." The Professor played a key role, in demonstrating to us, how our thinking must extend far beyond the United States and Europe, not only to Russia, but to India, China, and Central Asia, which he knew so well. The Professor also, as Mark wrote after his death in Summer 2003, "would bring the most biting irony into his historical discourses." He became a dear friend and discussion partner to both Lyndon and Helga LaRouche.
In the 1990s, as our association's work expanded eastwards across Eurasia, Mark reached out, with me, to Asian nations, especially to India. He found dialogue partners there, in J.C. Kapur and former Union Minister Chandrajit Yadav. Because of his illness, Mark was never able to go to India, but always understood its potential as a great nation, especially in dialogue with China and Russia. He had deep friendships with leaders of the nations of Ibero-America and Africa.
The Youth Movement
And Mark loved young people. One of his very last activities, was to visit one day at a LaRouche Youth Movement seminar near Koblenz, where he was immediately surrounded by groups of young people, wanting to talk to him about Britain and the world.
During his last long day in the hospital, when he was very ill, I read to myself and to him from one of Shakespeare's most inspired plays, The Winter's Tale. It is the story of a King who, through madness and jealousy, throws out his friend, another king, condemns his wife, and sends his new baby daughter to be abandoned. But the new generation survives, and grows up to bring renewal to both kingdoms. At the center of the play, is a wonderful scene, in which, as so often in Shakespeare, it is the commoners who speak the crucial lines. In this scene, the King's nobleman who has carried the baby to another country, is killed by a bear as he abandons her; his ship is wrecked in the storm. All this is seen by a young peasant, while his old father finds the beautiful child. The youth returns to boast to his father of all these sights, but the old man stops him. "Heavy matters! Heavy matters! But look thee here, boy. Now bless yourself: thou met'st with things dying, I with things new-born." From that moment, the whole play turns from disaster, towards redemption and hope. Mark remained committed to all "things new-born," through his last days.
There are many tributes to Mark; to me, the best, in its simplicity and truth, is the message written to him on his 40th birthday, by our daughter Jessica. She was then 16. To Mark, she wrote: "You have given me the best gift anyone ever could to their child: You have taught me how to think."