This is my review of the theories and presentations of Yuri Bezmenov, a KGB defector, on Psychological Warfare and Subversion. There are many different videos and audio recordings, in this one many are combinded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRqiJSEj5UY. First, a summary of his thesis:
Subversion is usually explained as destroying a region, a government or an economical system. Usually it is linked to espionage, with such romantic things as blowing up bridges, cloak and dagger – Hollywood style. What it is really about has nothing to do with this cliche activities. For some reason every expert on the KGB, Kremlinologist and even University professor it is the main goal of the KGB to steal some blueprints of a supersonic jet. This is only partly true. The traditional espionage activities outside of the USSR only take up 15% of time, money and man-power. The rest is always for subversion, under which the USSR always understands an aggressive, destructive activity to destroy the enemy country. It is not microfilms in Coca-cola cans, it is overt, legitimate and easily observable. It is not a crime. A subverter can be an exchange student, a diplomat, an actor, an artist or a journalist. You cannot subvert an enemy that does not want to be subverted. Imperial Japan did not wanted to be subverted. When an American ship came they were asked politely to leave. When they would not leave they would shoot them – to preserve their culture, ideology, traditions, values intact. You cannot subvert the Soviet Union because the borders are closed. The media is censored by the government and the populations is controlled by the KGB. Glossy pictures on “Time Magazine” and “Magazine America” which is published by the American Embassy in Moscow have no effect, because these never reach Soviet Citizens. The actor of subversion has a responsive target. It is a two way traffic. The United States is the receptive target of subversion. The theory of subversion goes back 2500 years. The first to develop this ideas war a Chinese philosopher by the name of Sun Tzu. He said to implement state policy fighting on a battlefield is the most counterproductive and inefficient way. The highest art of warfare is not to fight at all, but to subvert everything of value in the country of your enemy until the perception of reality is screwed up to such an extent that he does not perceive you as an enemy. And that your system and your ambitions look to your enemy as an alternative, if not desirable than at least feasible. If your subversion is successful you can take the enemy country without firing a single shot. These basics are taught to every student in the KGB schools. There are four stages in this theory of subversion.
- The first stage is called “Demoralization”.
It takes from 15 to 20 years to demoralize a society. Why this time-frame? It takes this long to educate one generation of students. It includes influencing by various methods channels where public opinion is shaped. Religion. Educational System. Social Life. Administration. Law enforcement system. Military. Labor and employment relations. If an observed result of a potential subversion attempt seems to be caused by the Soviet Union is not necessarily so. This can be compared to Japanese martial arts. If an enemy is very heavy it would be very useless and painful to resist his direct strike. Judo teaches you to dodge the arm, grab it and uses the opponents momentum against him. In a democratic society there are always many different opinions, ideologies and groups. Similarly the agent of subversion only needs to reinforce existing trends, direct them and align them. Religion has an important function in society to provide meaning. It can be subverted by being ridiculed and replaced by false religions like consumerism. An author that wants to write positively about Marxism can be supported. A university professor that wants to hold a course about Communism can be promoted. Trust in law enforcement can be subverted by portraying policemen bad in movies. Labor unions in the US have already surpassed their usefulness and have become important entities to promote Marxism. Misleading ideas of equality can be promoted. The stage of demoralization has reached its end when concepts of good and bad get mix up, and no one knows anymore what is just. Such as when even church leaders are saying that sometimes violence for the sake of social change is justified, for example intervention in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
- The next step is “Destabilization”
This is narrowing down the targets of the previous stage. Physical damage is here an option, again not by sending KGB agents, but by letting the sabotage be done by inhabitants of the target country. The targets are economy, law enforcement and media. Economy: Radicalization of the bargaining process. Radicalization of human relations. No more compromise – fight, fight, fight. Labor strikes are not deescalated by promoted and radicalized in the media. Violent clashes between opposing groups are presented as normal. Law and Order: People will find themselves unable to solve disputes even on small matters by themselves, without courts. The media is in opposition to society at large. New agents of subversion have been trained during the first stage, for example as exchange students. They now engage actively in the political process, for example as leaders of protests, parties or as public figures. Homosexuals against conservatives, white against black, environmentalists against industry – it does not matter where the division line goes, as long as these groups come into antagonistic, violent clashes. These leader get their support only partially from the Soviet Union, other Americans are willingly financing their cause.
In case of developing nations the process starts when the legitimate bodies of power collapse and do not function any more. Instead artificial bodies are injected into society, such as non-elected committees. If power is denied to these bodies they take it by force. An example of this can be seen in the Iranian revolution. Crisis is when society cannot function any more. The people are looking for a savior. The religious are waiting for a Messiah to come. Workers are calling for a strong centralized government. Either a foreign nation comes in as a savior or a local Leninist-Marxist group assumes this role. Or a bishop or religious figure. There are two possibilities: civil war or invasion. An example of civil war is Lebanon, where the conflict was artificially injected by the PLO. Examples for invasions are Afghanistan and any Eastern European nation. They were invaded by the soviet army.
The term Normalization is quite ironic. It is borrowed from the 1968 situation in Czechoslovakia, when the soviet propaganda explained that the country is now normalized again. Tanks moved into Prag, there is no more violence, the situation is now normal. At this stage the self-appointed new rules of the country do not need any revolution any more. It is now the reversal of the “Destabilization” phase. The country is stabilized by force. All the sleepers, revolutionaries, homosexuals, liberals, university professors, social workers, Marxists philosophers are being eliminated. Physically, sometimes. The new rules need stability to exploit their country. Examples therefor are found in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, where the leaders of the revolution were shot and the leadership was replaced. Good solid “democratic” “proletariat” freedom.
To reverse this process takes enormous effort. Grenada was invaded by the US in 1983 to disrupt the process of subversion. The country was becoming a military base for the Soviet Union. This would not have been necessary if the US would have prevented the rise to power of Maurice Bishop in the first place, i.e. in stage one. Leftist intellectuals protests such interventions into foreign affairs by the US, but cannot do anything when the Soviet Union is engaging in such intervention. To get a small country out of Soviet control after “Normalization” it always takes military action. In the stage of crisis a strong response with covert actions can suffice, as in the example of Chile. The process can be stopped even easier at stage two. All it takes is restriction of some liberties for groups that declare themselves enemies of society. No violence or drastic measures are required. Simple do not elect revolutionaries, Marxists or otherwise, into seats of power. Americans should be educated that such revolutionaries in a position of power are enemies. If he is not your enemy in stage one he will be in stage three. Laws the would curb consumerism would be helpful. Teaching self-restraint can stop subversion at the beginning. In stage one it would be sufficient to restrict the import of propaganda, of soviet literature, soviet journalist. In a strong society that resists the importation of foreign ideas the whole chain of events can be prevented. Bringing the society back to religion would be important. There are many examples of societies that collapsed by itself when they have lost their religion.
This is not a literal transcript, it is a summary with words close to his own, somewhat toned down on his homophobia. So Bezmenov seemed to be a right-wing Christian, with a very conservative ideology. He also had a lot of love for India and Indian girls. Concerning the content of his talk – is this really KGB policy? Is he telling this story only to earn some bucks, is he just a good story teller? Is his report partially correct? It is supported by real historical events, where the Soviet Union and the West were competing for influence. One major point of criticism could be made that he makes it look like US and other intelligence agencies would not also understand this theory, counter it, or even work with along similar concepts. This pattern of establishing influence in other countries is not unique to Marxism. Other cultures, systems, religions and ideologies can also function as a disguise for ambitions of power and conquest. After all, the US have a long list of countries where they have “brought democracy” – i.e. implemented regime change.
If the US itself was subject to Communist subversion, how far down the line would the US itself be now, in his opinion? It might be coincidence or it might be really due to active Soviet measures that the US and the West underwent a strong cultural and political shift from the 60th to the 90th. For coincidence would speak that this change could be explained without the Soviet Union existing. Women rights, sexual liberation, prevalence of contraception, decline of religion, economic stability, safety and peace, democracy, minority rights are all phenomena that support and reinforce each other. And by no means bad, as long as a society can live sustainable under this condition, on the contrary, they are very desirable. That the point with the sustainability is a very big “if”, will be shown here later.
Suppose the KGB did had its finger in the pie. Then the USSR collapsed, either due to inherent instability of unjust societies or intelligence operations in the other directions like the alleged “Project Hammer” or a mix of both. Is the west now in a permanent state of demoralization, because the followup stages were never executed? One may gets this impression, considering the poisonous political climate of today, the large fractures in society about Trump and Merkel …. but people were always pessimistic, and are still now, often so based on wrong assumptions. Statistics says otherwise, there is no significant change in “Optimism and Pessimism”, in suicide rates and mental health.
Then again … a case can be made, that this Soviet strategy is still carried out, by the successors of the KGB, which supposedly only have changed their name. This is done on a youtube channel called Vigilante Intelligence. For example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5y_fKoG4m0. In the framework of this hypothesis, Zionists and the Russian KGB are working together to continue to try to execute the demoralization project and spark a civil war in the US. Hardcore-Zionist are seemingly staging a fight, between left and right. The creator of this channel has an interesting history. He made a series of videos with quite a large impact in the circles of “conspiracy interested” people. He was rabidly anti-Israel, but backed up his theories with good sources, much of it taken from MSM news. A slick production style also contributed to his popularity. Then he got banned from youtube. His videos can still be found on other hosts. After he rebooted with the new name, he kind of continued with the same style, but now focuses more on the naivete and stupidity of the controlled opposition, the so called “alt-right”. He deals some heavy blows to many of them, but here is also some dishonesty on his part becoming visible, e.g. implying in the video above, that Ryan Dawson would be a Trump supporter. But … back to the topic of the theory of Bezmenov … do I think, this process still carried out in the West and the US. Yes, in a way, I absolutely think so, but Putin and the KGB have, if any, only a marginal role in it…