Psychological Warfare, Subversion and the Control of Society | Yuri Bezmenov

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Idealogical Subversion

: Psychological Warfare Subversion and Control of Western Society – 1983 |

KGB defector, , explains in detail how subversion aims to gradually change the perception and values of a society, leading to the undermining of its existing systems and beliefs.

, also known as Tomas Schuman, was a Soviet journalist and former KGB informant who defected to Canada in 1970. He is best known for his anti-communist lectures and books published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In 1983, he gave a at Summit University in Los Angeles. The was titled “ on Subversion” and discussed the stages of subversion used to gradually subvert a political system.

“The highest art of warfare is not to fight at all but to subvert anything of value in the country of your enemy.”


Subversion refers to a process by which the values and principles of an established system are contradicted or reversed in an attempt to sabotage the existing social order and its structures of power, authority, tradition, hierarchy, and social norms. It involves a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system, often carried out by persons working secretly from within. Subversion is used as a tool to achieve political goals because it generally carries less risk, cost, and difficulty as opposed to open belligerency. The act of subversion can lead to the destruction or damage of an established system or government. In the context of , subversion aims to gradually change the perception and values of a society, ultimately leading to the undermining of its existing systems and beliefs.

outlines the four stages of as follows:

  1. Demoralisation: This stage involves the undermining of the moral fabric of a society, eroding its values, and creating a sense of disillusionment and hopelessness among its population.
  2. Destabilisation: During this stage, the subverter aims to destabilise the institutions and functions of the society, leading to a state of crisis and a breakdown of the existing social, political, and economic systems.
  3. Crisis: The crisis stage involves a period of intense turmoil, where the subverter exploits the destabilisation to create widespread panic, fear, and conflict within the society.
  4. Normalisation: In this final stage, the subverter seeks to normalise the previously subversive ideas and changes, making them appear acceptable and part of the new status quo, thereby solidifying the subversion.

Bezmenov described these stages as part of a long-term strategy used for on a national scale.

's warning of , as outlined in his , resonates with contemporary events. His four-step framework for subversion reflects intentional, directional changes seen in modern societies. The openness of some societies makes them susceptible to this process, while closed systems are considered impossible to subvert. Bezmenov's insights continue to be relevant today.

In Detail

Stages of Subversion

by Yuri Bezmenov (a.k.a. Tomas Schuman)

Notes from the by Mr. Thomas, Schuman at the Word International correspondent's seminar Feb. 22 – 24 (1983) [Thomas Schuman is an x-KBG officer]

1. Stage One: Demoralisation.

Preparatory period 10 to 30 years 

Here subversion goes on simultaneously on various “levels” of national and human activity: level of consciousness (ideology) level of authority (socio-political power and administration), and level of material wellbeing (economy).

Level of consciousness (ideology)

Infiltration into mass media, educational systems, organised religion and religious groups, cultural and professional groups and organisations. The main goal: psychological change of national and individual perception of reality to such an extent that majority of a nation does not perceive any danger emanating from totalitarianism, moreover the hostile system is ultimately accepted as non-belligerent and even in certain aspects desirable, in any case — functional as an alternative to the present one.

The most efficient methods of demoralisation is semantic manipulation of population, or word pollution, whereby the normal true meaning of the words and traditionally accepted meanings are being gradually replaced by Orwellian type surrogates, partly or totally opposite to the reality. Example: “Patriotic Front Guerrillas” — Moscow trained and armed regular force, practicing mega-mass murders and terror against defenceless population of their own country. Example: “United Nations” a forum for ideological war between lifetime bureaucratic representatives of various elites and Juntas, most of them not related to any nation at all (Belorussia, Ukraina, GDR etc. “ambassadors” to UN). Example: “World Peace Council” — Soviet sponsored front, supporting localised military conflicts, as long as they are directed against the Western (USA) interests. Example: “Free medical aid” (anything “free”) — a government-subsidised service, financed from taxation of the population, and extended to population disregarding the real needs, capabilities or merits of individuals. etc…

Level of authority

Subversion on this level requires infiltration into domestic institutions of a nation as well as into her foreign policymaking bodies. Domestically, the aim of the subverter is to weaken the home defences, such as security services, police, army, civil service, other public services (transport, post office, hydro — if nationalised, etc). The methods — discreditation of the administration of the most vital national services. Investigations of “wrong doings”; corruption affairs, sex scandals — implication of the national leaders and politicians in fraudulent or dubious affairs, smear tactics in media etc. Ridicule everything “patriotic” as psychotic. Describe every effort to reveal the activity of subverter (KGB et al) – as “paranoid”. Discredit everyone, who can testify to public, media and parliament the true nature of subversion (immigrants from Communist regimes are shown to a nation as “emotionally unbalanced”. Solzhenytsin “arrogant prophet and a profiteer” etc).

Internationally, the demoralisation process concerns mainly with relations with other extensions of the subverter's regime. To corner the nation in question into fraudulent “Disarmament Campaigns” fictional and unverifiable SALT agreements. Isolate the “capitalist” countries from each other and split their blocks, while drawing the ragments into “deals” with totalitarian camp. Force USA to betray her allies (Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, South Africa). Make leaders of the target nations sign all sorts of fake “joint communiqués” giving the subverter much needed appearance of decency and acceptance.

Level of economy

Forcing the West into unequal, beneficial only to the subverter deals (with idealised, if, preferential trade status “deal”, sea-fishing “deals”. etc). Dumping policies (sale of

“Ladall cars in Canada half-price of its replica – “Fiat-12811). There are about 20 Sovietowned companies in Canada, such as Tractorexport Ltd. in Toronto; Emec Trading Ltd. in Vancouver; Socan aircraft in Calgary, churning yearly 7 digit profits. The goal is doublebarreled: to undermine similar Canadian and US businesses and to consolidate huge “liquid” assets to subsidize other forms of subversion in the target area.

2. Stage Two: Destabilisation

(2 Years To 5 Months)

Encouragement and provoking of labor unrest by infiltrating. and “ideolhgisation” of the unions; provoking unnecessary strikes, creating inflation, lowering productivity with simultaneous of increased demands; of “strong government” and necessity of “controls” — militarisation of the “grass roots” movements and minority groups (gays, coloureds, womenlib, prisonlib, kidlib, fartlib) and sidetracking of the public attention to the non-issues (dogs dropping on the sidewalks etc). of gun control for the law-abiding population with simultaneous relaxation of attitude towards recidivist criminals. Thus, rendering a nation helpless and defenceless in the future event of political terrorism; breaking down of democratic institutions (parliaments to city halls) and replacing them with a number of centralised govt. appointed bodies, people can not re-elect or get rid of otherwise; breaking down of national unity (ethnic, racial, religious linguistic etc); sabotage and arrangement of accidents on transport, power stations etc. to create an atmosphere of insecurity and panic.

3. Stage Three: Collapce, Explosion

( 2 Weeks To A Month)

Interrelations between parts of economy break down; general strike; growth of terrorism and crime; total discontent; currency crisis (gold rush); collapse of the government and import of an alternative “exile” government; power concentrates in the hands of the militant “revolutionary” group, who will be disposed off later on. The nation is ripe for the final act of subversion: “invitation of a communist occupational army (Cuban, Soviet etc).

What to do about it? Is it possible do prevent subversion?

Yes. It takes a unified national effort. Any democratic nation should cultivate such attitudes as devotion to one's country, patriotism, moral strength, working ethics, resurrection of all national traditional values.

Among other drastic measures: restriction of liberties of self proclaimed anti-democratic, militant, radical and amoral groups. Re-elections. Chose responsible, not “charismatic” leaders. Reform your currency and cancel (not “freeze”‘) all the assets of the subverter country. Expel all the agents of the subverter without any apology or explanation.

Reestablish friendly relations with the moderate and non-aggressive dictatorships as long as they are anti-communist. Preach self-restraint and moderation to the population. Explain to the people, that the situation is serious, and that some small liberties have to be sacrificed for the sake of survival and basic freedom, but when and if it comes to the worst and your nation is invaded or “liberated” by internal “revolutionary” forces? Well, you still have a chance:

Don't bother to buy gold – remember, the “liberators” will decree “nationalisation” of it, and you can loose your life hoarding it;

Develop quality of leadership. You may have to lead a resistance group;

Develop solidarity through your church or other associations;

In case of civil war, remember, that “love thy neighbour” will have literally vital importance. Without love you may find yourself and your family in a real “helter-skelter” bloodbath;

Learn firearms; befriend a policeman or an army officer long before the war starts — that means now;

Study survival techniques, learn how to grow food, hunt, build shelter and keep warm.

Remember every “progressive Marxist economy” immediately results in a disastrous shortage of everything needed for survival;

Learn to share, create local pools with your neighbours and coordinate usage of cars gasoline, food, ammunition, medicines, and technical know-how;

Learn professions essential for emergency situation: mechanic, radio-operator, doctor, pilot, electrician etc;

Learn the languages of ‘potential aggressors (Russian, Spanish, Chinese);

Learn to cooperate, but be ready to expect no help from anyone;

Learn to be self-sufficient;

Try to stay informed whatever happens, Remember every “progressive revolutionary” regime immediately establishes a blanket over all mass communication media.

Have a small short-wave radio and a CB transmitter — you may need the latter for underground communications.

Study evacuation routes from your city to a nearest safe place: remember — industrial center is the most probable target both for Communist rockets and for urban terrorists, trained by Moscow or Havana.

4. Stage Four: “Normalisation”

(Indefinite Period)

Expulsion (or execution) of the previous national leaders and the top of the military and security establishment. Shocked population organise “resistance”. Too late: the resistance is announced to be an “imperialist plot” (CIA). Soviet (Cuban) aid is “requested.” Tanks and planes arrive in short order. Then comes expulsion (or execution) of foreign correspondents and diplomats as “spies”, establishment of “revolutionary” over all mass media, mass arrests of political opponents, rapid creation of concentration camps for the “enemies of the people”, regimentation of all national life, shortage of all the basic commodities, mass terror, This usually ends the circle of events and a “liberated” nation for an indefinite period becomes a satellite of a communist power. This is the least painful development. The other two alternatives are unmeasurably more tragic:

1. International (multinational) military conflict (Indochina), or
2. Civil war and mass terror against the civilian population.

Both alternatives imply that the “liberated” nation by this time is: totally defenceless internally (the Police and security destroyed) — defenceless individually (guns expropriated no civil-defence programs conducted for years, gangs of “revolutionaries” are absolutely free to do, whatever they imagine is good for the cause — defenceless internationally (army is in a state of atrophy after disarmament and SALTs) — friendless (all former allies betrayed, USA abused, UN packed with previously “liberated” countries).

Thus, no one in the whole world is going to help you and prevent the “normalisation” of your nation. Least of all the remaining democratic (or autocratic, but non-aggressive) countries. Your governments and your media have been romancing with “socialism” and “détente” for so long, that establishment of the “peoples” power in your country would not seem tragic for them. Besides, what can they do? Move their troops?

Subversion is complete and successful. From now on the infected system will stabilise itself and grow, eventually replacing the normal healthy national body, than devouring the disintegrated remnants of it.

Sources and links

Yuri Bezmenov: Lecture on Subversion (1983)

Source: Yuri Bezmenov: Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society

Source: Yuri Bezmenov: Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society

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