During Cold War I Soviet efforts directed towards subverting non-Soviet societies, including the United States, were strategic, sustained, and centrally directed. As explained by KGB defector Yuri Brezmenov, the purpose of these efforts was to bring the target country to a state of demoralisation and eventual crisis. Mr Brezmenov previously worked with Novosti Press Agency which became RIA Novosti and is the parent company of Russia Today which recently re-branded as RT. The following is a short summary of his lectures.

The purpose of Soviet subversion was to:

  • Cause the West to adopt policies that weakened it militarily, politically and economically
  • Pull developing/non-aligned countries into the Soviet orbit and away from the Western one
  • Make the Soviet Union appear strong and attractive to its own populations and potential supporters while making the West appear weak and unattractive
  • Hide the true cost of Soviet military intervention

Approximately 85-90 per cent of KGB funding for external activities was spent on subversion while the remaining 10-15 per cent was spent on espionage in the classic sense of spies trying to steal state secrets.

A target society that is successfully subject to these measures goes through four stages to become a Marxist/Lennonist state as set out below.


According to KGB methodology as explained by Mr Brezmenov, it takes 15-20 years to demoralise a nation because that is the time required to educate one generation. That is the period in a person’s lifetime that is dedicated to forming outlook, ideology and personality. The generation of the 1960s was heavily indoctrinated with Marxist concepts and those people are now in power. People who are demoralised are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli. Once programmed, exposure to true information does not matter. The process of demoralisation takes 30 years to reverse because the demoralised generation must be replaced.

During the process of demoralisation the Soviet agent seeks to infiltrate and gain influence in six areas: religion, education, social life, power structures, labour and employer relations, and law enforcement as follows:

  1. Religion – ridicule, encourage sects and cults to discredit faith, distract from the supreme purpose of real faith and move in the direction of social programs or any fake alternative.
  2. Education – distract from learning anything constructive, pragmatic, or efficient. Encourage the study of anything useless.
  3. Social life – replace traditional/naturally established human relations with fake ones; take initiative and responsibility away from people and replace with artificial bureaucratic institutions.
  4. Power structure – replace natural bodies of administration with artificial bodies who nobody elected e.g. the media. Encourage average mediocrity. Erode the structures of decision making with groupthink by people without qualifications. Equality ideology replaces excellence.
  5. Labour relations –destroy traditionally established links of bargaining between employer and employee. Replace any bargaining process that results in a compromise leading to better conditions for workers with an ideological conflict in which the workers lose and that harms society overall. Trade union boss takes away the right to trade labour. Infiltrate trade unions.
  6. Law and order – erode respect for authority. Elevate the standing of criminals. Sow hatred and mistrust towards authority. Encourage moral relativity resulting in the slow erosion of basic moral principles in the society.

The successful application of active measures/ideological subversion can… “change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite of the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their community or their country….exposure to true information means nothing.”


The agent seeks to find groups of people who are against the society and assist them. The agent aims for radicalisation of human relations – to normalise conflict and hate. This destabilises traditionally accepted relations between different groups in society such as students/teachers, employers/employees etc. As a result of this destabilisation, law and order is pushed into areas where people used to settle their own differences creating a litigious and distrustful society. The media comes into opposition to society at large, a media that is separate and alienated from the society. Sleeper agents recruited as students during the process of demoralisation become activated to become leaders of dissident ‘rights’ groups to sow further chaos.


If the process of destabilisation is successful, the society develops to a state of crisis. Crisis starts when the legitimate bodies of power/social structure collapse and an artificial body is injected into society – social workers, media, rights groups, revolutionary committees, or whomever take power by force. At that point, the society cannot function productively anymore. The population at large is looking for a saviour, a strong leader/government. At this point either a foreign Soviet or pro Soviet nation invades, or leftists rise up leading to civil war.


Once the new regime consolidates power its self-appointed rulers no longer need radicals and in fact they become a source of potential resistance to the new regime. The KGB referred to their ideological activists as “useful idiots”. All sleepers, leftists activists, rights groups, idealists and trade unionists are killed or exiled by the state.

Overcoming Subversion

To reverse the process takes enormous effort. Only military force can work at or near the point of normalisation, for example, in Grenada. The process can be reversed at point of destabilisation but this requires “restriction of some liberties for small groups that are self-declared enemies of the society” and the country must actively, but not violently, prevent the importation of foreign ideology.