Why Aren’t We All Socialists?

In 1984, a defecting KGB propagandist named Yuri Bezmenov gave an astounding interview which remains one of the most trenchant in the history of American politics. Espionage and microfilm, he said, are a minor part of the KBG: 85 percent of their manpower and money are spent on “intellectual subversion,” a four-stage plan to replace democracy with socialism by destroying America’s ability to defend its democractic ideals. 

Stage one, demoralization, takes 15-20 years, because that’s how long it takes to pump Leninism-Marxism into the “soft heads” of a generation of American students. They graduate to become half-baked intellectuals running the government, the civil service, the mass media, and education. They are, as Bezmenov says, permanently contaminated: “A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information—the facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures. Even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him a concentration camp, he’s going to refuse to believe it.”

“This,” Bezmenov warned, 

is what will happen in the United States if you allow all these schmucks to bring the country to crisis: To promise people all kinds of goodies and a paradise on earth, to destabilize your economy, to eliminate the principle of free market competition, and to put a big brother government in Washington, D.C., with benevolent dictators like Walter Mondale, who will promise lots of things—never mind whether the promises are fulfilled or not. He will go to Moscow to kiss the bottoms of a new generation of Soviet assassins. . . .

Then, most of American politicians, media and educational system, will train another generation of people who think they are living at a peacetime. False. The United States is in a state of war—undeclared total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system.

Unlike myself, you will have nowhere to defect to.

Bezmenov delivered this warning 40 years ago. The takeover of America’s cultural institutions—the government, the civil service, mass media and education, not to mention entertainment—has happened exactly according to Bezmenov’s schedule: All the top positions, all the teachers, all the movie directors, even all the heads of the major sports leagues, are filled with anti-Americans who tout socialism and never miss an opportunity to suck up to the CCP. (It’s not like there’s any voter suppression in China, after all—there would have to be voting first.) 

And yet, according to Bezmenov, America itself should have ceased to exist shortly after this cultural takeover was complete. With the Left’s near-total control of everything young people hear and see for most of their waking hours every day—in school, on television, on their tablets and phones—there shouldn’t be any young Americans at all. And yet there are. Why? 

For one thing, socialism does not appeal to people who work for a living: It has always been an intellectual amuse-bouche of the comfortably well-off and the idle rich. Henry James describes this phenomenon in his novel Princess Casamassima, published back in 1885. And the widow of murdered ex-KGB agent Ignace Reiss described the same thing in her memoirs: In the years just before World War I, their youthful circle of friends, all of whom would go on to work for the Soviet security apparatus in Poland, were the bourgeoisie personified. Only one of them was a working man—the rest were intellectuals, lawyers, and the well-to-do, with plenty of spare time to ponder the ills of society. Paying taxes is generally incompatible with admiring socialism. 

For another thing, socialism has lost its rebellious, countercultural sheen, and can’t quite get over it: Look at Bill de Blasio in New York, illegally defacing the street in front of Donald Trump’s building with a mural protesting social injustice, as though he were a college freshman and not actually mayor of New York and ultimately responsible for the justices and injustices of a system he now runs.  

In the 1960s, all the institutions in America reflected American cultural values. So a rejection of authority was ispo facto a rejection of American values. It had natural appeal to young people who tend to prefer rebellion over obedience. 

But the Left is no longer on the outside looking in. They’re running the show. They can’t stick it to the man anymore because they are the man. And this fact is bound to be disappointing to a new generation of American youth. The Baby Boomers went swooning after a leftist movement shouting “reject authority.” Those same leftists are now in all the positions of power shouting “Obey!” It hasn’t got the same appeal. 

If you want to be a risk-taking, rebellious youth today, imagine telling everyone you know: “I plan to raise a traditional family and take the kids to Church every Sunday!” The cultural establishment would be down on you like a ton of Soviet bricks. 

But finally, and I think the main reason so many young Americans reject the Left, is that Americans hate being lied to. At some point, after so many years of elementary and high school and college, they look back and try to assess what they have been taught. And they realize, perhaps with more anger than sadness, that the years in which they were supposed to be learning about history have been utterly empty: They may “know” that slaves came to America in 1619, and that history is a series of bad things done by Americans, but they can’t give a coherent one-paragraph description of the American Revolution or the Civil War or of either of the two World Wars. They don’t know why James Polk was a great president or why Teddy Roosevelt was never supposed to have become president. They realize that years of propaganda have left a black, empty hole where history ought to be.

In short, they can sense that something is missing. This may explain why five and 10-minute history lessons have become so popular on YouTube: We want to know, but nobody has taught us. And yet, many Americans are willing to go out on their own in search of an education the cultural elite has denied them.

Bezmenov said that if we were serious about saving America we would focus on education. That is, after all, where the KGB was focusing. The American school system is in ruins, but it doesn’t need to stay that way: The disgraceful performance of public schools during the pandemic has been something of a revelation. More Americans than ever are homeschooling their children, realizing the task is too important to be left in the hands of today’s credentialed educators. 

Teach your children the Bible and American history. Read them anecdotes from the lives of Washington and Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Teach them to love America before their schools teach them to hate it. If you’re already an adult, read these stories yourself. Know the things you should know. Because, as Bezmenov points out, once America is gone there will be no place left to defect to.

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