The Four Stages of Ideological Subversion

7 min readFeb 21, 2023

A Warning to America from an ex-KGB Agent.

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

Recipe For a Communist Takeover

Yuri Bezmenov was a former KGB agent for the Soviet Union who had defected to the West in 1970.

During his time as an agent, he had witnessed first-hand, the methods the USSR had used to cause Marxist Revolutions to erupt throughout the world.

In a series of interviews and speeches, Bezmenov outlined the Four Stages of “Ideological Subversion” that he had witnessed firsthand during his time as a KGB agent.

According to Bezmenov, ideological subversion is a covert strategy used by the KGB and other Soviet agencies to undermine and ultimately overthrow Western governments by spreading propaganda and disinformation.

Grassroots revolutions do not exist. Only revolutions that are engineered by a professional, organized group will ever come to pass.

Bezmenov explained that the process of ideological subversion has four stages, which are:

Stage #1 — Demoralization (This stage can take up to 20 years to complete.)

Bezmenov described the First Stage, demoralization, as a process of gradually eroding the values and beliefs of a society until its members no longer have a clear sense of right and wrong.

This involves the gradual erosion of traditional values, such as patriotism, family values, and religion.

This is achieved through the spread of propaganda that promotes moral relativism and undermines the authority of traditional institutions, along with psychological warfare, and infiltration of key institutions such as education and media.

Stage #2 — Destabilization (This stage can last for 2–5 years)

The Second Stage, destabilization, involves creating economic, social, and political chaos in a society.

Bezmenov explained that this can be achieved through various means, including the creation of social unrest, the promotion of radical groups, and the undermining of government institutions.

This creates a state of crisis and chaos in society by promoting unrest, economic instability, and political polarization.

The goal is to create a sense of hopelessness and despair that makes people more susceptible to radical ideologies.

Stage #3 — Crisis (this stage can be completed in as little as six weeks)

The Third Stage is a crisis, where the chaos created in the destabilization stage reaches a boiling point and a state of emergency is declared.

Bezmenov stated that this stage is characterized by violent clashes between different groups and the breakdown of law and order. The society is plunged into a state of crisis, with political, economic, and social upheaval.

The goal is to create a power vacuum that can be exploited by radical groups and individuals.

Stage #4 — Normalization (can last for decades)

The Fourth and Final Stage is normalization, which involves the imposition of a new, authoritarian regime that claims to restore order and stability to the society.

Bezmenov explained that this stage can last for decades and involves the complete suppression of dissent and the establishment of a totalitarian state.

A new political order is created that is favorable to the subverter’s agenda. This is achieved through the manipulation of public opinion and the use of force if necessary.

The word normalization is derived from Soviet propaganda that seeks to downplay a drastic change in a country as a normal phenomenon.

The Ideal Recruits of the KGB

Yuri was instructed to surround himself with media personalities, rich filmmakers, academics, and cynical, egocentric people.

The best recruits in the eyes of the KGB were narcissistic, greedy, morally devoid individuals who can help destabilize their country of origin.

In the United States the KGB recruited professors and civil rights activists to subvert and destabilize the country.

“They will be lined up against the wall and shot”

Interestingly, even though those journalists were idealistically leftists, the KGB eventually wanted them dead, as ‘they knew too much’.

It was the true believers in Marxism and Soviet socialism or Communism that became targets. Once these leftists become disillusioned, they become their worst enemies.

Some recruits hoped they would gain position within the party, but that would never happen. After the ‘useful idiots’ served their purpose, they were either executed, exiled or sent to the Gulag.

Yuri explained that KGB was more concerned about the psychological warfare against the American government, through ideological subversion rather than espionage activities, which constituted only 15% of their work.

He highlighted how brainwashing techniques were used on the American population to infuse an ideology, distinct from Americanism, and raise suspicions through media propaganda and academia.

Manipulation of public opinion can make people reject the obvious. Facts soon become meaningless.

“As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell him nothing, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. …he will refuse to believe it… That’s the tragedy of the situation of demoralization.” — Yuri Bezmenov [1983]

According to Bezmenov, the process of ideological subversion is a long-term strategy that requires patience and persistence. It can take decades or even generations to achieve the desired outcome.

However, once the subverter’s goals have been achieved, they can exert total control over the society.

The idea of using propaganda and disinformation to manipulate public opinion remains a potent tool for those who seek to gain political power.

For a population self-absorbed in a world of propaganda, and theories of Marxism and Leninism, truth loses its grip on the society.

The older generation also loses control over the population due to consistent attacks on their moral fabric.

“This will happen in America if you allow the Schmucks to bring the country to crisis, promise people all kinds of goodies and paradise on Earth, destabilize your economy, eliminate the principle of free-market competition, put a Big Brother government in Washington DC with benevolent things,”

When Bezmenov arrived in the United States in the 1970s, he believed that America was in the demoralization stage.

He argued that leftist ideas were being promoted in schools and media, and that American culture was being eroded by moral relativism and the rejection of traditional values.

Bezmenov warned that unless the country woke up to these dangers, it would inevitably move into the destabilization stage and eventually fall to communism.

Some argue that the country is now in the destabilization stage, with increasing polarization, social unrest, and political chaos.

Others point to the rise of cancel culture, political correctness, and the erosion of free speech as evidence that the country is still in the demoralization stage.

Bezmenov’s observations continue to be influential, particularly among those who are concerned about the spread of leftist ideas and the erosion of traditional values in Western societies.

For many they serve as a reminder of the dangers of ideological subversion and the need to remain vigilant in the defense of our democratic values.

“This will happen in America if you allow the Schmucks to bring the country to crisis, promise people all kinds of goodies and paradise on Earth, destabilize your economy, eliminate the principle of free-market competition, put a Big Brother government in Washington DC with benevolent things,” he remarked.

Yuri Bezmenov believed that America was in a state of undeclared war against the principles on which it was founded.

Unless the United States wakes up!

The time bomb is ticking every second and the disaster is coming closer and closer.

“Unlike myself, you will have nowhere to defect,”

Key Terms

(from ChatGPT)

Ideological Subversion: Ideological subversion refers to a covert process aimed at undermining and destabilizing a targeted society or system by infiltrating and manipulating its ideological beliefs, values, and institutions. It involves spreading propaganda, disinformation, and manipulating public opinion to gradually shift the ideological foundation of a society towards a different ideology or worldview, often one that opposes the existing system.

Normalization: Normalization refers to the process of making something more acceptable, commonplace, or normalized within a society or culture. It involves shifting societal attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors so that what was once considered unusual, deviant, or controversial becomes widely accepted as normal or typical. Normalization can occur through various means, such as changes in laws and policies, shifts in public opinion, or increased representation in media and popular culture.

Political Polarization: Political polarization refers to the division and divergence of political opinions, attitudes, and ideologies within a society, leading to distinct and often opposing political camps or factions. It occurs when individuals or groups develop increasingly extreme and mutually exclusive positions on political issues, resulting in a heightened level of conflict, hostility, and inability to find common ground or compromise.

Moral Relativism: Moral relativism is the philosophical viewpoint that moral judgments and principles are not universally or objectively true, but rather depend on individual or cultural perspectives and beliefs. It suggests that there is no absolute or universal moral standard by which to judge right or wrong, and that moral values are subjective and can vary across different societies, cultures, or individuals. Moral relativism recognizes the diversity of moral beliefs and emphasizes the importance of tolerance and understanding of different perspectives.

Demoralization: Demoralization refers to a state of discouragement, loss of hope, or a decline in morale, often resulting from persistent negative experiences, disillusionment, or feelings of helplessness. In a societal or political context, demoralization may refer to the deliberate effort to weaken the morale, motivation, and resilience of a group or population. It can be achieved through various means, including propaganda, disinformation, psychological manipulation, or systematic suppression of dissenting voices, with the aim of undermining unity, resistance, or opposition.

What do you think about Yuri Bezmenov’s observations in relation to what is happening in the US today? Do you believe these observations on the four stages of a communist takeover to be applicable to what is going on in the United States currently? Why or why not?




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