In the early 1970s, under the cover of a new “detente” with the Nixon administration, the Soviet KGB that is the Russian government today under Putin began a shift in how to penetrate and control the U.S. from within. It is the fruits of that effort that resulted in the Jan. 6, 2021 sacking of the Capitol, with, Putin intends, much more yet to come.
The first point to stress here is that Putin’s No. 1 asset in the U.S. is Trump. Trump is a carefully and patiently cultivated Russian agent of influence who has effectively drawn in a whole faction of the Republican Party under his sway and garnered over 70 million votes in the last election. It goes to show how malleable people and institutions can be. If the American democratic experiment is to survive for the long haul, it is going to have to face and address this condition very directly.
The KGB, aka Putin, has always operated on the notion that pitting elements of the general population of any aspiring democracy against one another, including by exploiting prejudices, is the most effective means for destabilizing and undermining it. In this regard, their standard “m.o.” almost totally agrees with the objectives of those within the ruling class of any nation.
So far in the U.S., it is Democracy 1, Putin 0, given the power of the mobilization of an aroused U.S. electorate last year. But the game isn’t over.
Operating from the political fringes that they’d held sway in for decades in the U.S., the KGB decided in the early 1970s it was time for a veritable paradigm shift. Instead of appearing like a fifth column cheerleading flank for progressive causes here, they launched a new initiative under the guise of Nixon’s new “detente” that involved duping Nixon into sanctioning on grounds it would help him to control his leftist and liberal enemies, including the residues of the civil rights, feminist, gay liberation and anti-war movements.
The solution: turn their fringe assets into a rightwing tool. They did this by a combination of means including using certain assets to humiliate and render impotent their fringe leftist elements. This involved fringe group thugs showing up at leftist fringe meetings and threatening or actually inflicting harm with attacks on aged Communist Party sympathizers, for example, with nunchucks and other handheld but not lethal weapons.
It was called “Operation Mop-Up.” It involved a fringe cult I’d become involved with called the National Caucus of Labor Committees led by one Lyn Marcus, later known by his real name of Lyndon LaRouche. He was a Socialist Workers Party dissenter who’d recruited a core group of students out of the Columbia University ferment of the late 1960s by teaching unofficial classes using a book he’d authored entitled, “Dialectical Economics.” (He’s now dead, but the residue of his organization now actively backs Trump).
“Mop Up,” he’d persuaded his young followers in 1973, was a way to assert “hegemony” within the U.S. Left by showing how impotent all the other groups, the CPUSA, SWP, Progressive Labor, etc., were. I was not part of the operation, being on the West Coast at the time. But a number of violent incidents occured in New York and Philadelphia, and it was deemed a success.
It occurred in the context of the huge landslide defeat that Democrat George McGovern suffered at the hands of a Nixon re-election effort in the fall of 1972.
This effectively softened up the “Old Left” and remnants of FDR’s legacy for a new thrust to the hard right.
A number in LaRouche’s still-tiny cult were upset when their leader announced that, first, he was abandoning any dilettantish leftist ways in favor of a new-found appreciation for Stalin, the ruthless idiot who ran the Soviet Union through paranoia and terror into the 1950s. Then LaRouche announced his sudden “realization” that it was not among the liberal-tending ranks in the U.S. that the seeds of revolution could be found, but that they were much more abundant and fertile in the ranks of the fringe rightwing, no matter how racist or anti-Semitic.
(To be continued).
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]