The retreat of the United States and her allies before the Chinese-backed Taliban in Afghanistan and the failure of the West’s feeble attempts at diplomacy in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine share a sinister aetiology that has attracted remarkably little attention. A relentless, targeted campaign of desinformatsiya – systematic reputational destruction or “unpersoning” by Communist front groups posing as environmental campaign entities but in reality fostered, funded and too often founded by Moscow and Beijing – has all but silenced thousands of skeptical climate researchers who had formerly been able to debate the climate question in the sunlight of the agora, and has deterred tens of thousands more who would have spoken out in their support but dare not do so.
Goebbels had developed unpersoning as an art-form in the decades before the Nazis took power in Germany. Anyone who had proven successful in denouncing Corporal Hitler was compelled to endure repeated reputational assaults, until very nearly all who valued their reputations fell silent, allowing Hitler to assume power in 1933. In 1945, when the Allies hung back from Berlin to allow Marshal Zhukov the honour of taking the capital of the Reich in recognition of his gallant defence of Stalingrad, it was the then MGB that we permitted to march into the Mitte district, the seat of government at the heart of Berlin. In Mauerstrasse, they captured the Reichspropagandaamt, then the largest office building in Europe.
Goebbels, having swallowed his own propaganda about the Tausendjahriges Reich, had ordered his officials not to destroy the Propaganda Ministry’s records. The Royal Air Force had bombed one wing of the giant office block, but nearly all of the records were intact. They fell into the hands of the MGB. Within a month, the MGB – later the KGB – had come to understand the efficacy of unpersoning. At once, they founded the Desinformatsiya directorate. Its chief task was to unperson everyone, anywhere in the world, who had publicly opposed Soviet Communism.
The Kremlin appointed General Ion Mihai Pacepa, then the head of the Securitate, the secret police in Ceausescu’s Romania, as the first head of the directorate. He was to hold that post for a third of a century. His first target was Pope Pius XII. The Directorate commissioned a German Communist playwright to draft a play hostile to the Pope, and infiltrated stories about his alleged Nazi-loving, Jew-hating sympathies into fellow-traveling news media throughout the West.
The facts were that in 1937, the Pope, as secretary of state to his predecessor Pius XI, had published Mit Brennender Sorge (“With profound concern”), the first Papal encyclical in a language other than Latin since the Middle Ages, roundly condemning Nazism while all the chancelleries of Europe, applying their habitual policy of the pre-emptive cringe, were cravenly appeasing the Corporal. So successful was the Vatican’s pipeline to get Jews out of the Gestapo’s clutches in Italy that, as soon as it was safe to do so after the War, the Chief Rabbi of Rome and his deputy were both baptized as Catholics. The Chief Rabbi particularly requested that the Pope should stand sponsor for him.
At the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust in Israel, the largest plaque on the memorial wall for those who had stood by the Jews is devoted to Pope Pius XII. Notwithstanding such mere facts, after some years the KGB had succeeded in tarnishing the reputation of the saintly Pope. It was only recently, when the Holy See opened the archives to scholars, that the truth became widely known.
Unpersoning has become a staple technique among Communist front groups throughout the West. For instance, Saul Alinsky devoted two of his dozen Rules for Radicals to advocacy for it. It was and is of particular efficacy in silencing almost all those who would otherwise have dared to question the official narrative on global warming, whose origin in the Desinformatsiya directorate is nothing like as widely appreciated as it should be.
On 28 July 1979, less than three months after Margaret Thatcher had first taken office as the British Prime Minister, the Communist leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, quietly set sail on a Polish freighter bound for St. Petersburg (then Leningrad). There, like Lenin before him, he took a sealed train to Moscow, where he was met and transferred to the Patrice Lumbumba University, where the world’s terrorist rank and file were trained. After just three weeks there, Scargill’s handlers realized that he was a cut above the rest and transferred him to the Lenin Institute, where terrorist leaders such as Yassir Arafat were trained. He spent five months at the Institute, returning on an Aeroflot flight to Paris, where he transferred to a British Airways flight bound for London.
Scargill’s handlers had trained him to emulate the success of the miners’ strike a decade earlier, which had brought down the Conservative government of Edward Heath and replaced it with a Kremlin-friendly Labour administration. He was given funding of at least $30 million that our quants in the intelligence community could trace – a substantial sum in those days – paid via the then Czechoslovak Embassy in London, which the KGB had vainly hoped we were not monitoring.