East Germans had a name for their version of ‘woke’ culture’; it was Zersetzung, or ‘decomposition’ in English. It was a form of psychological warfare deployed against citizens suspected of ‘subversive incitement’. There were several techniques to Zersetzung but probably the most effective was what the Stasi described as the ‘systematic discrediting of public reputation’ by eroding the ‘self-confidence and self-esteem of a person [to] create fear, panic, confusion’.
This is now the strategy of the online mob, who have become ruthlessly adept at degrading those they charge with subversion: Toby Young, professor Nigel Biggar, Germaine Greer, Ian Buruma, Placido Domingo, Sir Tim Hunt and Sir Roger Scruton are just a few who have been targeted.
Describing his experience in The Spectator last year, Young wrote that “my fall in status has been vertiginous…I have been surgically removed from every VIP list”. Young was brought down by some ancient tweets, whereas Domingo has been publicly disgraced by a series of unproven allegations of sexual harassment. “It is very easy these days to go against someone you don’t sympathise with, and to disseminate falsehoods,” he said in an interview earlier this month.
Those who whip up the online mob into a frenzy are overwhelmingly Zoomers but their indoctrination is the work of the Boomers. That generation of gullible idealists who embraced Marx, Lenin, Gramsci and others in rebelling against their parents’ perceived conservatism.
Someone who saw ‘woke’ culture coming was a former KGB operative Yuri Bezmenov. Speaking on US television in 1984, defector Bezmenov described how the KGB had for many years been conducting a campaign of ‘ideological subversion’ against the USA. The goal, he explained, was ‘to change the perception of reality of Americans to such an extent no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their family, their community and country’.
Bezmenov explained the strategy would require a minimum of twenty years because that was how long it took to brainwash a generation of students.