Pacepa said that "among the leaders of Moscow's satellite intelligence services there was unanimous agreement that the KGB had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy", and that KGB fingerprints are all over Lee Harvey Oswald and his killer Jack Ruby.
In 2007, Ivan R. Dee published Pacepa's book Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination in which he asserts that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the assassination of Kennedy, then changed his mind but was unable to stop Oswald. The work was said to rely heavily on the work of the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and Edward Jay Epstein.Those of us who have grown tired of grassy knolls and conspiracy theories tend to reject this sort of thinking with a wince and a shaking of the head. Something in us just says Look, Oswald acted alone and he was going to do this anyway. Whatever contact he had with the KGB was not the deciding factor. They are just claiming this after the fact, puffing out their chests that they caused it. Easy to say now. Yet really, how do we know? Our tiredness is not relevant data. Might they have been slightly responsible? The idea was to take the pressure of Castro in Cuba, and that seems to have happened. If they encouraged him at akey time, a vulnerable moment, might their intervention have been decisive? We can't replay history. We can't know. We lean against because it just seems ridiculous, not right.
In the taking of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, both sides seem to have subsequently overestimated the number of defenders killed by a factor of two, or even three. Why? Well, the Christians invading wanted to intimidate with what powerful, unstoppable dudes they were. The defenders wanted to portray them as heartless slaughterers of innocents. So both exaggerated. Yeah, we did that. This has an echo in more modern times of the CIA claiming to have installed the Shah in Iran in 1953. Yeah, we did that. That was totally us. Puffing out of chest, warning shot across the bow to other nations who might want to think twice before messin' with US. The opponents of the Shah agreed, and resented it, harboring that anger for decades and holding it against America to this day.
Yet when you look at the actual events, they weren't much. Paid for some cartoons in newspapers already sympathetic to the Shah. Funded some rent-a-mob action in protests. So...both sides agree that this was enough to topple a government? That it might not work 99 times out of 100, but in the hands of skilled subversives like the CIA, putting pressure in at just the right time and place worked?
I think if you allow for the possibility of the CIA cleverly playing its cards in 1953 you have to at least allow for the possibility that the KGB accomplished a much smaller act of persuasion in 1963. We might decide that one is true and the other false on other grounds, but the foundational idea, on which 99% of Americans base their opinion, should be the same flowing each way. However, 99% of Americans would agree with one and reject the other. Yet when you burrow down, that seems to be largely feeling, impression. We have piles of new information since the original opinions were formed, but that hasn't moved the dial an inch.
You know how I feel about that.
I use this to set the table for an interesting essay about Gramscian Damage. I would have read it as recently as ten years ago with nothing but contempt. Don't be ridiculous. Those things were going to happen anyway. Powerful intellectual currents had been moving for decades, based not only on prejudices but on real information. If KGB disinformation had never occurred we would have ended up in the same place. Academics came to those ideas because they are essentially right, essentially more solid than the jingoist fantasies of grade-school textbooks. Well, I still have an initial reaction in that direction, because my intellectual training taught me to scoff at this ages ago. CPUSA and other groups affected nothing, they were just hapless dreamers - and half of them were FBI informants anyway. Yet let's take this out one circle farther. Shall we say that communists in general, marxists of any stripe had no effect on mid-20th C Western thought, descending down to the present day? Well no, it would be hard to claim that with a straight face. Even academics who don't consider themselves at all marxist subscribe to a great many ideas Raymond lists.
So if disinformation agents did exist, and some recognisable names in the academy trace to them, was there some effect? I would have thought the encouraging on non-representational art in public spaces in order to undermine patriotism* to be one of those wild ridiculous theories of cranks, suitable for those Russian guys who wore bad suits and stupid hats in the Cold War, thinking they were Big Kahunas in the intellectual world when they were just cranks. It's a crank theory. It just feels that way.
Inconveniently, however, that is how things turned out.
So, see if you can get to normal in evaluating Eric Raymond's essay. Is there anything to it? Did the KGB exert some influence on Western thought in these ways? 5%, 25%? Would everything have been just the same without them, and the communist thinkers in the West that they funded and encouraged?
Here's what I've learned in the past decade that leads me to give more credence to this unlikely-looking idea than I would have: we know a lot more about how irrational we all are in how we reach opinions for social reasons, and defend them for psychological ones. I have repeatedly claimed that liberals are far more suspect on the former (I think liberals and conservatives are about even-up on the latter. Hell, that's really a human-nature downfall, says I). Academics have never been unanimous in their opinions, but they have in the main been greater slaves of fashion than the readers of Vogue. The rest of us aren't much better, so we needn't give ourselves much credit. Evangelical Christians have certainly had their fashions and been swift to punish those who didn't get the message that hats are in this year. Trumpism has elements of being the fashion that is out-of-fashion, so stick it, I think for myself!
Well, that's another day. For the moment, I'm looking at the influence, by many paths, of intentional disinformation on our current thought.
*The Soviets didn't use non-representational art, BTW, and they seemed to stay aloof from revolution for decades, defying economic gravity. Perhaps irrelevant.