One of the most ominous chapters in history is the Jakarta Method. This was the campaign that the CIA carried out during the Cold War in which millions of people involved in the global class struggle were murdered. Starting with the mass violence effort orchestrated by the military dictatorship that U.S. imperialism installed in Indonesia, the Method was exported to Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and the other Latin American countries in which U.S. coups took place. In Indonesia, the violence was the most indiscriminate, and for this reason ended up taking hundreds of thousands of lives. Anyone who was even vaguely suspected of holding socialist sympathies got hunted down, and either murdered or put into a concentration camp. Ethnic minorities like the Chinese were subjected to genocide.
The bodies of the targets were all disposed of away from public life, which had been fully taken over by a regime obsessed with stoking anti-communist paranoia. The trauma the country had experienced was buried, the records of the atrocities fully censored for decades. These crimes, and the crimes elsewhere that they served as a model for, were instrumental in making capitalism win the cold war. As inequality intensifies, and as fascism rises again throughout the Euro-American countries, a version of the Jakarta Method will soon be replicated in the core of imperialism.
Ukraine’s anti-communist suppression model
Those who’ve gained class consciousness, and therefore become at risk of being targeted by such a purge, may consider drastic options for survival: fleeing the country, resorting to guerrilla struggle so they can escape the state’s jurisdiction, taking one’s political work fully underground. (The latter won’t protect you, as in the digital age all of your past online sentiments are seamlessly archived to be used against you.) Perhaps the militant resistance option will become optimal at some point. But we must not react to this threat we face by doing what the uncommitted U.S. communists of the McCarthy era did, which was panic and fully disband without even bothering to continue their work in clandestine form. We must carefully study the nature of the danger, and respond accordingly.
Part of this is recognizing that America’s equivalent of Jakarta will not be precisely like the Jakarta Method. It will be something subtle, something insidious, something that the untrained individual can’t detect until it’s already too late for them. Our conditions in the core are different from that of the neo-colonies, and therefore will prompt a distinct type of counterinsurgency from the ruling class.
We can get a relatively accurate picture of what this counterinsurgency will look like by examining the fascist paradigm within Ukraine. Since the 2014 U.S. coup, the Ukrainian people have been demobilized. The rise of the neo-Nazi militias, and the Odessa Massacre of May 2014, have left the country in a state of trauma that blunts any kind of revolutionary organizing. The banning of the communist party, and ultimately of all the other anti-fascist parties, has been easy. When communists, Russian speakers, Jews, Romas, anti-fascist journalists, and the LGBT community have been getting violently targeted with impunity, there’s a sense that fascism can’t be challenged. The Banderites are able to rewrite history so that their movement’s Nazi collaborationist roots get glorified, and the country can be modified into an ideal location for NATO proxy war efforts.
The great similarity between the fascism that U.S. imperialism is cultivating in Ukraine, and the fascism that it’s cultivating in the core, is that both thrive on destabilization. Ukraine’s descent into failed state status has enabled the rise of the Nazi militias, which aren’t held in check by law enforcement and can only be eliminated by Russia’s special operation. As the U.S. becomes ever more of a failed state itself, its public services deteriorating as society fails to absorb upsets like the pandemic, our own fascists are exploiting the crisis. In our age of climatic collapse, biopolitics, endless neoliberal austerity, and imperial decline, the capitalist world is in a process of collapse, and fascist paramilitarism is filling the emerging power vacuums. As the system unravels, the ruling class creates proxy forces to suppress revolution.
We’ve seen this in all the countries which have been torn apart by imperialist wars, and which have seen the rise of U.S.-created terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, ISIS, or Boko Haram. In these destabilized zones, which are constantly growing, the imperialists seek to perpetuate chaos so that they can keep waging war and looting the occupied areas. When conditions in the United States deteriorate enough, this model for proxy warfare will be imported to the core, as always happens with the violence which empires perpetrate abroad.
What makes this counterinsurgency insidious is that it’s based within infiltration. It uses psychological operations to distort revolutionary theory into ideological weapons for reaction, to recruit people with revolutionary potential into themselves being agents for reactionary intrigue. That’s the terrifying subtlety of the American Jakarta: it’s a fascist terror campaign that disguises itself as the opposite, that convinces its targets to support and work for the campaign’s leaders.
Weaponizing the left against itself
Even on a surface level, psyops play an indispensable role within America’s fascist movement, and the same applies to European countries with resurgent fascist presences such as Germany. In both of these places, QAnon has gained a wild amount of influence. This psyop, which has been amplified and quite possibly created by members of the same “deep state” its followers decry, fills the role of the fascist manipulation tactic which leverages public anger at systemic failures. Chris Hedges has written about these reactionary efforts to tap into popular discontent:
“The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice….As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to the feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation.”
This psychological attack method, in which the ruling class creates appalling conditions and then uses the pain caused by those conditions to sell its ideological poison, is behind the perpetual explosions in violence that our society experiences nowadays. Whether directly or not, our government is creating these mass shootings. It’s taking the despair and anger that so many feel towards the world, and diverting it towards hypermasculine, ultraviolent fantasies. The militaristic propaganda that Americans are saturated with, and the lack of constructive social outlets under a decaying neoliberal order, combine to make violence feel like the only recourse for angry men. These are the social sicknesses that create a perfect environment for far-right stochastic terrorism, in which demagogues use racist rhetoric to radicalize growing amounts of these men to murder fascism’s targets.
That’s how we’ve gotten the initial stages of American Jakarta, where neo-Nazis are massacring people of color while wearing Ukrainian paramilitary insignias. In time, Ukraine could become a more direct source for U.S. white supremacist terrorism, because there’s a years-long-running pipeline of American Nazis going to Ukraine to gain combat experience. U.S. imperialism is engineering a global feedback loop of violence that could end with America experiencing its own Odessa. The courts have already set a precedent legalizing right-wing vigilantism against protesters.
That’s only the most detectable aspect of the threat. And given how aggressively liberals whitewash Ukrainian Nazism, it’s not even fully perceptible without first doing the work to reject imperialism’s narratives. The more insidious aspects are the ones in which the psyops exploit revolutionary discontent, and use it as a tool to manipulate us into aiding counterrevolution.
What does this look like? We can see it abroad every time leftists get won over towards supporting one of imperialism’s terrorist organizations under the impression that they’re fighting for liberation. The anarchists who’ve joined Azov regiments because they’re fighting against Russia; the anarchists and other western chauvinist leftists who’ve embraced Rojavan “socialism” when Rojava has carried out ethnic cleansing; the Maoists who uncritically support the insurgents in the Philippines when these insurgents are being weaponized against China; all of these examples show how leftists will inevitably be used against themselves when they aren’t operating based upon principled Marxism.
Even those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists aren’t immune to the counterrevolutionary ideas which imperialism nurtures. As Professor Derese G Kassa has written about the counterrevolutionary consequences of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front’s rule, under which Ethiopia became an apartheid state:
[The TPLF] was founded by young radical Marxist Leninist intellectuals who bitterly fought their fellow school mates about the primacy of the “National Question” in Ethiopia as opposed to “Class Struggle.”…Then there is the ascetic, self-effacing, Front idolizing culture where the organization itself occupies a mythical status and those that died in the struggle sat on a pedestal as “martyrs” of the revolution. In fact, the language of political violence in TPLF is awash with biblical terms such as “sacrifice”, “shedding blood”, “salvation” [harinet] etc. One wonders if the millennia old Christian traditions of Tigray melted with its nationalist cum Marxist import. Even after three decades of incumbency, TPLF old guards do not relent to remind us that they “shed their blood” and “sacrificed their brothers and sisters” to accede to power.
Now the imperialists have used the TPLF to start a civil war in Ethiopia, motivated by reactionary desire to restore Tigrayan ethnic supremacy to a country which recently shook it off. The destabilization campaign these terrorists are carrying out, launched to try to destroy the BRI’s presence within the horn of Africa, fits with the ideas of the western ultra-leftists who share ideological kinship with the TPLF. These ideas are race reductionism, the romanticization of violent struggle for the sake of it, and opposition towards anything that doesn’t live up to the ultra-left standards for what’s “revolutionary.” They’re reactive, rather than dialectical. They leave no room for historical materialism, a Marxist analysis of contradictions, or the other pragmatic facets of communism. And this leads their adherents to embrace militant antagonism towards whatever things are deemed the enemy, which imperialist atrocity propaganda is now painting Ethiopia, Eritrea, and China as.
These psyops come from the same place QAnon came from, and use the same emotional tools. They exploit popular discontent to create cults that threaten revolutionary progress. The underlying factor is false consciousness, where the targets of the psyops are led to believe they’ve found the solution to society’s ills. The way to immunize yourself from these deceptions is to realize that if a political ideology’s conclusions are informed not by empirical evidence and social practice, but by assertions that can only be traced back to more assertions, then it’s not a scientific belief framework. It’s a cult. These controlled opposition groups gain followers not through rigorous examination of conditions and ideas, but through emotional appeals that leave out the information which discredits their demagogic claims.
This is what we must keep in mind as we train and equip our cadres for physical resistance against the violence which the revolution’s enemies seek to bring upon us. Militancy is indispensable, but the idea of militancy can be twisted into something that serves these wrecker cults. You can be as armed and trained as you like, but if you’re informed by poisonous ideas, your strength will end up being used against the revolution’s interests. We must avoid this kind of error at all costs if we want to survive the purge.
Importing U.S. imperialism’s model for picking off enemies
When I say “at all costs,” I’m talking about costs that can be genuinely difficult to accept. When you choose not to enable wreckers, you reject the potential for relationships with groups and individuals who can appear on the surface to be incredibly attractive. Movement infiltrators are trained to be charismatic, and to preach ideas that make the members of the cause feel inspired. When these wreckers form organizations, these organizations provide their members with the benefits of a cult: community, guidance, the sense that one is validated.
These psyop-engineered cults can be so big that they’re not even organizations, but millions-strong communities, QAnon being an obvious example. The important thing is that those drawn into the rabbit holes feel like they’ve found their path in life, and they can’t imagine what they would do if they decided to accept all the evidence showing their leaders are con artists. Their psychological dependency can run so deep that even when they know about this evidence, they simultaneously disbelieve it, because they see those positive things the cult brings them as unbearable to part with.
When these psychological control tactics are applied to people who’ve already attained class consciousness, but who haven’t learned how to see the warning signs for a con, it gives agents of reactionary intrigue extremely dangerous amounts of power. It makes the targets of the infiltration emotionally bound to the malicious actor, and this goes double if that actor has managed to create an entire organization dedicated to promoting their psyop. Fill a person’s need for connection, and when you display red flags to that person, their impulse won’t be to cut you off, even if that’s the principled thing to do. It will be to give you the benefit of the doubt, and to even be more grateful for the relationship precisely because of the ways in which you’ve mistreated them. That’s called trauma bonding, where the manipulation target is conditional to construct a mental narrative in which the relationship’s negative aspects are merely obstacles to be overcome to make the bond stronger.
If you’ve heard about the false predictions that QAnon has put forth, and about how the cult’s followers rationalize this as all part of “the plan,” this vicious cycle sounds familiar. These psyops attain a grip over one’s mind that can’t be shaken until one experiences the consequences of believing its lies, and by then it may be too late. The goal of the Vietnam War’s Phoenix Program was to use infiltration as a means for “neutralizing” the anti-imperialist resistors, which is being done inside the United States insofar as the feds can find genuine radicals.
By employing these toxic relationship dynamics to recruit radical organizers into their operations, and by creating entire pseudo-revolutionary ideologies to sell their destructive agenda, wreckers are wielding great psychological weapons. Weapons that can lead radicals into getting themselves picked off, or into assisting in efforts to pick off other targets. Setting up targets for assassination has always been a tactic of infiltrators, but with the intensification of class conflict, violence is getting more common as the thing that these wrecking missions are intended to end in.
“This is an injustice to those who developed sound theory which is then warped for maximum negative impact and sold to young minds as truth,” writes Media for Justice in an analysis on how infiltrators use disinformation and twisted “liberation” theory to manipulate psychologically vulnerable individuals. To the counterinsurgency’s orchestrators, you’re either a weapon or a target. And by employing these perverted types of theory, self-described socialists can be turned into weapons as easily as reactionaries can. In Ukraine, this phenomenon is shown by the anarchists who are fighting alongside Nazis to frustrate Russia’s anti-fascist operation.
If these anarchists have been won over towards this task, they can no doubt be compelled to follow the Ukrainian government’s implicit instructions for tracking down and murdering hundreds of individuals who support Russia. Ukraine has doxxed a list of people who it’s supposedly found to be Russian assets, opening up the possibility of a mass murder campaign in the vein of Jakarta. Should any murders happen, these Avoz-aligned “revolutionaries” will at the very least be complicit, and could be among the direct participants in the crimes.
There are countless ideas that the counterinsurgency’s agents use to promote their agenda of destruction, and there are countless types of people who these agents either pretend to be or started out as before being recruited. But there are underlying characteristics that can be identified among these bad actors. One is that they have class interests which make them detached from the means of production. This category includes both the petty bourgeoisie (who tend to be drawn to reactionary psyops) and the lumpenproletariat (which as Marx said can get drawn into their own types of reactionary intrigue). Someone of any social class can have revolutionary potential, but it’s the proletariat that’s the most reliably revolutionary class, because it’s the class with the clearest material interest in establishing socialism. So the ruling class seeks to weaponize those both above and below the proletariat against the socialist cause.
As the lumpen and the petty bourgeoisie have fundamentally different conditions—with the lumpen being divorced from the proletariat due to dispossession and the petty bourgeoisie being divorced from it due to being exploiters—the psyops targeted at them take on different characteristics. Think of a white Christian paranoid fantasy, versus an ultra-leftist fantasy that fetishizes gangs and “revolutionary” violence. (Predictably, when members of the lumpen become reactionary intrigue agents, they tend to be the gangster types of lumpen.)
These are the two broad types of narratives that destabilization agents put forth. Which one of them someone falls for depends on whether they’re predisposed towards right opportunism or ultra-leftism. Whichever forms these psyops take, their goal is to discredit the essential idea of Marxism, that being class struggle. They obscure the indispensable role that proletarian revolution has in attaining society’s liberation, and claim that “liberation” means something else. Whether that’s vacuously glorifying “America,” some identitarian-obsessed version of “communism” that excludes the white proletariat, or a vague plan to have the criminal enterprises lead “the revolution.” These “revolutionary” plans are anything but, and can only end in further destabilization.
When you’ve been led to discard scientific socialism, when you’re being fed ideas that a serious examination shows to be ahistorical, when you’ve been persuaded to ignore your better judgement by defending somebody who has the red flags for being a wrecker, you’ve put yourself at serious risk. Especially in our current environment where the forces of reaction are increasingly out for blood. Operation Phoenix used infiltration to “neutralize” 81,740 members of the Viet Minh, with 26,369 among them having lost their lives. And the U.S. empire has carried out parallel mass extermination operations against liberation movement members in the core.
The victims of this include not just the Panther leaders who were set up by infiltrators to be assassinated by police, or who were mysteriously dismembered during California’s famous serial killer wave. They also include the hundreds of radicals, especially Black radicals, who were massacred in Jonestown. As Michael Meiers writes in his book Was Jonestown a CIA Experiment, Jones and his CIA handlers carefully orchestrated a psyop to convince the world that he was a communist, and that the People’s Temple was Marxist: “If Jim Jones had his way history would remember him as a psychopathic communist whose drug-induced paranoia triggered the mass suicide of his followers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who has studied Jones knows that he projected an image to the public that was almost exactly opposite reality and that unravelling the cloaks of illusion that surrounded him might well be compared to viewing the dance of the seven veils. As each veil is removed another is exposed; a veil on top of a veil, on top of a veil.”
The Temple sought to associate itself with the Cuban government and the Russian embassy in order to sell this narrative about it being a communist organization. Behind the scenes, Jones was being backed by prominent right-wing figures and intelligence operatives, and was giving anti-communist speeches throughout Latin America.
His purpose was to lead communists into a situation where the feds could gather intelligence on them, and where they could be subjected to CIA mind control drug experiments inside a South American concentration camp. We can absolutely expect such tragedies to occur again within the history of U.S. anti-communist infiltration, whether it takes the form of regular cult sexual abuse or develops to the same destructive scale that Jonestown did. This is because if there’s a new Jim Jones in operation today, we don’t know who they are. They could be the leader of any of the pseudo-Marxist organizations that now exist, and there could be multiple actors within multiple organizations who’ve taken on the role of Jones.
I’ve drawn parallels between the Jonestown story and a couple of Intelligence operations, those being COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS (the latter of which was about gathering information on the groups that supposedly host foreign infiltration projects on U.S. soil). But after learning about how the Phoenix Program used intrigue to pick off tens of thousands of communists in Vietnam alone, I now view Phoenix as the one which encompasses the violent types of counterrevolutionary schemes I’ve been studying. During the War on Terror, there have been increased efforts to apply Phoenix to the imperial center. And with the acceleration of imperial decline that Washington’s failed Ukraine geopolitical gamble has brought, as well as the testing ground for violence that Ukrainian fascism has provided, this importing of Phoenix’ tactics is accelerating.
We’re facing a “turnkey” tyranny, where all our government has to do to import the worst aspects of imperialism’s violence abroad is turn the key. As Douglas Valentine writes in The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World…
Fifty years later, the US government has expanded Phoenix worldwide, with all the missionary zeal of Jesuits. Only now its cadres are more highly indoctrinated. There is little resentment anymore among the rank and file….Phoenix fulfilled its destiny in the wake of 9/11 and became the template for policing the empire and fighting its eternal War on Terror. So successful were Phoenix operations in overthrowing the Ba’athist Party regime in Iraq that David Kilcullen, one of the US government’s top terrorism advisors in 2004, called for a “global Phoenix Program.” The threat of a global Phoenix Program is that it will become fully activated in the United States. If the CIA and military are successful at psychologically neutralizing suspected terrorists, what is to stop them applying the full systematic extent of Phoenix-style operations to include political dissidents, immigrants and despised minorities in America, just as they did in Vietnam?
Be careful who you trust. Be careful which organizations you join. Look into the backgrounds of leaders or individuals who seek to place themselves as messiahs or as exceptional; they’re the narcissistic opportunist types who tend to quietly associate with fascists despite claiming to be Marxists, or who display signs of being-crypto-fascists themselves during crucial moments.
When someone demonstrates the signs of being a wrecker, don’t appease them by maintaining a relationship. Rip them out of your life like a tumor. Prepare yourself and your cadre to physically defend from them beforehand, because the USA’s Phoenix Program loves to recruit genuinely unhinged con artists. Con artists who have the potential to turn violent, or to at least start stalking their targets, when rejected. Understand that you’re not immune to propaganda or manipulation, and constantly critique yourself for any missteps you’ve made so you can avoid them in the future. There are true monsters out there, monsters that the highest levels of government have deliberately created to try to exterminate us. We must gain revolutionary intelligence knowledge, and use this knowledge to survive the point when Phoenix gets fully implemented where we are.