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  • Chegan SRM

Demoralization is the first stage in ideological warfare.

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Demoralization is a form of psychological warfare used to weaken the morale of an opposing force. It is done by spreading negative messages and encouraging feelings of despair, hopelessness, and powerlessness. It can take the form of propaganda, false rumors, and other forms of psychological manipulation. In some cases, it may even involve physical violence. Demoralization is used to break down the will of the enemy and convince them to surrender or to change their point of view.


The purpose of psychological warfare is to break down an enemy's morale and will to fight, making them more susceptible to persuasion and less likely to fight or resist. By creating a sense of futility and despair, demoralization can be used to influence an enemy's behavior, even if it does not lead to their surrender.


During World War II, the Germans employed psychological warfare by utilizing leaflets instead of munitions to undermine the morale of Allied soldiers. Psychological warfare is a potent form of manipulation, as it capitalizes on the emotional insecurities and aspirations of its targets. This was highlighted through the leaflets that portrayed images of extramarital relations, which surely struck a chord with many of the soldiers who were concerned about their partners being unfaithful. The leaflets were successful in their mission, as those being targeted had no way of protecting themselves against its influence.

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting"Sun Tzu

Demoralization is the first stage in ideological warfare.

Subversion is a process by which the values and principles of a system in place are contradicted or reversed in an attempt to transform the established social order and its structures of power, authority, hierarchy, and social norms. This is typically done through tactics such as civil disobedience, protest, and other forms of direct action. Subversion seeks to destabilize the existing social order and re-align power relations in a more equitable manner. Subversion is often used to refer to a strategy used by marginalized or oppressed groups to challenge oppressive systems, such as those based on sexism, racism, and classism.


Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB agent and defector, spoke extensively about ideological subversion, which he defined as the process of “systematically changing the perception of reality” of a population. According to Bezmenov, this process includes four stages: demoralization, destabilization, crisis, and normalization. Demoralization is the process of weakening a nation’s spirit and undermining its faith in its own values. Destabilization is the process of weakening a nation’s economy, government, and social structure. Crisis is the period of chaos and confusion in which a nation is ripe for revolution. Normalization is the period of consolidation and stability that follows a revolution. Bezmenov argued that ideological subversion was an effective tool for the Soviet Union to gain control of other nations without using military force.

Yuri Bezmenov believed that the most dangerous form of subversion was demorilization, which he defined as a process of "oppressing people psychologically until they lose their will to resist." According to Bezmenov, demorilization is a gradual process that begins with the infiltration of false ideas and beliefs into a society through the media, education, and other channels. The end result of this process is the indoctrination of a large portion of the population, resulting in a society that is unable to recognize or resist ideological subversion.


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