1960s espionage fiction was definitive for spy culture. Developing its own unique aesthetic, from Bond to The Saint to Harry Palmer, the vivid, flamboyant style of both the spies and their cinema incarnations created an iconic pop-phenomenon that survives to this day (as 007 is still going strong). Everyone knows 007, but few are aware of the more philosophical, science-fiction based British cult show, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan.
Recently I was fortunate to go on Red Ice Radio with Henrik Palmgren. Henrik and I discussed Soviet intelligence operations, specifically the history of illegals, deep politics and geostrategy, and the course of Russian and Western culture.
Tim Kelly invited me back to discuss the Cold War in a more in-depth fashion. We delve into bankster funding of both sides of conflicts throughout the twentieth century, the machinations of industrialists like Henry Ford, strategies of tension and think-tank social engineering from Rand Corp., spies and espionage and their relationship to secret societies and the occult – all part of the traffic in secrets. Enjoy the discussion.
In the twilight arena of international espionage, one name more than any other evokes an image of patient, masterful treachery, the insidious presence of the enemy in one’s own inner sanctum. No matter the country they serve, generations of intelligence and counterintelligence trainees have been expected to know this name well: Philby. For half a century now, Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby (1912-1988) remains both in espionage history and popular literature the quintessential mole, the deep-penetration agent who buried his way to the top of British intelligence to provide Soviet Russia with the Crown’s most guarded secrets. The shock of Philby’s treason reverberated throughout the British establishment, while in retrospective the affair tells us more about the social, cultural, and spiritual depravity of an entire ruling elite than just the sordid exploits of a spy.
The newest film in the 007 series will be titled SPECTRE, a fitting reference to the real cabals and cartels that rule the world. Indeed, SPECTRE is presented early on in From Russia with Love with this very feature – they are international, as opposed to SMERSH being Russian, and play nation states off against one another. Transitioning from the Soviet-affiliated SMERSH in the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, SMERSH transforms into SPECTRE, a formidable “terrorist” organization from the ambiguous East.
It is also telling that back in the 50s and 60s, Ian Fleming was already predicting the transition from the communist threat to the international terrorist threat – something that gave me the indication that Fleming novels are worth a deeper look. Even current media hysteria seems the product of a shrewd psychological operation: Sony claims to have been hacked by North Korea, with the SPECTRE script leaked, as well as Pyongyang supposedly threatening 9/11 style attacks on theaters that play Franco and Rogen’s The Interview. Such headlines might as well be ripped from the pages of Fleming’s books, since they’re truer to life than we might think.
The following is a chapter from Russian author Eduard Makarevich’s book on espionage and subversion, Sekretnaya Agentura. Translation by Mark Hackard.
The great Russian writer Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky couldn’t avoid the temptation of revolution. He was already famous as the author of the short story “Poor Folk” when he had a meeting with a certain Mikhail Petrashevsky. The liberal views of the bureaucrat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an impression on the young Dostoevsky. He was only 26 years old at the time – an age of great hopes and desires for changing the world. It was with such intentions that the writer began to visit Petrashevsky’s secret club. Various people gathered there: intellectuals of non-noble birth, representatives of officialdom with liberal views, officers carried away with socialist ideas, etc.