Creating a Communist Paradise on Earth | Jack Barsky | EP 412

Creating a Communist Paradise on Earth | Jack Barsky | EP 412

Tour dates 2024

  • Jordan Peterson announces a tour for 2024, visiting 51 cities in the US.
  • The tour will cover ideas from his forthcoming book "We Who Wrestle with God."

Coming up

  • A discussion about being awarded the Order of the Red Banner by the Soviet Union as an illegal, including the discrepancy of receiving a monetary award in dollars while trying to destroy the US.


  • An introduction to the guest, Jack Barsky, who was recruited by the KGB to act as a spy in the West, and his eventual abandonment of the Communist ideology.

Raised on the communist dream

  • Barsky's upbringing in East Germany involved extensive brainwashing and propaganda, leading him to wholeheartedly believe in the Communist ideology.
  • Communist thinking was deeply ingrained in the society, with a focus on recruiting the next generation of intellectuals.
  • Rationalization of the higher standard of living in the West was attributed to the theft of wealth from the third world by imperialist countries.

When we started hating

  • Discussing the idea of working for the freedom of the oppressed and the longing to remedy poverty and suffering.
  • Reflecting on the tendency to hate the successful and the moral impulse to aid the oppressed.

Intellectual pride and utopian presumption

  • Analysis of the unholy combination of intellectual pride and utopian presumption in communism.
  • The impact of being celebrated for intellectual prowess and its contribution to intellectual pride and condescension.

Early interest as a student

  • Barsky's personal experience of joining the elite and becoming intellectually arrogant in college due to being celebrated for his intellect.
  • The rationalization and adoration experienced by the elite contributed to an inflated sense of self.

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A reasonable combination

  • Swallowing communist propaganda and operating in that system appealed to pride and personal advantage
  • The combination of being hailed as a hero for the cause while also being promised material wealth in the West made joining the KGB appealing
  • Being given an award by the Soviet Union in USD created a dichotomy within the KGB

An easy choice

  • Joining the KGB offered material luxury, the excitement of being a double agent, and elite status

Joining the Communist party

  • Joining the Communist party was seen as the right thing to do for smart and ambitious individuals
  • The party provided openness, camaraderie, and some tolerance for forbidden activities

From Communist to KGB

  • The decision to work specifically for the KGB was not clouded by moral conundrums but by its appeal
  • The KGB sought out potential allies at universities based on academic excellence, party membership, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles
  • Transition from being approached by a German to being introduced to a Russian contact led to working with the KGB

Uncovering similarities and differences

  • The KGB was more radical in dealing with dissidents compared to the Stasi
  • The KGB was much larger in terms of the number of employees and had a wider reach
  • The Stasi was also oppressive but in a more widespread and insidious manner, including family members spying on each other
  • The system was entirely rotten, but the interviewee did not have personal experiences with widespread oppression

1 in 3 were informants, oblivious to the fragmenting culture (00:34:18)

  • About one in three people in East Germany were informing for the Stazi
  • The culture of informing corrupting family relationships
  • The speaker was unaware of the extent of the culture of informing

“Let’s meet” introductions (00:37:19)

  • The speaker met with Herman for six months before being offered anything
  • Herman took notes after each meeting
  • Herman served as a mentor and advisor to the speaker

Mentorship, credibility, and early training (00:40:33)

  • The speaker had a genuine and caring relationship with Herman
  • Their clandestine meetings were not exciting, but having a secret made the speaker feel elevated
  • The speaker completed tasks, such as gathering information, despite facing challenges

The offer (00:43:06)

  • After 18 months, the speaker was offered an opportunity by Herman
  • The speaker was asked to make a quick decision, showcasing decisiveness and logical thinking
  • Accepting the offer meant the speaker would become a cooperating agent for the KGB

West Berlin, necessary skills for impossible circumstances (00:48:08)

  • Jack Barsky was tested by being given an impossible task to find a living space in a shortage area.
  • He passed the test without complaint, impressing his handler and proving himself as he didn't show any emotions.

Moscow, dropping the accent (00:54:23)

  • After finding a place to live, Barsky was sent to Moscow to perfect his English language and lose his accent.
  • He spent two years working with an American citizen and a college professor to achieve an accent-free English speaking ability.

Montreal, procuring a real birth certificate (00:57:09)

  • Barsky moved to Montreal in 1978 and obtained a birth certificate for a deceased individual to establish his false identity.
  • He experienced life as a tourist in Canada and acquired the necessary documentation to set up his North American life successfully.

Sneaking into the United States (01:00:13)

  • His primary task in the United States was to obtain an official driver's license and social security card to live and work as an American.
  • He spent four years working as a bike messenger in Manhattan, interacting with ordinary Americans and becoming familiar with the city.

Soviet goal for Barsky’s assignment

  • Barsky was assigned to operate in the realm of foreign policy, getting to know people who make foreign policy or influence foreign policy
  • The KGB valued his presence in the US due to the potential for diplomatic relations to be interrupted, leaving only the illegals behind enemy lines
  • Barsky was supposed to befriend members of conservative think tanks and influential figures in foreign relations

Why the assignment failed

  • Barsky is pleased that the goal of his assignment did not make itself manifest because it allowed him to have a life in the US and escape the downfall of the Soviet Union

Coming to the attention of the FBI

  • Barsky came to the attention of the FBI due to a betrayal by an archivist in the KGB who provided information about Barsky's identity to British intelligence, which eventually led to the FBI

How a spy resigns, and why

  • Barsky resigned from the KGB after developing a deep love for his daughter and realizing that he could not leave her behind
  • The activation of an emergency procedure by the KGB spooked them, leading to a confrontation and the eventual decision by Barsky to stay in the US
  • Barsky managed to get out of the KGB by telling them he had HIV/AIDS, and eventually came to work for the FBI after spending nine years in pursuit of the American dream

Becoming a true American (01:18:35)

  • Jack Barsky embraced his American identity and decided to never return to Germany.
  • The FBI found Barsky to debrief him in great detail about his life as a former KGB agent.
  • Barsky provided valuable information to the FBI about the KGB's recruitment tactics and character traits sought in potential spies.

Regrets and conclusions (01:22:45)

  • Barsky regrets abandoning the woman he loved in Germany.
  • He has no specific guilt for his actions as a former KGB agent due to lack of knowledge of the consequences of his activities.
  • He is grateful for living in the United States and appreciates the country's foundation on inalienable rights.

How a communist came to love God (01:27:29)

  • Barsky became a Christian after a slow progression from deism, influenced by exposure to thinkers like C.S. Lewis, and being evangelized.
  • Love played a significant role in Barsky's transformation, particularly the love of God and its impact on his life and outlook.

Love is the strongest emotion (01:30:20)

  • Barsky perceives love as the strongest emotion and believes it has transformative power, making individuals whole and contributing to personal growth.

Why young people are drawn to left wing utopianism (01:32:30)

  • Barsky advises young people to seek the truth and not blindly follow utopian ideas, emphasizing the importance of individuality and critical thinking.

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