Saturday 7 February 2015

velvet mafia

Though the truth is a very difficult matter to reconstruct, small bridges to the real story virtually pulverised by redaction and secrets yet to expire, the testimony of those he worked with and his compatriots of the so called Cambridge Five, a spy ring recruited from impressionable or impassioned students from the University by the Soviet Union in the interbellum period and for the course of the war, that operative Guy Burgess was the most ruthless and diplomat with the less tact was probably no hyperbole.

Committed to the belief that there were only two alternative world-views for a world that was dangerously close to slipping back into grave conflict, communism or fascism, and fearful that England would side for fascism ultimately and continue with appeasement of Nazi Germany, Burgess worked covertly to forward the agenda of the Bolshevik government. Despite or possibly because of his nature as a double-agent, Burgess not only ingratiated himself to the media, directing several programmes that covered parliament and foreign policy matters, he also came to earn the trust and confidence of powerful members of the Foreign Office and diplomatic mission to the United States. With essentially unchecked access to thousands of documents, Burgess was able to provide his controllers with incredulous amounts of information—and even they began to be skeptical of his sources and how long this relationship might go on before all were caught. That Burgess was flagrantly homosexual—but seemingly not blackmailed into treason like some of the other spies at the time, and was just as uncensored in that aspect of his personality as in all others, might have elevated him above suspicion in a way. That’s just Burgie, queer duck. Maybe that affectation kept others at a safe distance—or maybe no one dared risk having their own dirty laundry aired. Or maybe the British Intelligence services were devising a triple bluff, with voluminous but harmless information to distribute with hopes of catching bigger offenders. I don’t suppose that that truth will ever out.
Throughout the war and in the aftermath, Burgess funneled the Soviet Union details of treaty negotiations, the alliance between Britain and America and how the Marshall Plan would take shape. An aside: it is worth noting that the small-minded laws that criminalised homosexual-pratises in the UK never seemed to adversely affect a traitor but destroyed a genius and hero, Alan Turing, whom were incidentally both recently portrayed by the same actor—the former on stage and the later in film. Around 1951, feeling that his activities were about to be discovered, Burgess fled to Moscow. Burgess settled in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but was reportedly never very happy there because he couldn’t carry on like he was accustomed to, despite being permitted to openly reside with a male-lover. Burgess never returned from exile, fearing he would stand for high treason if he tried to enter the UK. The courts were not forthcoming about the fact that the charges would most likely be inadmissible since it mostly came from fellow-defectors.