"Useful Idiots" on the Mainstream Left
Meaning of "useful idiots"
Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin allegedly coined the term “useful idiots” to describe mainstream "progressives" in the West who were easily and often unwittingly manipulated by communist propaganda. Whether he ever uttered these words is unknown. Yet, the phrase still has rhetorical utility, as it provides an accurate, if not very nice, descriptor for mainstream figures on the Left who serve as propagandists for Antifa and other far-Left militants.
Commissioned by the Communist Party to paint a portrait of Lenin, Russian artist and writer Yuri Annenkov claimed that he copied the following passage from the deceased dictator’s private letters:
''To speak the truth is a petit-bourgeois habit. To lie, on the contrary, is often justified by the lie's aim. The whole world's capitalists and their governments… will close their eyes to the above-mentioned reality and will thus transform themselves into men who are deaf, dumb and blind. They... will toil to prepare their own suicide.''
Though Lenin’s outdated brand of Marxism lacked the nuanced accounting of identity politics at the center of the contemporary Left's philosophy of intersectional socialism, insights from this passage can help shed some light on contemporary sociopolitical phenomena:
(1) Lying, manipulating language, slander/libel, etc. (e.g., CNN's defamation of teen Nick Sandmann; Antifa/Black Lives Matter's defamation of American Law Enforcement; The Southern Poverty Law Center's careless defamation of conservatives on its "hate map") are justified if done in the pursuit of “equity,” a euphemism for the end of group-based equality of outcome "by any means necessary";
(2) The masses of Americans and others in the West are largely clueless about the degree to which far-Left radicals dominate our culture, language, and thought—particularly on matters of identity and justice;
(3) With the help of “useful idiots” on the mainstream Left who dominate most of our major social institutions, a radical, revolutionary, militant minority has psychologically manipulated a plurality of American citizens to embrace an overwhelmingly negative, mostly false narrative about their country, and
(4) Together, a revolutionary vanguard and its "useful idiots" have successfully instilled in this particular group of Americans a zealous impulse to destroy their imperfect* but remarkably successful, progressive, free, and just political, economic, and educational systems,** and replace them with an intersectional socialist dystopia.
*In comparison to the far-Left's utopian "theories," which seem completely unphased by inconvenient empirical evidence.
**Relative to the systems of every other country in the world, past and present, with similar levels of religious, racial/ethnic, and cultural diversity.