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Socialism – the pitch and the purpose, Part 4

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

(Continued from last week.) Another major set of players in the drama of socialism are sometimes called the “useful idiots.” Wikipedia says the term is often “attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but this attribution is unsubstantiated.”

Other similar terms are “the occupants of flyover country,” meaning those who do not live in the United States’ “sophisticated” (as perceived by the anointed) costal enclaves. If you live in the Midwest, you are definitely viewed as a “useful idiot” by some of the elitists.

Of course, “useful idiot” is a very derogatory term, but if you are one of the anointed, you don’t mind that – your disdain for the "unanointed" is palpable.

However, useful idiots have many subcategories which the anointed seem to be very clever at manipulating.

There are those concerned about the environment. This group covers a wide swath from those who simply don’t litter, to those who keep their thermostats at 85 in the summer and 55 in the winter (my Colorado daughter), to those who worry about the microbe community recently discovered at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (along with a plastic bag found way down there).

There are those concerned with poverty, violence and other ills befalling the human race. There is nothing at all wrong with being concerned about these matters, of course; it is the path toward solving the problems that can get distorted. We should all be concerned with poverty and violence.

While there are others who are concerned about the health of the earth (beyond environmentalism) and think humans are the worst thing to ever happen to the Earth.

Then, there are those that believe everything they read in the press or see on TV.

When I was about 8 or 9, our neighbor came over one night crying because she was watching wrestling on television and one wrestler had torn the Native American headdress off another wrestler. She was wailing bout how important that headdress was to that wrestler. She was 58 or 59 years old at the time. She was a useful idiot. That wrestler likely had not been introduced to a Native American headdress before he took up wrestling (how many Native Americans had the opportunity to star in a TV show in those days?).

By extension, you can see there are many other categories of “useful idiot” which we may be able to describe as folks who are passionate about some cause beyond all reason.

Then, there is the crowd that thinks the government can print money with abandon.

Finally, there are those who self-categorize as the subset, victim. No one knows they are a victim – in the general sense – until someone tells them they are a victim. I am not talking about those who have been robbed, assaulted, raped and so forth – these people certainly know they are victims. I am talking about those who are – perhaps somewhat happily – living their life and then an anointed comes along and tells them they are a victim.

What can we say are distinguishing attributes fairly universal to useful idiots? First, they often have deep-seated, real and passionate beliefs. They are totally genuine in their feelings.

Second, for some reason or another, they look to the anointed for solutions to the problems they see all around them, without doing their own due diligence.

Third, due to the lack of examination on their part, they unquestioningly accept a solution promulgated by the anointed.

Now, if I have offended you in any way in this column, I apologize. You may have examined a particular issue to a deeper level than I have, whereupon in the case of that issue, I am a superficial useful idiot.

The point is, unlike the anointed, those who think they have answers to all issues, we in the flyover country can be genuine experts on one topic and completely ignorant on another – but know the difference within ourselves.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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