During the twenties through eighties of the last century, a species of lost modern person seeking validation and recognition through external events, the Useful Idiot, became a common feature in the West.
Named for their tendency to have utility for foreign powers looking to subvert us, but generally being so neurotic and wrapped in paradox that they do not have coherent thoughts, Useful Idiots show up a great deal in foreign propaganda and support suicidal ideas domestically.
Some believe that the Left itself is comprised almost exclusively of Useful Idiots, who tend to feel bad therefore blame their society for not providing validation and recognition through external events, which leads them to embrace its opposite as well as anything destructive to it.
In other words, they are tantrum people having slow freakouts in which they praise the Other simply as a means of criticizing their own society. Since the Left hated America and idealized Communism, they served as convenient tools for the Soviet regime, even as it loathed them.
Among the other great ironies of history, it seems that in most revolutions, the Useful Idiots are some of the loudest voices and the first against the wall. Actual revolutionaries do not need raving cheerleaders; they already have the power, and so can rid themselves of extra mouths to feed.
Being a Useful Idiot requires that fundamental tantrum. You must be driven by resentment and hatred more than a desire to achieve anything good in the real world; you must live in a two-dimensional world of symbols, categories, and emotions where anything that you do not hate you slavishly adore.
The Right runs the risk of becoming Useful Idiots not for Vladimir Putin per se, or even the moronic BRICS establishment, but for the third world system which is essentially the opposite of the West.
The West, as we may recall, rose through a transcendental realism that produced a flexible but strict social hierarchy, constantly pushing the good upward and trashing the waste humans of all castes. Over time this fragmented and people used that as an excuse to throw it out entirely.
On the other hand, most of humanity uses the third world system, which produces relatively stable countries that stay at a subsistence level of wealth and production. It consists of many poor people in a system of warlords and favors, where the warlords bribe the herd to keep them in power.
Putin et al have nearly no claim to existence outside of the third world system, therefore they want to rationalize the third world system by claiming it to be either altruistic or religious, which the American Left accepts because they hate the strength of their nation and want to reverse it.
He hides his actual intent behind a fair amount of bluster about being some form of traditionalist conservative, but utterly nothing that he has done with his leadership suggests that this is more than the latest pretext for power.
However, many American conservatives appear to have been taken in by the war of image. That is, they see Putin as an antithesis to the modern Western Leftism that advocates diversity, promiscuity, and government-corporate synthesis. This makes them act like Useful Idiots:
The Fox News host has made a habit of leaning into Kremlin talking points and conspiracy theories since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. Days before the war began, Carlson infamously defended Putin and said that Ukraine was “not a democracy.” Carlson’s mimicry has been so on point that on multiple occasions excerpts from his broadcasts have ended up on Russian state-sponsored TV.
Carlson has repeatedly sided with Russia over his own government, criticizing the U.S. for providing ongoing support to Ukraine and rationalizing Russia’s aggression. His views have taken root with the Republican base and some members of Congress, so much so that during a recent visit with Republicans in Washington to lobby for aid to Ukraine, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “amazed and horrified by how many people are frightened of a guy called Tucker Carlson.”
This is not to say that Carlson is a Useful Idiot; he may have his own agenda here that dovetails with Putin enough to repeat him. However, as a general caution, it makes little sense for American conservatives to mimick a dangerous third world dictator and his (sad to say) failing society.
Many on the right are simply reacting to globalism with isolationism. Sadly, this is one of the traditional failings of the Right, namely that since we became “Christian libertarians” under Buckley, conservatives use that as an excuse for inaction on vital issues.
Isolationism kept Ron Paul out of the presidency and it keeps full-blown libertarians from ever being taken seriously by conservatives. When we pull back from global conflicts, it tends to allow them to become worse until they finally blow up in our faces with full-blown world war.
Even more, many of us view being a superpower as a privilege that comes paired with duty. Namely, that if you are going to exert control, you have some custodial obligations to keep the rest of humanity from going hog wild and demolishing each other as they are wont to do.
Still others are simply skeptical of the vast sums of money heading to a country known like the rest of Eastern Europe and Southern Europe for massive corruption. We know that like our aid to Iraq and Afghanistan, some of what we send will end up in malevolent hands.
The worst take seems to be the conservative trope that we should spend the money at home, complete with photos of homeless veterans and rotting infrastructure. We already spend three-quarters of our budget on domestic entitlements, so asking for more does not address the problem there.
Such transparent signaling does not work for the Right; in the long term, it will fool a bunch of armchair clickers and get internet points, but it will not form a policy or attract anyone intelligent. On the contrary, it will drive them away.
We see the worst of this expressed in crypto-RINO Ron DeSantis:
Several top GOP senators are pushing back on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ position that “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia” is not a vital U.S. national interest.
DeSantis’ stance, especially his contention that “our citizens are also entitled to know how the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being utilized in Ukraine,” has several supporters within his party. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar have expressed skepticism of U.S. support for Ukraine, and they have been on the record voting against spending packages to aid Ukrainians in the conflict.
“The U.S. should not provide assistance that could require the deployment of American troops or enable Ukraine to engage in offensive operations beyond its borders,” DeSantis said in his response to a questionnaire from Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson, which Carlson shared Monday.
No one on the Right really wants to face this, but people vote conservative because we make the trains run on time. The Left cannot do this; they have always been the party of emotions and party favors from the warlords in Congress.
When we speak in terms of realistic options, we gain more voters and more trust because this is what we are expected to do. When we try to be like the Left, cleverly manipulating others with symbols, we fall flat because we are bad at this and it makes it look like we have no realistic options to offer.
One has to be completely oblivious or hoodwinked by propaganda in order to believe that the Ukraine invasion is a “territorial dispute” and not just more territory annexation like what happened in Georgia and is slated to happen in the Baltics and Poland. Russia wants to be the USSR again.
A cynic would say that these politicians are bashing Ukraine out of frustration that they cannot repeal the salad of entitlements, starting with public schooling, that our government uses to socially engineer us into good consumerist-communist hybrids. Dodging the issue gets us nowhere however.
It might be better to place things in context. Our aid to Ukraine, and our foreign aid generally, is a drop in the bucket compared to subsidies for healthcare, education, welfare, anti-poverty, retirement, and unions. A few hundred billion is chicken feed next to the five trillion for entitlements in the next budget.
For this reason, we can see that conservatives are getting played again by their greed. They are looking for a symbolic issue, like abortion, to unite people who will not understand the actual issues. They want a flag to wave and an easy way to stay in power.
A more sensible approach is to start telling people the truth, because this unravels the whole system: conservatives are trying to dig this country out of the hole created by Leftism, no one is coming to change us, and we are going to have to permanently break a lot of cozy relationships.
We are still in the phase of democracy where all the “experts” advise against this approach because the average voter is a total dunce and so forth, but even dunces realize at some point that all this free stuff comes from somewhere and want to escape before the crash.
In the meantime, sponsoring Ukraine in its fight against Russia stops reckless third world expansion and keeps us away from what will otherwise become a wider European-Eurasian war. Conservatives should think realistically and embrace the obvious merits of supporting Ukraine, and ingore the Kremlin propaganda.