March 03, 2004

Linguistic Alternatives

I found myself pondering the term "Useful Idiot" after reading this article in Balloon-Juice. There is a fundamental problem with the term in that it originated and takes the point of view of the tyrant. For a citizen in a free society, the phrase has no inherent core meaning without transporting your self-view, however momentarily, to that of a dictator. And once you arrive in that dirty place, there is only a feeling of disgust and cynicism that after these idiots have outlived their usefulness, they too will go to the wall.

But taken from the point of view of the lover of liberty, useful idiots may still be idiotic but they are certainly not useful, nor is there any future plan for their execution or imprisonment. The species needs another label, something that puts, not the dictator, but the son of liberty at the psychological center. If hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue, useful idiot and other such borrow terms from the slavemaster's dictionary are the compliments that free men pay to tyrants.

It is an unnecessary compromise. We should rid ourselves of it.

Posted by TMLutas at March 3, 2004 09:21 AM