Useful Idiots, Beware!

Lately,  Gumshoe has heard and read the term “useful idiots”.  Personally, I never thought that a certified “idiot” would be deemed “useful” for any practical purpose.  However, after further contemplating this term, Gumshoe arrived at the following observations and conclusions:

People (unknowingly) can be manipulated. Think of playing to the emotions rather than to logic.  Think of panic!  Force or fear? Flight or fright or freeze.  A Las Vegas casino.  The Irish Lottery.  Free lunch!  “This is a once in a lifetime offer!”  “The great leap forward”. (Courtesy of Mao Zedong). How did that work out?

People (knowingly) can be manipulated.  Groupthink.  Herd mentality.  Lemmings falling off the cliff.  Establishment of the mantle of “victimhood” and the sense of entitlement.  “You owe me!”

Ignorant people can be manipulated.  Think of, “If it feels good, do it!”  No thought of the unintended nor the unforeseen consequences.  “I thought the gun was not loaded”.  “I’m ok to drive after a few drinks”.  “He only hits me because he loves me”.  “I dare you!”  “It’s only a flesh wound”.  (God bless Monty Python and the Flying Circus!)

Educated people can be manipulated.  Think of yesterday’s “experts” that are today’s  “fools”.  Possibly even today’s “experts” that will be tomorrow’s “fools”.  The earth is flat.  “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. (Run!) “Even God can’t sink this ship“. (The builder of the Titanic).  “It’s a gifted wooden horse from the gods”.  “I’m just experimenting with drugs; I won’t get addicted”.  “Eating tomatoes will kill you”. “You can surely fly with wax wings, Icarus”. (said by Daedalus). Oops! The sun.

People (unwillingly) can be manipulated.  Think of Hobson’s choice.  Think of the movie “Jaws”.  Think of the movie “The Exorcist” (No more pea soup for me, thank you)

People (willingly) can be manipulated.  Think of the Nazis and the “Big Lie”. Utopia dead ahead; we had to destroy the village in order to save it. (???)

People can be manipulated, period (.)or exclamation point(!)  “Don’t remove this mattress tag under federal penalty of imprisonment”. Yikes! Don’t shoot G-Men! (Machine gun Kelly)

Now, all of these groups of people are labeled  “idiots” by their “manipulators” who deemed them “useful” to a defined purpose or goal.  Think of a one-time use of a Q-tip or Kleenex. (Yucko!)

Or . . . perhaps, simply refuse to be manipulated by anyone or group by using your God-given intellect, reason, and free will – Let’s not become denizens of “The Brave New World” (Thank you, Mr. Huxley!)

PS:  Idiots are not us!  Apologies offered to imbeciles, cretins, dimwits, knuckleheads, nincompoops but not to members of Congress, Hollywood elites, and Ivory Tower professors.

Note:  The term “Use Idiots” has been attributed to our good Marxist comrade Vladimir Lenin.  I trust that his “red ass” is still frying in “collective” hell.  Amen!


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. Interesting issue, Danny.
    In pragmatic terms, manipulation is a subcategory of communication. If communicating is synonymous with influencing, manipulating is synonymous with influencing by taking advantage of the “sensitive points” of the manipulating. Therefore, in order for there to be manipulation, a substantial asymmetry is required in the relationship between those who act and those who are acted. If this is the premise, a clear distinction must be made between one-many manipulation (such as that of advertising, mass media, certain religions, group cultures) and one-one.
    It is quite evident that in mass manipulation, rather than art, it is a question of a mix of consolidated techniques and power. Here the context is under control and the chances of counterattack by the manipulated are practically nil.
    Other discourse instead in the one-one interaction. In human relationships, manipulation strategies are actually very common, and the person implementing them is usually a individual in need of people to be controlled in some way.
    One element to reflect on is that in the human (and animal) world deception and manipulation are so widespread and ingeniously elaborated that they suspect their essential role in the evolutionary process.
    It is possible to defend oneself by developing self-awareness, but also by simply training to act in a different perceptual position.
    However, the fact remains that manipulation is part of life, like colds or unfortunate occasions. Insisting excessively on wanting to protect yourself, in addition to not offering the total guarantee in any case, leads over time to a paranoid approach to reality which in turn constitutes an excellent lever to be manipulated by those who sell security. Much more useful, on the other hand, to increase one’s resilience, that is, the subjective ability to take sporadic blows without losing confidence and positivity in facing life.
    Thank You.

    • Great discourse Aldo. I agree that manipulation is part of our lives. It is important for the “strong” to always protect the “weak”— a good standard to evaluate a truly “civilized” and “compassionate” society. Thanks for your insight.

    • Thanks for dedicating your precious time to my gimcrack considerations. I appreciate your feedback and support!

    • I like the word “gimcrack” Aldo. Sounds like it would be the term used in high school P.E. for shorts worn way to low on the south side of ones body that unintentionally exposed the hatch. Happy 4th!

  2. Good points, Danny. I agree ignorant people and educated people can be manipulated. Intelligent people perhaps less so. And yes, there is a difference between educated and intelligent. The gutters are full of “educated” people. As I mention in my book, there is a fine line between managing people and manipulating people. Clearly, we are seeing many people being manipulated today and they don’t even realize they are being brainwashed. Look at the BLM, the Democratic party, and a dozen other organizations or movements to get validity of that.

    • Thanks Ken for your comment. By the way, I just received a copy of your book that I plan to read very shortly. (I have several new books on my shelf for reading, and yours just “jumped” ahead for “next in line”.