Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote about the “confused and misguided sympathizers” of the Marxist revolutionary idea in Planned Chaos, explaining that while they call themselves “liberals,” communists call them “useful innocents.” Today, a version of the term is used to attack anybody who pushes an agenda that involves giving government broader power, whether he calls himself a liberal or a conservative.
The idea is that the same people who insist that socialist policies don’t necessarily lead to tyrannical outcomes end up being censored and hurt by the same programs and laws they helped to enact. Because of their naïve approach to a fundamentally authoritarian political ideology, whether it’s dressed as left-wing progressivism or right-wing nationalism, critics call them “useful idiots.”
This week, Washington Post columnist Max Boot, the same neoconservative who suffered publicly when President Trump took office because he was going to govern like a “strongman,” argued for a tyrannical government structure. After all, he says, we’re too damn stupid to govern ourselves.
After an anti-property rights, anti-Catholic rant about how “anti-vaxxer” parents are putting everybody’s life in jeopardy, he went on to claim that those who don’t want to give their children the composite MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella make their decision because of autism fears — not because Merck combined the vaccines with the help of government for financial reasons.
Then, he attacked the Internet for failing to “enlighten” users, and called this the Misinformation Age as the digital revolution gave rise to conspiracies, flat Earthers, and (gasp!) Trump supporters.
“Flat Earthers remain a tiny minority. They aren’t taking over the country,” the Council on Foreign Relations guy wrote. “But do you know who has taken over? The 38 percent of respondents who in a Washington Post-ABC News survey said President Trump is ‘honest and trustworthy.’”
After comparing Trump supporters to flat Earthers, the born-again neoconservative intellectual went on, explaining that the right is largely irrational (they are climate change deniers, derp!), but that examples of madness can also be found on the left, with “the leading anti-vaxxers [being] Democratic scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and liberal actress Gwyneth Paltrow [making] a fortune peddling ‘jade eggs for vaginas, $30 sex ‘dust,’ and body stickers that ‘promote healing’’ despite scientific exposés showing that these New Age tchotchkes don’t work.”
The truth, he suggested, is that democracy might still be “the best form of government if only because all the alternatives are worse.” But we may have reached “some critical mass of collective madness where democracy no longer functions,” he adds.
Considering the article’s title asks whether we’ve become “too stupid” to govern ourselves, sounds like he just doesn’t trust the rule of the majority when it doesn’t support his choice of policies.
Those oddballs out there are bothering him and his kind. And since pushing his will on them costs him nothing, it is exactly what he will do. Dehumanizing, hurting and enraging people makes it more fun as he’s cashing his big checks.
After all, the freedom to pursue different points of view is largely overrated. What we need, his article implied, is a strong man (much like Trump himself) to dictate how we should think, how we should raise our children, and how we should spend our free time. Hell, what we truly need, he confessed in his piece, is exactly what we have achieved in the United States after years of government expansion: an omnipresent executive that has the power to arrest, spy, steal, and kill indiscriminately.
One day, however, that country will be where people like Boot himself are persecuted, arrested, and humiliated for publicly criticizing an elected official.
In other words, Boot is a useful idiot for passionately dedicating his life to the health of the empire. As luck would have it, empires don’t have loyalties.