Quote: useful idiot (antedating attrib Vladimir Lenin 1961)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 14 21:31:39 UTC 2010

Here is an earlier attribution to Lenin in 1959 in the Congressional Record.

Cite: 1959 June 30, Congressional Record - Appendix, Page A5653,
Column 2, "Useful Idiots: Extension of Remarks of Hon. Edward J.
Derwinski of Illinoisin the House of Representatives, Tuesday, June
30, 1959" (LexisNexis Congressional Record Permanent Digital

This is the cold war. The leaders of the states and of the nations,
instead of going in droves to Moscow and becoming what Lenin calls
useful idiots in the Communist game, should go to Mackinac Island,
Mich., to the moral rearmament ideological war college where thousands
of our friends from the free world are coming to plan global strategy
to answer communism.

Barry Popik found "useful idiot" in a volume of the Congressional
Record digitized by Google Books. Yesterday, I used the LexisNexis
Congressional Record database to look for the term "useful idiot(s)"
as suggested by Barry. GB dates tend to be unreliable for the
Congressional Record. Above is the earliest match that I located.

The LexisNexis interface for the Congressional Record database was new
to me, and for logistical reasons my search time was sharply limited.
Some other search strategy may yield better results.

The snippet of text that Barry found referred to Stalin and not Lenin.
I was unable to examine some matches in the 1960s because they were
located in Appendices. I could not coax the LexisNexis system to
supply the Appendix for some dates in the Congressional Record. The
text referring to Stalin might be found in one of these 1960s
references or somewhere else.

Link to Berry Popik's entry on "Useful Idiot":


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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