Thanks for your question. First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research please
dont hesitate to ask me for a clarification.
Here are some relevant Web-based references to the quote you mention -
Lenin, referring to Westerners who denied the existence of Lenin\'s
police-state terror, called useful idiots.
Lenin put it another way, often saying that capitalist dupes "will
sell us the rope with which to hang them." He called them "the useful
There seem to be thousands of such references.
However, one source claimed Lenin never uttered these words
This comes from a book called They Never Said It: A Book of Fake
Quotes, Misquotes and Misleading Attributions (even available at
(I now see that someone has already referred to this in the comments)
Searching the Lenin archives, as well as books by and about Lenin at
Questia and NetLibrary, have not elicited anything either.
I guess what we are all forgetting is that Lenin did not speak
he therefore likely said something else in Russian, which,
over the years as in that famous childrens game evolved into
Having searched his writings for any possible similar reference (I
tried "useful" plus something, then tried various synonyms for
'idiot'), the best I could come up with was utter simpleton this
phrase was used in reference to President Wilsons naiveté regarding
the Treaty of Versailles. The quote is from a speech delivered at a
meeting of activists of the Moscow organization of the r.c.p.(b.)
December 6, 1920, from V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English
Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966
The exact quote is
Nowhere has the Versailles Treaty been analyzed so well as in the
book by Keynes, a British representative at Versailles. In his book
Keynes ridicules Wilson and the part he played in the Treaty of
Versailles. Here, Wilson proved to be an utter simpleton, whom
Clemenceau and Lloyd George twisted round their little fingers.
And it appears on page 449.
Its on the Web at
The context implies something quite similar to what has evolved into
popular use. I think it is not too far-fetched to imagine how utter
simpletons, likely used in reference to the Americans after the first
reference to Wilson cited above, mutated into useful idiots and was
applied to capitalists as a whole. This also agrees with what seems
to be the prevailing opinion that he had never actually said useful
idiots himself at all.
I hope this response adequately addresses your request. Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this
Clarification of Answer by
04 Jan 2003 03:15 PST
Hi. I continue to work on trying to identify the earliest occurence.
I have found the following documented citation -
The History and Impact of Marxist-Leninist Organizational Theory:
Idiots," "Innocents' Clubs," and "Transmission Belts, "
by John Pearson Roche
Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Incorporated
Pub. Date: January 1984
The book is available from -
I believe this book may hold the original source for the quote, given
that it is used in the book's title!
This book is cited in a book by Gary North of the Institute for
Christian Economics, "The Sinai Strategy" (1986, ISBN 0-930464-07-9) -
the book is online at -
See p. 5, footnote #8. North even has a chapter entitled "Useful
Alternativley, I have also found references that insinuate the remark
may have been made by Trotsky or Stalin...maybe this is why it is
impossible to find a Lenin reference? I hope the book cited will
resolve this quandary.
Please let me know if there is anything else you need as regards this