Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” explained

If we really remember the 2008 campaign with Hillary and Obama the Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky would creep into the Campaign. For the last week or so, the Name Saul Alinsky has come up. Who was Alinsky? Progressives will tell you he’s great. Conservatives will tell you Barack Obama is the Poster Child for these rules. I would say just in the last few days Romney has employed Rule 13 on Gingrich, with success. Also in 2008 from the Hillary camp we heard and saw this rule in action: 13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Romney is using it, and for Radicals and Progressives relish Rule #5: 5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. I think we have seen some of this here on the Blog.

Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” explained
Union organizers are often highly trained. In many unions this training includes indoctrination in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”

Saul Alinsky was a ruthless radical organizer. He would stop at nothing to win. Before he passed away in 1972 he published a book called “Rules for Radicals” in which he outlined his power tactics and questionable ethics.

Anyone interested in staying, or becoming, Union Free, whether in an organizing campaign or in a decertification or deauthorization election, ought to become familiar with these rules.

This can be very valuable information. As one expert observer points out “Rules for Radicals are reversible and can be used against the Left.”

Here’s a brief summary of the rules. We are indebted to the Public Service Research Foundation for this information.

Rules for Power Tactics:
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

I think the best example we see over and over is the charge of Racism

Because Alinsky was sensitive to criticism that he wasn’t ethical, he also included a set of rules for the ethics of power tactics. You can see from these why his ethics were so frequently questioned.

Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical:
1. One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.
2. The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
3. In war the end justifies almost any means.
4. Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
5. Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
6. The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
7. Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
8. The morality of means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
9. Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition to be unethical.
10. You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
11. Goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.”

More Good Stuff Here:
http://theunionnews.blogspot.com/2008/10/summary-of-saul-alinskys-rules-for.html

6 Comments

  1. “If we really remember the 2008 campaign with Hillary and Obama the Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky would creep into the Campaign. For the last week or so, the Name Saul Alinsky has come up. ”

    —-
    I suspect Saul Alinsky would nod with grudging admiration at the way GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich repeatedly injects his name into speeches and interviews.

    “The centerpiece of this campaign is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky,” for example. Or “Saul Alinsky radicalism is at the heart of (President Barack) Obama.”

    From the way Gingrich invokes the boogeyman Alinsky, you’d think he was still alive — not dead for nearly 40 years — and about to leap from the shadows brandishing a Molotov cocktail to hurl at a U.S. flag.

    But Alinsky, the famed community organizer who lived most of his life in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, was not an advocate of violence. He was not a socialist, Marxist or communist.
    —-

    http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2012/01/gingrichs-shady-alinsky-campaign.html

    “Saul Alinsky was a ruthless radical organizer. He would stop at nothing to win. Before he passed away in 1972 he published a book called “Rules for Radicals” in which he outlined his power tactics and questionable ethics.”

    —-
    He identified as a radical, yes. But his radicalism took the form of a deep commitment to democracy — to helping the downtrodden find and use their political voice — and so was as fundamentally exceptional and American as the radicalism of the Founders.

    “The two words that sum him up are ‘populist’ and ‘pragmatist,’” said biographer Sanford D. Horwitt, author of “Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky: His Life and Legacy.” “He didn’t care for labels. He wanted to help people get things done.”
    —-
    “People don’t get opportunity or freedom or equality or dignity as an act of charity; they have to fight for it, force it out of the establishment,” Alinsky told Playboy. “This liberal cliche about reconciliation of opposing forces is a load of crap. Reconciliation means just one thing: When one side gets enough power, then the other side gets reconciled to it.”

    His goal was always to work within the system, not to destroy it, Horwitt said. His technique was to break down apathy and hopelessness, create a belief in the possibility of change and focus popular energy. If that sounds familiar, maybe it’s because tea party activists and others on the right have embraced the technique, even crediting Alinsky, in recent years.

    Alinsky was fine with using many varieties of unorthodox means with the downtrodden “to unsettle them, to make them start asking questions, to teach them to stop talking and start acting,” Horwitt said.

    “My only fixed truth is a belief in people, a conviction that if people have the opportunity to act freely and the power to control their own destinies, they’ll generally reach the right decisions,” Alinsky said, basically restating the animating principle of democracy itself.

    “The only alternative to that belief is rule by an elite, whether it’s a Communist bureaucracy or our own present-day corporate establishment. You should never have an ideology more specific than that of the founding fathers: ‘For the general welfare … ‘”
    —-

  2. Yorkshire,

    Although your posting did not accuse Saul Alinsky of having been a member of a communist or socialist party at the time of his death, one of your readers apparently wished to quote those who saw Alinsky as generally aligned with collectivist ideologies, and to rebut that.

    Thus:

    Miss Nova quotes

    ” “The only alternative to that belief is rule by an elite, whether it’s a Communist bureaucracy or our own present-day corporate establishment. You should never have an ideology more specific than that of the founding fathers: ‘For the general welfare … ‘” “

    Here however, is the original Alinsky text as it continued without Anna Nova’s elision: ” ‘For the general welfare.’ That’s where I parted company with the Communists in the Thirties, and that’s where I stay parted from them today.” (emphasis added)

    From the previous interview paragraphs:

    PLAYBOY: What was your own relationship with the Communist Party?

    ALINSKY: I knew plenty of Communists in those days, and I worked with them on a number of projects. Back in the Thirties, the Communists did a hell of a lot of good work; they were in the vanguard of the labor movement and they played an important role in aiding blacks and Okies and Southern sharecroppers. Anybody who tells you he was active in progressive causes in those days and never worked with the Reds is a goddamn liar. Their platform stood for all the right things, and unlike many liberals, they were willing to put their bodies on the line. Without the Communists, for example, I doubt the C.I.O. could have won all the battles it did. I was also sympathetic to Russia in those days, not because I admired Stalin or the Soviet system but because it seemed to be the only country willing to stand up to Hitler. I was in charge of a big part of fund raising for the International Brigade and in that capacity I worked in close alliance with the Communist Party.

    When the Nazi-Soviet Pact came, though, and I refused to toe the party line and urged support for England and for American intervention in the war, the party turned on me tooth and nail. Chicago Reds plastered the Back of the Yards with big posters featuring a caricature of me with a snarling, slavering fanged mouth and wild eyes, labeled, “This is the face of a warmonger.” But there were too many Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians and Latvians in the area for that tactic to go over very well. Actually, the greatest weakness of the party was its slavish parroting of the Moscow line. It could have been much more effective if it had adopted a relatively independent stance, like the western European parties do today. But all in all, and despite my own fights with them, I think the Communists of the Thirties deserve a lot of credit for the struggles they led or participated in. Today the party is just a shadow of the past, but in the Depression it was a positive force for social change. A lot of its leaders and organizers were jerks, of course, but objectively the party in those days was on the right side and did considerable good.

    Miss Nova thereby demonstrates one of the principle dangers of her strategy of trolling the Internet in order to dredge up proxy arguments. Instead of insulating her from any direct flash back, it only leaves her looking foolish when others who know more than she does, turn her own sources against her implied “argument”.

  3. This helps explain BO. One of his books was at Occidental College in CA was he associated himself with Socialist and Marxist students and teachers/professors. Here is someone who knew BO at Occidental and confirms such. It was Obama himself who said judge me by the company I keep. Well by his own admission, it was Socialists and Marxists. He even appointed an advisor, Van Jones, a member of CPUSA to be one of his Czars until Glenn Beck outed him. (added after Ys)

    From THE GATEWAY PUNDIT

    B-Cast Interviews Dr John C. Drew On Obama’s Early Marxist Years

    Posted by Jim Hoft on Saturday, February 13, 2010, 12:14 AM

    Scott Baker and Liz Stephans from the B-Cast interviewed Dr.JohnC.Drew (http://grantwriters.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2b98sgbq6i9w2) today. Drew said he tried to get his story out during the 2008 election. He says he was a Marxist himself in college and was until 1984. He knew Obama at Occidental College and went out to dinner and argued politics with the young Marxist Barack Obama. Drew says Obama was a Marxist-Leninist and believed in redistribution of wealth. He was deceiving the public during the election because he was 100% in agreement with his Marxist pals and professors. Drew still believes that Obama is a socialist.

    Obama wrote in Dreams of My Father that he hung out with the Marxists and radicals in college. Drew says it is very rare for a young college kid to be so radicalized as Obama was when he met him. He also said there is usually a team surrounding a charismatic leader like Obama.

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2010/02/b-cast-interviews-dr-john-c-drew-was-obama-a-committed-marxist-in-college/

  4. Mostly this is for the smaller group who know Alinsky’s tactics and can pass it to others. This would be a great “Jay Walking” question for Leno. I can be assured that he may find one person who knows of Alinsky, and how BO and Hillary adapted his tactics to campaigning and running the government. And Cloward-Piven is being in play now also.

  5. I used to worry that Barack Obama was a radical leftist, but I don’t anymore. He’s at the very least an standard American liberal, in inclination, but I don’t really believe that he has a strong philosophical compass pointing anywhere. He seems to me to be kinda, sorta, maybe wanting to move to the left, but as far as having a definite goal — other than to get re-elected — toward which he is driving, no, I don’t see it.

    It may explain why he’s such a poor leader: if he doesn’t really know where he’s going, it’s kind of difficult to expect him to be able to lead anyone there.

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