Recently — very recently — I happened across yet one more wingnut mean-spirited reference to Saul Alinsky (I forgot to mark the place, which I have since also forgotten — one of the “benefits” of aging). In any case, the remark was (predictably) both vitriolic and deleterious, with all dirt spouted in the direction/context of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and today’s “Democrat” Party.
Saul Alinsky. I remembered the name, but the reason for the recollection was foggy at best. So I dug a bit, hoping to find a memory refurbishment along with explanation of maybe some of the current vitriol. Conclusion: Google is cool. With a few quick mouse clicks, I found myself reminded of days long past, of days back in the ’60s when I was but an innocent college kid. Back then, Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) was a community organizer in Chicago (sound familiar?), one who had spent much of the 1950’s organizing various Afro-American community efforts on civil rights issues. In the 1960’s he set up organizer institutes to train others, and his reputation began to spread.
In 1969, in fact, a Wellesley College student chose Alinsky’s work as a subject for her pre-grad thesis entitled “There is Only the Fight: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.” The student, Hillary Rodham (yes, THAT Hillary), interviewed Alinsky a pair of times for the paper in which she included this, her summary of Alinsky’s philosophy:
“Much of what Alinsky professes does not sound ‘radical.’ . . . His are the words used in our schools and churches, by our parents and their friends, by our peers. The difference is Alinsky really believes in them and recognizes the necessity of changing the present structures of our lives in order to realize them.”
Not long thereafter — 1971 — Alinsky published his third book, Rules for Radicals, A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. In it, he included the following list of thirteen “power tactics” which, in his context, were methods for organizers to use that were based on principles of direct action via nonviolent conflict and with purpose being to empower the oppressed, the poor, in the ‘modern’ American society. His thirteen rules read as follows:
1. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat…. [and] the collapse of communication.
3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”
6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time….”
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. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.”
11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.”
12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’
Diabolical and evil, right? Maybe also subversive? In the same book, Alinsky also noted that . . .
As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.
Alinsky. Diabolical. Anti-American. Obviously.
Shortly before his death in 1972, Alinsky, in an interview in Playboy Magazine, pretty well summarized his worldly views and goals in a mere 65 words:
I’ve never joined any organization — not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism . . . The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.
In spite of Alinsky’s soft-spoken attitudes and philosophies, in recent years the words ‘Saul Alinsky’ have become the approximate equivalent, in GOP vitriol, of words such as Soros, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, etc., ad infinitum. The various right wing noise machines have, in fact, spread the anti-Alinsky vitriol via each and every available medium, always in the process linking the “Marxist” Alinsky with prominent Democrats, in particular the former Chicago Community Organizer Barack Obama, and Hillary (Rodham) Clinton, 1969 Wellesley College graduate.
In January 2008 — during the run-up to that year’s November elections — Richard Poe published an article entitled Hillary, Obama And The Cult Of Alinsky
in which he notes that “Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties.” Not sure I’ve ever seen a better example of the right wing’s penchant for subtle wordsmithing and meaning alteration than that one, but given that Poe’s co-author on their book which lambasted “George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals” was David Horowitz, the surprise is minimal at best.
Meanwhile, the seeds of right wing baloney in re Saul Alinsky and his philosophies continue to sprout and grow. A good example is in this, the text of a January 2014 viral email that made the rounds and undoubtedly raised a bunch of wingnut eyebrows in the process. It is, in effect, a complete and total rewrite of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” noted above, primarily designed to lambast President Obama by linking him to the falsely vilified Saul Alinsky.
Obama was influenced by the writings and philosophies Saul Alinsky, author of the book, “Rules for Radicals,” and later by Frank Marshall Davis, with similar philosophies.
Barak [sic] Obama followed the philosophies of these ‘role models’ throughout his days as a Community Organizer for ACORN, using tactics that appeared to some as ‘shaking down’ businesses in exchange for not branding them ‘hate groups.’
And apparently Obama is still following those radical rules today.
How to create a social state by Saul Alinsky:
There are 8 levels of control that must be obtained before you are able to create a social state.
The first is the most important.
1) Healthcare — Control healthcare and you control the people
2) Poverty — Increase the Poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them to live.
3) Debt — Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.
4) Gun Control — Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way you are able to create a police state.
5) Welfare — Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income).
6) Education — Take control of what people read and listen to — take control of what children learn in school.
7) Religion — Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools.
8) Class Warfare — Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to take (Tax) the wealthy with the support of the poor.
Now, think …
Does any of this sound like what is happening to the United States?
Notice the “author” of the above attributed his diatribe to Saul Alinsky, author of the book, “Rules for Radicals,” but included nothing written by Saul Alinsky. The entire of the text (attributed to Alinsky by inference only) is bogus, clearly intended as anti-Obama and anti-Democrat-in-general verbal drivel that is typical of propaganda everywhere.
Herr Dr. Goebbels would surely be proud of today’s American right wing propaganda machine, given that it so closely obeys a great many of Goebbels’ precepts. As he himself summed it,
“Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. . . . We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”
There’s probably no better definition of the GOP’s current noise machine anywhere. Not that we should be surprised, of course. There does remain, however, a diametric difference between the views of Herr Goebbels (read also: America’s right wing, aka GOP) and Saul Alinsky. As Alinsky put it,
“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.”
Amen. Ideal America defined. Thank you, Saul Alinsky.