By David Truman
Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) was a community organizer and political activist in Chicago whose mission was “to do something about not only economic poverty but also political poverty” by giving low-income groups the tools for organized power. Sounds well meaning, doesn’t it?
As the New Left (Students for a Democratic Society, SDS) grew in university campuses in the 1960s, Alinsky opposed “participatory democracy” as unrealistic and emphasized the need for strong leadership, structure and centralized decision-making to achieve radical change. That wasn’t far from Lenin’s position of a “vanguard” of the proletariat.
He envisaged organization for action on current social issues of pollution, inflation, the Vietnam war, violence, race, and taxes. Alinsky did not believe in limited government, and pushed class warfare and wealth redistribution. His worldview also embraced comprehensive socialism. The agenda below is a Bible for today’s US Democrats and the Australian Greens.
Rules for Radicals
In 1971 Alinsky published Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals as a guide for direct collective action for change. The tactics he spells out have become a defining text for today’s hard Marxists, complemented by Herbert Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance.” This seeks not only to oppose non-leftist views but to shut them up by deplatforming them, censoring them, and denying them air time or publication. All these tactics are in active play today. [See SEPARATE ARTICLE Herbert Marcuse’s REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE – Tactic Of The Destructive Left]
Alinsky said of his book “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.” Alinsky’s method of local organizing was widely copied by Democrats, and influenced Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He wanted reform inside the system by pressuring government officials to take into account the needs and wants of neighborhood residents, and he believed that the end justified any means.
Far-left radicals who wanted to destroy capitalism feared that Alinsky was strengthening it by resolving the issues most important to the poor. But for his radicalism, conservatives called him “The Red.” At the beginning of Rules for Radicals, he dedicated his book to “the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — LUCIFER.”
- “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
TRANSLATION: If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
If you do, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
3. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
You want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
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. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”
It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.
7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
8. “Keep the pressure on.”
Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.
9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. “
When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.
10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
Unceasing pressure results in reactions that are essential for the success of the community organizer’s campaign.
11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative.”
Every positive has its negative.
12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”
13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. “
Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
This tactic has been used by Australia’s ABC in the relentless targeting of Christian Porter (minister in the Morrison government) by the journalist Louise Milligan.
On the ethics of ends and means
Alinsky says: In war, the end justifies almost any means. This is the common ethic of all totalitarianisms – communism, fascism, Islam. In Arthur Koestler’s magnificent book Darkness at Noon, which describes the career of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested and about to be subjected to a Show Trial, towards the end of the book, Rubashov reflects, in his cell: THE PRECEPT THAT THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS … was this sentence which had killed the great fraternity of the Revolution and made them all run amuck. What had he once written in his diary? “We have thrown overboard all conventions, our sole guiding principle is that of consequent logica; WE ARE SAILING WITHOUT ETHICAL BALLAST.”
Alinsky also says:
Generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.
And – get this! – You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
So: Kevin Rudd said that climate change is “the greatest moral issue of our time”. Same thing goes with the farm-destroying policies being pursued now in the Netherlands and by Trudeau in Canada, and fossil-fuel denying policies being implemented in Australia – all to “save the planet.”
Sanctimoniousness is useful too: Goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.” The last one was the slogan that Lenin and the Bolsheviks used in 1917 to overthrow the Provisional Government and in early 1918 to disband the democratically elected Constituent Assembly.
Alinsky writes that All of life is partisan. There is no dispassionate objectivity. The revolutionary ideology is not confined to a specific limited formula.
Reflection of Russian Nihilism
Alinsky reflects the attitude of the Russian nihilist Sergei Nechaev, whose infamous Catechism of the Revolutionary (1869) contains these gems:
1. The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property, and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution.
2. The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily.
4. The revolutionary despises public opinion. He despises and hates the existing social morality in all its manifestations. For him, morality is everything which contributes to the triumph of the revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything that stands in its way.
14. Aiming at implacable revolution, the revolutionary may and frequently must live within society while pretending to be completely different from what he really is, for he must penetrate everywhere, into all the higher and middle-classes, into the houses of commerce, the churches, and the palaces of the aristocracy, and into the worlds of the bureaucracy and literature and the military, and also into the Third Division and the Winter Palace of the Tsar.
Don’t we see that now in the Teals (pretend conservatives determined to “save the planet” from climate change); and in the woke industry leaders, and “progressive” churches, all besotted with current delusions about planetary catastrophe?
Nechaev’s point 14 is also reflected in a 1972 interview by Alinsky, in which he said that “ the only hope for genuine minority progress is to seek out allies within the majority and to organize that majority itself as part of a national movement for change.” The Greens are certainly doing that, by pretending to be concerned about the environment while in fact being about Cultural Marxist social engineering for a communist state.
Some telling quotes from Alinsky
They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.
Never let a crisis go to waste.
Now isn’t that what the World Economic Forum of Klaus Schwab is saying about Covid-19, as an enabler for The Great Reset?
The organizer must become schizoid, politically, in order to slip into becoming a true believer. Before men can act an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil. He knows there can be no action until issues are polarized to this degree.
Doesn’t that sound like what passes for debate from today’s hard left?
It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral.
The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means.
Evaluation of Alinsky
There are some saving graces when one evaluates Alinsky, given the racial circumstances in the USA of the 1960s. But his lasting legacy, which justifies seeing him as very bad, is the strategy he passed down to really malign, leftist destroyers in more recent years. This is especially so in the current world of venomously divisive gender and identity politics and the insanely ideological “intersectionality” nonsense, woke campaigns (for example against JK Rowling), the mindless violence of Black Lives Matter, and the utter stupidity of the Defund the Police campaigns.