Friday, September 03, 2010

The Tactics of Saul Alinsky and Their Use By Modern Progressives Today

Guest Post by T. Paine

The modern progressive left of today has as their champion a man that started out as a community organizer in Chicago who just happened to become President of the United States of America. It would seem that a younger Barack Obama learned to organize and achieve the ends to which he aspired by using the tactics articulated by another community organizer from an earlier generation in Chicago - Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky started out with organizing grass root rent strikes and in organizing people in protesting of the conditions with which the poor people in Chicago had to contend in the 1930's. His tactics and effectiveness as an organizer brought him to great prominence in the 1960's as anti-establishment revolutionaries and radicals organized under his "ends justify the means" tactics.

In 1971, shortly before his death by heart attack the following year, Saul Alinsky wrote his infamous tome, "Rules For Radicals".

"Rules for Radicals" begins with an unusual tribute:

"From all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer."

Alinsky's tactics have been used unceasingly by the progressive radicals ever since and continue to this day because of their ruthless effectiveness. Further, when history and the facts are contrary to the left's ideological goals and values, as they often are, they cannot rely upon reasoned debate and logic, hence the resulting usage of these typically pernicious and dangerously effective rules.

Saul Alinsky's Rules for Power Tactics include the following:

* Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
* Never go outside the experience of your people.
* Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear and retreat.
* Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this. They can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.
* Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
(This is one of the most common tactics employed by the left against conservative targets today.)
* A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
* A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
* Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
* The threat is generally more terrifying than the thing itself.
* The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
* If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
* The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
* Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
(In this case think of the left's demonization of Reagan, Bush, Gingrich, Palin, McCain as being stupid, superficial, intellectually un-curious etc.)
* In a fight almost anything goes. It almost reaches the point where you stop to apologize if a chance blow lands above the belt.
* One of the criteria for picking the target is the target's vulnerability ... the other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract.
* The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.



Alinsky, accordingly and understandably, was the frequent target of criticism that he wasn't ethical. Because of this constant charge leveled against him he also included a set of rules for the ethics of his power tactics. You can see from these why his ethics were so frequently questioned.

Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical:

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


As one can plainly see, Alinsky was adept at justifying whatever actions were partaken of, as long as they served the ultimate goal at hand.

His ethics smack of the moral relativity seen in society today, particularly amongst the far left. It has been suggested to me by many a liberal in my debates that most progressive ideologues today do not even know who Alinsky is. This may very well be true; however, one cannot argue that his egregious tactics and the justification of the same by the left is quite well known and utilized constantly to great but pernicious effect.
As for me, I was always taught that you do not do the right thing the wrong way. This is a sentiment with which I am sure Mr. Alinsky would greatly disagree.

(You can read T. Paine daily at Saving Common Sense)

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