Alinsky once boasted, “I feel confident that I could persuade a millionaire on a Friday to subsidize a revolution for Saturday out of which he would make a huge profit on Sunday even though he was certain to be executed on Monday.”
Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) was an American community organizer. He established the Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation, a training center for community organizers in the tactics of revolutionary social change.
Responding to the impatience of a “New Left” generation of activists in the 1960’s, in his widely cited Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer (1971), Alinsky defended the art of both confrontation and of compromise involved in community organizing as keys to the struggle for social justice.
The Alinsky Model;
In the Alinsky model, “organizing” is a euphemism for “revolution” — a wholesale revolution whose ultimate objective is the systematic acquisition of power by a purportedly oppressed segment of the population, and the radical transformation of the West’s social and economic structure.
The goal is to foment enough public discontent, moral confusion, and outright chaos to spark the social upheaval that Marx, Engels, and Lenin predicted — a revolution whose foot soldiers view the status quo as fatally flawed and wholly unworthy of salvation.
Thus, the theory goes, the people will settle for nothing less than that status quo’s complete collapse — to be followed by the erection of an entirely new system upon its ruins. Toward that end, they will be apt to follow the lead of charismatic radical organizers who project an aura of confidence and vision, and who profess to clearly understand what types of societal “change” is needed.
But Alinsky’s brand of revolution was not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, overnight transformations of social institutions. As Richard Poe puts it, “Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties.” Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, subtly gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to introduce changes from that platform.
Matthew Vadum and Jeremy Lott provide an excellent explanation of what a community organizer does. They write:
“What does a “community organizer” do? Good question. Ever since former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani mocked Senator Barack Obama at the Republican convention in September 2008, for the senator’s community organizing past, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that her previous experience as mayor was “sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” [Obama’s] supporters have been furiously spinning this one. They’ve suggested a fanciful interpretation of “community organizer” that includes organizing church picnics and bake sales. Some have even had the cheek to suggest that Jesus Christ was a community organizer.”
“In that spirit, we suggest a better historical precedent: Lenin. Community organizing is leftist, anti-capitalist agitation. It’s about making people angry so they push for change, and the kind of change they seek is rarely good. Community organizers are essentially professional political activists who believe that something is terribly wrong with America and that they are the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix it.”
Dr. Thomas Sowell, the eminent Stanford University sociologist, offers this assessment of what community organizers do:
“For ‘community organizers’ … racial resentments are a stock in trade…. What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.” – 2009
Political analyst Andrew McCarthy calls community organizing “a gussied-up term for systematic rabble-rousing.” He adds:
“The quest for raw power is the gospel according to the seminal organizer, Saul Alinsky…. In Obama terminology, ‘hope’ is the possibility that power may be wrested from society’s ‘haves’ by infiltrating their political system. Just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is, organizers must target the very system they reject to acquire power—making themselves attractive to the great mass of society despite having ‘contemptuously rejected the values and the way of life of the middle class,’ as Alinsky put it. This is the formula for transformational ‘change’: the exploitation of power, once acquired, to redistribute wealth and elevate the left’s professionally aggrieved vanguard.”
“Though this quest for ‘social justice’ must tread through regular politics, it cannot be achieved by regular politics. That’s where the pitchforks come in. ‘Direct action’—as Mr. Obama’s longtime confederates at ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) euphemistically put it—is the organizer’s signal tactic. Action, Alinsky taught, is the very point of organizing. ‘Direct action’ is barely disguised code for the occasional use, and the omnipresent threat, of mob mischief, unleashed against the law-abiding bourgeoisie. The organizer prospers by defining down our ethical boundaries—or, looked at the other way, by legitimizing extortion.”
“In the short run, the goal of direct action is sheer extortion—i.e., to coerce capitulation in the controversy of the moment, be it a private business’s right to compensate employees or build production plants as it sees fit; a state’s sovereign power to defend itself by enforcing immigration laws; or Leviathan’s grab of one-sixth of the U.S. economy under the banner of ‘healthcare reform.’ Over the long haul, the goal is to demoralize civil society, to convince opponents that the ‘change’ in regular processes—particularly, reliance on the law—will be unavailing.”
‘The undisputed master of agitation’
For several years, Obama himself taught workshops on the Alinsky method.
Three of Obama’s mentors in Chicago were trained at the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).
One of Obama’s early mentors in the Alinsky method, Mike Kruglik, would later say the following about Obama:
“He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.”Mike Kruglik
Hillary’s admiration for Saul Alinsky
In 1969 Hillary wrote her 92-page Wellesley senior thesis on the theories of radical Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky; There is Only the Fight… An Analysis of the Alinsky Model. That model may be the reason why, after Bill Clinton took office, nasty tactics, shifting blame, and truth-parsing became commonplace in American politics. A great admirer of Alinsky’s activist tactics, Hillary met with the famed author several times in 1968 to interview him personally. She concluded her thesis by stating:
“Alinsky is regarded by many as the proponent of a dangerous socio/political philosophy. As such, he has been feared — just as Eugene Debs [the five-time Socialist Party candidate for U.S. President] or Walt Whitman or Martin Luther King has been feared, because each embraced the most radical of political faiths.”Hillary Rodham Clinton
Her conclusion also included this sentence: “If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution.”
*’THERE IS ONLY THE FIGHT… An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.’
– Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis on Saul Alinsky; [PDF].
*Hillary Clinton-Saul Alinsky correspondence revealed here.
Alinsky’s book; ‘Rules For Radicals’;
As a preface, Alinsky dedicated his book to the figure who inspired him to write it – Lucifer;
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: 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.”Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
- “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. ‘Have-Nots’ must build power from flesh and blood.”
- “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
- “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
- “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
- “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.”
- “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
- “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
- “Keep the pressure on.”
- “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.”
- “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. Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.”
- “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
- “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”