Aug 17, 2011

Saul Alinsky's “Rules for Radicals” - An examination: Preface

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 (Alinsky)

In 1971, Saul Alinsky published his now infamous Rules for Radicals (RfR) with the intent of enabling the readers to change the world into what they want it to be – from a Communist and Socialist standpoint. Used as a guidebook, RfR laid down the war plans for the radical leftist assault on our political system.

Born in 1909 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Alinsky was a community organizer and writer. Attending school at the University of Chicago to learn the discipline of archeology, Alinsky soon realized that his particular skills were not widely needed in the private sector. Thus, he dropped out of grad school to accept a position as a criminologist with the state of Illinois. It was then that he began his efforts as a “community organizer,” spending nearly forty years working with the poor by organizing them for community action.

As a declared “champion” for the poor, Alinsky was highly effective in bringing Communist and Socialist ideas to those who felt slighted by the rich and/or their very nation. As such, he is often credited for the grassroots political organizing in the 1960s. In 1969, he was awarded the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. Alinsky died of a heart attack at the age of 63 in 1972. (Wikipedia)

Some notable figures are connected with RfR in some manner, including Hillary Clinton who wrote her senior theses on Alinsky. (Hillary Clinton Quarterly)

Many of us have heard of Alinsky. Perhaps some of us have even come across quotes attributed to him. Yet, how many are intimately familiar with his works as a whole? Thus, it is my intent to examine RfR in its entirety and disseminate the information contained there-in. I feel that it behooves Conservatives and Independents alike to understand the “playbook” which many radicals adhere to. It is my belief that if such information was studied and disseminated during the 60s and 70s, many of the degradations of society that we are now witness to (up to and including Obama's failed presidency) would be greatly hindered – if not halted.


Alinsky begins by immediately naming the targets of what he calls, “The Revolutionary Force.” They are named as “[morality] and material.” Mentioning Marxism, Alinsky laments that those of his generation have not passed forward the “torch” of their movement, leaving many young people essentially clueless as to the actions required for the movement's success. He also makes an early mention of McCarthy and names his (McCarthy's) actions a “holocaust.” This may indeed be why Progresives of today posses an almost rabid hatred for the man – he almost succeeded in purging America of Communists and those who desired to twist and change what America was and is.

Alinsky also attempts to equate his movement to those of early Christians saying:

Its young protagonists are one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians, yet they also urge violence and cry, “Burn the system down!” (pg. xii)

This is an attempt to give the “revolution” a moral equality to those of Christian movements. Yet further on in his prologue, Alinsky states the progressive line that morality itself is only determined in the viewpoint of the beholder. Thus, one can honestly conclude that the only reason Alisky mentioned Christianity in the first place was to gain a foothold in the conscience of one who may be initially wary.

As he continues, Alinsky attempts to make a case that today's youth have no leadership and no set of guidelines to help them change society. He mentions current movements of the day: hippies, conclaves, etc. and makes the obvious deduction that the youth are seeking a way of life.

When they talk of values they're asking for a reason. They are searching for an answer, at least for a time, to man's greatest question, “Why am I here? (pg. xvii)

He discusses the “generation gap” where according to him, it is the older generation which, while trying to understand youth, has pre-conceived notions which will not bend. “When you're older you'll understand” is a phrase he used more than once, yet his rhetoric makes that statement seem degrading. It is obvious to the studious reader that he is trying to erect a divide between the generations.

Alinsky then gives a glimpse into his system. According to him, to effect change, one must work from within the system – not outside.

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 the system. (pg. xix)

As we examine the past forty years, that's exactly what we see. Socialists infiltrated all aspects of public life: schools and organizations (such as the Girl Scouts and unions), as well as local, state and federal governments. Using these positions of influence, the Socialists were able to brand their way of thinking on to youthful and innocent minds, corrupting them to the “cause.” This is one of the reasons why I believe that Obama was so easily elected. We had generations of people growing up who allowed Alinsky's followers to do their thinking for them. Thus, being brainwashed into seeing lies as truth, they elected a community organizer to the highest post in the nation. In fact, although we Conservatives look down our noses at those who hold the title of “community organizer,” to the brainwashed masses, it is a title of highest regard.

Alinsky continues:

It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be proceeded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without the supporting base of a popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics. (pg xxi)

To back up this statement, he refers to the American Revolution and the famous quote by John Adams wherein the change of hearts and minds was stated to be the back bone of the Revolution (and indeed it was).

As for how one is to grasp on to the hearts and minds, Alinsky states:

Remember: once you organize people around something as commonly agreed upon as pollution, then an organized people is on the move. From there it's a short and natural step to political pollution, to Pentagon pollution. (pg. Xiii)

This brings to mind movements such as: “Save the Rainforest,” “Save the Whales,” “Save the Planet,” and etc. If one ever wondered why such “causes” are mainstream and the numbers of which are almost beyond count, now you know why. Succinctly, what Alinsky is saying is that one must first grab the attention of others through agreed upon causes, and then turn that into a political movement. Once you control the minds, anything is possible. After all, someone who wants to save the Earth from global warming must have the goodness of all humanity on his or her agenda. Right? This is, of course, flawed logic where the preposition itself is corrupt. However, there are millions of people who cannot, or will not, recognize this. Instead, they will allow themselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter.

Alinsky finishes his preface with praise for the democratic system and urges his readers to not give up. Almost slyly, he encourages people to “[hang] on to one of your most precious parts of youth – laughter.” He goes on encourage us all to continue in love and beauty, as well as the “ability to create.” (pg. xxvi). Nice words – sugar to sweeten the ears of those who unknowingly seek their own destruction.

Works Cited

Alinsky, Saul D. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.

"Saul Alinsky." Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 12 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 Aug. 2011.

Schaper, Donna, Rake Morgan and Fran Marafiote. Ed. Frank Marafiote. Hillary Clinton Quarterly. "Hillary Clinton's Senior Thesis About Radical Activist Saul Alinsy." Web. 18 Aug. 2011.

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