What are the “Rules for Radicals” taught by Saul Alinsky to the “community organizers” of the past and present day?

A couple of points.

Saul Alinksy was a Chicago Marxist/socialist/statist etc. who wrote the very influential book (I had to read it in college) Rules for Radicals. It is safe to say that pretty much every solid lefty activist/politician in the game today has read the the book or is at least familiar with it. Former president Obama it is said was steeped in Alinskyite philosophy while he was a “community organizer.”

If one is not a lefty activist/politician one would also be wise to learn its lessons too however. One, because they work (so long as the opposition doesn’t understand what is going on.) And two, because they highlight the real effort by a large part of the political class to undermine any general sense of shared humanity in the body politic and to instead encourage tribalism and the reliance upon the state as a great hand of crushing “social justice.” Division is at the core of Alinskyism and I think we saw this during the Obama years.

So what were these “rules”? Generally they are outlined here:

1. “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.

2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

5. “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.

6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

8. “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

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 enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem

13. “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.

 

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