Summary: As US politics becomes a cacophony of lies and nonsense (now descending into street violence), we need to know that it can be better. This post reminds us of Saul Alinsky’s famous “Rules for Radicals”, which will work for any political movement.
“Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul …”
— Thomas Paine in The American Crisis (1783).
American politics has become polarized by the conflict between two revolutionary movements, Left and Right, both seeking large-scale changes to America that would create a New America. Both are inchoate, immature in doctrine — in their early stages of evolution, fumbling towards goals neither yet understands. Both have lost their way. Their recourse to violence after the moronic Campaign 2016 shows their intellectual decay.
In 1971, Saul Alinsky published his Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. It gives valuable advice for anyone seeking drastic reforms to America, no matter what their politics. Contrast these well-proven maxims with the folly guiding both factions today.
- “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
- “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.”
- “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
- “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
- “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
- “The threat is usually 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 enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
- “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
- “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
The good news: the weakness of America’s Left and Right provides an opening for a true reform movement to gain support. It will begin with the decision to act by individuals — like you.
About the book
From the publisher.
“First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals is Saul Alinsky’s impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.”
“Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.”
From the Preface and Conclusion.
“Today’s generation is desperately trying to make some sense out of their lives and out of the world. Most of them are products of the middle class. …They have seen the almost unbelievable idiocy of our political leadership — in the past political leaders, ranging from the mayors to governors to the White House, were regarded with respect and almost reverence; today they are viewed with contempt. This negativism now extends to all institutions, from the police and the courts to “the system” itself.
“We are living in a world of mass media which daily exposes society’s innate hypocrisy, its contradictions and the apparent failure of almost every facet of our social and political life. …The search for freedom does not seem to have any road or destination. The young are inundated with a barrage of information and facts so overwhelming that the world has come to seem an utter bedlam, which has them spinning in a frenzy …”
“The great American dream that reached out to the stars has been lost to the stripes. We have forgotten where we came from, we don’t know where we are, and we fear where we may be going. Afraid, we turn from the glorious adventure of the pursuit of happiness to a pursuit of an illusionary security in an ordered, stratified, striped society. Our way of life is symbolized to the world by the stripes of military force. At home we have made a mockery of being our brother’s keeper by being his jail keeper.
“When Americans can no longer see the stars, the times are tragic. We must believe that it is the darkness before the dawn of a beautiful new world; we will see it when we believe it.”
For More Information
- Populism arises amidst American workers abandoned by both Left & Right.
- 2016 revealed the true nature of America’s left & right. It’s bad news.
- The “sucker punch” at the Berkeley riot reveals the rot in our politics.
- Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.
- Stories of the Left & Right about the Berkeley riot reveal much about us.
Books to help understood what’s happening on the Left.