By Ellen Cora
A leading figure of the extreme left
Americans need to know about this iconic provocateur — whose vast influence on American society has impacted all our lives.
Look no further than the turmoil we are witnessing on our college campuses today – to see proof that his methods are still being carried out by his followers.
A Russian-born, Jewish immigrant, Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) is credited with coining the term “community organizer.” His tenets are outlined in his well-known book “Rules for Radicals,” published in 1971. Nicknamed “The Red,” Alinsky dedicated his book tongue-in-cheek to Lucifer, the first radical.
Contemporary conservative talk show hosts like Hannity, Limbaugh and Savage, have attributed many Democratic Party strategies to Alinsky, whose history, dating back to the 1930s, boasts a long trail of ties to the communist party and other subversive organizations. Conversely, liberals cite use of Alinsky tactics by right-wing politicians as well — when they mention morality or religious sentiment to swell emotions.
Hillary Clinton’s senior honors thesis analyzed Alinsky’s works and their effects on modern American politics — and whereas President Barack Obama never met Alinsky, he was also schooled through the tutelage of hard core Alinsky protege, John L. McKnight.
Before Obama left Harvard, he wrote the treatise: “After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois.” On the flip side, liberal columnist, Rick Unger’s, July 13, 2015 article in Forbes magazine was entitled: ‘Trump and Huckabee: Ripping Campaigns from the Playbook of Saul Alinsky.’
Alinsky’s “rules” are for those who want to change the world from what it is – to what they believe it should be, ignoring what the people want.
“The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power,” Alinsky wrote. “Rules for Radicals was written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.” His success derives from his campaigns to sow seeds of class warfare and discontent — convincing the populace to fight the power and privilege of the “Establishment” — as the root of all their “problems.”
Alinsky’s aim for community organizers is to bait the opposition. “The enemy, properly goaded and guided into reacting, will be your major strength,” Alinsky penned. He believed in creating unrest by searching out controversial issues and convincing people they could actually effect change.
Consider Black Lives Matter and Income Inequality as two examples.
He was not above utilizing paid outside agitators to get public participation — fanning hostilities and stirring up raw emotions. Alinsky was a master at awakening community apathy and inertia — disturbing prevailing complacency. “The first step in community organization is community disorganization,” Alinsky was known to preach.
By linking a sense of hope to deep-seated resentments and hate, organizers can create a massive force, seeking recruits from local churches, civic organizations, labor unions and street gangs. To maximize effectiveness, Alinsky taught coupling his rules with actionable tactics. For example, he advocated: “Power is not only what you have, but what your enemy thinks you have — so raise a ruckus to convince the public and the media your force is much bigger than it actually is.”
“Never go outside the experience of your people — because the result is confusion, fear and retreat — but whenever possible, go outside the experience of your enemy — where you want to evoke these reactions.”
Alinsky identified ridicule as a potent weapon. It is hard to counteract — and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. To fuel continued protests, he encouraged using methods the demonstrators enjoyed. A variety of tactics and actions prevented boredom among his protestors, while wielding constant pressure to keep the enemy off balance.
He found threats often more effective and terrifying than actual actions. For example, if authorities feared organized mayhem regarding an issue, energized by media fanfare — such as the ludicrous Wall Street sit-ins on “income inequality” — they might knuckle under to an organizer’s demands for negotiation. Organizers avoided discussing proposed solutions to the crises they created — which would diffuse the desired chaos.
Instead of using the truth they are taught to avoid rational arguments when getting their points across.
Alinsky tried pushing negatives hard enough to transform them into a positive force. An example is violence from the other side can win public support for your cause — because the populace often sides with the underdog.
Alinsky liked to identify key individuals to attack, rather than targeting faceless corporations or bureaucracies. He worked to isolate his victims from their support networks, believing humans are easier to hurt than organizations.
In the book, “After Alinsky,” written in 1990, Barack Obama was a contributor and wrote the chapter: “Why Organize? Problems and Promise in the Inner City.” While the rhetoric used by Obama was nothing as inflammatory as that used by Alinsky, one wonders whether some of his comments over Ferguson, Baltimore and other controversial issues were not influenced by Alinsky.
Astute readers should now be aware of Alinsky’s Rules when you see them being exercised. Take them into consideration when making your judgement about the American political scene being played out today.