Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rules for Radicals: How to Begin Taking Back Our Government

I am disgusted and fed up with campaign coverage. I don't give a crap about Hilary 'tearing up' or Obama wearing or not wearing a flag pin of any sort! I am not impressed with idiots who find patriotism in a flag pin like Bush finds courage at the bottom of a bottle! I care even less about how McCain --an idiot --is doing!

The debates might as well be about how many angels can dance on the head of a flag pin. Everything is eyewash until the treasonous criminals who seized the White House are brought to justice before a hangin' judge! Until someone addresses that issue, everything else is just meaningless polemics, a sop, bread and circuses to let the 'people' believe that they actually count. Since 911, you don't count!

I am not a 'Kumbayah Liberal'. I am a roll up your sleeves and carry a tire iron radical! I am not gentile when someone like Bush --a prissy, prancy, snot-nosed, gay boy cheerleader --tries to bullshit me while scrapping the Constitution and threatening the rest of the world with nukes! Bush's co-conspirators, the GOP, the MIC and certain well-heeled individuals have much to answer for. With any luck at all, they will! In a dock! Charged with a panoply of crimes for which there is abundant probable cause now to try their sorry asses! Don't waste time calling me a 'conspiracy theorist'; I'm not talking theories --I'm talking indictments!

The American left used to be tough. Throughout the American left were found tough minded organizers and radicals like Saul Alinsky who did not mince words.
"Liberals in their meetings utter bold works; they strut, grimace belligerently, and then issue a weasel-worded statement 'which has tremendous implications, if read between the lines.' They sit calmly, dispassionately, studying the issue; judging both sides; they sit and still sit.

The Radical does not sit frozen by cold objectivity. He sees injustice and strikes at it with hot passion. He is a man of decision and action. There is a saying that the Liberal is one who walks out of the room when the argument turns into a fight.

Society has good reason to fear the Radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the Radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know that while Liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, Radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of Conservatives.

Radicals precipitate the social crisis by action - by using power. Liberals may then timidly follow along or else, as in most cases, be swept forward along the course set by Radicals, but all because of forces unloosed by Radical action. They are forced to positive action only in spite of their desires ...

--Saul Alinsky: The American Radical
The American left was, in fact, so tough that a shocked and awed GOP decided that if they could not come up with their own strategies they would revert to form and steal those of the 'organizers' that represented America's left wing throughout the 20s, 30s and 40s. Though they will not admit it, the GOP was as impressed as it was frightened with Saul Alinsky. He had, after all, organized the tough Chicago neighborhoods made famous by Upton Sinclair in his novel: The Jungle.
There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future.

This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 per cent of American families - more than seventy million people - whose income range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year [in 1971]. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat. They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don't encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let's not let it happen by default.."[2]

--Saul Alinsky, Organizer
So impressed was the GOP that throughout the '80s --the decade that saw the rise of Tom DeLay --GOP consultants would include Alinsky's 'Rules for Radicals' as the cornerstone of the various GOP 'Campaign Manuals' that they put together. It was a GOP manual, in fact, that was my introduction to Alinsky. I think it's time the 'left' reclaimed Alinsky. He is, after all, one of our own. It's time the 'left' dust off his 'Rules for Radicals', reclaim them, and put them to work in service to a higher call than that of Bush self-aggrandizement, bullying, and outright theft of the world's resources.
RULE 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. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people."

It results in confusion, fear and retreat.

Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don't address the "real" issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy."

Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

RULE 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. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

RULE 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. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

RULE 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. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid "un-fun" activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag."

Don't become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

RULE 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. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."

Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists' minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

RULE 10: "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. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management's wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

RULE 11: "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. (Old saw: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

RULE 12: 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. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

--Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
Even now, Alinsky is quoted more often by the 'right' than the 'left' who should be studying him. I found the following comment on the 'Free Republic':
"Hillary!" Rodham (Pre-Clinton), while at Wellesley, studied Saul Alinsky, whose ideas provided the organizing thesis for her (mysteriously unavailable) Senior Honors Paper.(!)

This is the absolute truth!

Heads up!
My response to the 'wing nut' who posted this is: so what! I advocate taking Alinsky back. He's the genie in the lamp. He served the left well until, somewhere, sometime, he was hijacked. The right wing rubbed the lamp and his 'Rules for Radicals' became the object of right wing study, application and practice.

The right wing, however, misunderstood and misapplied Alinsky. The right wing organizes from the top down; Alinsky from people to people, block by block! The right wing is ideologically constipated. Alinsky believed in what works for the people.

I say: reclaim Alinksy, the Genie! Let him out of the lamp and put him back to work for greater and better causes than the enrichment of some one percent of the population who didn't work for it and doesn't deserve it. Class warfare? You bet your sweet ass, it is! Bring it on! Put Alinsky to work for peace and people --not guns and phony aristocrats!

Put Alinsky to work organizing 'committees' that will track down war criminals (we know who they are) when they are out of office and on the lamb. Put Alinsky to work organizing research teams that will support numerous capital crimes cases. Put Alinsky's principles to work getting the goods on the 'real killers' of 911! And we know who they are as well! Some good starts have been made. But a revolution is won, like chess, in the end game with checkmate. In this case, we start with Rule 12: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

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