Most of us here wouldn’t care too much for Saul Alinsky’s politics, though he’s not really much worse than many other leftists. He wasn’t a Communist Party member, though he did rub elbows with them. What makes him remarkable was his influence by those calling themselves progressives today. Hillary was a huge fan of his, and Obama considered him an inspiration. His greatest fame was from his book Rules For Radicals.
We’ve covered some of its highlights earlier, as well as key tactics. It’s a bit of a classic, and worth a read for activists of any political persuasion. There’s much to be said for all that, though Rules For Radicals also illustrates a few of the left’s weak points.
The ends justify the means
Early on, Rules For Radicals features a dedication to Lucifer, an attitude apparently not exactly unheard of with some very well-connected leftists today. Another controversial figure Alinsky mentions is Machiavelli:
The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.
You’d expect, then, that Alinsky would reject Machiavelli’s ways as cynical and unprincipled. Quite the contrary. The chapter “Of Means and Ends” makes it clear that the only consideration that matters is “Will this work?”. The concept of right and wrong is tossed out the window, as is any caution for unintended consequences, or even common decency.
Alinsky’s attitude seems to be pretty common with leftists. Consider quotes such as “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” by Lenin (he wasn’t really talking about eggs, of course) and “By any means necessary” by Malcolm X. Anything they do wrong is justified because it fits their notions of the greater good. Still, even the greater good is unimportant if “Will this work?” is the only criterion that matters.
Civil disobedience is a common leftist shtick, famously used by Thoreau, Gandhi, and MLK; the basic idea is that you don’t have to follow the law if you believe it’s unjust. But civil disobedience is just the beginning. “The ends justify the means” gives the golden seal of approval for any sort of destructiveness, anything from petty vandalism to coups d’état. Even mass starvations that killed millions can be justified by leftist True Believers by saying, “They were only trying to create a Socialist paradise.” Thus, the way they tell it, even the most egregious atrocities have no greater moral impact than a botched surgical operation.
Now wait a minute. Leftists to this day get upset about Joseph McCarthy outing Communists, firemen hosing down demonstrators in Southern cities during the 1960, and Augusto Pinochet’s one-way helicopter rides, just to name a few items. Well, since Mr. Alinsky said that the ends justify the means, then what’s the problem?
Holding leftists to their own hypocrisy
As Alinsky wrote:
The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.
Very interesting—Alinsky told us that the ends justify the means, yet recommends insisting that the other side play completely by the rules! As he indicates, this is practically impossible to do all the time, even when the other side has the best intentions.
One huge vulnerability of leftist ideology is their endless capacity for hypocrisy. For a few examples, according to them, executing a bloodthirsty murderer is barbaric, but aborting innocent babies is wonderful. Pornography is free speech, but politically incorrect statements are “hate speech“. Colonialism was an atrocity, but population replacement policies today must never be questioned. GLBTs are better than “cishets“; they need special rights and society must bend over backwards to accommodate them. Women can do no wrong, but men must be regarded with deep suspicion. Some groups are encouraged to organize and voice their interests, but others doing so are utterly vilified. The list goes on.
What do these soi-disant progressives really stand for, anyway? The above items aren’t really about equality, justice, or freedom. The only consistent thread is cultural Marxism disguised as those things.
The good news is that if you can break through their emotional shell and engage them logically, you can plant the seeds of doubt and set the stage for a red pill moment. If you can lead them to examine their ideology rationally, then it falls down like a house of cards. That’s no easy task, and it will likely take them time to mull it over, but every deprogrammed leftist is a new ally.
How leftists use minorities
Reading between the lines of Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky seemed to have a rather curious relationship with Blacks. Although leftists claim to feel solidarity for minorities and want to help them, overall the pattern is that Alinsky’s intent was to use them to further his own purposes. One of his plans seems a little childish:
Let us take one of the negative stereotypes that so many whites have of blacks: that blacks like to sit around eating watermelon. Suppose that 3,000 blacks suddenly descended into the downtown sections of any city, each armed with and munching a huge piece of watermelon.
Basically he concludes the watermelon plot would lead to numerous positive effects, though the logic escapes me a bit. For that matter, I never could figure out what’s the matter with liking watermelon. Italians like pizza—is that scandalous?
Alinsky was the prototype of the community organizer. It’s understandable that people might be inspired to act on behalf of their own community. Alinsky, though, also went to Rochester to stir things up. There’s an old term for that sort of person: outside agitator.
Haven’t we seen this type of thing before time and again by the left? Let’s consider LBJ’s words, spoken to two Senators while on Air Force One, while explaining his motivations to start welfare:
I’ll have those [African-Americans] voting Democratic for the next 200 years.
Documenting similar sentiments and behavior by the left—toward several minority groups—would turn this article into a book. Building alliances is nothing new, but using other people to fight one’s battles—demonstrations, riots, looting, burning, and to be revolutionary cannon fodder if needed—is treacherous, to say the least.
The media follows along with this. The typical pattern is to inflame grievances, encourage them to exercise their own solidarity, and focus microscopically on any bad news affecting them. Meanwhile, any not in the left’s favored categories are vilified when they try to organize, and comparable news affecting them rarely sees the light of day.
More recently, the BLM folks are The System’s footsoldiers. You might be surprised that outfits like that are not organic movements from within the Black community, but rather funded by deep-pockets donors. (Might I add, wasn’t the Obama administration supposed to be all about racial reconciliation?) Recent tensions have led to the assassination of police officers. The official response has been remarkably restrained thus far; the law generally doesn’t much appreciate cop killing. Still, it certainly seems that someone wants to stir things up.
Saul Alinsky spoke glowingly of compromise. Actually, he revealed a big secret of the left’s strategy, with the key to defeating them:
If you start with nothing, demand 100 per cent, then compromise for 30 per cent, you’re 30 per cent ahead.
[Compromises] then become the start for the continuation of conflict, compromise, and on ad infinitum… A society devoid of compromise is totalitarian. If I had to define a free and open society in one word, the word would be “compromise.”
Imagine that you’re haggling over a car. The dealer begins at $40,000, you open with the invoice price of $30,000, and you compromise for $33,000. As you’re in the finance room about to sign the papers, the dealer announces, “That’s wrong, I say it’s $36,000.” Who would want to do business with a crook like that? Never make a deal with anyone negotiating in bad faith.
In terms of the culture war, the following cycle has happened again and again:
- Activists make several outrageous demands.
- The media softens up the public, first with feelers to introduce the subject, then by heartstring-pulling dramas and sitcoms ridiculing those with opposing beliefs. This pushes the Overton Window of public opinion leftward.
- The issue starts getting discussed incessantly and the unthinkable becomes orthodoxy.
- Society appeases them, sometimes by lukewarm conservative legislators weary of the controversy and endless criticism.
- A cooling-off time starts until the status quo becomes accepted as the “new normal“.
- GOTO 1
If this creeping gradualism sounds like a dialectical strategy, that’s because it is. That’s a riff that cultural Marxism picked up from its Communist roots. This is how the culture war has been lost gradually, one little step at a time. Each acquiescence soon leads to the demands being ratcheted up a notch, etc.
To defeat this, we must recognize their strategy for what it is, and don’t give in. Think of these demands as societal shit tests. Remember that nothing makes cultural Marxists happy; too much is not enough. One of the things that Ayn Rand got right is refusal to compromise on matters of basic principle. Finally, if someone accuses you of using the “slippery slope” fallacy, remember that it’s not a fallacy when it’s their strategy!
All told, Rules For Radicals is a primary text for leftist agitators, just as St. Che literally wrote the book on guerrilla warfare. On the other side of the coin, Alinsky gave us a valuable look at the left’s playbook as well as revealed major flaws in their mentality.
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