Summary of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals”
• “How Obama seduced ‘Middle Class’ America”
• “Obama organized America, Alinsky-style”
• ‘Rules for Radicals’ at amazon.com
• ‘Rules for Radical Conservatives’ at at amazon.com
Saul Alinsky was a ruthless radical organizer. He would stop at nothing to win. Before he passed away in 1972 he published a book called “Rules for Radicals” in which he outlined his power tactics and questionable ethics.
Anyone interested in staying, or becoming, Union Free, whether in an organizing campaign or in a decertification or deauthorization election, ought to become familiar with these rules.
This can be very valuable information. As one expert observer points out “Rules for Radicals are reversible and can be used against the Left.”
Here’s a brief summary of the rules. We are indebted to the Public Service Research Foundation for this information.
Rules for Power Tactics:
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Because Alinsky was sensitive to criticism that he wasn’t ethical, he also included a set of rules for the ethics of power tactics. You can see from these why his ethics were so frequently questioned.
Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical:
1. One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue.
2. The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
3. In war the end justifies almost any means.
4. Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
5. Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
6. The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
7. Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
8. The morality of means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
9. Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition to be unethical.
10. You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
11. Goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.”
These are just the highlights. There’s obviously a lot more to it. Alinsky’s book is still available in most college bookstores and on Amazon and is worth reading.