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Alinsky's Tactical: Rules for Radicals

by gmoke Thu Apr 28th, 2016 at 10:57:32 PM EST

I read Saul Alinsky's  Rules for Radicals (published 1971) in the 1990s and wanted to remind myself of what my thought was then of what Alinsky wrote long before his name became a conservative slur.  

Alinsky was a successful organizer and a seasoned tactician.  Alinsky, however, was not a strategist.  The difference between strategy and tactics is often confused:  Tactics are the means used to gain an objective and strategy is the general campaign plan or goal.

Here are some of the tactically radical rules of Saul Alinsky that I noted then and now note again:

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
Never go outside the experience of your people.
Whenever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy.
Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.
A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
Keep the pressure on.
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 and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.  
The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.  
Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
The real action is in the enemy's reaction.
The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction is your major strength.
Tactics, like organization, like life, require that you move with the action.

For a different take on community organizing, my notes on Grace Lee Bogg's The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century​ are at http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-next-american-revolution.html


Poll
More tactical and strategic organizing?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 2
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Hubeventnotes provides a marvelously striking contrast with Alenski's strident radicalism. How can anger coupled with quest for power ever improve the world. It has to be hope and compassion channeled through lovingly created new reality that creates the power to sustain itself.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 29th, 2016 at 11:26:04 PM EST
A dialectic can work in many ways.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 29th, 2016 at 11:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Grace Lee Bogg's The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century​ is another aspect of organizing for change in which means and ends coincide.  My notes are at http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-next-american-revolution.html

I found Alinsky's characterization of the opposition as "enemy" to be counter-productive and locks you into a position that may not be flexible enough to reach an amenable conclusion for "our" side let alone "theirs".

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Sat Apr 30th, 2016 at 06:05:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In situations of winner takes all, such as elections or war (see Sun Tzu), the opposition has to be an enemy.

The problem comes when alliances are flexible and tactical, then strategic view of who or what your enemy actually is can definitely become counter-productive.

Too much modern politics is about the tactic of achieving/maintaining power and too little about the strategy of government.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 3rd, 2016 at 05:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And for governance it is desirable to minimize the number and intensity of enemies. Alinsky's approach lends itself to maximizing enemies, IMO. There can be a difference between acting as though your opponent is your enemy in order to win the election and actually believing they are your enemy and continuing to act as though they are after the election. Some will give you no choice, but not usually all.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 3rd, 2016 at 05:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Abraham Lincoln:  "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Wed May 4th, 2016 at 04:53:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did a deep study of strategy and non-violence a decade or two ago and found that there is a lot of agreement between Sun Tzu or von Clausewitz and Gandhi or ML King Jr.  

"Winner take all" contests end and then you either kill your enemy or have to deal with them.  

My experience in practicing martial arts for over 30 years leads me to believe that thinking of your opponent as a partner is more advantageous than thinking of them as an enemy.  After all, you are both involved in the same struggle, you are partners in battle.  That concept, in my experience, allows the person who holds to see certain openings and opportunities that the concept of "enemy" does not.

But hey, I could be wrong.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Wed May 4th, 2016 at 04:52:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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