Monday, September 22, 2008

Alinsky's Rules of (Dis)Order

Saul Alinsky is called the "father of modern American radicalism." Alinsky (1909-1972)developed the strategies and tactics used by many radical groups in America today taking advantage of the vast unfocused emotional energies of the great masses of people. Hillary Clinton is a big fan and Barack Obama is, so far, the most thorough practitioner of Alinsky's principles.

The son of Saul, L. David Alinsky wrote a letter to the Boston Globe newspaper that was published Aug 31, 2008. He wrote:

ALL THE elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the crowd's chanting of key phrases and names, the action on the spot of texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting of the agenda by the power people. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style.

Barack Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.

I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.

L. DAVID ALINSKY
Medfield
Alinsky's work is used primarily by anti-government and anti-corporate interests to transform society. The Alinsky model is a set of behaviors and principles that are intended to create an emotional commitment to victory no matter the cost. Most people currently see the strategies as unacceptable Communist and Socialist propaganda methods. Truth is, the Alinsky rules for radicals are apolitical and amoral. The rules are double edged and can cut both ways. So far, only the radical liberal leftist elements of society and politics have used the rules. It's time Conservatives begin to read, understand, and use the same principles. There's an old dictum: fight fire with fire. There is no defense for many of the Alinsky tactics other than the Alinsky tactics.

Alinsky's Rules for Radicals
By Craig Miyamoto, APR, Fellow PRSA

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.)
In Elko, Nevada on Sep 17, 2008, Obama exhorted his minions, "I want you to argue with them and get in their face." An audacious attempt to create hostilities between political groups and socio-economic classes. Pure Alinsky.

An article in Investors Business Daily today says that Alinsky emphasized that his rules had to be translated into everyday real life situations. Barack Obama is doing just that on a very large scale on a very large national stage.

Obama has already translated several of Alinsky's rules into battle tactics, including:

• Rule: "Rub raw the resentments of the people; search out controversy and issues." In the mortgage meltdown, for instance, Obama vows to prosecute "predatory lenders" for "abusing" minority borrowers. He's also stoking class resentment by painting Wall Street and other executives as villains.

• Rule: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." In an ad to woo Hispanic voters, Obama demonized Rush Limbaugh by falsely claiming he made racist statements against immigrants.

• Rule: "A mass impression can be lasting and intimidating." This explains why Obama moved his acceptance speech to a football stadium and bussed in 85,000 supporters. Alinsky's son was so impressed, he praised Obama for learning his father's "lesson well."

• Rule: "Multiple issues mean constant action and life" for the cause. This is why Obama never harps on one issue, as Hillary did with health care. His platform is packed with grievances from "economic justice" to "reproductive justice" to "environmental justice."
Do not fear Alinsky's rules, learn them, use them. The rules work just as well for Conservative principles and goals as they do for the Liberal Socialist agenda of Barack Obama and the Democrats.

And it helps to know the enemy.





The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

2 comments:

Quantum_Flux said...

Interesting, "
I shall use these tactics!"

Indigo Red said...

Good, Q. I've been using Rule 5, Ridicule, for years. Works well, except for bosses and then not so well.