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 What would Saul Alinsky Do ?

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Number of posts : 79

PostSubject: What would Saul Alinsky Do ?   Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:03 pm

Below is part of an article published a few months before his death by Playboy. The article is too long to bring over, so we have furnished a link for you. "To know your furture you must understand it's past". How have the past organizational skills come to a full circle in such a short period of time ?

Article Link

What Would Saul Alinsky Do?
From: Jim Britell
Date: 1 Jun 2005


IMHO The problems facing grassroots organizing today have three causes, abandoning successful proven approaches of the past masters of grassroots organizing, using strategies and philosophies they warned us against ever using, and adopting strategies of failed campaigns of the past.

An earlier post on Paul Schaefer discussed his time tested and proven winning grassroots strategies and tactics, methods that have now all but been abandoned. However I have not run across anyplace where he wrote about how NOT to run campaigns.

But Saul Alinsky did.

The link is to an interview Alinsky gave a few month before he died in 1972. In it Alinsky crticizes some of the primary strategies and philosophies that currently inform the Environmental movement. He lays out in considerable detail his core philosophy of organizing and life, Also I think this essay is the only place where Alinsky discusses at length his relationship with and how he learned about life from his long time mentors and intimates, Al Capone and his mob's main enforcer, Frank Nitti. (improbable, but true.)
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Number of posts : 79

PostSubject: Re: What would Saul Alinsky Do ?   Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:50 pm

Alinsky states several rules of the ethics of means and ends:

  • The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
  • In war the end justifies almost any means.
  • Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
  • Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
  • The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
  • Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
  • The morality of a means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
  • Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.
  • You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.
  • Goals must be phrased in general terms like "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," "Of the Common Welfare," "Pursuit of Happiness," or "Bread and Peace."
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PostSubject: Re: What would Saul Alinsky Do ?   Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:54 pm

His rules for radicals are now used as key tactics to learn in the training of new community organizers.

He suggests that the perennial question, "Does the end justify the means?" is meaningless as it stands: the real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, "Does this particular end justify this particular means?"

Outlining his strategy in organizing Alinsky writes:

"There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski 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."

Alinsky wrote in the book's prologue:
"What I have to say in this book is not the arrogance of unsolicited advice. It is the experience and counsel that so many young people have questioned me about through all-night sessions on hundreds of campuses in America. It is for those young radicals who are committed to the fight, committed to life." In the first chapter's opening paragraph, Alinsky writes, "What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. 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".</BLOCKQUOTE>
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PostSubject: Re: What would Saul Alinsky Do ?   Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:31 pm

I've been watching the news as well ... and I don't see disgruntled Americans duking it out with politicians.

I see frustrated Right Wingers who will say and do literally ANYTHING to disrupt, divert, and disparage our Democracy.
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PostSubject: Re: What would Saul Alinsky Do ?   Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:32 pm

Maybe they are following in Obama's path. They are becoming community activists.
Seems to me average old people who feel the need to have their opinions on this undisciplined administration be heard. What is un-American about that!
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