“The truth I do not dare to know I muffle with a jest.”
- Emily Dickinson -
SAUL Alinsky is the father of radical activism. In 1972, he wrote a book called Rules for Radicals (Rules) that codified the revolutionary tactics he had used to organize unions, minorities and the poor to seize power from the Haves for redistribution to the Have-Nots. Alinsky is relevant today because the left continues to employ his tactics.
Mainstream media leftists like Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Bill Moyers mock conservatives who suggest that Alinsky and his protocols matter in the twenty-first century, but in doing so they use a tactic he mastered in the middle of the twentieth century: “Ridicule,” Alinsky said, “is man’s most potent weapon.”
Few of today’s leftists know who Saul Alinsky was or what he represented. Fewer still have read Rules, his guidebook for left-wing agitators, or his prior book, Reveille for Radicals (Reveille). Yet today left-wingers from union organizers to gay marriage activists employ his tactics to the letter. They do so because those tactics have, through decades of practiced use, become part of the leftist DNA.
When a leftist’s ideas are challenged, his default response is the use of Alinsky’s tactics. He does this instinctively. He doesn’t need to read Alinsky Rules because Alinsky and his ideas have been absorbed into the left-wing agitation machine like water is absorbed into a root.
Radicals will reflexively follow Alinsky’s Rules and mock this book in order to marginalize it. They will claim that it does not prove what it does not attempt to prove. Not having read the book will make it easier for them to build their strawmen, but even if they do read it and discover that their accusations are false, they will continue to make those accusations because, as Alinsky said, the true radical subjugates his conscience to the cause because he “cares enough for the people to be ‘corrupted’ for them.”
To preempt the forthcoming attacks, let me state clearly what this book does not assert. It does not assert that Saul Alinsky was an evil man; that today’s progressives and radical activists have read Alinsky’s books; that today’s progressives and radical activists know who Alinsky was; or that today’s progressives and radical activists consciously employ Alinsky’s tactics.
The argument I make is five-fold:
- Today’s left regularly uses tactics that Saul Alinsky perfected and later codified in Rules.
- Today’s left is largely unaware that the tactics it uses are tactics prescribed by Alinsky.
- Today’s left, in order to achieve its ends, is increasingly willing to employ Alinsky’s directive to use “any means necessary.”
- Alinsky himself poses no threat to America, but today’s left, which has incorporated his ideas, does.
- If you want to combat the tactics of radical leftists, you must first recognize and understand them as tactics.
To give you an idea of what I mean when I talk about Alinsky-style tactics, let’s examine a slander tactic the left frequently employs. I was going to begin my introduction with the sentence, “Our culture has been hijacked by radicals.” Had I done so, the left’s mind-reading propaganda police would claim that my words are code for “I want my white male-dominated culture back.” More specifically, they would assert that the word “radicals” is a “dog whistle” recognized by white racists to mean “black and brown people.”[1A] This attack is designed to convince people that because I am white, male and conservative, I hate and fear black and brown people. Slander is a powerful technique because if you believe the slanderous charge is true, you won’t listen to anything the slandered person has to say.
Today, overtly racist comments are rarely heard regardless of the speaker’s political persuasion. You would expect leftists to be pleased that there is a dearth of racist hate speech, but they aren’t. And the reason they aren’t is because it means that they have lost a powerful weapon in their arsenal of slander. It is now harder than it has ever been for leftists to call a conservative a “racist” and make the charge stick. But the race-card is so dear to the left that it refuses to concede that the absence of overtly racist comments is the happy result of decades of anti-racism policies and pro-civil rights court decisions. Instead, it dishes out the lie – designed for the consumption of gullible minds – that the lack of overtly racist comments is cover for the underlying racism that still festers in the hearts and minds of conservatives everywhere.
Getting the left to let go of the stereotype that conservatives are racists is like trying to get a pit-bull to release its grip on a mailman’s ankle. You might be able to achieve it, but you’ll probably end up bleeding to death in the process. The left’s oft-repeated charge that conservatives are racist is a radical tactic, the goal of which is to keep blacks fearful of the right so that they remain loyal to the left and its radical agenda. In order to do this today, however, the left must deconstruct the English language so that when a conservative makes a race-neutral statement, the very fact that it is race-neutral may be proffered as proof that it is racist.
Ultimately, censorship is the objective of every one of the left’s slander tactics. Leftists don’t want you to read or hear anything that confronts their radical worldview; anything that might cause you to reconsider your allegiance to their sacred agenda; anything that might make you think for yourself and stray from the fold. For example, if you don’t support affirmative action or slave reparations, you are a racist, and, therefore, no one should listen to you. If you defend traditional marriage and oppose marriage between people of the same sex, you are a homophobe who hates gay people, and, therefore, no one should listen to you. If you think men who are accused of rape should have the right to confront their accusers, you are a misogynist, and, therefore, no one should listen to you. If you believe that we should control our border, enforce our current immigration laws and deport those who break them, you are anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant, and, therefore, no one should listen to you.
George Orwell, in his novel 1984, predicted that totalitarian governments, like those of his fictional city, Oceania, would seize and control the use of language in order to retain power:
“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [Oceania's constitution], but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc – should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.”
When the left asserts that a race-neutral statement like “our culture is being hijacked by radicals” or “President Obama is the food stamp President” is a disguised racist one, it is manipulating the language in an effort to make certain thoughts impossible. Tactics like this would have been too surreal for Samuel Beckett’s tastes; for the left, they are standard operating procedure.
If you have doubts that today’s leftists want to make non-radical modes of thought impossible, all you need do is accompany a conservative speaker on a college speaking tour and they will be assuaged. Conservatives David Horowitz, Ann Coulter and Bill Kristol, for example, now must bring bodyguards with them when they visit college campuses.[7A]
As we will see later in the book, Alinsky taught the community organizer that in starting a mass movement his every move must revolve around one central point: “how many recruits will this bring into the organization…” Because there can be no mass movement without a “mass,” leftists are on a constant, desperate search for new minority groups whose resentments and hostilities they can inflame. Obese people, ugly people and dwarves, for instance, are a few of their more creative targets. It won’t be long before they’ll propose anti-discrimination policies that protect left-handed shortstops and American Indians named Ralph.
But as desperate as the left is to recruit new malcontents, it is even more desperate to retain the allegiance of the minority groups it already owns. The left’s fear of defection – a fear shared by the Cosa Nostro, the Bloods and the Crips, the Latin Kings and cult leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh – explains the near psychotic hatred the left has for black conservatives like Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, Alan West, Herman Cain and Colin Powell, the last of whom, a life-long conservative and Republican, felt compelled to endorse Barack Obama for President in 2008 and 2012 in order to gain re-admission into the black race.
The left has good reason to want to keep their black followers loyal. Over the last twenty years Democratic Presidential candidates have averaged close to ninety percent of the black vote. If that figure moves downward by a mere ten or fifteen points, Republicans will not lose a general election for decades.
The left fears the defection of women almost as intensely as it does the defection of blacks and has reserved its most vile opprobrium for distaff conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer. The left’s repeated sexist attacks on these and many other conservative women as stupid, flaky and slutty for the putative advancement of “women’s rights” is as breathtaking in it’s hypocrisy as are it’s racist attacks on black conservatives for the putative advancement of black civil rights.
Fortunately, the left’s defamation of conservatives is increasingly understood by Americans to be the cynical tactic that it is. And when the slurs stop sticking, the radical stops ticking. The left has intensified its slander of conservatives in recent years, which is proof that it knows the jig is almost up and is in a panic about it.
I have divided this book into four parts: “Saul Alinsky,” “Rules,” “Rules in Operation” and “Fighting Back.”
Part One contains a short introduction to Saul Alinsky, the father of radicalism, and explains why he still matters today, forty years after his death. I emphasize Alinsky in this book not because I believe leftists are sleeping with his Rules under their pillows at night, but because the ideas he set forth in that book have through decades of pious use become a way of life for the committed left.
Part Two is an in-depth discussion of Alinsky’s tactics and his general philosophy of revolution and mass movements. In Chapter 4 of this part, I introduce and discuss Alinsky’s thirteen rules for radicals. I segregate the rules into three categories: benign, moderate and dangerous and focus on the six Alinsky rules that fall into the last category.
In Chapter 5, I discuss the seven techniques of propaganda set forth in a 1937 paper published by The Institute of Propaganda Analysis (IPA). Several of Alinsky’s tactics were likely patterned after these techniques. Like Alinsky’s rules, propaganda techniques are employed today by leftists seeking to gain converts to their cause through the demonization of their opponents.
In Chapters 6 through 9, I address what I call the four pillars of Alinskyism: “Ridicule,” “We’re Good and You’re Evil,” “Manufacturing Dissent” and “Justifying Means.” The methods discussed here are not new, but few have put them to more effective use than Saul Alinsky and the radical left.
Part Three is an examination of how today’s radical left puts Alinsky’s rules into practice.
In Chapters 10 through 14 of this part, we explore the left’s favorite slanders: racism and white privilege, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia (anti-immigration) and greed. Here, I provide dozens of examples of how prominent leftists and their not-so-prominent allies exploit the circumstances of the disadvantaged for their own political gain. If deceit, cruelty and hypocrisy make you squeamish, you might want to have some Pepto Bismol handy when you read these Chapters.
Chapter 15 is a discussion of the ways in which the left uses uncivil, hostile rhetoric to alienate and marginalize conservatives while at the same time calling for civility in politics. I provide several recent examples where, just moments after the commission of a violent crime, the left had accused conservatives of intentionally provoking the perpetrator.
In Chapter 16, I review how the left uses its control of our public schools and universities to indoctrinate our children in the ways of radicalism. Others have been fighting the fight against indoctrination long before I began paying attention to the problem. The brilliant David Horowitz, himself a former radical, has been at the forefront of the counter-indoctrination movement and I quote liberally from his work.
Recognizing the tactics the radical left uses to defame and marginalize the right and frighten the vulnerable into remaining loyal to their agenda is only the first step in combating them.
Part Four contains four chapters that will help conservatives better recognize the tactics used by the left so that they can more effectively fight back. In the last chapter of this part, Rules for Counter-Radicals, I provide ten rules conservatives might use to counteract Alinsky’s tactics and defeat the left-wing slander machine.
I have no illusions that conservatives will be able to stop radicals from using their take-no-prisoners tactics – they are no more likely to do that than they are to kick their addiction to air. However, I do believe that once conservatives understand and recognize these tactics for what they are, they will be better able to minimize and maybe even nullify their effects.
Saul Alinsky is the star of this book because it is his tactics that are widely used by the left today. If the left employed the tactics of Bozo the Clown, this book would be about him. The point of this book is not to prove that Saul Alinsky was a “bad” or “evil” man – I am willing to concede that he was a good father, a good husband and a blast to have a beer with. I am not concerned with Alinsky the man, but rather with what the man taught others to do and the extent to which his teachings are followed today by community organizers and their left-wing followers.
I anticipate that Alinskyites will accuse me of hypocrisy for demonizing the left’s demonization of the right, so let me make myself very clear: I do not think the left is substantively evil. Its political viewpoints deserve to and should be given a fair hearing in the marketplace of ideas – which is considerably more than the radical left is willing to concede to conservative viewpoints. The tactics the left uses to enforce adherence to its substantive views, however, are procedurally evil. They are unethical, immoral and highly destructive of our democracy and our nation.
Saul Alinsky is not the enemy and neither are his books. The enemy is today’s leftists, who, whatever the cause, the movement or the grievance, employ Alinsky’s brutal tactics in an ostensible attempt to seize power from the Haves and redistribute it to the Have Nots.
Because radicals consider the entire American system to be corrupt, they excuse themselves from having to play by the rules of that system. This gives them moral license to lie, cheat, defame, ridicule, steal, deceive and even assault their way to power.
But why is it that the left use radical tactics more frequently than the right? The debate about abortion illustrates the phenomenon. Since 1972, when the landmark abortion rights decision, Roe v. Wade, was decided, the status quo in America has been that abortions are legal. Pro-life conservatives who seek to overturn Roe are therefore opponents of the status quo and pro-choice leftists who want to preserve Roe are its defenders. Radical pro-lifers often resort to extreme methods to achieve their goal of ending abortion. It is understandable that those challenging the status quo, regardless of their political persuasion, are more likely than those defending it to use any means necessary to achieve their ends.
Alinsky wanted the radical to believe that upending the status quo was a matter of life and death; that it was tantamount to war. Consequently, because it is more difficult to demolish the status quo than it is to maintain it, progressives, who by definition challenge the status quo, are more likely than conservatives, who by definition defend the status quo, to use extreme measures to advance their agenda.