Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Saul Alinsky – Rules for Radicals

This is too important to get wrong.

There’s an email being circulated that aligns President Obama’s agenda with quotes from Saul Alinsky. This email is fraught with errors and weakens the conservative argument, particularly when debating an informed liberal. While President Obama occasionally uses phraseology identical to that of Saul Alinsky, and the President’s tactics seem to align with those taught by Alinsky in his book Rules for Radicals, President Obama is very careful not to openly credit Alinsky.

The following is a link to an on-line copy of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. It’s an interesting book that openly discusses political subterfuge. The rules chapter begins on page 125. I’ve paraphrased the rules below, but I recommend you read the rules verbatim from the book. Once you study the rules you will realize that the email being circulated, while incorrect, might actually be the work of those in support of President Obama.

An informed electorate is the key to America getting the government it deserves.

www.mynacc.org/Rules_for_Radicals.pdf

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.

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.

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

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.

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.

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.

RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

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.

RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

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.

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.

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.

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history beginsor which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdomLucifer.

SAUL ALINSKY

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