Saul Alinsky – Rules for Raicals
Snipit from Rules for Radicals, From Wikipedia
Rules for Radicals has various themes. Among them is his use of symbol construction to strengthen the unity within an organization. He would draw on loyalty to a particular church or religious affiliation to create a structured organization with which to operate, the reason being that symbols by which communities could identify themselves created structured organizations that were easier to mobilize in implementing direct action. Once the community was united behind a common symbol, Alinsky would find a common enemy for the community to be united against.
The use of common enemy against a community was another theme of Rules for Radicals, as a uniting element in communities.
Alinsky would find an external antagonist to turn into a “common enemy” for the community within which he was operating. Often, this would be a local politician or agency that had some involvement with activity concerning the community. Once the enemy was established, the community would come together in opposition of it. This management of conflict heightened awareness within the community as to the similarities its members shared as well as what differentiated them from those outside of their organization. The use of conflict also allowed for the goal of the group to be clearly defined. With an established external antagonist, the community’s goal would be to defeat that enemy.
Symbol construction helped to promote structured organization, which allowed for nonviolent conflict through another element in Alinsky’s teaching, direct action. Direct action created conflict situations that further established the unity of the community and promoted the accomplishment of achieving the community’s goal of defeating their common enemy. It also brought issues the community was battling to the public eye. Alinsky encouraged over-the-top public demonstrations throughout Rules for Radicals that could not be ignored, and these tactics enabled his organization to progress their goals faster than through normal bureaucratic processes.
Lastly, the main theme throughout Rules for Radicals and Alinsky’s work was empowerment of the poor. Alinsky used symbol construction and nonviolent conflict to create a structured organization with a clearly defined goal that could take direct action against a common enemy. At this point, Alinsky would withdraw from the organization to allow their progress to be powered by the community itself. This empowered the organizations to create change.
- “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
- “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
- “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
- “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
- “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”
- “A good tactic is one 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; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative.”
- “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
- “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. “
More information on Saul Alinsky and Rules for Radicals at Discover the Networks