Unpaid executives of citizens’ groups can be (1) professionals a la Alinsky or (2) be amateurs.
The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions and there is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance.
Rules for Radicals
- 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.
- Never go outside the expertise of your people. It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
- Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Don’t become old news.
- 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.
- The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Saul Alinsky (1909 – 1972) was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing, and has been compared to Thomas Paine as being “one of the great American leaders of the nonsocialist left.” He is often noted for his book Rules for Radicals.
The ninth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical. Alinsky
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