Posts Tagged ‘rules for radicals’

The Alinsky Tactics – Rule by Rule – Part 4 – Rule 4

October 28, 2009 43 comments

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I have made every effort to make these articles on the rules easier to read and understand. I hope you enjoy it, and use it wisely.
“The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” [1]

What does it mean?alinskybio

This tactic is genius in its simplicity. The idea is to keep the attention on your opponent by simply peppering them with the ways in which they fail to be perfect. No one is perfect and so the rule is powerful.

In fact, it is one of the most powerful tactics in the Alinsky arsenal. We will see as we go along that this rule, along with the fifth rule and the thirteenth rule are the heart and soul of how the Obama Administration uses Alinsky rules to their benefit.

Alinsky points out the Christian church because it was through the churches in Chicago that he first began to implement his strategies. When he approached Pastors, he found that it was nearly impossible to speak to them about Christianity (or so he says) because they were focused on the church, the people, the money and all that made up the infrastructure of the institution and not on the philosophy or theology that guided that institution. [1]

Why is this important to understand? It points out a basic flaw. People often profess one thing and then live in complete contradiction to what they profess, or at the very least neglect the things they claim to be most important in favor of the most expedient.

Let us be clear that people being people are generally going to fall short of any expectations they put upon themselves. The key Alinsky found was that this could be used to discredit those making claims they did not live up to. It is a deceptively simple and powerful tactic.

For example, suppose someone you know is encouraging you to stop smoking (oh, I don’t know let’s just say it’s the President of the United States) because they assure you that they are concerned about your health. They know the dangers of tobacco and they care about you. You really need to stop smoking so you can be around to be their friend.

alinskyNow let’s suppose you find out that this person (oh, I don’t know let’s just say it’s the President of the United States again) is actually smoking themselves. The next time they tell you that you need to quit smoking, what is the first thing you’re going to say? You are going to say, “Hey, wait a minute. Don’t lecture me about smoking when I happen to know you do it yourself”.  You would be telling them to live up to their own book or rules-this is Alinsky’s fourth rule, and it is a strategy against which it is difficult to defend.

How has Obama used it?

Sarah Palin:  In an article entitled, “I still hate you, Sarah Palin” the author lays out how Obama eviscerated Palin with Rules for Radicals and finishes by saying this,

“What you clowns need, in other words, is a Rules for Radical Conservatives to explain what you’re up against and teach you how to compete before it’s too late.” [2]

In essence what I am presenting through these series of articles is the framework of just such a manual for Conservatives (yes, a book on this does exist). While Conservatives are beginning to come around to what Rules for Radicals is all about, I have been screaming about it for way too long now.

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The Alinsky Tactics – Rule by Rule Part 1: Background

September 18, 2009 40 comments

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A short note: the background and the first rule are definitely the driest part of our total discussion, and perhaps the least useful. However, it sets the critical framework, which will enable you to understand the rest. In essence – this is the vegetable portion. Dessert comes later.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Saul Alinsky and his now famous Rules for Radicals. The way in which his ‘rules’ are applied in large part today constitutes a bastardization of his original intent, and many of those using his rules are precisely what Alinsky swore he would never be-namely, ideologues.

To truly understand his tactics it is necessary for us to understand at least a little about the man himself. Alinsky (1909-1972) cut his teeth in the rough and tumble 1930’s in Chicago. Coming of age during the Great Depression shaped a great deal of his thinking as it did for so many of those who lived through this most traumatic of times in American history.

By 1939 he had begun to work with Labor to right what he saw as injustices in the ‘back of the yards’ in Chicago made famous by his predecessor Upton Sinclair. Having worked across the nation for the labor movement, he turned his sights on the black, ghetto communities in the 1950’s. Other than his allegiance to labor, he never sought solidarity with any political or religious group, feeling that his independence of thought would be compromised were he to join such organizations with their rigid dogmas.[3]

The original intentions of Alinsky were quite laudable. He saw injustices, and indeed there were many injustices to be sure, and he sought to right them. He saw downtrodden workers and oppressed people, and sought to bring about a social justice with them and for them. Few would have a problem with such goals. I certainly see them as admirable. But as usual in life, things are not quite so simple. What started as a crusade to help the less fortunate somehow morphed into a strategic battle plan to turn the conditions of wealth and poverty upside down, and in the process Alinsky lost sight of any value in the morality of the means involved, and instead espoused only that the ends were worthy of consideration no matter how horrible the process might become .[3]

Many have called him an avowed Marxist or communist, but such characterizations are neither completely accurate, nor are they fully explanatory of the nature of the man and his methods. At times he could wax patriotic in the vein of a Thomas Paine, and just as easily he could seek the overthrow of the Government and the ascension of the underclass to power by any means necessary. Alinsky stated that his philosophy was beyond mere Marxism, but that he sought similar ends is irrefutable.[1]

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Why Alinsky tactics are no longer Working for Obama

September 2, 2009 5 comments

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They’re still using Alinsky tactics

According to a recent release from a whistle blower at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA),


“Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were “selected for a reason,” they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew “how to make a stink,” and were encouraged to do so”
(Michelle Malkin’s Web site).

While the fact that the NEA is being manipulated by the President is troubling to say the least, I want to call attention to a specific part of the above quote. It says, “We knew ‘how to make a stink,’ and were encouraged to do so.” This could not be a more glaring reference to Saul Alinsky. From Alinsky’s biography by Sanford D. Horwitt we have this excerpt,

“…Alinsky later recalled with delight the community uproar in Rochester that greeted his suggestions as to what might be the only way for poor blacks to get the attention of the smug, self-righteous establishment: they should purchase a large bloc of tickets to a performance of the Rochester symphony-but, just before arriving, they would all get together for a huge baked-bean dinner so that at the symphony, Alinsky deadpanned their presence could not be ignored”(Horwitt,Let them call me Rebel, p. xv).

And Alinsky himself delighted in the story in his book Rules for Radicals. He says, “Here you could have a combination not only of noise but also of odor, what you might call natural stink bombs” (Alinsky, Rules for Radicals p. 139). In his description of his methods he encourages the underclass, lacking financial resources, to harness numbers and to raise a stink. So I think we can see that the Alinsky tactics have been firmly entrenched into the entire structure of the Obama campaign and Administration – right down to the NEA. Their recent attempts to target individuals and freeze them have been documented in some of my former posts. I will not retread that ground here.

If the tactics were effective enough to get Obama elected, why are they failing him now?

Designed to destroy,not build. There are several reasons, but they all spring from one central concept: Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals were designed for an oppressed underclass (or more appropriately in Alinsky’s thinking, Plebeians – ala Karl Marx) to bring down the Capitalists who were ‘oppressing” them. This is a recurring theme with Obama, his friends, his appointments, and his supporters. Alinsky begins his book with these words,

“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be”(Alinsky, Rules for Radicals p. 3).

You may or may not recognize those words from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention where she quoted them almost verbatim as coming from the mouth of Barack Obama the very first time she met him. Here’s the video:

The thesis of Alinsky’s book is that the oppressed underclass can use the strengths they have to change America, and they need not simply permit those with the money to trample upon them. In some sense this is an admirable goal, but Alinsky takes it to the extreme. He ceases to concern himself with any sense of morality, and instead chooses to concentrate on change by any means necessary, with the end justifying the means.

Inherently Inconsistent. Alinsky may have started his book with the line about a ‘world as it should be’, but he never gets around to providing a structure or framework for such a new, more just world. He never seems to see beyond the struggle. It’s as though there is no sense that his side could ever actually win. Ironically this violates his own principles and tactics. Again, it is the twelfth rule that always trips up those who use Alinsky; probably because it tripped up Alinsky himself.

The twelfth rule says, ” The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Alinsky never planned for a process or any tactics to follow if victory was achieved. If the enemy actually agrees, Alinsky is stuck with no explanation for his actions.. If suddenly people agree, Alinsky offers no next step. Obama has fallen into this same trap more than once. For a good explanation of how the twelfth rule has bitten Obama recently see The American Thinker article here.

Likewise, the Obama Administration has been left with no ‘constructive alternative’ when everyone agrees that there is a need for improvement in America’s healthcare system, and differs only on the method by which it should be accomplished. Instead the void has been filled by angry townhalls, a traveling teaparty, and a scheduled march on Washington D.C. on September 12.

Regrouping, Rethinking, and Retooling.

Vacation. With Congress in recess, his polls in free fall, and the American people rising en masse against the perceived Government intrusion of the various plans stuck in both Houses, Obama chose to take a vacation. Perhaps not the worst strategy. It seemed that every time he spoke his ratings dropped and the divide over healthcare reform widened. The overwhelming sense was that the President had failed to articulate a clear vision of what he wanted healthcare reform to look like.

A good summary of how ineffective Obama was on defining his message is summed up well in the following video by Cable News’ highest rated personality-Bill O’Reilly:

Counter-Offensive. While Obama is on vacation the strategy has been to organize against the townhall response. The following video catches an Obamacare supporter actually coaching the recruits how to shout down townhall protestors:

So clearly the strategy is to rely on old-style Alinsky tactics for now. Perhaps when the President returns from vacation, a new strategy will have been developed. Whether it departs from the prescribed Alinsky methods used thus far remains to be seen.

One thing seems certain. Unless Obama takes a page from the Clinton playbook and begins to move towards the center there is no way for him to win in the present environment. If he pushes healthcare reform through with ‘reconciliation’ he will only further enrage the already disenfranchised right and the newly disenfranchised Independents. It he fails to get enough for the left, even the so-called camel’s nose under the tent (a small step towards Publicly run healthcare that lays the framework for further action later) the left is not inclined to support the President.

Alinsky would continue to attack, pressure, ridicule, and polarize. Will the President continue that unsuccessful and divisive approach, or will he find a new way to do things? A way that would mean a huge departure from everything that has gotten him this far. It’s hard to say, but the next few weeks and months are certainly starting to look interesting!

Alinsky’s “freezing,polarizing,and personalizing” explained:

August 31, 2009 16 comments

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When attempting to address a large group or corporation it can be very difficult to get anyone to admit culpability. For example,suppose you have a problem with Republicans. Well, Republicans are a broad group and it is easy to say things like, “I didn’t vote for that bill”, etc. In this way you are never able to pin the opponent down.

When you freeze a target it means you have chosen a single person to represent the problem, and thus you have frozen any ability to pass the blame to others (think Rush Limbaugh).


Polarizing means that you have made this person such a poster child for what you are against that anyone who opposes the same issue you do sees them as polarized (think polar opposites).


Personalizing goes together with freezing,but takes it a step further and allows you to ridicule a person in very personal ways because people perceive it as ridiculing the idea or ideas that they represent (think Sarah Palin).

I hope that helps.If you have other questions be sure to ask.