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Ruses for Radicals: Saul Alinsky’s Alt-Left Hate Speech

Updated on August 8, 2017
Garry Reed profile image

Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.

America’s Machiavellian Villain

These two quotes together mean "All life is war and in life the end justifies almost any means." Spoken like a true psychopath.
These two quotes together mean "All life is war and in life the end justifies almost any means." Spoken like a true psychopath.

Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer

After eight years of President Barack Obama’s rule and months of campaigning by his designated heir apparent Hillary Clinton, Americans have become ever more aware of that duo’s spiritual hero, Saul Alinsky.

To get a flavor for the connection between these three here are quotes about their relationships from a 2008 American Thinker article:

"... the community organizer ... must first rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression.' – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

"THERE IS ONLY THE FIGHT – An analysis of the Alinsky Model." – Hillary Clinton, BA Honors Thesis, Wellesley College, 1969.

"(Barack) Obama worked in the organizing tradition of Saul Alinsky, who made Chicago the birthplace of modern community organizing...." – The Nation

The Obama-Clinton connection with the purported Marxist/Socialist “avatar” Saul Alinsky may be irrelevant now that Trump is President but what about the Alinsky-Trump connection seen by the conservative American Thinker?

But Alinsky first, Trump later.

Alinsky is famous for his book Rules for Radicals, which the American Thinker sagely parodied as “Rules for Psychopaths.” Alinsky essentially invented the idea of “Community Organizer” as a means of using groups of poor and disenfranchised people as pawns, sometimes characterized uncharitably as “useful idiots,” to get what all psychopathically self-absorbed people want: power, wealth and ego gratification.

While he didn’t succeed in getting much of the first two for himself he seems to have always had plenty of the latter (he has been described throughout his life as vain, arrogant, profane, narcissistic, “always the center of attention”) he did successfully inspire a second generation of political power-seekers with his best known book, Rules for Radicals.

Here’s how Alinsky’s 12 rules for Orwellian, hatred, divisiveness, and cynical manipulation break down to benefit the psychopathic power mongers of American politics. Keep in mind as you read that another name for his rules might be “Schemes for Self-Serving Groupthink Collectivists.” One biography described Alinsky as a “Communist/Marxist fellow-traveler” who never specifically joined the Communist Party but according to conservative writer David Horowitz “became an avatar of the post-modern left.”

Ruses For Radicals

Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

YOUR LIBERTARIAN OPINIONIZER’S PICK: Reading this screed that should be subtitled “The Alt-Left Politics of Hate” in which “virtually any means justifies the ends” requires taking straight shots of Pepto followed by a long hot soapy shower. This is the politics of Psychopathy.

We in the Libertarian Movement who have read this “Class Warfare Bible” recommend it to every decent person on earth: Know Thy Enemy.


Rules For Hypocrites

RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” This naturally requires deception. Also note that he habitually calls his opponents, competitors, adversaries, rivals “the enemy” rather than anything approaching “The Loyal Opposition.”

Power, he continues, is “derived from 2 main sources – money and people.” Unfortunately, both he and the poor community lack money. Therefore Alinsky must exploit the underprivileged and undereducated “Have-Nots” themselves by sucking the personal power he wants from their “flesh and blood” (i.e., from the hopelessness and desperation) of the poor community itself. In short, his scheme is to use the unsuspecting and naive as stepping stones to power and wealth for himself.

RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” Since “his” powerless poor have little expertise in anything there’s a strong likelihood they’ll fail him by retreating in confusion and fear. So his scam is to never address any real issues that might confuse his minions when they come under attack (attack is his hate speech for being questioned about his true positions). Another result means “a collapse of communication.” His modern day acolytes don’t want communication but dictation, so they’ve learned how to shut down legitimate inquiry and communication by calling “the enemy” insulting names like racists, sexists, homophobes and Deplorables whether they really are or not, effectively shutting up opposition and shutting down any embarrassingly inappropriate communication.

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” This is a companion to Rule 2. When he wants his followers to attack “the enemy” they should blindside them with “seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address” such as calling them racists, sexists, homophobes and Deplorables. Is all of this beginning to sound disgustingly familiar?

When his underlings do go on the attack he reminds them in another book, Reveille for Radicals, that “The Radical may resort to the sword but when he does he is not filled with hatred against those individuals whom he attacks. He hates these individuals not as persons but as symbols…” In short, it’s easier to savage others when seeing them merely as “things” rather than as individual human beings. This is the root of present-day progressive’s groupthink hatred – racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, ageism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, ad infinitum.

RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.” He astutely offers as an example, “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” Of course, the Alinksyites can easily live up to their own rules since their rules consist of breaking all the rules.

Here’s how the modern version works. When Republicans (“the enemy”) invoke their rule for cutting taxes the “Radicals” respond by crying “The poor will be thrown into the streets, the aged will be left to die, children will starve and a plague of locusts will descend upon the crops and all will die of famine.” Or maybe when Republicans attempt to exercise their rule of rolling back overregulation we’ll hear screeches of “The One Percenters will steal all of the money, the Capitalists will enslave the wage-earners and billionaires will eat our babies!”

Againstsky Alinsky

Left: book cover with the amoral Alinsky and two of his biggest best known fans; Right: DVD about Alinsky' "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing." Neither treats Alinsky kindly.
Left: book cover with the amoral Alinsky and two of his biggest best known fans; Right: DVD about Alinsky' "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing." Neither treats Alinsky kindly. | Source

Rule 5 is simply “Ridicule.” Why? Alinsky explains with no further elaboration, “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”

To get an idea of how ridicule works re-read Rules 1 through 4. What you see there is libertarian ridicule of Alinksyism. Apparently the great Community Disorganizer didn’t realize that ridicule works in both directions.

Rule 6 is “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.” That’s it. No elaboration. So what would be a good tactic for Mr. A’s people to have “a ball doing” in the early 21th century?

Alinsky disciple Hillary seemed to have had a ball calling absolutely everyone on the right side of the left-right political spectrum “A Basket of Deplorables.” Didn’t matter if it legitimately applied only to Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, Racist Skinheads, white supremacists, gay-bashers and other assorted Alt-Right hate mates. She slathered everyone on that side of the aisle with her liberal version of hate speech – conservatives, Republicans, Christians, church ladies, charity workers, faithful husbands, Godmothers and even – ignorantly – all libertarians of every kind because some few big L politically inclined Libertarians were having truck with the GOP.

With that one pronouncement she likely became the biggest Republican vote-recruiter in history. Question for Alinsky’s ghost: Still think it’s “a good tactic” just because a woman some called “Alinsky’s Daughter” enjoyed it?

Rule 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag” and loses its ability to manipulate and control “the enemy.” Contemporary Alynskyans apparently missed this rule.

Some old moldy tactics that have been dragging on and on for far too long, to the point of making Alinskyites look square, lame, geeky, dweeby, nurdy, dorky, unhip, un-cool and out of fashion include playing the race card, playing the sexist card, playing the homophobe card and playing the stale old Marxist class warfare card.

Rule 8: “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.” No further explanation is offered. This apparently means “Shamelessly politicize absolutely everything that can be used to your own advantage.”

Evolution vs. Revolution

"Remember we are talking about revolution." --  Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals. Communist vs. American vs. Libertarian: Not all revolutions are equal.
"Remember we are talking about revolution." -- Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals. Communist vs. American vs. Libertarian: Not all revolutions are equal.

Rule 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” No examples were included for this Rule. Maybe scaring the hell out of people with threats of violence while not actually doing anything is the manipulatory tactic intended here.

Rule 10: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” What Alinsky wants here is to provoke reactions from “the enemy” in order to respond with counter-reactions, creating an on-going chain of ever more reactions and counter reactions. In today’s political world this is accomplished easily through mindless name-calling, insulting, slandering, muck-raking and other abusive tactics on the level of “Nyah, nyah, takes one to know one!”

Rule 11: “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.” Alinsky uses a long personal example here but this tactic essentially amounts to turning your victim into a victimizer. Push so long, hard and aggressively at “the enemy” until “the enemy” inevitably pushes back. Then screech out long, hard and aggressively how you’ve been victimized while never mentioning that you where the original victimizer. A modern example: The left pushed political correctness on everyone until the right pushed back at which time the left vilified the right for being “anti-political correctness.” See Rule 8 – even simple human decency under the meme of “correctness” can be politicized for political gain.

Rule 12: The entire quote: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying ‘You're right—we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us.’” This is a bit vague. It seems to mean that getting “the enemy” to agree with you, or “the enemy” getting you to agree with them, is a trap that will end your campaign so you’d best have a backup attack in your hip pocket to keep your never-ending campaign going.

Alinskyist Ethics

"The real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, 'Does this particular end justify this particular means?'" -- Saul Alinsky, preaching situational ethics in Rules for Radicals
"The real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, 'Does this particular end justify this particular means?'" -- Saul Alinsky, preaching situational ethics in Rules for Radicals | Source

Getting Alinskyzed

Rule 13: Google “Alinsky 12 Rules” and you’ll get something like “About 314,000 results.” But his book has 13 Rules. Here it is: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Here’s how this works out:

Pick the target: The target must be a person, not something abstract like “racism” or general like a major corporation or City Hall.

Freeze it: Don’t let “the enemy” wiggle off the hook by passing the buck or blaming someone else.

Personalize it: Center all of your attacks on the single living breathing target you’ve chosen, nowhere else.

Polarize it: Alinsky’s example is Christ who said "He that is not with me is against me" thereby allowing no middle ground to the moneychangers in the Temple.

Quoting Jesus will seem ironic to many since he gives the following “over-the-shoulder acknowledgment” in Rules for Radicals to “…the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” This is essentially a confession on what Alinsky really wanted all along, not “social justice” for the minority community but a kingdom for himself.

He also said in a 1972 Playboy Interview “…I will unreservedly choose to go to hell." These two quotes clearly polarized all fundamentalists against him. In effect he created and empowered “the enemy.” Was that a brilliant or a stupid move?

In any case, congratulations, you have now been successfully Alinksyized. One Amazon Reviewer wrote “’Rules for Radicals' is nothing less than Alinsky's 'Mein Kampf.'"

There’s more than just these 13 Rules in Rules for Radicals of course. There are multiple self-congratulatory examples. There are endlessly smug self-justifications. And there are the 11 “rules of the ethics of means and ends,” all of which are unsurprisingly rooted in relativism (“Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times,” he writes).

While it’s a bit late in today’s contemptable Game of Thrones, just knowing what to look for from this master manipulator might help identify and vilify future Alinskyist Machiavelli channelers.

(continues after graphic)

Equal Hypocrisy

Alinsky cites revolutionary hypocrisies throughout history and around the world including in the USA so that is apparently his justification for his own hypocrisies.
Alinsky cites revolutionary hypocrisies throughout history and around the world including in the USA so that is apparently his justification for his own hypocrisies.

The Alinsky Alt-Right?

Unfortunately, there are already reports of Republicans adopting the same disgusting tactics and using them against liberals, “the enemy” on the left, as though sending evil against evil somehow results in non-evil. Lest the right gets too smug consider this warning from this conservative American Thinker article, “Trump’s Leadership Style in Alinskyan Perspective:”

The key to understanding Trump’s success may be to understand that he exhibits qualities of leadership the others haven’t exhibited. And the best description of these qualities may be found in the most unlikely of places: the writings and comments of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky. Looking back at Alinsky’s major work, Rules For Radicals, one finds a startlingly accurate description of Donald Trump’s political persona. The characteristics Trump displays are very similar to what Alinsky describes as the characteristics essential to a leader fighting for socio/economic/political change.

Maybe that’s why The Left hates him so much – professional jealousy.

Libertarians must never stoop to this level of despicability. If values like decency, humanity, compassion, education, persuasion, enlightenment cannot win a free society then there can be no such thing as a free society, there can only be centuries more of the same old Alinskyan style evil.

Video Trailer for “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”


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    • Garry Reed profile imageAUTHOR

      Garry Reed 

      3 years ago from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

      I agree. These are not rules by which decent people live, these are rules for people who love the pursuit of power to continue forever pursuing power. Even Alinsky said himself in his book that he began by trying to organize Chicago's poor black community but was driven out when the Civil Rights movement began so he went looking for other marginalized groups to organize. He essentially confessed that he didn't give a damn about the people, he was doing it to feed his own ego. He cared about being an activist, not about the people or the cause he was advocating for. That's why professional politicians love him and emulate him.


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