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Who Is Saul Alinsky? Some Facts and Information

Updated on January 24, 2012

Facts about Saul Alinsky, and Why They Matter Today

Who is Saul Alinsky?

Saul David Alinsky died about 40 years ago, yet we are hearing his name being brought up on a somewhat regular basis as of late. I was curious to know more about him. This hub shares some facts and information on Saul Alinsky.

Saul Alinsky was born in Chicago Illinois in 1909. As his name suggests, he as born into a Jewish Family. They were Russian Jewish Immigrants. He was the only surviving son that came from the union with his Father, Benjamin Alinsky's second wife, Sarah Alinsky.

I found it interesting to know, that his parents were strict orthodox in their views. They were never involved in the socialist movement (that I am aware of), which is interesting as Saul seemed to be very involved, or had great interest in it. His parents life revolved around their work and with their synagogue. They encouraged him to study a lot.

While he went an opposite direction with his Jewish faith, compared to what his parents wanted for him, he still said he was Jewish. He went down a different path from the age of twelve, but still identified with being Jewish.

Later in Life

Saul pursued being a writer, and community organizer. In fact, he is commonly considered to be the founder of community organizing. This surprised me, that he has often been compared to Thomas Paine, as being a great American leader of the nonsocialist left. His book, "Rules for Radicals," is often the book he is most associated with, or quoted from.

Once on his path of political organizing, he received a lot of criticism. From what I know of some of the things he organized, I would not be in agreement with his ideas and philosophies at all. Even if I agreed on some human level with a very few things he said and believed in, I think I disagree with him in general on a lot of other things. For instance, I agree that it is a good thing that he wanted to focus on improving the lives of poor communities across the United States. I don't think anyone could fault a person for wanting that. It was his method and socialistic tendencies that I was concerned about.

While he was receiving criticism on the one hand from many people, he also got a lot of praise from particular public figures. In the 1950s, he focused his attention on African American ghettos in particular. He began with Chicago of course, but moved on to other ghettos as well. He traveled to New York City, Michigan and California and many other troubled placed in-between.

As we see so often, many college students seemed to support the ideas and latch onto them. This was observed in the 1960s, and students on different campuses were thinking about strategies for implementation of his ideas. William Buckley is quoted as saying he was, "very close to being an organizational genius." Even Time Magazine said that it seemed American democracy was being altered by Alinsky's ideas. This is all part of why I found him to be person worth learning more about. Especially since we are hearing his name a lot these days. I thought that was very interesting. If you have any thoughts on this, I would be very curious to know them, and you are welcome and encouraged to leave a comment below for that purpose.

Poor minorities in certain neighborhoods were encouraged to exert political force by demanding better working conditions. Some were encouraged to demand lower interest rates in banks, by making a scene inside the bank until bank managers gave in to the demands. The example I heard about was them sitting down on the floors, not getting up until they got their way. It is still a concern however, the trying to force the hand of people through particular means that has me concerned. Calm, but very confrontational.

Occupy Wall Street may have been something he was very much in support of. So perhaps, if alive today, he would have some high impact, and some strong followers, though it is hard to say for sure. Wanting to "cure economic inequality", sounds good at first thought, to some. This idea or suggestion opens up all other kinds of topics which are very worthy of being "fleshed out" so to speak, because they matter very much in our world today.

He died June 12, 1972 in one of my favorite places in the world, Carmel California. It was a massive heart attack that took his life on a corner one day.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote her undergraduate college thesis on Saul Alinsky. It was something her critics used against her when she ran for the 2008 nomination, and also while she was First Lady in the White house. They said it painted her as more of a radical. What is of interest now in 2012 to me, is that she isn't a person that comes to mind when I think of radical organization for far left or socialistic types of ideas. Others do come to mind however.

Regardless, Saul Alinsky is someone to know about, because his views made an impact during his life and the ideas and philosophies will continue to make a difference because people are employing them now in different ways.

One of my favorite quotes is, "Ideas matter." I don't know who to give credit to for that quote, as I am sure it has been around a long time, and I have heard it stated more than once. I think ideas DO matter, very much.

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    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Mort, I don't care for communists and what comes from that philosophy and worldview, and its part of why I shared this information. A lot of people are getting to know Saul Alinsky more and more. Ideas matter, and they are bad ideas that get to play out, it will hurt the people and countries that employ them.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Wba and Tsadjatko, thank you both for taking the time to read this. Tsad, I was wondering where that came from, thanks for that.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It's the thing you did put in the article.

      He was a marxist communist. Evil.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      6 years ago from now on

      Can't give me the credit - I just took it from an ad for the book "THE ALINSKY CODE". :-)

    • profile image 

      6 years ago from upstate, NY

      tsadjatko- You presented a very convincing case as to the some of the underpinnings of the leftist movement, that explain some of their bizarre actions!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Everyone needs to look at all the facts, and not take anyone's word for anything. I find, that some of the people that are the most wise, are really concerned as well, and speaking out. They are made to feel like fools, and mocked.

      At the very least, if nothing changes, this country is definitely heading full on towards destruction. I don't think the people see a cause and effect. They will be caught up in it, and won't realize they should have done something more or anything at all, until it is too late.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      6 years ago from now on

      MAY 2012 – THE ALINSKY CODE: How America is confused, intimidated and dominated by the left’s secret language

      Millions of Americans feel they’re living in a war zone, the bombardments coming their way daily.

      Non-stop lies and corruption. White House “czars” with communist backgrounds. Brazen presidential power grabs. Bows to enemy leaders and insults to allies. Intentionally destructive economic and energy policies. Presidential hot-mic gaffes proving collusion with America’s enemies.

      No wonder Americans are more worried today about the very survival of their nation than at any time since the Civil War.

      But underlying the madness – underlying all of the epic, high-level subversion of America – enabling it, justifying it, disguising it – is a secret language of the left, a language most citizens neither understand nor even recognize.

      This secret language, an essential ingredient in America’s rapidly advancing socialist transformation, is dramatically exposed in May’s groundbreaking issue of Whistleblower magazine, titled “THE ALINSKY CODE.”

      Without this secret language, the “matrix” of deceit and delusion enveloping modern America would soon disappear – just as in the sci-fi film blockbuster “The Matrix” – and citizens would behold Barack Obama and his administration for exactly what they really are: committed revolutionaries of the radical left.

      “In Orwell’s ‘1984,’” says Whistleblower Editor David Kupelian, “a tyrannical future government maintains power with the help of a powerfully manipulative language called ‘Newspeak,’ featuring propaganda slogans of the ruling political party – like ‘WAR IS PEACE,’ ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ and ‘IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.’

      “America today is being turned upside-down thanks to a ‘1984’-style ‘Newspeak’ language in which the political and cultural building blocks of today’s society now mean the opposite of what they originally meant,” he says.

      For example, how did the act of generously providing aid to those in need, formerly called “charity,” turn into its exact opposite – “entitlement”? How did “illegal aliens,” who used to be criminals, turn into "immigrants – the backbone of our nation"?

      Everyone knows homosexuals are now "gay," abortion advocates "pro-choice" and atheists "brights," but did you know some mental-health professionals now refer to pedophilia as “intergenerational sex” and child molesters as “minor-attracted persons” or MAPs? How did Islam (where the popular euphemism for pedophilia is “child marriage” and adultery is called “temporary marriage”) become a “religion of peace”? How did the Obama administration convert the act of war on 9/11 that resulted in the mass-slaughter of almost 3,000 Americans into a “man-caused disaster” and our response to it an "overseas contingency operation"? Have we so redefined everything that we now embrace “1984”-style deceptions such as “CHARITY IS ENTITLEMENT,” “MORALITY IS HATE,” “FAITH IS IGNORANCE,” “ENVY IS RIGHTEOUSNESS” and “THEFT IS JUSTICE”?

      Featured in “THE ALINSKY CODE” is a comprehensive, groundbreaking report by David Kupelian titled “Magic words: The left's secret weapon for transforming traditional America.” Among its startling findings: America’s controversial “political correctness” culture – imposed full-strength on college students and only slightly diluted on the rest of the population – traces its origins to none other than the notorious Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, who holds the distinction of having killed more people than anyone else in history – some 50-70 million souls, more than Stalin and Hitler combined.

      Highlights of “THE ALINSKY CODE” include:

      * “The left's scorched-earth policy” by Joseph Farah, on the left-wing obsession with censoring and eliminating opposing voices

      * “Magic words” by David Kupelian, on the left's secret weapon for transforming traditional America

      * “Lib-Speak: A lexicon for the Age of Obama” by Don Feder

      * “Political word games” by Thomas Sowell, who calls Barack Obama a “master” of “lying smoothly” by redefining words

      * “50 forbidden words” by Joe Kovacs, reporting on the New York City school district that found “politics,” “evolution” and even “birthdays” too offensive to include in tests

      * “What is ‘fair’?” by John Stossel, who demonstrates that wall-to-wall injustice lurks behind the left’s favorite rallying cry

      * “President of the lie” by David Kupelian, on what happens when the free world's leader is constantly deceptive?

      * “Alinsky’s methods explained” by Phyllis Schlafly, on how Obama’s role model Saul Alinsky proved revolutionary action starts with a few choice words

      * “The wannabe tyrant’s secret” by David Kupelian, on what makes negative societal transformation so easy for radicals to accomplish

      * “Why liberals won't debate conservatives” by Dennis Prager, who says “The left is a victim of its own brainwash”

      “It’s not too late to stop this madness,” said Kupelian, “but we simply have to understand the language the elite are speaking to each other – and to us. Not to understand it is to adopt it, assimilate it, and unwittingly participate in the transformation of America into a place the Founding Fathers wouldn’t even begin to recognize.”

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello PDX,I am glad to share this information about Saul Alinsky. So glad you were able to learn more about him, and I thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Have a nice evening.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      thanks for sharing this. I shared this with my followers. I've only heard his name, so I was pleased to learn about him as a person. Thanks so much for writing this!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Wba108, I hear you, and totally agree based on what I observe in the world as of late. One side and particular people in it especially, seem to not even be at peace with letting others just believe and think what they want. I find that disturbing. If any deception or untruths are added on, I find that especially frustrating if not immoral. I believe in letting people live and let live. Freedom wasn't free, and people forcing, truly forcing in any way, isn't what freedom is about.

      What you said is part of why I wrote about him. I think we need to know about all kinds of people. Sharing facts and letting everyone decide is a good thing in my opinion.

    • profile image 

      6 years ago from upstate, NY

      Being a radical can be good or bad. If your a liberal like Saul Alinsky its almost all bad. It seems when liberals believe in something they insist on forcing it on those who disagree with them.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi James, thank you very much. So glad you enjoyed the read. I think its good we know about people with influence ongoing, even after their deaths. Their philosophy does matter, because mankind acts out of their held philosophy.

      I had no idea about that quote, and the only word that comes to mind when I first read it is, "wow." He evidently takes pride in being a radical at any cost, but that he gives a kind of thumbs up to Lucifer, against the "establishment" at the time, is alarming!

      I very much appreciate your comment. Thank you.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this most excellent Hub. I enjoyed reading about this sinister man. Here is a quote from Saul Alinsky:

      "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history, 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."

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Kimberly, glad to share it, and happy you stopped by. Thank you for the comment.

      Mary, no worries, I knew nothing about him Saul Alinsky either. It was why I had to research him a bit, to find out some things about him. Glad you stopped by, and thank you for your comment. Goodnight friend.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Pardon my ignorance but I never heard of this gentleman until I read your Hub. Thanks for educating me on him. Goodnight.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the great info. I love all the details you gave about him.


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