Throwback Wednesday with Saul Alinsky

How Rules for Radicals can apply to the 21st Century

Media outlets all over the country are talking about it: the incredible increase in progressive political activism, involvement, and organization that has spawned in the wake of Trump’s election. The older generation of people who lived through the tail end of the 60s and 70s and have sailed on relatively calm waters ever since have re-awoken. The millennials are awakening, and starting realize just how powerful their futuristic voice is, and will be, in the elections to come.

Is this what happened decades ago, when the most famous political movements until 2017 gathered momentum, and center stage, in the United States? The Anti-Vietnam War protests, the Summer of Love, the Civil Rights movement; were they prompted by one specific event, or instead by a growing series of injustices and atrocities? Obviously, the answer is different for each one of those events, but the people who drove them to effectiveness and success might all have been considered radicals in their time.

In 1971, a man called Saul D. Alinsky published Rules for Radicals. Alinsky is generally considered to be the father of community organizing, which is exactly what is growing in progressive America, just as it did for the Tea Party early this century.

Below are the first four insights into Alinsky’s book. Crazy how applicable they are to today’s very different world, no?

1. Organizers must begin by acknowledging the status quo before deciding how to change it.

2. Organizers must embrace the “great law of change,” which stipulates that the world is always changing. This means many of its alleged truths are relative.

3. Democracy is not an end in itself, but the means to a free, equal, and just society.

4. Power is a given. It is up to radicals to organize power in a way that advances towards a moral civilization.

Do you agree with any of these? Disagree? Think they could be improved or adapted in some way to fit the modern age? If so, please let us know! We are more than interested to hear your opinion.


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