Rules for Radicals – part 2

In Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (ARR) He lines out the following rules for tactics:

  1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks your have.
  2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
  3. Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy.
  4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
  5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
  6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  8. Keep the pressure on.
  9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
  11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter-side.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it.

I have noticed that ARR is has become a buzz phrase in the political arena.  At times the conservative element wants to peg Alinsky strictly as a liberal, with the sole intent of bringing down conservative organizations.  Although there are a number of reasons it may appear that way, it is not entirely accurate.  The principles found in ARR predate the 1971 publication by hundreds and even thousands of years.  Many of the rules when examined closely, are modifications or paraphrases of much older texts.  Some are similar to The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China (which includes The Art of War), while others actually embody concepts found in many ancient manuscripts.

Based on evidence, which I do not have time to share in this post—people that criticize President Obama and other leaders for using techniques found in ARR, are sadly mistaken.  The rules found in the book are intended to be used as a disruption to the “Haves,” but they are not new.  In fact, if you examine some of the techniques used by Jesus, Mohammad, and The Buddha, you will see a number of radical overtones in how their actions disrupted the “establishment.”

In my opinion, the rules take on an amoral characteristic, because you cannot address peoples motives if you can’t know their motives.