September 9, 2008

EVEN THE STUPID PARTY COULD COME UP WITH A CODE PEOPLE COULD READ:

McCain Campaign Fumes Over Paterson's Racism Claim (Don Dahler, 9/09/08, CBS)

At the Crain's Business Forum this morning, Paterson drew attention to a phrase used numerous times by speakers at the Republican National Convention to describe Barack Obama's leadership experience: community organizer.

"I think the Republican Party is too smart to call Barack Obama 'black' in a sense that it would be a negative. But you can take something about his life, which I noticed they did at the Republican Convention – a 'community organizer.' They kept saying it, they kept laughing," he said.


That's even sillier than the rest of the supposed racial slurs. The organizers are mostly white radicals. The blacks in the community are their props, Revolution you can believe in (Melanie Phillips, 9/09/08 he Spectator)
The seditious role of the community organiser was developed by an extreme left intellectual called Saul Alinsky. He was a radical Chicago activist who, by the time he died in 1972, had had a profound influence on the highest levels of the Democratic party. Alinsky was a ‘transformational Marxist’ in the mould of Antonio Gramsci, who promoted the strategy of a ‘long march through the institutions’ by capturing the culture and turning it inside out as the most effective means of overturning western society. In similar vein, Alinsky condemned the New Left for alienating the general public by its demonstrations and outlandish appearance. The revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception. Its proponents had to cultivate an image of centrism and pragmatism. A master of infiltration, Alinsky wooed Chicago mobsters and Wall Street financiers alike. And successive Democratic politicians fell under his spell.

His creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer, whom he called the ‘first radical’. It was Alinsky for whom ‘change’ was his mantra. And by ‘change’, he meant a Marxist revolution achieved by slow, incremental, Machiavellian means which turned society inside out. This had to be done through systematic deception, winning the trust of the naively idealistic middle class by using the language of morality to conceal an agenda designed to destroy it. And the way to do this, he said, was through ‘people’s organisations’.


Democrats’ Platform for Revolution (John Perazzo, 5/05/08, FrontPageMagazine.com)
In the Alinsky model, “organizing” is a euphemism for “revolution”—a wholesale revolution whose ultimate objective is the systematic acquisition of power by a purportedly oppressed segment of the population, and the radical transformation of America’s social and economic structure. The goal is to foment enough public discontent, moral confusion, and outright chaos to spark the social upheaval that Marx, Engels, and Lenin predicted—a revolution whose foot soldiers view the status quo as fatally flawed and wholly unworthy of salvation. Thus, the theory goes, the people will settle for nothing less than that status quo’s complete collapse—to be followed by the erection of an entirely new and different system upon its ruins. Toward that end, they will be apt to follow the lead of charismatic radical organizers who project an aura of confidence and vision, and who profess to clearly understand what types of societal “changes” are needed.

As Alinsky put it: “A reformation means that the masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don’t know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. They won’t act for change but won’t strongly oppose those who do. The time is then ripe for revolution.”[1]

“[W]e are concerned,” Alinsky elaborated, “with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people; to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation, equal and full opportunities for education, full and useful employment, health, and the creation of those circumstances in which men have the chance to live by the values that give meaning to life. We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world…This means revolution.”[2]

But Alinsky’s brand of revolution was not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, overnight transformations of social institutions. As Richard Poe puts it, “Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties.” Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, subtly gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to introduce changes from that platform. This was precisely the tactic of “infiltration” advocated by Lenin and Stalin.[3] As Communist International General Secretary Georgi Dimitroff told the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern in 1935:

Comrades, you remember the ancient tale of the capture of Troy. Troy was inaccessible to the armies attacking her, thanks to her impregnable walls. And the attacking army, after suffering many sacrifices, was unable to achieve victory until, with the aid of the famous Trojan horse, it managed to penetrate to the very heart of the enemy’s camp.[4]

Alinsky’s revolution promised that by changing the structure of society’s institutions, it would rid the world of such vices as socio-pathology and criminality. Arguing that these vices were caused not by personal character flaws but rather by external societal influences, Alinsky’s worldview was thoroughly steeped in the socialist left’s collectivist, class-based doctrine of economic determinism. “The radical’s affection for people is not lessened,” said Alinsky, “...when masses of them demonstrate a capacity for brutality, selfishness, hate, greed, avarice, and disloyalty. It is not the people who must be judged but the circumstances that made them that way.”[5] Chief among these circumstances, he said, were “the larcenous pressures of a materialistic society.”[6]

To counter that materialism, Alinsky favored a socialist alternative. He characterized his noble radical (read: “revolutionary”) as a social reformer who “places human rights far above property rights”; who favors “universal, free public education”; who “insists on full employment for economic security” but stipulates also that people’s tasks should “be such as to satisfy the creative desires within all men”; who “will fight conservatives” everywhere; and who “will fight privilege and power, whether it be inherited or acquired,” and “whether it be political or financial or organized creed.”[7] Alinsky maintained that radicals, finding themselves “adrift in the stormy sea of capitalism,”[8] sought “to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization.”[9] “They hope for a future,” he said, “where the means of production will be owned by all of the people instead of just a comparative handful.”[10] In short, they wanted socialism.

In 1946, Alinsky wrote Reveille for Radicals, his first major book about the principles and tactics of “community organizing,” otherwise known as agitating for revolution. Twenty-five years later he authored Rules for Radicals, which expanded upon his earlier work. His writings, and the tactics outlined therein, have had a profound influence on all “social change” and “social justice” movements of recent decades.

Alinksy’s objective, which he clearly stated in Rules for Radicals, was to “present an arrangement of certain facts and general concepts of change, a step toward a science of revolution.”[11] The Prince, he elaborated, “was written by Macchiavelli for the Haves on how to hold onto power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”[12]

If radicals were to be in the vanguard of the movement to transfer power from the Haves and the Have-Nots, Alinsky’s first order of business was to define precisely what a radical was. He approached this task by first distinguishing between liberals and radicals. Alinsky had no patience for those he called the liberals of his day—people who were content to talk about the changes they wanted, but were unwilling to actively work for those changes. Rather, he favored “radicals” who were prepared to take bold, decisive action designed to transform society, even if that transformation could be achieved only slowly and incrementally. Wrote Alinsky:

Liberals fear power or its application.… They talk glibly of people lifting themselves by their own bootstraps but fail to realize that nothing can be lifted except through power…Radicals precipitate the social crisis by action—by using power…Liberals protest; radicals rebel. Liberals become indignant; radicals become fighting mad and go into action. Liberals do not modify their personal lives[,] and what they give to a cause is a small part of their lives; radicals give themselves to the cause. Liberals give and take oral arguments; radicals give and take the hard, dirty, bitter way of life.[13]

If the purpose of radicalism is to bring about social transmutation, the radical must be prepared to make a persuasive case for why such change is urgently necessary. Alinsky’s conviction that American society needed a dramatic overhaul was founded on his belief that the status quo was intolerably miserable for most people. For one thing, Alinsky saw the United States as a nation rife with economic injustice. “The people of America live as they can,” he wrote. “Many of them are pent up in one-room crumbling shacks and a few live in penthouses...The Haves smell toilet water, the Have-Nots smell just plain toilet.”[14] Lamenting the “wide disparity of wealth, privilege, and opportunity” he saw in America, Alinsky impugned the country’s “materialistic values and standards.”[15] “We know that man must cease worshipping the god of gold and the monster of materialism,” he said.[16]

Profound economic injustice was by no means America’s only shortcoming, as Alinsky saw things. Lamenting the nation’s “rather confused and demoralized ideology,”[17] he further identified “unemployment,” “decay,” “disease,” “crime,” “distrust,” “bigotry,” “disorganization,” and “demoralization” as inevitable by-products of life in capitalist America.[18] Such a state of affairs, he said, made life for a majority of Americans nothing more than an exercise in drudgery. “At the end of the week,” said Alinsky of the average American, “he comes out of the hell of monotony with a paycheck and goes home to a second round of monotony…. Monday morning he is back on the assembly line.… That, on the whole, is his life. A routine in which he rots. The dreariest, drabbest, grayest outlook that one can have. Simply a future of utter despair.”[19] “People hunger for drama and adventure, for a breath of life in a dreary, drab existence,” he expanded.[20]

According to Alinsky, this unhappy existence exerted a profoundly negative influence on the American character. Alinsky perceived most Americans as people who were governed by their prejudices, and who thus felt great antipathy toward a majority of their fellow countrymen -- particularly those of different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds. “[M]ost people,” he said, “like just a few people, and either do not actively care for or actively dislike most of the ‘other’ people.”[21]

Having painted a verbal portrait of a thoroughly corrupt and melancholy American society, Alinsky was now prepared to argue that wholesale change of great magnitude was in order. What was needed, he said, was a revolution in whose vanguard would be radicals committed to eliminating the “fundamental causes” of the nation’s problems,[22] and not content to merely deal with those problems’ “current manifestations”[23] or “end products.”[24] The goal of the radical, he explained, must be to bring about “the destruction of the roots of all fears, frustrations, and insecurity of man, whether they be material or spiritual”;[25] to purge the land of “the vast destructive forces which pervade the entire social scene”;[26] and to eliminate “those destructive forces from which issue wars,” forces such as “economic injustice, insecurity, unequal opportunities, prejudice, bigotry, imperialism, … and other nationalistic neuroses.”[27]

The objective of ridding the nation of the aforementioned vices dovetailed perfectly with Alinsky’s belief that all societal problems were interrelated. According to Alinsky, if segments of the population were beset by crime, unemployment, inadequate housing, malnourishment, disease, demoralization, racism, discrimination, or religious intolerance, it was impossible address, to any great effect, any particular one of those concerns in isolation. They “are simply parts of the whole picture,” he said. “They are not separate problems.”[28]

“[A]ll problems are related and they are all the progeny of certain fundamental causes,” Alinsky elaborated.[29] “Many apparently local problems are in reality malignant microcosms of vast conflicts, pressures, stresses, and strains of the entire social order.”[30] Thus “ultimate success in conquering these evils can be achieved only by victory over all evils.”[31] In other words, what was needed was a revolution, led by radicals, to literally turn society upside-down and inside-out.

Alinsky then proceeded to lay out the method by which radicals could achieve this goal by forming a host of “People’s Organizations” -- each with its own distinct name and mission, and each of which “thinks and acts in terms of social surgery and not cosmetic cover-ups.”[32]

These People’s Organizations were to be composed largely of discontented individuals who believed that society was replete with injustices that prevented them from being able to live satisfying lives. Such organizations, Alinsky advised, should not be imported from the outside into a community, but rather should be staffed by locals who, with some guidance from trained radical organizers, could set their own agendas.[33]

The installment of local leaders as the top-level officers of People’s Organizations helped give the organizations credibility and authenticity in the eyes of the community. This tactic closely paralleled the longtime Communist Party strategy of creating front organizations that ostensibly were led by non-communist fellow-travelers, but which were in fact controlled by Party members behind the scenes. As J. Edgar Hoover explained in his 1958 book Masters of Deceit: “To make a known Party member president of a front would immediately label it as ‘communist.’ But if a sympathizer can be installed, especially a man of prominence, such as an educator, minister, or scientist, the group can operate as an ‘independent’ organization.”[34]

Alinsky taught that the organizer’s first task was to make people feel that they were wise enough to diagnose their own problems, find their own solutions, and determine their own destinies. The organizer, said Alinsky, must exploit the fact that “[m]illions of people feel deep down in their hearts that there is no place for them, that they do not ‘count.’”[35] To exploit this state of affairs effectively, Alinsky explained, the organizer must employ such techniques as the artful use of “loaded questions designed to elicit particular responses and to steer the organization’s decision-making process in the direction which the organizer prefers.[36]

“Is this manipulation?” asked Alinsky. “Certainly,” he answered instantly.[37] But it was manipulation toward a desirable end: “If the common man had a chance to feel that he could direct his own efforts … that to a certain extent there was a destiny that he could do something about, that there was a dream that he could keep fighting for, then life would be wonderful living.”[38] In Alinsky’s calculus, the common man could achieve this renewed vitality of spirit via his membership and active participation in the People’s Organization.

Alinsky viewed as supremely important the role of the organizer, or master manipulator, whose guidance was responsible for setting the agendas of the People’s Organization. “The organizer,” Alinsky wrote, “is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which man can reach -- to create, to be a ‘great creator,’ to play God.”[39]

MORE:
The Agitator: Barack Obama's unlikely political education (Ryan Lizza, 3/19/07, The New Republic)

His teachers were schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago-trained social scientist. At the heart of the Alinsky method is the concept of "agitation"-- making someone angry enough about the rotten state of his life that he agrees to take action to change it; or, as Alinsky himself described the job, to "rub raw the sores of discontent."

On this particular evening, Kruglik was debriefing Obama about his work when a panhandler approached. Instead of ignoring the man, Obama confronted him. "Now, young man, is that really what you want to be about?" Obama demanded. "I mean, come on, don't you want to be better than that? Let's get yourself together."

Kruglik remembers this episode as an example of why, in ten years of training organizers, Obama was the best student he ever had. He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.

More than 20 years later, Obama presents himself as a post-partisan consensus builder, not a rabble-rouser, and certainly not a disciple of Alinsky, who disdained electoral politics and titled his organizing manifesto Rules for Radicals. [...]

[W]hile Alinsky is often viewed as an ideological figure--toward the end of his life, New Left radicals tried to claim him as one of their own--to place Alinsky within a taxonomy of left-wing politics is to miss the point. His legacy is less ideological than methodological. Alinsky's contribution to community organizing was to create a set of rules, a clear-eyed and systemic approach that ordinary citizens can use to gain public power. The first and most fundamental lesson Obama learned was to reassess his understanding of power. Horwitt says that, when Alinsky would ask new students why they wanted to organize, they would invariably respond with selfless bromides about wanting to help others. Alinsky would then scream back at them that there was a one-word answer: "You want to organize for power!"

Galluzzo shared with me the manual he uses to train new organizers, which is little different from the version he used to train Obama in the '80s. It is filled with workshops and chapter headings on understanding power: "power analysis," "elements of a power organization," "the path to power." Galluzzo told me that many new trainees have an aversion to Alinsky's gritty approach because they come to organizing as idealists rather than realists. But Galluzzo's manual instructs them to get over these hang-ups. "We are not virtuous by not wanting power," it says. "We are really cowards for not wanting power," because "power is good" and "powerlessness is evil."

The other fundamental lesson Obama was taught is Alinsky's maxim that self-interest is the only principle around which to organize people.


Alinsky's Rules for Radicals (Craig Miyamoto, 2000 Third Quarter issue of Public Relations Strategies)
Some of these rules are ruthless, but they work. Here are the rules to be aware of: [...]

RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.) [...]

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)


GOP Mocks Public Service (Peter Dreier & John Atlas, September 5, 2008, The Nation)
Modern community organizing, an important strand of grassroots activism, began with Jane Addams, who founded Hull House in Chicago in the late 1800s and inspired the settlement house movement. These activists--upper-class philanthropists, middle-class reformers and working-class radicals--organized immigrants to clean up sweatshops and tenement slums, improve sanitation and public health and battle against child labor and crime.

In the 1930s, another Chicagoan, Saul Alinsky, sought to organize residents the way unions organized workers. Drawing on existing groups--particularly churches, block clubs, sports leagues, and unions--he formed the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council to get the city to improve services to a working-class neighborhood adjacent to meatpacking factories.

A half-century later, in 1985, 23-year-old Barack Obama moved to Chicago to work for the Developing Communities Project, a coalition of churches on the city's South Side. His job was to help empower residents to win improved playgrounds, after-school programs, job training, housing, and other concerns affecting a neighborhood hurt by large-scale layoffs from the nearby steel mills and neglect by banks, retail stores and the local government. He knocked on doors and talked to people in their kitchens, living rooms and churches about the problems they faced and why they needed to get involved to improve their communities.

Obama often refers to the valuable lessons he learned working "in the streets" of Chicago. "I've won some good fights and I've also lost some fights," he said in a speech during the primary season, "because good intentions are not enough, when not fortified with political will and political power."

There are at least 20,000 paid organizers in the United States, according to Walter Davis, executive director of the National Organizers Alliance. They work for community groups, environmental organizations, unions, women's and civil rights groups, tenants organizations, churches and school reform efforts--touching the lives of millions of Americans every day. They work long hours, usually for low pay. Organizers identify people with leadership potential, recruit and train them and help them build grassroots organizations that can win victories that improve their communities and workplaces.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2008 7:39 PM
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