Who Is This Radical Anti-American Saul Alinksy Person?


Besides the points you raise, Dan, isn't it interesting how stuck in the 60s these guys are? I doubt more than one in 1,000 Americans even knows who Saul Alinsky is, and it's probably much less than that.

Anyway, the people who really need to take that lesson to heart are the Occupiers - the ones who want to remain outside the system, and are choosing a middle ground between the first and second of Alinsky's options.
Cognitive dissonance has never been a problem for Gingrich.
What rightwingers also did to control the political discourse was to buy media infrastructure, something that liberals up until recently totally ignored. Jello's Biafra's refrain "become the media" is now being pursued via the blogs. Now we're paying the price with fox news, Rush, and Beck blared all over the country, people lapping up their anti-government, anti-liberal crap, and Americans voting against their self-interest.
I've said this about OWS. There are few ways to change things without making them worse. One is to organise politically. That's where the power lies. That's how we're structured as a nation. Do it while you have momentum before things devolve into shouting and violence, which only harm your cause.
Emmanuel Goldstein-ism is alive and well in 2012's version of 1984. It is to Newt's advantage that virtually no voters on the right know who Alinsky is. It has been good publicity for a good man.
I can tell you from years of trolling right-wing blogs that this guy's name comes up almost as much as George Soros'. His name is a dog whistle. The people Newt is speaking to know exactly what he's saying and that's all that matters.
Alinsky is really just dog-whistle for Jewish and communist (not that Alinsky was a communist). He was far from the most radical of the radical in 1968, and really can't be considered radical by today's standards, and certainly no one in the Republican base today actually knows who he was. By connecting him with Obama, Gingrich is just playing on right-wingers' fears of black people, Jewish people, and communists.
That's a good point - when they say "community organizer" instead of "church leader", what they really mean is "godless upstart" - someone from the wrong sort of community indeed.
People who volunteer their time for the betterment of mankind without financial returns are commiepinkountrustworthies, even the not insignificant number of left-wing Christian groups that attempt to act as Christ instructed them to.
@9: Yes, but they also trash Catholics and non-denominational Christians who seek social change.

These are the same people who were against the Civil Rights movement and all faith-having participants.
I happened to read Rules for Radicals back in early 2008, before the campaign season even started and
way before I ever heard Alinsky mentioned in the same breath as Obama. I'd never heard of Alinsky before
at all - I just happened to spot the book at the Seattle Public Library book sale and thought it looked interesting. what I was struck by in reading it was how totally non-fucking-radical it was. it was basically a manual for how to join the establishment and try to gradually change it in non-confrontational, incremental ways from within. in
other words - it was rules for white (or white-ish), privileged do-gooders to put themselves in a position to
be co-opted by the oligarchy while managing to still feel good (and radical) about themselves. it seemed to
me that, as a guide for how to turn a Yippie into a Yuppie, a better title might have been Mystification for Dummies.

and although I'm sounding scornful here, my outlook is actually a lot more ambivalent. I think that method
isn't entirely worthless. slow, gradual change from within can happen and is certainly a lot safer, easier (on everybody) and less polarizing than big, sweeping, radical changes. if hundreds or thousands of people had read Alinsky in 1971 and actually applied his methods, the slow, safe, easy method might have turned the ship slowly such that we would now be sailing in a good direction. I should more properly say "if hundreds or thousands of leftists had read Alinsky in the early 70s" because what actually ended
up happening of course was that hundreds or thousands of people *did* read Alinsky, but it was in the early 80s and they were people like Grover Norquist, Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and other conservatives of that generation. and they *did* bring about gradual, fairly non-confrontational, incremental change from within. and sure enough, they turned the ship - straight toward the ice berg.

thanks Saul.

so here we are now with Obama and a few others who are trying to use the same methods to turn the ship around, and that would be great if the iceberg was 20 or 30 years away, but at this point, it's not...it's 5 or 10 years away *tops* and turning the ship slowly at this point means we're going to hit it broadside amidships, which might actually be even *worse* than hitting it head-on.

add to that the fact that the radical right has his number and realizes what he's doing (or trying to do) and,
now that momentum and inertia are on their side, have apparently decided to take off the gloves and switch
from Alinsky methods to Trotsky methods (because at this point, they can) and it becomes evident how much is at stake right now and how out of place Alinsky is in any serious conversation.
Dan's exactly right.

Forumites are too: yes, this is Southern Strategy-era dog whistling. I wonder, though, if Gingrich is lovin' the opening that has happened after Obama's election because he can now come right out and say that black people are undeserving welfare cheats; that sentiment used to have to be dog whistled too. (It's really too bad that conservative whites do not know the basic facts, i.e. that whites make up the majority of welfare recipients and food stampers; sigh.)

BTW? This truth about organizing also explains the Tea Party's success in the 2010 election. They did it by going to their local party offices and registering to become one of the folks who puts candidates on the ballots. A simple thing, just some hoops involving gathering signatures. Thom Hartmann's been talking about this for months--the Tea Party seized the reigns of the GOP from within the party at the local level. This sad truth is something I wish the OWS would consider, because their righteous purity about "fk every existing institution, government and the Dems are both beyond redemption" is beyond defeatist. In fact, it virtually guarantees Salinsky's predictions--that the OWS will splinter, with some folks burned out, some whining in impotent isolation, and others pushed to do something really fking stupid... It bothers me tremendously that the OWS collectively does not seem to know much about the history and legacy of '60s activism, because these things are quite predictable. As I've heard more than one academic colleague note, the most successful movement of the 1960s was arguably the rise of contemporary conservatism out of Orange County, CA. And Dan's exactly right--they did it at the local level, one school board, PTA meeting, newsletter, and housewarming at a time.
@12: "it was in the early 80s and they were people like Grover Norquist, Bill Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and other conservatives of that generation. and they *did* bring about gradual, fairly non-confrontational, incremental change from within"

In the left's defense, Calvinist predestinationism is an integral part of America's mythology, and narcissistic "rational self-interest" mixed with the culture wars is a lot easier to sell a still bigoted population. The Southern Strategy hit all their pleasure centers at once.
Several have made this point already, but it bears repeating: Saul Alinsky is the sane, rational, effective progressive answer to the kook left, not the kook left. Alinsky was talking TO the idiots like Jerry Rubin and John Lennon in his "Fight The Power" clenched-fist days; he wasn't speaking FOR them. They got a lot of things wrong in those days, starting with McGovern, but they were looking in the right direction.

And of course it's still pertinent today; "go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right" is almost exactly the line I've used on iPhone-wielding anti-corporate protesters in the past decade -- "you should go with the Unabomber, you sound just like him".

@1, you are absolutely right: it's a sixties obsession, which is somewhat understandable, because that was an earthquake of a time, and particularly for people who are of that age. But it's also an EIGHTIES obsession, because the eighties is when the far-right meme that sixties radicalism and permissiveness destroyed America moved out of the kook extremes and started to infect mainstream modern Reaganites, who didn't even know they were "conservatives" yet. It's only gained power since then. I think it's a somewhat natural tendency for people to idealize the time of their youth, and attribute everything that "went wrong" to the time immediately after. Basically, these people are just old.

I'm old too, but like Alinsky I can look at the extreme silliness of the sixties without losing sight of the power of the sixties too, but acknowledging the value of living in the present.
"You're living in the past, maaaaan! You're hung up on a clown from the 60s!!!"
Besides, consider this: Saul Alinsky is a good mixture. Saul = Jew; Alinksy = Slavic, perhaps Russian = communist. Doesn't a mixed Jew/Russian=communist name sound like the exact opposite of everything American, no matter what he actually said or wrote? I mean, it's pure gold for conspiracy theorists.
Thank you for calling a screen-and-a-half blog post "short" instead of "long", Dan. (Yes, I really do have people warn me that posts/articles shorter than two screen heights are "a little long", with alarming frequency.)
@15: I completely disagree. For example, increased exposure for the Right-wing fringe (including, for example, "God Hates Fags" protestors at military funerals and murders of doctors who perform abortions) has dragged the national political discourse to the Right to the point that a sizable portion of the electorate accepts without question the idea that our calculated Centrist president is a wildly radical socialist, not driven it to the Left. On the other hand, in the wake of widespread anti-capitalist (or at least anti-toxic-capitalist) protests, Republican presidential candidates are actually attacking Romney for his corporate raiding instead of the usual tune of celebrating wealthy businessmen as hard-working entrepreneurs that make America great. The extremists make the hardcore seem tame by comparison - backlash only happens when the equilibrium, not the fringe, shifts quickly in one direction.
@19: "including, for example, "God Hates Fags" protestors at military funerals"

The Phelps clan are professional trolls and anger the Right wing just as much as the left. The media allows them to anger everyone because they promote sexy controversy, it's not an indication of the media's usual right-wing corporatist slant.