Friday, October 23, 2009

Alinsky and “Rules for Radicals”

Well, I did it. I spent the $14.00 plus tax to get a copy of “Rule for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky. I must say, it was an interesting read. You can really get the soul of the man from this book. The smell of poison and rot is palpable.

Enough of ridicule; let’s look at the philosophy. First of all, it is clear that Alinsky was a Marxist masquerading as a “democrat”. Proclaiming democracy has been the method of Marxists since the days of Lenin. American progressives and Marxists have developed the skill of talking “like” they espouse democracy and you can hear it in the words of people such as Obama and Rathke. It is a ruse, a radical’s way of wedging into the mainstream while incrementally inserting more and more government coercion into our lives.

It is an easy bait and switch; they say they favor the people (by distorting Lincoln's quote "of the people, by the people and for the people") and, they claim, they want to ensure people get their rights. What they mean by “rights” is the stealthy move, the bait and switch. The rights to which they refer are man-made "rights" rather than the natural rights enumerated in the Constitution. They are the rights of the poor to receive the profits of the rich. Yes, this is Marxism, but presented as the “will of the people” otherwise known as the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. It is what they call "democracy".

However, Alinsky is not as radical as you might think. He is actually a mainstream intellectual in many ways. Certainly, he shares the same philosophical base with the Marxists but he is also influenced by the same philosophers as are George Soros and Karl Popper. They share the same skeptical base with David Hume and Immanuel Kant.

Before I get into this foundation, I’d like to explain the importance of philosophy for our present debates. Philosophy is the base of all human thinking. It asks questions such as what is the nature of reality (metaphysics), how does man gain understanding (epistemology), what is proper action (ethics), how should he organize his society (politics). The answers to these questions determine the intellectual foundations that justify, argue for and, in some cases, prove what is proper for man. Even if you say that philosophy is powerless in the world, you are uttering a philosophical position.

The philosophers with a skeptical base preached that man is irrational by nature and that knowledge was impotent to affect reality. These thinkers also felt that the only important thing in life is activism; action without foundation; bold leaps and blind decisiveness. Their effect on reality and upon the lives of men was devastating; they brought about the rubble and mass murders of the 20th Century.

Hume, Popper, Dewey and their progeny taught that a philosophy based on sense experience was impractical. They gave us the intellectual fertilizer for Hitler, Stalin and Mao because their ideas destroyed the ability of men to think, to judge and to they let the murderers decide. Still, today, primarily through Dewey, these are mainstream ideas. Alinsky was of this “tradition”.

What is the power of philosophy? History has shown that whenever a new set of ideas replaces an old set this wipes the slate clean and, for better or worse, men take on new attitudes and new ways of doing things. In fact, this is what we need, a clean slate that denies the skeptics their view of man, offers a new view of man as a hero who possesses sovereignty and integrity.

The idea that reality is “objective” and can be ascertained by man is a legacy of philosopher Ayn Rand and it is the answer to the mistakes of empiricism and skepticism. Philosophers like Hume and Kant blinded men to reality by declaring, without “objective” support that man could never see, let alone understand reality. Rand provided the arguments for a view of man that saw him as efficacious and rights-bearing.

The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement that almost swept the slate clean because it developed as an outgrowth of science. Great pioneers like Galileo and Newton had shown the way for men by positing a new view of reality, a view that saw it as knowable. The new science challenged the view that God’s knowledge was supreme. At first, meekly, Galileo demonstrated through scientific induction that the earth was not the center of the universe, that it actually moved around the sun. This view was difficult for the Church fathers to accept and they punished Galileo’s blasphemy cruelly.

The real meaning of the discoveries of Galileo (and later Newton) was that man could could deal with the world. The view of the Enlightenment meant that man could rely on his senses. It meant a new view of man and life. New questions were raised; what kind of society recognizes man’s natural right to live and prosper; what are rights and how are they derived; how should society be organized so the individual can exercise his rights; how do we protect man from the encroachment of tyrannical power? These are the questions that thinkers like John Locke and Francis Bacon, among others, tried to answer. Bacon concentrated on how to improve man’s ability to induce new knowledge while Locke discovered and developed the concept of natural rights. Man’s knowledge expanded and new words, new ideas, new concepts proliferated everywhere, so much so, that today we hardly recognize the fact that we live under the legacy of the Enlightenment, that the slate of religion had almost been wiped clean. These thinkers were joined in their studies by the men who built America, the Founding Fathers, and later, entrepreneurs who sought to implement this new view of man and create a society that leaves us free to explore and prosper.

My religious friends might be disappointed to know that one of the key outcomes of our founding documents is a secular society. Our founders were well aware of the tyranny that was possible under religious domination. But by declaring man's ability to understand reality, Enlightenment thinkers separated themselves from religious views in a fundamental way. No longer was the source of all knowledge an ancient book written by an unknown man; finally, man could write his own book of knowledge and be certain that it derived from observation and logic rather than revelation. This was a massive shift in attitude and perspective. Men were no longer reciting prayers in their heads and consulting the Bible to decide what to do; they were looking out, not in, thinking, not repeating, acting, not waiting for commands.

The monarchy of England was a theocracy in which the King was considered to be God’s representative on earth. These religious men, our founders, sought to eliminate any possibility that organized religion could control government. They knew that a theocracy was not in the interest of our new nation and they established the separation of church and state in order to protect the rights of all citizens against religious bigotry and the forcible imposition of ideas over the mind of man. And they also established the right of men to think either spiritually or logically as his conscience decided. There were very few atheists during this period; it took religious men of high integrity and philosophical acumen, men focused on the lessons of history, to ensure that religion could not gain control of government. We seem to have forgotten this lesson.

A secular society is what we have today. As proof of this look at how “un-religious” most men are today. Few companies operate on a religious basis, religion is prohibited from public facilities and government buildings, when men discuss issues, many are concerned about understanding “the facts” not “God’s word”; they do not emphasize their religious ideas in the public domain and they consider that religion has no place among men trying to solve "real" human problems. Even many of our leaders, who claim to be deeply religious, present themselves as secular-acting and –sounding people. Most of us do not consider looking into the Bible or other sacred texts in order to understand. We look at reality, analyze the facts and make decisions based upon the best judgment of our leaders. This is a wholly new perspective in the world that we fail to realize because few of us know how pervasive and dominant were the views of religion before the Enlightenment.

The above discussion sets the foundation for an explanation of why Saul Alinsky is wrong; he is wrong because of his faulty philosophy. He is wrong because he pits himself against the learning of the Enlightenment; he is wrong because he does not see man as soveriegn and individual but as collective and indecisive. As I mentioned above, the philosophy of skeptics like Hume, Kant, Dewey and Marx is founded upon the idea that man is weak, irrational and incapable of understanding reality. The skeptics accept the notion that man's senses are invalid; and this view coincides more with the views of King George than it does with the founders of America.

It goes without saying that most radicals influenced by Saul Alinsky are out to transform society into one they consider to be fair. Since they view man as essentially incapable of doing the right thing, they have no problem with using the power of government to "nudge" man (by force) so he does what they think is proper - to sacrifice.

Yet, Alinsky calls the society he is working toward a “free society.” And he even eschews an intellectual foundation founded in Marxist anti-capitalism. Don’t be deceived. There are clues in Rules for Radicals about Alinsky’s real philosophy:

“An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma. To begin with, he does not have a fixed truth—truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing.”(1)

In these two sentences, Alinsky has told us all we need to know about him. The first flag comes up when we see the term “open society”. If you read my post on George Soros, you’ll remember that an “open” society is one that operates on the premise that there are no “ultimate truths”. Does Alinsky have such a Soros-style society in mind? It is hard to tell from his book. He does mention the term "open society" a few other times but the fact that this book was written for “community organizers” should give you the clue.

The community or society that Alinsky seeks to organize, under his view, is a group of powerless people compared to what he calls the “Haves” meaning those who “have” power. The “Have Nots”, according to Alinsky, should organize and engage in "revolution" against the “Haves”. This assumes that getting power is a struggle between groups who are trying to advance their respective economic positions at any point in time. One group may have it today and another may have it tomorrow - as they vie against each other to advance their own respective benefits. According to this view, there are no fundamental principles that govern such issues as property, rights, contracts, etc. The struggle is about power and who does or does not have it. This sounds like an “open” society.

The idea of an open society was developed by George Soros’ mentor, philosopher Karl Popper. From my Blog Post on Soros:

“Soros writes “…Popper’s Book, ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ struck me with the force of revelation and prompted me to explore the author’s philosophy. He argued that the Nazi and Communist ideologies have something in common; they both claim to be in possession of the ultimate truth. Since the ultimate truth is beyond human reach, both ideologies had to be based on a biased and distorted interpretation of reality; consequently, they could be imposed on society only by the use of repressive methods. He (Popper) juxtaposed a different principle of social organization that is based on the recognition that claims to the ultimate truth cannot be validated. Popper called this principle “open society,” and he held it out as preferable to a definitive design.”

Soros is saying that he views any “defined” society as inherently imperfect because it presumes to do the impossible which is to follow ultimate truth. An “open society” on the other hand is based upon the idea that man cannot really know anything with any certainty and therefore, because it accepts this “truth” it is the more proper society. Apparently, Soros did not notice that saying there is no ultimate truth is a statement of ultimate truth. Yet, he was so struck by the idea that he decided to build his life and business around it. The contradiction didn't stop him.”(2)

It seems we have a philosophical connection between George Soros and Saul Alinsky. Indeed, they are brothers in spirit – after the same social goals. But the philosophical connection is deeper and it goes to the very question of whether Alinsky and Soros are practical men. Popper was an empiricist, a student of David Hume and Immanuel Kant and, as such, this makes both Soros and Alinsky pragmatists. Going back to the quote from Rules for Radicals, we find the second flag in the statement. He has no fixed truth, truth is ever changing, everything is relative. As I wrote in the Soros article:

“If we look at how progressives, skeptics and nihilists operate, we find that, like Soros, their method of using knowledge reveals the consistency of their inconsistent views. You will notice that these people always argue from negative viewpoints that analyze specific issues out of context. They accomplish their political intention by ensuring that people do not see the contradictions in their views, through a selective focus and selective arguments. This is also typical of the arch skeptics, Hume and Kant who both characteristically analyzed specific epistemological issues out of context. From these out-of-context discussions they first sowed confusion and then drew sweeping generalizations to the effect that man could not rely on his sensations, could not rely on his knowledge and therefore his only choice was to follow the dictates of religious leaders and dictators by practicing the altruism they demanded. Let’s be clear, the only purpose of skepticism is to reduce man’s mind to a malleable, reflexive and fallible state. George Soros is merely an opportunist taking advantage of Hume, Kant and Popper's life work.”(3)

I would submit that the same is true of Saul Alinsky, Barack Obama and other community organizers of this ilk. Further, I think that the following could easily be said about these pragmatist community organizers:

“(Soros’ activities) are consistently based upon Popper’s view that man cannot know reality; and, Soros thinks, he (man) must be led in herds down a path of his choosing; a path that benefits Soros and his investors. This can be seen in the political campaigns he supports. These campaigns are not intended to offer open discussions of ideas that give the voter a chance to decide for himself among honorable competitors who disagree. Instead, political campaigns, since Soros, are polarizing and full of moral outrage. The Democrats, for some reason, are good and the Republicans are evil, racist, fascist, corrupt and liars. The Democrats support the common man and the Republicans support the greedy rich. Soros-supported Democrats do not argue the issues; they spew venom and hatred toward Republicans and Tea Party protestors. Leftist blogs do not assume that honest people can disagree; they tell us that the Republicans are vile and evil dictators, dishonest and hateful of all that is good. Theirs is a political moral dualism; they are right and everyone else is stupid.

Why does Soros support such tactics? He is a product of his own philosophy; he has no standard of value when it comes to persuasion, according to Hume and Popper, there are no standards for the development of real knowledge. Rather than present us with better ideas, he can only throw as much money as necessary into Democratic political campaigns to “convince” us, through public relations and constant repetition of lies (since we can’t know anything), to appeal to our emotions, our hatreds, our ignorance. This is the better world that Soros wants to make.”(4) Likewise for Alinsky and today’s community organizers. Likewise for the Obama administration.

In order to defeat the progressive agenda, the battle must be a battle for philosophy; in particular, it must be a battle to decide which is the moral system, capitalism or statism (open society). We must recognize that it is a philosophical premise that makes progressives and community organizers sneer at and ridicule opponents who are businessmen, Tea Party protesters, (even honest) Republicans and other dissenters. It is a moral hatred that calls such people Nazis, haters, racists, rednecks and stupid. We must discover the moral principles that counter these nihilistic attitudes and we must convince people, by the force of better arguments, to realize that nihilistic moralizing and ridicule are not productive and they are not making a better world; they are making conflict, hatred and coercion.

Further, we must recognize that the basic political premise of the radicals is re-distribution. Re-distribution is only possible when we accept the notion that profits are evil and that capitalists are thieves. They call it “social justice” and they believe that proper government should confiscate property (through taxation or inflation). We must recognize that our founders established the pursuit of happiness as a basic right, natural and moral, that true moral action could only happen when people were free to seek a better life. They consciously disenfranchised coercion and removed it from our politics; they fought against the very same type of coercion that the progressives and professional parasites seek to make the law of the land today. When you fight against re-distribution you are defending man’s right to be moral. Therefore, you should have the moral fervor and you should see anyone who disagrees with individual rights as evil and sinister.

Re-distribution leads to dictatorship. Every coercive government does re-distribution. Everything it does is re-distribution. You can call it communism, socialism, fascism, welfare-statism, democracy...they all do it. The only antidote to such evil ideas is the correct implementation of the Constitution of the United States of America.

The basic Alinsky rule is "Do what you can with what you have and wrap it in moral garments." This principle is their flim flam. It is how they disarm you. This is the tactic Obama uses when he advances the idea of a volunteer army funded by the government, when he advances a health care program, Cap and is all wrapped in the moral garment of "sacrifice is good." Someone has to say that the garment is immoral; the garment is a cover for theft, a blanket under which corruption and moral decline is the order of the day. It is a cover that enfranchises immorality. We must expose this idea to the light by fighting for our right to be moral, to enjoy life, to keep our profits and to work hard. If you don't strike at the heart of your enemy by attacking this re-distribution deception, you let the radicals live to fight again.

Incrementalism is the principle at the heart of “doing what you can with what you have.” Progressives and Alinsky radicals will take small victories if it helps them establish the principle of re-distribution or keep it intact. They will keep pushing the protections in the Constitution until they are gone. If they get push back from you, they'll push in another direction, but they are always trying to incrementally undermine the Constitution through re-distribution. Whenever they lose a battle, they back off, take advantage of whatever gain they have made and then keep fighting on another issue to further undermine the Constitution. They know the tactic, they effectively use the tactic, and until you catch on to it, they’ll keep taking advantage of you.

The only way to stop incrementalism is to roll back all progressive schemes and totally reject progressives in them out and don't vote any new progressives in. If anyone accepts the idea that government should interfere in peoples' lives, the best way to deal with them is to divest them of power (This applies to the vast majority of mainstream Republicans as well). It is not just a difference of opinion; progressives and the coercive principles they advocate are the enemies of freedom and they must be rejected wholesale.

The Tea Party struggle has to be a struggle of ideas. We need better ideas in order to win. This means we must educate ourselves about why the founders fought for and defended freedom. We need to understand why the progressives are wrong. We have to read, study and defend our ideas about a proper society founded on freedom...this is how we won our freedoms. This is how we will get them back.

(1) Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, paperback, page 10
(2) George Soros Tea Party Journal Blog Post
(3) Ibid
(4) Ibid

1 comment:

  1. Robert, If I just read your last name I would of been mentally prepared for another "La Raza" rant. Please forgive my predjudice and bigotry.
    I totally agree with every point you made.
    Your second to the last paragraph is vitally important to restore freedom to USA.
    My only critique would be that you fail to mention how personal income tax also is the cornerstone of the redistribution scheme. Unfortunately for Obama's agenda it is not near draconian enough and USA has withstood this onslaught to our freedoms for way to long.
    And neither do you mention the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank and how it is used to strip us of our wealth by manipulating the money supply with interest rates and fractional reserve lending.