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Saul Alinsky: Mentor to Hillary and Obama

Written by Gary North on September 3, 2012

Saul Alinsky was a dedicated Left-wing radical. He operated from the 1930s through 1972, when he died of a heart attack. He was a Chicago organizer. He gained financial support of a Leftist cleric in the Catholic Church. His connection with the Church is widely known. (http://bit.ly/CatholicsAndAlinsky).

Hillary Clinton wrote her bachelor’s degree thesis on him. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/HillaryThesis. She was offered a job working for him, but she went to Yale Law School instead, where she met her husband.

Barack Obama was trained by Alinsky’s disciples when he was a community organizer in Chicago in the mid-to-late 1980s. He was supported by 20 Protestant churches in the area.

Why do Christian churches promote the Leftist economic programs of an atheist like Alinsky? The Leftist Social Gospel was not taught by Jesus. I have written about this here: http://www.garynorth.com/public/department61.cfm.

Alinsky was a revolutionary, but not a violent revolutionary. Unlike the Marxists, he thought violence will backfire. He was for wealth-redistribution through the federal government. He had no final plan for the post-revolutionary society. This was also a feature of Karl’s Marx, who never described how the Communist society would operate, or the socialist system that would precede it. But he believed in violence by the working classes. Above all, he believed in violence. That was why I write my book, Marx’s Religion of Revolution. You can download a copy here: http://bit.ly/gnmror. Alinsky didn’t believe in violence. (http://bit.ly/AlinskyModel).

The master on the Right of Alinsky’s techniques is James O’Keefe, who used a video of himself posing as a pimp and a young woman pretending to be a teenage prostitute to bring down ACORN, which had been an Alinksy-based organization.

I wrote Alinsky in 1983. This appeared in a book I edited, Tactics of Chrrstian Resistance. You can download it here: http://bit.ly/CRtactics. My views have not changed.

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Saul Alinsky was one of the really effective humanistic radicals of the 1960s. He did not throw bombs. He did not spout rhetoric. He simply taught people how to use the bureaucracies’ own red tape to tie them up in knots. This is why he was so effective, and why his book, Rules For Radicals (1971), is so useful for an understanding of the principles of successful resistance, despite its humanistic bias. His words are worth considering:

Let us in the name of radical pragmatism not forget that in our system with all its repressions we can still speak out and denounce the administration, attack its policies, work to build an opposition political base. True, there is still government harassment, but there still is that relative freedom to fight. I can attack my government, try to organize to change it. That’s more than I can do in Moscow, Peking, or Havana. Remember the reaction of the Red Guard to the “cultural revolution” and the fate of the Chinese college students. Just a few of the violent episodes of bombings or a courtroom shootout that we have experienced here would have resulted in a sweeping purge and mass executions in Russia, China, or Cuba. Let us keep some perspective.

We will start with the system because there is no other place to start from except political lunacy. It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be preceded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without a supporting base of popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics.

Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives — agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.

“The revolution was effected before the war commenced; John Adams wrote. “The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people. . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny.

If a humanist like Alinsky understood this about the nature of man and social change, we Christians should at least give heed to his conclusions concerning tactics. Not bombs but protests and petitions. Not guns but getting people involved in dragging their feet. We need a positive program of changing people’s minds about God, man, and law; about family, church, and State, not to mention the economy’s We also need a negative program of successful resistance techniques that will get the State off our backs long enough for us to go about the work of positive reformation. Meanwhile, we can gum up the works. That literally happened under Alinsky. Some Christian college was foolish enough to allow students to invite him to speak on campus. A group of disgruntled students met with him after his speech. “How can we change this place? We can’t do anything. We can’t smoke, dance, go to movies, or drink beer. About all we can do is chew gum.” Alinsky told them, “Then gum is your answer.”

He told them to get 200 or 300 students to buy two packs of gum each. Chew both packs simultaneously every day, and then spit out the wads on campus walks. As he said, ‘Why, with five hundred wads of gum I could paralyze Chicago, stop all the traffic in the Loop.” He told them to keep it up until the rules were loosened or abolished. The tactic worked. Two weeks later all the rules were lifted. One new rule was substituted: no gum on campus.

That college administration was weak. Its leaders really did not believe in their own standards. They could have immediately banned gum from the campus the second day, with immediate expulsion as the penalty for anyone caught chew-ing it. But this would have made them look ridiculous to people on the outside. Expelling kids for chewing gum, when other campuses are being bombed by student radicals? The outsiders would never have seen the hundreds of wads of dried gum on the walkways every morning. Bureaucrats never ever want to look ridiculous. They capitulated. They were, in short, fearful bureaucrats. So are most of the people who will give Christians trouble over the next two decades.

We can learn from Alinsky. We must learn how to gum up the works. We must create a new, hypothetical society, “Gummit,” which sounds a lot like “Guvmint.”

Here are Alinsky’s thirteen tactical rules:

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

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5 thoughts on “Saul Alinsky: Mentor to Hillary and Obama

  1. Saul Alinsky was a radical community organizer from Chicago, and where did you say Obama was from and how did he get started in politics??? Imagine that???

  2. Bob Marshall says:

    I am so glad to see this article because when i mentioned that while at Occidental College the then young barack Obama was a Marxist revolutionary. Hillary Rodman, while in college, wrote a 92 page thesis on Saul Alinsky and at the end she gave him high praises. Since i have posted this many times this past year i have had many poster claim i was making this up. thanks for bringing out the truth so hopefully a few will wake up.

  3. If you voted for Obama because he is black, you are a racist. If you didn't vote for Obama because he is black, you are a racist. I did not vote for Obama because his campaign was all talk and no substance. He did not say what "Change" was and now we know and I'm glad I didn't vote for him. independent voter

  4. I didn't vote for him because he is Red. I don't think that makes me a racist, but it does make me anti-social(ist).

  5. If you know so much, north, what is the name of the Catholic cleric that helped Alynsky? You people live on another planet. "Wdely known" ? Where in the world did you get that garbage from? Tinkle with your computer on the huffington post. It suits you much better.