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(Rules for Radicals) By Alinsky, Saul (Author) Paperback on 23-Oct-1989 (1971)

von Saul Alinsky

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First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know "the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one." Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.… (mehr)
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Case 14 shelf 4
  semoffat | Sep 1, 2021 |
In a nutshell, Alinsky believes the end justifies the means. Not only that, but he believes one is acting irresponsibly if one does not use whatever means necessary to achieve what might be a greater good. Putting one's own squeamishness and ethical beliefs ahead of achieving that greater good is behaving selfishly.

The problem is that this attitude just continues the vicious circle of American politics today, with each side escalating tactics in attempts to achieve their own ends, and then justifying deplorable behavior with post hoc reasoning. ( )
  evenlake | Mar 23, 2021 |
Not quite the "evil blueprint for the totalitarian takeover of America" that many on the right say it is. It is full of logical steps of how to organize the have-nots against the haves. Noting for the haves to win, they must gain support of the have-some and the have-more middle class. ( )
  BillRob | Jan 3, 2021 |
It is no exaggeration to claim that Saul Alinsky was an organizing genius. The numerous examples in his book as well as his continued influence 40 years after he died have shown he knew how to organize citizens to influence the powers-that-be. Saul Alinsky writes in 1971 to the radicals of the 1960s who have grown disillusioned with the ideas of success their parents have passed on to them. His hope is to provide rules or guidelines for those who want to change their world. He begins, “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away (3).”

Alinsky starts his argument by calling his readers to fully recognize “how the world is” without seeing it as we want it to be. In this way he is intensely pragmatic in his suggestions. “We must begin with where we are and what we have,” he repeats. He also has a low view of humanity. “The way the world is,” according to Alinsky, is corrupt and broken. The only way for change to be made is to fight one power with another. Further, for Alinsky there are no altruistic acts. Everything is done for one’s self-interest. Part of what motivates his continual fight for justice and equality is the belief that no one is an island. He writes, “A major revolution to be won... is the dissipation of man’s illusion that his own welfare can be separate from that of all others. As long as man is shackled to this myth, so long will the human spirit languish (23).” Therefore, by helping and empowering others, Alinsky sees such causes as helping himself. These assumptions and others undergird his worldview and rules for changing the way things are.

The two chapters people most often reference from Rules for Radicals are “Of Means and Ends” and “Tactics.” No doubt that many would have trouble to embrace many of the tactics he proclaims, and especially the ethics determined by his rules on means and ends. The tactic I had most trouble with was his last: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” He argues that often issues are so big there is not one person or even one entity responsible; therefore, to make any sort of progress someone in power must be chosen, “frozen,” so that responsibility is not simply pushed onto someone else. The example he gave was targeting the Director of the School Board for the issue of segregation in public schools. He was no doubt not (fully) responsible for segregation – it had a lot to do with segregated neighborhoods. But by polarizing the issue and making it personal for the Director, they were able to see change. The end result of desegregation justified the means of falsely accusing him. But Alinsky also recognized the inconsistencies of this method by claiming an essential characteristic for an organizer is that they must be “a well-integrated political schizoid.... Before [people] will act an issue must be polarized (78).” Therefore the better organizer can polarize an issue “100 to nothing” but they know that nothing is really black and white.

My bigger trouble with Alinsky is what many others have claimed before – his ethics are questionable. “Consistency” for Alinsky “is not a virtue.” Consistency is to be standing still or not moving. He writes, “Men must change with the times or die (31-32).” Truth is relative; ethics are relative. Repeatedly he looks at the ethical inconsistencies in history, notably Abraham Lincoln, and sees justification for acting inconsistently today. His third rule for ethics sums it up: “In war the end justifies almost any means.” The power struggles of both the corporate and public sectors are seen as a type of war. People resort to almost anything to accomplish their goal, and it usually victory or defeat which determines its morality. I believe Alinsky offers profound insight on the way things are corruptly carried out, but I cannot follow their example. Repeated deceit will tarnish the soul.
( )
  nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
How did that revolution go Mr Alinsky? Not so well, eh? Turns out building stuff is actually more valued than shitting on it and screeching.

A lot of self-aggrandisement and not that much advice beyond the often quoted rules, which I've read so many times quoted it convinced me to give the source a read. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (1 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Saul AlinskyHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Jay J. Smith StudioUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.
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Die Informationen stammen von der englischen "Wissenswertes"-Seite. Ändern, um den Eintrag der eigenen Sprache anzupassen.
To pander to those who have no stomach for straight language, and insist upon bland, non controversial sauces, is a waste of time... I do not propose to be trapped by tact at the expense of truth.

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First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know "the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one." Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

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