As a member of the middle class Alinsky so despises for its “dreary, drab existence” (p. 121), I must apologize that the past month’s events involving my dismal life with my dull family and uninspired community crowded out the excitement of distilling Alinsky’s political genius for PJ Media readers. I’ll try not to let that happen again — after all, with the former counterrevolutionaries now in power going Animal Farm on us, we are set to be the next crop of political revolutionaries.
As we wrap up Alinsky’s masterwork, let’s consider several layers:
1) The political situation prior to 1975;
2) The application of Alinsky’s philosophy by his disciples now relishing their status as Haves;
3) The potential for conservatives to co-opt Alinsky tactics to fight the new oppressors.
Chapter Six, “In the Beginning,” is key to understanding how the community organizer’s effectiveness is built on fomenting discontent:
If the organizer begins with an affirmation of his love for people, he promptly turns everyone off. If, on the other hand, he begins with a denunciation of exploiting employers, slum landlords, police shakedowns gouging merchants, he is inside their experience and they accept him. (p. 98)
The organizer’s job is to … agitate, introduce ideas, get people pregnant with hope and a desire for change. (p. 103)
Hope and change, anyone?
From the moment the organizer enters a community he lives, dreams, eats, breathes, sleeps only one thing and that is to build the mass power base of [what Alinsky calls] “the army.” (p. 113)
Here is the difference between past presidents and our first national community organizer-in-chief. Think ACORN. Think Organizing for America. A mobilization of masses of people religiously dedicated to doing the commander’s bidding.
The term “community organizer,” like so many leftist terms, is a typical bit of Orwellian doublespeak:
The first step in community organization is community disorganization. … The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community. … He must search out the controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. (pp. 116-117)
In the beginning, the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems:
People hunger for drama and adventure, for a breath of life in a dreary, drab existence. … It is a desperate search for personal identity — to let other people know that at least you are alive. … When the organizer approaches [someone living in a tenement] part of what begins to be communicated is that through the organization and its power he will get his birth certificate for life, that he will become known, that things will change … Television cameramen put their microphones in front of him and ask, “What is your name, sir?” … Nobody ever asked him his name before. (p. 121)
Moving from Alinsky theory (chapters two and three) into practical application (chapters four through seven) is a bit like sliding down a rabbit hole. There is that sense of a world disconnected from what has gone before. Yes, history repeats itself. Yes, there was FDR with his massive government programs and LBJ with his War on Poverty. But never have we had at the helm an organizer-in-chief who’s lived, breathed, and dreamed the Alinsky Way.