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20 Good Rules... but title promises too much
on October 7, 2014
On second thought, I gave it a third star...
Rules for Radicals Defeated: A practical Guide for Defeating Obama/Alinsky Tactics
I bought this book with a sense of anticipation. It covered a subject in which I was highly interested and its tile offered some guidelines to defeat the multiple lies, the hypocrisy and the power-grabbing nature of the current [©bama] clique (Hillary, Kerry, etc.) So I eagerly set about the task of reading it.
In a sense, I was disappointed.
I can’t say the book was... bad. It was just disappointing.
The first section of the book covers what I will call “communist morality”. Now – before you get all bent out of shape – I know that Alinsky and ©bama and the rest don’t call themselves communists. That way they can deny being communists. But if it looks like a dog... has ears like a dog... has a tail like a dog... barks like a dog... chases cats like a dog... lives in a dog house...and eats dog food... then you can be pretty sure that it IS a dog... even if it claims to be a... mouse. So the book explains “liberal” aka “leftist” aka “progressive” (all words used in English to substitute for “communist”) morality.
And although the author goes into various tenets of “communist morality” (or whatever euphemism you prefer), it can be summarized in an old and somewhat overused phrase: “the end justifies the means”. He takes some time getting there, and makes some mistakes in the process (for example, using “crony capitalism” to refer to what should more correctly and appropriately be called “fascistic socialism”), but he gets there, although it takes him some time to do so. The message for this section isn’t bad. It just takes a l o o o o n g time to get it across... and – in my opinion – not in the most effective way.
The next section of the book presents Alinsky’s rules and briefly describes them. Not bad. It’s a good summary. Some might refer to it as a “Cliff note” of the book. This is a good section. If you haven’t read Alinsky’s book, this section will be a good overview. If you have, it’s a good summary. All in all, the author gets good grades here.
The next part of the book theoretically covers the title’s promise. I say “theoretically” because – again, in my opinion – it makes an attempt... but doesn’t quite get there. Let’s first look at what it does offer. In this section of the book, the author presents 20 “rules” to “defeat” the “Rules for Radicals”. I would probably change that description. I would call them “20 Rules to Defend Yourself, as a debater, against an opponent using Alinsky tactics in a debate”. For “debate” we might also substitute “public discourse” or “media wars” or the like. I think you get the meaning.
Look at the difference in the implication in the title (“...A practical Guide for Defeating Obama/Alynsky Tactics) vs. the implication in my suggested title (“...to Defend Yourself, as a debater, against an opponent using Alinsky tactics...). The difference in implied scope should be obvious. Let’s explain why...
Alinsky wrote what could be called an “Operational Principles” book. If we look at the levels of planning for levels of operations, you have Strategic (which is the broad brush, overall planning level) and you have tactics (which is the individual action or small group level of action). In between strategy and tactics, we have operational level planning. And what operational level planning seeks to do is to coordinate and synchronize the individual tactical actions so that success in each individual tactical action contributes to the overall strategic objective and to overall strategic success. So what Alinsky did was focus on this “in-between” operational level and elaborate principles for designing actions and coordinating actions in order to achieve maximum effectiveness and contribution to the overall strategic objective, which can be summarized as “bringing down the existing system”.
Now the author – as a “debater” of sorts (and presumably a good one) – sees Alinsky’s book from HIS perspective. And as such, he responds to the book in a way that makes sense to HIM. By the same token, this response will also make sense to anyone who expects to be exposed in the public marketplace of ideas and who may be the subject of Alinsky attacks. So, by all means, anyone in that position (or potentially in that position), feel free to avail yourselves of the 20 rules in the book. They are good rules and they should be followed by successful debaters who may be subject to “Alinsky-based attacks”. However, those rules should NOT be considered as “Alinsky Rules defeaters”... because they are not. The 20 rules operate at a completely different level than the Alinsky rules.
Think of the Alinsky rules as guidelines in designing operations against your ideological opponents, be they individual or institutional or governmental. Think of the 20 rules presented by the author as guidelines for “self-defense” if you are a debater that is attacked by an Alinsky practitioner who is doing so as part of an overall operation that goes beyond the scope of you as a target. So the author is actually presenting a set of rules that can be applied at the tactical level, as rules that – according to him – can be used to “defeat” an operational level initiative.
That is a mistake.
Now, I don’t “blame” the author for making the mistake of confusing the operational level with the tactical level. This is a very common mistake, especially for people who have not been exposed to strategic vs. operational vs. tactical planning. But it does bring up the fact that these 20 rules won’t really achieve what the book claims: the “defeat” of the Alinsky rules.
In any case, you don’t want to “defeat” the rules (another mistaken presumption by the author). What you want to defeat are the operations that are designed and implemented using these rules. And to discuss THAT, we would probably need another book – and we have neither the time or space to do this here and now. Suffice it to say that the 20 “rules” are a good set of rules to follow if you plan to publicly debate against people who have been Alinsky trained or Alinsky inspired. But that’s as far as they go. Don’t expect any more than that. I did, and that is why I was disappointed. But my disappointment takes nothing away from the value of the rules to a debater or someone who will be publicly (or privately) defending against Alinsky inspired tactics.
The final section of the book, titled “The Road Ahead” mentions “Other Alinsky Tactics”. Therein, he discusses (1) class warfare, (2) infiltration, (3) plants, (4) the encouragement of misconceptions and (5) speaking in generalities. Although one can nit-pick whether these can all be called “tactics”, the descriptions accompanying them are worth reading and contribute to an overall understanding of the Alinsky approach to conflict. They also demonstrate the “ends justify means” approach to political action that Alinsky espouses.
The author completes his book making some predictions regarding the 2012 elections that at this point are beyond the scope of my comments.
So that’s it... the extent of my comments. I gave the book two stars because I expected more from it... but perhaps what I expected was not the author’s to give. As far as it goes, it’s a good book... probably worthy of four stars. But I will leave that rating for someone who approaches the book with lower expectations.
Would I recommend the book? Yes... to someone who wants to get a grasp of what Alinsky is all about. I would also recommend it to someone who’s going to be “out in the field”, exposing him/herself as a potential target for the leftist packs that roam our streets. It offers a good set of self-defense rules that you should not be without. And finally, I recommend it to the legions of clueless fellow citizens out there who never imagined that the terms “leftist”, “liberal” and “progressive” mean nothing other than “communist”... even though these hypocrites will constantly deny it. But then, what can you expect from the lowest, worthless examples of the human species?