- File Size: 3202 KB
- Print Length: 226 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (June 22, 2010)
- Publication Date: June 30, 2010
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003T0G9GM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
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Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Thanks Saul - it was a great read. After I finished I put it on the shelf next to my copy of A. H's. little tome, Mien Kamph. I didn't agree with the author of that one either. I guess both were coming from the thier point of view. At least I got some insight into what makes these people tick. Ms. Hillary is a big fan and student of Rules for Radicals - that says a lot coming and going doesn't it. Please don't HATE me, I 'm so politically incorrect
Kudos for the courage to publish it as a warning.
Despite being called a communist, he appeared to be anti-communist, although I am only basing that on his own book. I am not interested enough to read about his life further than what was included here. If alive today, he would be marching with Black Lives Matter and supporting Bernie Sanders, although his tactics would probably fit Hillary Clinton better, as he seems very pragmatic, if very willing to upset the Haves.
There is nothing in Alinsky's book that is unique or particularly unusual. He makes lists of easy to think of political tactics, based on a cynical view of man (accurate) and sadly absent among his rules is anything approaching the golden rule. In fact, I am sure he would make a rhetorical argument showing that it is misunderstood and actually fits in with his other rules.
He's a breezy writer and you can read the whole book in not too long. Most of the examples are, of course, dated. But, you don't really need them because as he points out himself, it is the principles that matter and they must be fit into the particulars of any new situation. If you want the shortcut, read the sections entitled Of Means and Ends (p. 24 et seq.) and Tactics (p. 125 et seq.) where he states his actual rules.
Saul Alinsky discovered and perfected these rules over decades of taking up unpopular causes, a career that began in the stockyards of Chicago in the `30s and continued through the Civil Rights Era of the `50s and `60s. He comes across in this book as fearless, relentless, and funny. He appears to take his causes seriously but not himself, a refreshing point of view, and one that surprised me as a consdrvative reader. He'd be a good man to have on your side, whatever your politics.
Then we get to the other 12 rules. These are a sustained attack on the proposition that the Ends do not justify the Means, an ancient moral warning that when we do evil in order to produce some good--lying to protect a friend, for example--we destroy the good. "It's not the crime, it's the coverup" is something we see often, isn't it? When it comes to social justice, however, Alinsky will have none of it. Evil is being done, he argues, and fine moral distinctions be damned, we need to set things right.
And it's with this second list that the book's moral center dissolves. By going down the path of "by any means necessary," a good end may be achieved but the souls of those who have attained it are permanently damaged. When we look around after the battle, we see ourselves, and we don't much like what we've become.
Now, in any moral dilemma, hard decisions are sometimes necessary. It can be very hard to know the good path in real time, when events are raining down. But to abdicate the "good" at the beginning, to accept moral relativism as an operating principle, is a serious mistake. We see examples of where such decisions lead in the "unintended consequences" of many misguided public policies. Anyone who follows the news can supply plenty of depressing examples.
So, back to the book itself. My advice: read and take to heart the 13 practical rules. Skip the others; you don't need them. Go with Alinsky the master of political theater, not Alinsky the moralist.
The truly interesting thing is to read this book more than 40 years after its publication. Little has changed, even after the tactics and rules played by the have-bots. For, as is historically true, when they gain power and wealth, and become the haves, they also become the problem.
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