RULES for RADICALS by SAUL ALINSKY – PURPOSE

Continuing with the chapter by chapter series on Rules for Radicals, today we add our Comments about the chapter called Purpose.  It’s the first chapter in the book immediately following the Prologue.

Synopsis of the chapter entitled Purpose
The first chapter is called Purpose.  It carries as a tagline this quote from the bible:

“The life of man upon earth is a warfare… Job 7:1”

There is a good reason to be optimistic although accomplishment of the goal is hopeless. If it’s hopeless, why do it?  It’s like a climber ascending a mountain whose summit is infinity and can never be reached. When asked why strive for the impossible, Mt. Everest climber Mallory said “Because it is there”.

This seems senseless until you read the very last line of the chapter –  “Happiness lies in the pursuit”. Fighting for the Revolution is the only thing that gives purpose to life.

In the second part of Purpose we learn that everyone falls into one of three groups, called the trinity of classes. The classes are defined as 1)the Haves, 2) the Have-Nots, and 3) the Have-Some-Want-Mores. As you might expect by now, all people in all the groups are miserable according to Saul Alinsky

The Haves
The Haves  “suffocate in their surplus” and cannot sleep because they “are living under the nightmare of possible threats to their possessions”.

The Have-Nots
The Have-Nots “are chained together by the common misery of poverty, rotten housing, disease, ignorance, political impotence and despair”.

The Have-Some-Want-Mores
The Have-Some-Want-Mores are psychologically disturbed “torn between [protecting] what they have, yet wanting change to get more”. They are “social and economic schizoids”. This group is Alinsky’s vision of the middle class

Commentary
Out of 15 versions of the Bible only one translates Job7:1 as Alinsky presents it and that is the Douay-Rheims Bible.  The more popular King James Bible translates the same verse as “Is there not an appointed time to man on earth?”  The New Living Version best typifies the other translations with “Is not all human life a struggle?”  In the D-R version from which Professor Alinsky draws his quote the warfare is metaphorical.  The unfortunate plague of sickness and other ill fated turns of events that life has thrust upon Job are expressed as a war of circumstances against the beleaguered man.  The warfare is not a purpose as Alinsky implies, it is an affliction.

The professor revels in the fight.  Like a platoon leader in a mercenary army, Alinsky is there for the fight and cares little for the cause. This is not a new phenomenon for activists of Left.  I recall a ”Free Mumia Jamal” demonstration where a reporter interviewed one of the protesters who had come with a group of students all the way from Berkeley, California to Philadelphia to participate.  The young woman had no idea what Mumia had done or why he was in jail.  She had not come to free Mumia, she had come to demonstrate.

Nor is successful transformation of government a heartfelt goal of the professor.  Success would end the fight and the fight is his purpose.

What is one to think of a man who divides all the world into a trinity of groups and asserts that all members of all three groups are miserable?  No allowance is made for any living person to be content.  Alinsky was a genius, make no mistake about that, but genius is not common sense.  Like a true idiot savant, his genius was very narrow.  It also was aided by a faulty moral compass as we shall see in the next chapter called Of Means and Ends.

The compulsion of the Left to divide people into classes is in evidence here.  Whereas the Right tends to see circumstances of people who are given equal opportunity, largely as a product of themselves, the Left does not believe equal opportunity exists.  No thought is given to the mobility of individuals from one economic class to the next.  The system is the problem and it’s the system that must be changed.  The radical’s solution is to bring up groups perceived as victims by bringing down other groups perceived to be oppressors.

I am inclined to say envy is in evidence also, but I am not so sure.  Certainly envy is a major factor with the professor’s followers but Alinsky himself seems content in his role.  If his acolytes won their kingdom, he would feel out of place in it.

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