RULES for RADICALS by SAUL ALINSKY – A WORD ABOUT WORDS

Continuing with the chapter by chapter series on Rules for Radicals, today we add Comments about the chapter called A word About Words.

Synopsis of the chapter entitled A Word About Words
Power
Words that are soft-sounding and peaceful are soporific and ineffective. Such words are inappropriate for our purposes because “In the politics of life we are concerned with the slaves and the Caesars, not the vestal virgins”. The word “power” is often maligned but fear not to use it. “To know power and not fear it is essential to its constructive use and control. In short, life without power is death; a world without power would be a ghostly wasteland, a dead planet!”.

Self Interest
“The myth of altruism as a motivating factor in our behavior could arrive and survive only in a society bundled in the sterile gauze of New England puritanism and Protestant morality …. It is one of the classic American fairy tales”.

Compromise
“To the organizer, compromise is a key and beautiful word…. If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead.”

Ego
Ego is self confidence. The community organizer’s “ego must be so all-pervading that the personality of the organizer is contagious, that it converts the people from despair to defiance, creating a mass ego”.

Conflict
The word “conflict” is much maligned in the media and by Madison Avenue [the advertising industry]. However, “Conflict is the central core of a free and open society”.

Commentary
A Word About Words, the title is intriguing but the content is very disappointing. Judging by the title one would expect to read about some clever and devious ways in which various words could be employed by a community organizer to further the activist’s agenda.  However, the chapter is little more than a revelation of the depth of the sullen author’s cynicism and obsession with power.

Thankfully the chapter is a short one.

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