RULES for RADICALS by SAUL ALINSKY – TACTICS

Continuing with the chapter by chapter series on Rules for Radicals, today we add Comments about the chapter called Tactics.

Synopsis of the chapter entitled Tactics
The tag line following the heading of this chapter is a quote from the great warrior Hannibal,

“We will find a way, or make one.”

The reason for having a defined set of tactics is to provide a specific set of rules that teach “how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves”, i.e. how to organize the lower classes in order to take power away from the middle and upper classes.  The message from Hannibal is not to constrain yourself to working within societal norms.  You need to be able and willing to do whatever it takes to do to get the job done.

These are the thirteen rules of Tactics that need to be observed in the process of wresting power from the establishment.  Each tactic is presented here word for word as it appears in the book.

1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

2. Never go outside the experience of your people.

3. Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.

4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

5. Ridicule is man’s most important weapon.

6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

8. Keep the pressure on.

9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure on the opposition.

11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.

12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

The final rule is by far the most important.  The author devotes more pages to an understanding of this rule than to all of the first twelve rules combined.  This, of course, is the tactic of personal destruction.  Ridicule and personal destruction are two of the most effective tools known for deflating an enemy’s power and they must be utilized to the fullest extent possible.

Commentary
By opening with the Hannibal quote, the professor shows his determination to replace traditional Judeo-Christian standards of ethical behavior with a more convenient concept of right and wrong in the minds of his students.  If the use of demagoguery, lying and deceit facilitate the creation of a better world then these methods are more than just acceptable practice, it is the moral duty of a leader to employ them.  Judeo-Christian principles have no place in Alinsky’s model of political activism.

The key tactics on the list are numbers 13, 5 and 4, in that order.

Number 13 should be familiar to everyone; it’s the tactic of personal destruction.  It starts with “Pick the target”; the natural choice is the adversary who represents the greatest current threat, take Sarah Palin as an example.  “Freeze it”, be relentless, keep the target always on the defensive.  Stop them from moving forward by a constant need for responding to your attacks.  The DNC sent a SWAT team of 30 high powered lawyers and Democratic operatives accompanied by members of the liberal MSM to Alaska at the height of her popularity.  “Personalize it”, spread a story like the rumor that Palin’s daughter got pregnant while still in high school and her mother lied to cover up for her by claiming the baby was her own.  “Polarize it”, surround the targeted person with controversy to maintain the public interest and keep the issue alive.

The practice of personal destruction is deplorable and in many cases vicious.  Unfortunately it is also effective.  Only you can change that.  The more the public recognizes demonizing for what it is and responds inversely to it (backlash), the less effective it will become.

Tactic number 5 is ridicule.  Whereas the Democratic Party is the party of personal destruction, it’s the Republican Party that excels at ridicule.  Vice President Joe Biden is the current example.  Ridicule is very effective because it is nearly impossible to counter attack and it infuriates the person ridiculed, often prompting a reaction that works to the ridiculer’s advantage.

Tactic number 4 is hypocrisy.  No one lives up to their own beliefs every hour of every day of every year.  When an opponent slips, call them on it.  It works better against the Right than it does against the Left.  As we have learned from the book, the far Left has lower standards and is less likely to condemn one of their own for violating them.  Herman Cain was quickly destroyed by unproven allegations of improper sexual advances.  Bill Clinton’s illicit sexual activity went far beyond improper advances yet his popularity within his Party, even among the women, suffered only minor decline.

One more tactic deserves mention and that’s number 12.  How can there be a price for a successful attack?  The book explains “You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy [Alinsky commonly refers to those with opposing views as the enemy] in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying ‘You’re right-We don’t know what to do about this.  Now you tell us’”.

Radical Left leaders know issues are not for solving while the ‘enemy’ is still in control.  Issues are tools for building discontent with the status quo, a necessary step in the process of deposing those in control.  To solve an issue is to waste it.

If only two things are learned from studying this chapter they should be, (1) the realization that, in politics, ridicule and personal attacks are not spontaneous reactions; they carefully planned and organized tactics chosen as part of an overall strategy, (2) there are no standards of truth or relevance standing behind them.

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