Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Infernal World of Saul Alinsky: Reveille for Radicals

Reveille for Radicals
Saul Alinsky
Vintage

In “The Nihilism of Saul Alinsky,” I discuss the coercive and violent methods that Soul Alinsky has described in his book Rules for Radicals for bringing capitalist society to a standstill.

Alinsky was a nihilist, and nihilism, being a rejection of philosophy, precludes the development of any political ideas. That is why we don’t find any philosophy, any political ideas in Rules for Radicals; the sole purpose of the book is to describe the methods for destroying the system.

But the question remains: Why does Alinsky reject philosophy and political ideas? The answer to this and related questions can be found in Reveille for Radicals, his first book, which was published in 1946, twenty-five years before Rules for Radicals.

In Reveille for Radicals, Alinsky does not make any attempt to prove, logically and through evidence, that his ideas will lead to the development of a better world for the people. He arrogantly asserts that when the goal is to destroy capitalism it is justified to use any means.

He sermonizes like a messiah who is exhorting his followers to struggle for the achievement of some goal, without questioning if that goal is worth achieving. In his flowery language you can detect the illogical zeal of a messiah who is propagating a religion. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter, “The Crisis:”
“The chance to work with the people means the opportunity for the fulfillment of the vision of man. It is the opportunity of a life for mankind of peace, happiness, security, dignity, and purpose. An opportunity to create a world where life will be so precious, worthwhile and meaningful that men will not kill other men, will not exploit other men, either economically, politically, or socially; where values will be social and not selfish; where man will not be judged as Christian or non-Christian, as black, yellow, or white, as materially rich or poor, but will be judged as a man. A world in which man’s practices will catch up with his ethical teachings and where he will live the full consistent life of practicing what he preaches. A world where man is actually treated and regarded as being created in God’s own image, where “all men are created equal.” That is the opportunity. Dare we fail?”
Only a madman or a fanatic will think of developing a political movement for creating a world where man is regarded as being created in God’s own image. Alinsky was not religious—in the book he has criticized the conservatives for their religious beliefs. When he talks about creating man in “God’s own image,” it is not the God of religion that he is referring to. Perhaps the local thug or radical can be the role model for Alinsky’s God!

Alinsky hates the concepts of individualism and liberty—the political ideas that he describes in Reveille for Radicals are a heady cocktail of socialism, mysticism and anarchism. He believes in the central Marxist tenet of common ownership of property. In the chapter, “Where is the Radical Today?” he writes:
“Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization.They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of just a comparative hand­ful. They feel that this minority control of production facilities is injurious to the large masses of people not only because of eco­nomic monopolies but because the political power inherent in this form of centralized economy does not augur for an ever expanding democratic way of life. Radicals want to see the established polit­ical rights or political freedom of the common man augmented by economic freedom.” 
However, unlike the Marxists, Alinsky does not aspire to build any kind of utopia through a swift and brutal revolution; nor does he advocate a complete government takeover of the economy. His is a long-term project spanning several decades for slowly strangulating laissez-faire capitalism by organizing a series of agitations at the local level in the name emotive issues like social equality, racial harmony, multiculturalism, free healthcare and education, and basic income for all.

He is advocating anarchism of the worst kind when he proposes a greater role in the society for the people’s organizations which will be controlled by his radicals. He suggests that the people’s organizations should have the power to decide who gets to benefit from the taxpayer funded welfare schemes. He also proposes that the people’s organizations should have the muscle to extort financial and political privileges from the citizens, businesses and even the government. But what are the people’s organizations?

In the chapter, “Conflict Tactics,” he explains:
“A People’s Organization is not a philanthropic plaything nor a social service’s ameliorative gesture. It is a deep, hard-driving force, striking and cutting at the very roots of all the evils which beset the people. It recognizes the existence of the vicious circle in which most human beings are caught and strives viciously to break this circle. It thinks and acts in terms of social surgery and not cosmetic cover-ups. This is one of the reasons why a Peo­ple’s Organization will find that it has to fight its way every foot of the road towards its destination—a people’s world.”
It is noteworthy that Alinsky does not care to clarify what he means by a people’s world? Is he vying for a dictatorship of his chosen people? Does he want a totalitarian socialist state! A chaotic and violent anarchy! While he does not provide any clue to what he means by a people’s world, he makes it clear that his ultimate goal is to stop all development activity.
He abhors the modern industries, claiming that the industrial civilization has led to “the rise of forces of so menac­ing a character that today they threaten the very foundations upon which rest the hopes of those committed to the democratic way of life. These destructive forces are unemployment, deteriora­tion, disease, and crime. From the havoc wrought by these forces issue distrust, bigotry, disorganization, and demoralisation.
Seriously, he blames capitalism for, above all things, deterioration and disease. He blames capitalism for such things even though it has led to a massive rise in human life expectancy!

Reveille for Radicals, in its 256-pages of soaring assertions, offers a glimpse into the infernal world of Saul Alinsky where there is absolute hatred for capitalism. He arrogantly attributes to himself and his radicals the mandate for fixing all the wrongs that he thinks capitalism has done to the world. The book is full of mistakes, contradictions and madness, but it also has many ideas for motivating the modern nihilistic left to band together for attacking laissez-faire capitalism.

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