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This article was written on 10 Jan 2003, and is filed under Miscellania.

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9 Tired and Wrong Received Ideas

Saul Alinsky: Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

The rather hermetic Wealth Bondage salutes relentless and tireless agitator Saul Alinsky. It’s always hard to take Alinsky’s writing at face value since his entire life strategy revolved around manipulating people into doing what he thought was in their best interest.

If you ask me, he was often fairly on the mark, but he was not one to waste time ingenuously explaining his agenda, unless it was going to further it. In Rules for Radicals, he seems much more interested in presenting his strategies for leading and guiding undirected masses of people than he is in explaining what particular direction he’s taking, or why. His tactics look great if, unlike me, you have an a priori political orientation, but in rejecting the concept of independent thought, he always depressed me.

Since he was determined to work with people’s existing preconceptions and value systems, which hardly cause them to act in their own best interests, the best that can be managed if two people deploy Alinsky’s tactics is a stalemate, or an arbitrary victory. And so the most recent huge of radicals remaining within people’s own experience is described in Josh Green’s “The Other War Room, as skillful a deployment of Alinsky’s tactics as any.

[PS: I think I've changed my mind.]

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