Saul Alinsky Lives!!!

One of the best parts of “Trumpism” is how it effectively incorporates the influence of Saul D Alinsky’s 1971 book “Rules For Radicals”.

The Rules
A self proclaimed Communist/Marxist, Alinsky’s seminal book was a guide on how to mobilize people to your cause through tactics like:
1. Identify an external antagonist to turn into a “common enemy”;
2. Bring the community together in opposition to that enemy.
3. Define that community based on its commitment to defeat that enemy.

There was nothing really new or insightful in “Rules For Radicals”. Alinsky was just popularizing well understood methods for mobilizing people by taking insights from scholarly works (such as Erich Fromm’s “Escape From Freedom”) and putting them in a simple “how to” guide.

Because of this approach, “Rules For Radicals” was rightly criticized for a number of reasons:
– it treated communities as “muddled sheep” waiting to be organized;
– it promoted authoritarian like control over those being organized.
– it promoted an overly simplistic focus on the perception of power.
– It didn’t embrace your views and opinions. It just required you to embrace those dictated to you.

Know the Amygdala
It is these criticisms, however, that can help explain why “Rules For Radicals” provided the strategies for political movements on the right (Moral Majority, pro life, anti immigration hate, .. ) and media opportunists (Roger Ailes, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, .. )

And it is very easy to see how it has become the foundation of Trumpism.

As a fun exercise, take an article or a segment of a radio or TV program and apply the Rules for Radicals to see how they apply. Watch out for these characteristics:

Karl Rove – a big fan of “Rules For Radicals”.
– They are all wrong and evil with a malevolent agenda. I am going to expose the facts.
– The media is distorting things, I am setting things straight;
– What some might call splitting hairs are actually huge differences, if I say they are.
– Context is nothing unless I say otherwise;
– Even an idiot would understand my point;
– I’m going to use elaborate, misappropriated terms to give me an air of authority;
– The worst possibility is the only truth.

“Socialism” – Socialism is bad. This is because I am telling you it is bad. When you think of “socialism”, think of Venezuela (aka, authoritarianism) or the Soviet Union (aka, totalitarianism).

“Gun control” – Gun control is bad. It will deny you your freedom. If you care about freedom, you will join us in fighting gun control.

“Pro Life” – Abortion is bad. If you support any abortion, you support all abortions. If you care about “life”, you will oppose all abortions.

Now find an article in a right wing rag, or listen to Ted Cruz or Lindsay Graham, or watch Fox and Friends, and apply these rules yourself. Have fun!!!