Of Rebels and Radicals


Comment: I wrote this piece in 2010 and was organized rather quickly summarizing the Rules for Radicals in comparison to the American Rebels. Alinsky interestingly cited the forefathers quite often and compared his efforts to those of the founding brothers. As you read Alinsky's rules think about the Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun and Sun Tzu: The Art of War. I believe there are some parallels. Also do not forget that the likes of Margaret Sangar, John Dewey, Roger Baldwin, Earl Warren, Gloria Steinem, Ralph Nader, Tom Hayden, Jesse Jackson, Billie Jean King, Bill Moyers, Bill Ayers, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Michael Moore are all progressives. Some were connected in some way with Saul Alinsky's work. It's scary to think these people have little interest in a Constitutional America.


I am attaching to this blog post some additional documents for your review. Hillary Clinton's College Paper on Alinsky Alinsky's Book: Rules for Radicals


Of Rebels and Radicals BY

JT Bogden


The American forefathers are often depicted as rebels due to their defiance of tyranny. They were open about their calling and cause. Rebels find themselves rooted in principles that they aspire towards and the American Forefathers aspired toward Judeo-Christian principles. Others see those principles as just and rally to the cause. In the case of the American forefathers, they wrote a Declaration of Independence stating their grievances and principles as guide posts for the rebellion:


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation (Jefferson, 1776).


Subversive actors are most often depicted as radicals who are extremist ideologues favoring fundamental and drastic changes in political, economic, institutions, habits of the mind, and social conditions within society. The etymological meaning of radical is a medieval philosophical sensibility from the Latin word radicalis meaning "of or having roots”. Radicals are the political sense of “reformists" via a notion of drastic “change from the roots” or to fundamentally change away from the status quo. Radicals are considered subversives as they operate within a functioning society to undermine core values, principles, ethics, and virtues in order to replace them incrementally with their ideology. Radicals rarely have a large following and remain a negligible portion of society but derive their influence from controversy and disruptive conduct.


Figure 1: Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky, Figure 1, was a radical who sought to fundamentally change the United States and is thought of as the father of modern community organizing, the modus operandi for socialistic and communistic reforms. Community organization is different than the democratic processes of community leadership. Community organizers seek to create hostile circumstances from which they derive direct influence and power over the decision-making bodies of governments, institutions, and corporations. The hostile means include but are not limited to picketing, boycotts, sit-ins, petitions, and influencing electoral politics. These activities are not the end but instead a vehicle to a little-known or hidden agenda. Community organizers are generally of three types; faith-based, coalition building, and grassroots. The Faith-based and grassroots efforts are built on the works of Saul Alinsky who was active from the 1930s to 1972 before dying of a heart attack.


Alinsky was born in 1909 to Jewish Russian immigrant parents in Chicago, Illinois. During Alinsky’s formative years the United States was in the midst of the Progressive Movement which was circa 1890 to about the late 1920s. Progressives were throughout the political spectrum; Democrats and Republicans. As the Progressive movement ended, Alinsky began his activist life which concluded with the release of the book, Rules for Radicals, in 1971.

Figure 2: Rules for Radicals

Alinsky opens the book's, Figure 2, first chapter with an errant quote from the Bible, Job 7:1, citing “The life of man upon earth is a warfare…”; (Alinsky, 1971, p. 4.). The correct citation follows; “Is there not a time of hard service for man on Earth? Are his days also like the days of a hired man?”; Job 7:1 NKJV, GB, NIV. Job likens human life to forced service in the army, the mercenary, or a hired man - a servant or slave. He feels that without meaning or purpose life for him is empty (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999, p. 495.). Attempting to leverage theologies and faith in support of theory-based ideological personal beliefs is not uncommon among those who have inconsequential faith themselves. Although, the errant citation indicates Alinsky’s disposition was that he was at war in which the pivotal cornerstone was ‘change’. Alinsky comments, "WHAT FOLLOWS IS for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be (Alinsky, 1971, p. 4.).“ Alinsky builds a case in which the have-nots are justified in conducting a war against those who have. This has been the call, the mantra, of the socialistic and communistic movement throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.


In the book, "Rules For Radicals", Alinsky assesses the Ends and Means through a relativistic lens of the Post-Modernist that was strongly present during his adult life. The Post-modern movement questioned everything that was considered set in stone in either a deconstructive or a structuralist approach. Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser was a structuralist. Alinsky leans in this direction as well as evidenced by the relativistic, go with the flow Ends and Means rules:

  1. One's concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one's personal interest in the issue (Alinsky, 1971, p. 26.).

  2. Judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment (Alinsky, 1971, p. 26.). In war, the end justifies almost any means (Alinsky, 1971, p. 29.).