Conservatives think of war as a metaphor when applied to politics. For radicals the war is real. That is why partisans of the left set out to destroy their opponents, not just refute their arguments. It is also why they never speak the truth. Deception for them is a military tactic in a war that is designed to eliminate their opponents.
Alinsky's Rules for Radicals is first of all a broadside against the New Left. What Alinsky attacks about the New Left is its honesty -- something I've always regarded as its only redeeming feature. While American Communists -- the Old Left -- pretended to be Jeffersonian Democrats and "progressives" and formed "popular fronts" with liberals to "defend democracy," we in the New Left disdained their deception and regarded it as weakness. To distinguish ourselves from these Old Leftists, we said we were revolutionaries and proud of it.
"Up against the wall motherfucker" was a typical New Left slogan, telegraphing exactly how we felt about people who opposed us. The most basic principle of Alinsky's advice to radicals is, lie to your opponents and potential opponents and disarm them by pretending to be moderates, liberals. This has been the most potent weapon of the left since the end of the Sixties. Racists like Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright posing as civil rights activists, radicals like Henry Waxman and Barney Frank posing as liberals. The mark of their success is how conservatives collude in the deception. Even Fox's Megan Kelly, brilliant in all other things, still refers to the congressional socialists holding out for a total government takeover of the medical system as "liberals.")
Alinsky chides New Leftists for being "rhetorical radicals" rather than "realistic" ones. New Leftists scared people but didn't have the power to back up their threats. Alinsky's manual is designed to teach radicals how to manipulate the public into thinking they're harmless, in order to accumulate enough power to achieve the radical agenda -- to burn the system down and replace it with a socialist gulag.
Make no mistake, this -- a totalitarian future -- is the real objective of Alinsky and his radical disciples who call themselves liberals and bore from within. Alinsky writes of "the "revolutionary force" of the 1960s, that its activists were "one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians yet they also urge violence and cry 'Burn the system down.!' They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world. It is to this point that I have written this book." Radicals who call for burning down America's democracy "have no illusions about the system"! They just don't know how to go about doing it.
Alinsky's book could be called Machiavellian Rules for Radicals, because it is all about deception, about keeping others in the dark about your intentions until it is too late. Alinsky even acknowledges Machiavelli as his model: "What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be." These are the famous lines that Michelle Obama made in her own Democratic Convention speech.
Alinsky continues: "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. [I will have more to say about these Haves in the next blog.] Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."
Alinsky's agenda is the same agenda as that of the radicals who called for "Revolution Now" in the 1960s. He just has a more clever way of doing it. If you want socialized medicine, don't say you want socialized medicine. Say you want "Medicare for all," as though transforming a partial government insurance for the indigent into a total system required for everyone wouldn't transform the program into a pillar of the totalitarian future.
Actually there's nothing new in Alinsky's strategy of appearing moderate in order to disarm your opposition. That was what Stalin's popular front was all about -- communists pretending to be democrats and forming allianaces with liberals in order to acquire enough power to shut the democracy down. And, in fact, it was Lenin's idea too, which is where Alinsky got it in the first place. Lenin is one of Alinsky's heroes -- Castro is another -- and he invokes the master in the course of chiding the rhetorical radicals of the New Left over a famous Sixties slogan, which was itself lifted from Mao. Mao's slogan said political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. Comments Alinsky:
"'Power comes out of the barrel of a gun' is an absurd rallying cry when the other side has all the guns. Lenin was a pragmatist; when he returned from what was then Petrograd from exile, he said that the Bolsheviks stood for getting power through the ballot but would reconsider after they got the guns."
In other words, vote for us now, but when we are the government it will be another story. One man, one vote, one time. This is the political credo of all totalitatarians, including Hitler, who was elected Chancellor and then made himself Fuerher and shut the voting booths down.
Lenin was not a pragmatist (how fatuous): he was a Machievellian monster who was engaged in a total war which justified every means to achieve its goals. Alinsky is marching to the same drummer. What he really means is that Lenin was a realist and understood how to use the power he had, and, when it was not enough to crush his opposition, to make up for its deficiencies with deception. "These rules [for radicals]" Alinsky explains, "make the difference between being a realistic radical and a being a rhetorical one who uses the tired old words and slogans, calls the police 'pig' or 'white fascist racist' or 'motherfucker' and has so stereotyped himself that others react by saying, 'Oh he's one of those' and promptly turn off." Get the power and then you can call them (and do with them) what you want.
"This failure of many of our younger activists to understand the art of communication has been disastrous," writes Alinsky. What he really means is their failure to understand the art of mis-communication. This is the art that teaches radicals who are trying impose a socialist health care system in a country whose people understand that socialism destroys freedom, not to sell it as socialism, but to sell it as a "public option," or as "Medicare for all."
What this adds up to is a call to revolutionaries who want to destroy the system, to first work within the system until you can accumulate enough power to destroy it. In the movement, we used to call this the strategy of "boring from within." Like termites, you eat away at the foundations until the building collapses.
Alinsky's advice is: Don't confront the system as an opposing army; join it and undermine it as a fifth column force: "'That means working within the system." That means that "any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people."
It is first necessary to sell the public on "change," the "audacity of hope," and "yes we can." You do this by proposing moderate changes which open the door to your radical agendas. Says Alinsky:
Not an accident that the new Green Czar appointed by Obama to jump start the anti-pollution revolution, Van Jones, is a self-described communist.
"Remember: once you organize people around something as commonly agreed upon as pollution, then an organized people is on the move. From there it's a short and natural step to political pollution, to Pentagon pollution."