Midwestern Conservative Thought for the 21st Century

Monthly Book Recommendation: May 2019

Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, by Saul Alinsky

One look at this month’s title and regular conservative readers of Pax Americana Institute might already be reaching for their pitchforks and torches! Before you do, let us explain. This month, the Pax Americana Institute picked a book that isn’t conservative at all because it exemplifies the ideological thought of the modern-day political left. That doesn’t mean we expect you to agree with what it says, but it’s still important to understand the thinking and tactics of one’s adversary. So keep those pitchforks sharp, but read along as we analyze Rules for Radicals for Pax Americana Institute’s conservative book library.

Cover art for Saul Alinsky's Rules for RadicalsRules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals was written in 1971 by left-wing political activist Saul Alinsky. The book is essentially a radical ideologue’s handbook, guiding the likes of communists and socialists to obtain political power. In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky engulfs the reader with a swarm of leftist thought and recommends rules by which leftist political organizers should seek to obtain power in society.

Two key aspects of Alinsky’s 13 rules jump out to a conservative reader: first, the underlying logic depends on shameless fear-mongering. Second, its ideological approach abuses the overall weaknesses of the lower class. Exploiting and misguiding the lower classes are tactics much-favored in communist and socialist revolutions, and Alinsky’s rules reinforce that habit. The rules go as follow:

  1. “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
  2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
  3. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
  4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
  5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
  6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
  7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
  8. “Keep the pressure on.”
  9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
  10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
  11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its countryside.”
  12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
  13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Through these rules, radicals have found ways to take power as Alinsky recommended – helped by the exploitation of the lower classes and youth’s lack of knowledge. This exploitative and misleading tactic is one the Democratic party and left-wing ideologues have used for decades. It’s evidenced in ideas of free healthcare and free college education coming into vogue. These ploys fool college students and minorities to vote for so-called liberal candidates.

Although the book was written in 1971, it’s gone on to influence rioting and basic disorder in political protests all the way into the year 2019 – and made a lasting impact on some of the highest-ranking political figures in contemporary left-wing politics. For example, Hillary Clinton wrote her college dissertation on Alinsky’s organization model – a model that urges radical activists to use violence in targeted protesting. In Clinton’s own words in her dissertation, “Alinsky’s conclusion that the ‘ventilation’ of hostilities is healthy in certain situations is valid.” In other words, not only was Hillary Clinton heavily influenced by the tactics of Alinsky, but she was perfectly comfortable with many of his radical ideas about violence and targeted attacks.

Former President Barack Obama was also influenced by Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. While teaching a course at the University of Chicago, Barack Obama taught his students the tactics of Alinsky and how to properly organize protest movements, particularly radical ones. President Obama has been known to use many of the rules from Rules for Radicals, particularly rule 13, pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

One of President Obama’s most obvious political moves mimicked many on the left: target the rich population by stating they barely pay any taxes, especially compared to the middle class. Liberals argue the rich need to pay more in taxes in order to properly fund single-payer healthcare, free college education, and a standard living wage. A textbook use of Rule 13, the modern political left has targeted the rich, leading to an anti-capitalist movement in lower-class America. The left’s followers think if they continue to fight against capitalism, they will be rewarded with free college, free healthcare, and similar services. As seen in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and any other communist country, this is far from reality.

Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals proves the malicious intent of the left to make radical ideologies popular in American society. The left’s intent and end goals to make socialism mainstream go against the grain of American history. The tactics used by Alinsky and his followers needed to be called out for what they are: an abuse of minorities, youth and the poor in American society. In order to prevent the takeover of America by the radical left, people need to be educated on their true intent. Rules for Radicals, despite being a tool used by the left to gain power, should be studied by conservatives in America in order to prevent a radical takeover. Alinsky’s work is inherently anti-republican, anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, anti-religious, and anti-moral. It is the perfect touchstone of what conservatives must oppose.

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