Friday, February 5, 2010

The first radical?

I've known of Saul Alinsky since the early seventies when "Alinsky tactics" were used by a group trying to take control of our teachers' union. Many of them also considered themselves Marxists, although I doubt many of them would have been survivors if the Revolution they yearned for had actually come. Alinsky wrote a manual for activists, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971), which has received a lot of attention again recently because President Obama is thought to be a disciple of its methods. My objections to many of Alinsky's "rules" were [are] ethical, but I hadn't thought about the book's dedication for a long time:

Incidentally the employers of Alinsky tactics failed in our case, frustrated by an alliance of moderates, liberals, and a few conservatives [there were only a few conservatives among Madison teachers then - there are fewer now].

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