Why they keep Invoking Saul Alinsky

Interesting Crooks & Liars post about why Republicans (like Newt Gingrich at his SC victory speech) keep bringing up Saul Alinsky, who most Republicans haven’t heard of and who’s been dead for 40 years. My wife and I had almost exactly the same conversation that C&L’s Nicole Belle did with her husband.

Oooh…scary! I’ll bet $1,000 that I could take any random tea party nut and they wouldn’t know even that much, much less that Alinsky died 40 years ago. The only thing radical about Alinsky–who made it his life’s work to help those marginalized in ghettos–was the title of his most famous book, Rules for Radicals…..

The only people who find Alinsky’s writings radical are the Haves, because it suggests that the Have Nots have the power to equalize the system a little more. That’s a scary concept for the one percent for which the GOP is entirely dedicated. But unlike former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman in the clip above, I do think this resonates with those Republican voters notorious for voting against their own interests. Because not one of them will bother to get informed on Alinsky. Not one of them will bother to do any critical thinking but simply categorize Alinsky as one of those nefarious bad things from which to be frightened or suspicious of the liberal agenda.

Newt is taking a page out of Glenn Beck’s book, of course, who talks about Alinsky as much as he does Woodrow Wilson. And why not? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both on the record as Alinsky admirers and of course Alinsky’s name has a certain, shall we say, “ethnic” quality about it, not unlike my own. Even more important (and this is just the kind of thing that people on the left need to understand better about a big part of the right in this country) are the acknowledgements that Alinsky wrote for his book RULES FOR RADICALS: “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history… the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

Alinsky, of course, was being figurative, but for millions of Americans (hundreds of thousands of whom believe Barack Obama is the Antichrist), there is nothing “figurative” about the Prince of Darkness. That is what this particular dog whistle is about–the left’s alliance with the Devil. If you don’t believe me, Google “Alinksy” and “Lucifer” and see who comes up.

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19 thoughts on “Why they keep Invoking Saul Alinsky

  1. I’d never heard of him until I watched Newt Gingrich’s victory speech and even then I found it difficult Googling “Solla Linsky”. When I finally found him I expected his Wikipedia page to say that he blew up orphanges for the Weathermen but it actually said almost the complete opposite. For a few seconds I was scratching my head and then I remembered… it was a Newt Gingrich victory speech! Everything fell into place and normal service was resumed.

  2. Until the election of Barack Obama (and reading Cults and Conspiracies) I’d never heard of Saul Alinsky. For years, I’ve made regular visits to bookstores and walked through Politics/Current Events sections to familiarize myself with the books out and I had never before seen a copy of Rules for Radicals.

    A couple of days ago I visited Barnes and Noble and now they have Rules for Radicals in the politics section.

  3. Arthur: I may create a webpage to summarize what I found in Alinsky’s FBI file.

    In August 1967, the Chicago FBI field office recommended that Alinsky be placed on the FBI’s “Rabble Rouser Index”. HQ approved.

  4. I first heard of Saul Alinsky decades ago — my mother was a big fan of his work, so his books were always around the house during my childhood. I grew up thinking of him as a writer on current events, not as an icon of revolutionary fervor. But your remark about the ethnicity of his name makes me realize, being Jewish myself…this must have been said many times before…the real reason the GOP keep mentioning him is to make him their “Emmanuel Goldstein”, isn’t it?

  5. Goldstein, of course, is the “enemy of the people” from Orwell’s 1984. I agree, but at the same time, I don’t think the GOP is particularly anti-Semitic. They just don’t want to lose any anti-Semitic votes. A lot of the GOP is about having your cake and eating it too–being a Populist Plutocrat, an America First Interventionist, a Libertarian Right to Lifer and so many other oxy-moronic positions.

    1. Random tangent: I found this comment once at Stormfront:

      “My questions are: Do you think Emmanuel Goldstein is Big Brother? Was George Orwell satirising Zionism? … It is curious that Orwell would choose such a Jewish name, and make him the centre of attention in 1984. I think that Orwell was trying to teach us something: Big Brother is International Jewry.”

  6. In August 1967 the FBI created its Rabble Rouser Index (later known as Agitator Index).

    It was initially described as an Index designed to capture background information on individuals “who have demonstrated by their actions and speeches that they have a propensity for fomenting racial disorder.” {SAC Letter 67-47).

    A subsequent SAC Letter (67-70) stated:

    “A rabble rouser is defined as a person who tries to arouse people to violent action by appealing to their emotions, prejudices, etc.; a demagogue. You will note that under prior criteria the Rabble Rouser Index served as an index only for individuals of national prominence with particular consideration given to those who travel extensively and was limited to those fomenting racial disorder. It is the intent of this expanded criteria to have within each division as well as nationwide an index of agitators of all types whose activities have a bearing on the national security. This would include, for example, black nationalists, white supremacists, Puerto Rican nationalists, anti-Vietnam demonstration leaders, and other extremists.” …

    The Bureau’s concerns about Alinsky were summarized in 2 memos in 1972, which I quote excerpts from below.

    The first FBI memo pertains to a Jack Anderson column published in The Washington Post on June 24, 1972:

    “Review of Bureau files reveals Alinsky has not been the subject of any surveillance or active security investigation by the FBI. Alinsky was the subject of discreet, preliminary inquiry by Bureau in 1944 due to his being considered as possible juvenile delinquency lecturer for FBI National Academy. He was not recommended for this position as information developed that his wife was associated with a communist group, to wit, the Jackson Park branch of American League For Peace and Democracy. (This group has been designated per Executive Order 10450). Bureau files reveal Saul David Alinsky, white male, born 1/30/09, of Chicago, Illinois was Executive Director of Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), established in 1940, to organize and train indigenous personnel for community organizations. He was also active in activity concerning poverty-type problems in the U.S. In connection with his activities, he associated with communists, communist front groups, and extremists.”

    “Information concerning these latter associations came to the Bureau’s attention through sources providing coverage of the specific subversives or extremists with whom Alinsky had association. Examples of these associations include: his appearance as speaker at Socialist Workers Party (SWP) meeting, Chicago, 2/10/56, (SWP has been designated pursuant to EO 10450); his active support of SWP functionary James Kutcher who was fired in 1959 from Veterans Administration due to subversive membership; his giving main speech at Foster Club meeting of Southeast Section of Communist Party (CP), held at Chicago 3/61; his meeting with black extremist Stokely Carmichael in Chicago 1/67, reportedly to assist Carmichael in organizing in ghetto areas; and his affiliation with poverty-type programs such as the Woodlawn Organization in Chicago, which employed youth-gang leaders who were involved in violence.”

    A second FBI memo dated 7/26/72 states:

    “Alinsky has developed approximately 44 social action organizations in various cities throughout the country and has furnished organizing tools as well as organizers for many communities that have asked for them through his work with the IAF…Alinsky had called for the use of such methods as rent strikes, sit-ins, and pickets to gain his objectives and the results obtained have been the subject of considerable controversy. Alinsky has been referred to as a radical but not as a revolutionist. He reportedly has had a long association with communists in attending affairs sponsored by communist front groups in the Chicago area in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. A Chicago Police Department source advised on 1-10-68 that Alinsky has characterized himself as a ‘professional radical’ and has stated: ‘The only way to upset the power structure in the community is to goad them, confuse them, irritate them and most of all, make them live by their own laws; if you make them live by their own laws, you will destroy them.’ He also referred to himself as an ‘agitator’ who loves to rub raw the sores of discontent’. “

  7. Fascinating, Ernie. By the FBI’s lights back then (and by the lights of Gingrich’s base today), Alinsky was indeed a radical–a self-admitted up-setter of the power structure, a known associate of Communists.

    At the same time, they fantasize that Alinsky and Frances Fox Piven and their like control the real levers of power in this country–just as they fancy that the poor minorities and immigrants they championed control all the wealth.

    As absurd as they are, the politics of resentment can take you pretty far.

    1. The FBI’s memos about Alinsky and his numerous associations with organizations cited as subversive by the Attorney General does raise an interesting question for all of us.

      At what point do we decide that, regardless of the merit of what somebody might be working for in terms of public policy, nevertheless they cannot be trusted to be our ally in the search for social and economic justice because they may have ulterior noxious motives?

      This is particularly evident during our civil rights movement history. Nobody seriously can maintain that Communist Party members were not trying to influence the decisions made our civil rights leaders and organizations. Communists saw our civil rights struggle as a class struuggle which was a precursor to a possible revolution (which they would lead) to overthrow our government.

      If the CPUSA had been successful, then, yes, mainstream black Americans may well have achieved some of the objectives for which their leaders fought — but — and this is a HUGE “but” — people like Newt Gingrich and southern politicians (local, state, and federal) may well have wound up in gulags.

      I have received major portions of a FBI file on Jack Childs (one of our two most important moles inside the CPUSA). That file contains verbatim transcripts of (or informant reports about) many closed, secret meetings of senior CPUSA leadership.

      It is very clear that there were MAJOR arguments within the CPUSA between white and black members — particularly between their African-American leaders such as Claude Lightfoot, Benjamin Davis Jr. and James Jackson and white leaders like Gus Hall. Often, the black CPUSA leaders characterized the white CPUSA leadership as racist in their beliefs and practices.

      The 17th National CPUSA Convention brought some of these internal fissures to a head because the Convention was asked to discard the historic position of the CPUSA which advocated a separate “Negro Soviet Republic” in our southern states and instead replace that position with total integration of black Americans into American society. But the reality within the CPUSA was that it reflected our larger society, i.e. African-Americans were not given a place at the table or their preferences were often ignored by the white leadership of the Party.

      So—when we discuss Alinsky or Martin Luther King Jr. (whom, incidentally, accepted Marxist economic theory) or any other individual who played footsie with CPUSA members or Communist-front organizations we have to ask some uncomfortable questions about the limits of alliances with people or groups whose ultimate purpose diverges from our own commitment to social and economic justice.

  8. One of the really interesting things about the CPUSA and civil rights, especially given the views of the far right back then (that Jewish radicals cooked up the civil rights movement out of whole cloth, unnecessarily riling up an otherwise well-served African American community) is how few inroads they made into the mainstream of the movement. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the far left got the upper hand, and the Black Power movement, for all its Marxist sympathies, wasn’t controlled by Moscow.

    As a descendent of both Communist and anti-Communist leftists, I am exquisitely aware of the tensions that existed back then–and of the danger of romanticizing the CPUSA. At the same time, most communist sympathizers–and even some party members before 1939–rightly considered themselves to be patriots. Life is never black and white.

    1. Arthur: What always amazes me is that we often express moral certitudes when we are dealing with indisputable villains (Hitler, Stalin, etc.) but, somehow, when we confront Americans who associate themselves with the ideas or positions of Hitler or Stalin we think that we have to be quite fastidious in our judgments.

      So, for example, if somebody joined or believed in the CPUSA in the 1930’s or early 1940’s because of their genuine feeling that the American capitalist system had major and unremediable defects and the Communist Party presented a credible alternative — we certainly can overlook their enthusiasm given the prevailing circumstances at that time.

      But what is not asked is: how did those members or sympathizers plan to bring communism into effect in our country — and — what did they plan to do (if they achieved power) with persons characterized by the CPUSA as despicable and evil exploiters of the working class?

      The same questions are often ignored or dismissed by admirers of radical right groups like the Birch Society. I wish I had $1 for every time somebody sent me a message which quoted something from the JBS website about its commitment to “freedom” and “the Constitution” or which parroted the JBS motto “Less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world” — as if THAT was the ONLY relevant evidence to consider. But the unanswered question still remains: what does the Birch Society intend to do with all those Americans whom it has described as “Communist” or “traitors” — keeping in mind that their list BEGINS with Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton??

  9. I was startled the other day when I posted at the SPLC about a neo-Nazi tax preparer in Wisconsin who is looking to get involved in local government. Her group (the National Socialist Movement) seeks to restrict citizenship to whites, demanding “that all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force.” Several commenters couldn’t see what the big deal is. “It’s just politics,” they said. “So long as they don’t hurt anyone.”

    But the point is that they DO want to hurt people. Politics is serious stuff.

    1. Exactly. That is why I fume at people who lamely describe Eustace Mullins as “an historian” or describe Willis Carto as “a populist”. If only people were familiar with the deep hatred that motivated both Mullins and Carto. When I replace my malfunctioning PC (probably April), I will begin work on my new Mullins report which will reveal data about him which has never previously been publicly available — including scanned copies of horrific bigoted documents he wrote.

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  11. Read his own words from an interview he did with Playboy Magazine. He’s a creep from every angle. Every man will give an account to the Allmighty God when they breath their last. Wonder what Ole Saul tried to say before he was cast into eternal fire.

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