Not a world I made, but I can live in it.
The recent Saul Alinsky thread prompted me to actually read “Rules for Radicals,” because it occurred
to me that most of us were either criticizing or defending it, without ever having
actually read it. I thought I could
just skim it and get the gist of it, because I thought I knew what it was going
to say, based on carefully watching 8 years of the Obama presidency. Wrong.
I ended up reading the whole thing – no small chore for an old fart with traditional conservative upbringing. My conclusion is that Alinski really wasn’t an ideologue. I think he was just an anti-establishment type of guy, very smart, and very ‘well read,’ whose life was steered leftward by his work with communists, who were fomenting their revolutionary aims through the unions and the civil rights movement. Back in those days, when he was young and impressionable, he was seeing a lot that he approved of, and maybe even more that he didn’t approve of – not particularly for moral reasons, but for their ineffectiveness in obtaining the power needed to achieve their aims. Possibly, his friendship with Frank Nitti (if true), of Chicago and Al Capone notoriety, helped him see the flaws in violence, as a political tool.
I mistakenly assumed that Alinski was a communist, because I
perceived that the behavior of the Democrat Party mirrored the Communist Party
of America behavior, from the ‘20’s or ‘30’s through at least the Viet Nam era.
I still mostly believe that about the Democrat Party, at least for the last 20
years or so, but I now think I
understand Saul Alinski much better. I still don’t agree with his philosophical
conclusions, but I cannot deny that he knew how to manipulate the
establishment, and that the civil rights unrest of his era provided a good
testing ground for his ideas.
Alinski theorized that creating chaos in the enemy ranks was the way to beat them, because it caused them to make mistakes that could be exploited successfully by a smart tactician, who could seize the opportunity to make it hurt for them to enforce their own rules. He admired the communists for their dedication to that idea. It really didn’t matter much to him if the establishment (in business management, or politics) kept their rules, to their own detriment, or ignored them when the chips were down – he could exploit either. He won several political and social victories, in such a way, for whatever movement he represented at the time, initially for unions, and later for civil rights movements. Rationalizing, after the fact, about the original intent of the protests made him look even more brilliant, and helped him with recruitment. He was very smart, and part of his effectiveness came from the fact that he was not embarrassed or angered by personal attacks on his own character.
What the Democrat party leaders did not take into account (at first) was that victory (by whatever methods) would turn them into the establishment, subject to being manipulated in the same way. Once they figured it out, the only way they could avoid losing that power in the same way, was by making laws that they could either enforce, or ignore, depending upon political considerations. Such hypocritical behavior required that they either convert or chase off the idealists within the party, in order to enable a more authoritarian government, one that could get away with the corruption needed to maintain power, including the radicalization of a media that was increasingly being indoctrinated towards left-wing politics.
Now, the right can employ the parts of Saul Alinski’s
tactics that were the most effective: Make
them follow their own rules, or concede that they are hypocrites. The level of chaos generated by
Democrat Party divisions and hypocrisies, along with a Donald Trump presidency,
are creating the ‘perfect storm’ for removing some of their worst offenders
from power. All that the Republicans need to restore a semi-functional
government is the guts to follow Trump’s lead, in exacting just the right
amount of retribution to embarrass them for four to six years – just long
enough to restore lost freedoms to the middle class. Middle class freedom is the key to any successful capitalistic system, and is the real political battle being waged, right now.
I do not like these new rules, and I am not crazy about the politicians that have to do it, but it needs doing, and these are the people we have to do it with. The leftist Democrats succeeded in letting a lot of toothpaste out of the tube that cannot be put back in, and now it is time for the right-of-center Republicans to step in and reconcile it to an American way of life that resembles freedom. Maybe Trump can keep his cheese on the cracker for long enough to establish a new status quo that will allow the American experiment to flourish...until the left gets a plan to start rolling it back, again.