Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Rev Reads it For You: Ethics of the Haves and Wants (Rules for Radicals)

In Chapter One, Alinksy defines his "Trinity" of social classes, as they relate to revolutionary change:

Haves - The wealthy few who actively resist change because change would threaten what they have.

Have-a-Little, Want Mores - The middle class who wants enough change to get more while preventing change that would cause them to lose what they already have.

Have Nots - The mass of the poor who want everyone else off their backs so they can Get.

Interestingly, Alinsky correctly recognizes that the impetuous for revolution rarely comes from the Have Nots who are "a mass of cold ashes of resignation and fatalism," They are the fuel that catches on fire when a spark emerges from the Middle Class.

And indeed, historically, this is the general case. The poors are generally too poor and broken down to successfully resist, whereas the "friction" in the Middle Class, torn between Have and Want More, provides the spark.

This schema runs throughout the chapter, but Alinsky starts us by a quick primer in moral relativism. We'll look at that after the break.

"Everything about us must be seen as the indivisible partner of its converse, light and darkness, good and evil, life and death. From the moment we are born we begin to die. Happiness and misery are inseparable. So are peace and war...and so with every component of this universe; all is paired in this enormous Noah’s Ark of life."
This jumps out as an odd way to talk about class. Alinksy's goal is to explain why today's revolutionary hero becomes tomorrow's tyrant.

"It is the universal tale of revolution and reaction. It is the constant struggle between the positive and its converse negative, which includes the reversal of roles so that the positive of today is the negative of tomorrow and vice versa. This view of nature recognizes that reality is dual."
It's a fascinating form of relativistic dualism: there is always a right and a wrong, but right is always held by the weak and wrong is always held by the strong. What is absolute is not morality, justice, or law, but only relative strength.

This explains so much about the modern Left, it almost hurts. It doesn't matter is transgender men take pictures of women in public bathrooms: transgender men have less power than cis-women, therefore they literally can do no wrong. Any side-effects of progressive policies is automatically justified by the imbalance of power.

This is even more explicit in race relations: non-whites cannot be racist, because racism is about power.

Alinksy is perhaps not as far gone as the average Tumblerina, since he has no magical fantasy that a gay female womyn of color with power can somehow sanctify it by virtue of her status. Today's good is tomorrow's evil, period.

I've seen commentary on the nature of the hard Left to eat its young - to condemn today the allies of yesterday who are no longer sufficiently oppressed - but for Alinsky, this is feature and not bug.

"These Do-Nothings profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change. They are known by their brand, “I agree with your ends but not your means.”
Alinksy cannot be fully argued with here. Concern Trolls exist; the tactic is so effective that professionals are often sent to seed the enemy with this exact attitude,

Decide if this is a poison pill yourself.

"Yet in the conflicting interests and contradictions within the Have-a-Little, Want Mores is the genesis of creativity. Out of this class have come, with few exceptions, the great world leaders of change of the past centuries: Moses, Paul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, Robespierre, Georges Danton, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Nikolai Lenin, Mahatma Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, and others."
Hard to argue with most of these. Some lean a little more towards Haves, some towards Have-Nots, but most fall solidly in the Want-Mores. Also helps explain why the Left fails to track well with the lower class (other than Gibs).

The Have-Nots just want Stuff. They don't care if the free market delivers Stuff or if Socialism delivers Stuff. Frankly, they want the Stuff the free market can give them and the Stuff Socialism can get them, and the Stuff that Crime can get them, since they don't have any Stuff.

The Right is talking to sheep about the wonders of steak. The sheep don't care.

"We now live in a world where no man can have a loaf of bread while his neighbor has none. If he does not share his bread, he dare not sleep, for his neighbor will kill him."
Fascinating stuff. This is the guilty conscience of the Middle class revolutionary: he wants to be on the winning side for fear, not for any concrete concept of right.

Alinsky includes the following quote from Lincoln in his footnotes:

‘This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.’
Never forget that the hard-Left's textbook says that fomenting unhappiness ("shall grow weary of the existing government") is the path to victory at the ballot box ("their constitutional right of amending it") or failing that, victory at the barrel of a gun ("their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it").

Note the irony of Lincoln affirming the right of revolution. Mmmm. That's good irony.


  1. Alinsky's definition of the middle seems to be very broad - Jefferson was virtual aristocracy, Moses was adopted nobility, Paul was a theo-political elite, etc.

    Of course, I laugh at the people who think that the "1%" are exceptionally wealthy (missing a few decimal places), so there's that.

    1. The key is, "Have Some, Want More." Jefferson was a virtual aristocrat, but still subject to the actual aristocrats. Moses was adopted nobility, not real nobility. Paul was an elite Pharisee and a Roman citizen, but Christianity had more room for advancement on both fronts.

      Interestingly, some of the greatest "Haves" in our current society are also some of the biggest agents for undermining tradition. I assume that the "More" that they want is "More Control."

    2. I've been thinking about this more since I read it originally, and I've concluded that it's a hybrid of the two positions: the "have-some" or "haves" with ambition.

      Paul wanted to be the most zealous of all the Pharisees.

      Luther wanted real reform.

      Jefferson wanted a new form of government.

      Moses wanted to help his birth people.

      So, ambition. And of course, the Bible warns us against vain ambition and against mediocrity, but exhorts us to righteous ambition.

      So it's not really the class of society so much as it is the mindset. But that mindset is certainly more common to those who have-some.