Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Rev Reads it For You: Let's Redefine Power (Rules for Radicals)

In this chapter, Alinksy redefines for us several words of the English language:

"The same discolorations attach to other words prevalent in the language of politics... They become twisted and warped, viewed as evil... This is why we pause here for a word about words."
Notice how Alinsky sets the stage. He is simply restoring these words to their true, original meanings! Removing the discolorations of politics! And what better word to first redeem, than Power?

Continues after the break.


"We strive to invent sterilized synonyms, cleansed of the opprobrium of the word power— but the new words mean something different, so that they tranquilize us, begin to shepherd our mental processes off the main, conflict-ridden, grimy, and realistic power-paved highway of life. To travel down the sweeter-smelling, peaceful, more socially acceptable, more respectable, indefinite byways, ends in a failure to achieve an honest understanding of the issues that we must come to grips with if we are to do the job."
Actual note I jotted down while reading the above passage: "Oh my shit dude, stop jerking off and fuck this bitch already. Save the apologies for after you blow early." Which is crude, but I didn't buy this book to hear Alinsky assuage his guilty conscience.

Look, if you want Power, take Power. We all know that Power is morally neutral. God has power and Satan has power. If you have to convince someone that power is not the root of all evil, do you really want them reading your book?

"To know power and not fear it is essential to its constructive use and control. In short, life without power is death; a world without power would be a ghostly wasteland, a dead planet!"
Another note: "Anyone hemming and hawing this much has a guilty conscience."

I don't know who Alinsky is trying to justify his desire for Power to - himself, his allies, or his enemies. But no one goes to this much effort to justify something they feel good about.


"Machiavelli makes a mortal mistake when he rules out the “moral” factors of politics and holds purely to self-interest as he defines it."
Remember that the "moral" factors of politics gets defined as "what we can get away with" married to "the easiest thing to get away with."

"What we hate is the atheism and the suppression of the individual that we attribute as characteristics substantiating the “immorality” of communism. On this we base our powerful opposition. We do not admit the actual fact: our own self-interest."
The rational realize that morality is in harmony with self-interest. It's better to live in a world where you don't have to worry about getting your throat slit.

"Too, there is no question that, with all our denunciation of the Red Chinese, if they announced that they were no longer a part of the world communist conspiracy or alignment of forces, they would be overnight acceptable to us, acclaimed by us, and provided with all kinds of aid, just so long as they were on our side. In essence, what we are saying is that we do not care what kind of a communist you are so long as you do not threaten our self-interest."
No, we are saying we care specifically about what type of Communist you are. Are you part of a world conspiracy to subvert our institutions and destroy our freedoms? Well, then we will do all to oppose you. Are you basically going to sit over there and do your thing? Well, okay.

It is, after all, the threat to our self-interest (rather, to our natural rights, property, lives, and security) that justifies wars of defense. Morality demands that we not take the life of someone who is not threatening our own.

It bugs me because Alinsky could get us to the same place (Self-Interest is not necessarily bad) without requiring us to drop morality. Which is why I suspect his true goal is not to justify Self Interest, but amoral Self Interest.

"if we’ve got everything so set that we are going to win, then it’s a free election. Otherwise, it’s bloody terrorism! Isn’t that your definition?” The Russian’s reaction was, “Well, yes, more or less!”
Okay, that's pretty funny. And it does illustrate that the US government is hardly a stellar example of pristine morality.

"If you start with nothing, demand 100 per cent, then compromise for 30 per cent, you’re 30 per cent ahead. A free and open society is an on-going conflict, interrupted periodically by compromises— which then become the start for the continuation of conflict, compromise, and on ad infinitum."
1). This reminds me of Trump's negotiating style - ask for it all and you're more likely to get what you want.

2). In essence, Alinsky tells us that he cannot be compromised with, because he will never abide by a compromise. It can only be the stage for the next conflict.


“Ego,” as we understand and use it here, cannot be even vaguely confused with, nor is it remotely related to, egotism."
Don't confuse them because they're total not the same thing! Look, I agree with the point, but your frantic justification of how Ego is okay makes me worry.
"The ego of the organizer is stronger and more monumental than the ego of the leader. The leader is driven by the desire for power, while the organizer is driven by the desire to create. The organizer is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which man can reach— to create, to be a “great creator,” to play God."
I believe that once you declare yourself God, we can assume you're an egomaniac. This informs the rest of the section: Alinsky is explaining to us why it's okay he has a God complex.

"Egotism is mainly a defensive reaction of feelings of personal inadequacy— ego is a positive conviction and belief in one’s ability, with no need for egotistical behavior."
I actually agree with this! But if you're running around declaring yourself God like M. Bison, I'm going to guess you engage in some egotistical behavior.

"You came here to fight a Community Organizer, and instead, you found a GOD!"
-Saul Alinsky

"Ego must be so all-pervading that the personality of the organizer is contagious, that it converts the people from despair to defiance, creating a mass ego."
Right. Again, the kernel of fact is indisputable. Groups need mass egos (or mass ids), and leaders provide that. But don't back down to us, Alinsky. Don't justify it. State the facts and move on. Providing this much wind up front is only making you look like a bitch with a fragile ego.

No one justifies themselves this much without a guilty conscience.


"So today we find that people in the mass media are fired for expressing their opinions or being “controversial”
The more things change...

"If one were to project the democratic way of life in the form of a musical score, its major theme would be the harmony of dissonance."
I would trust Alinsky's sincerity more if he hadn't literally just told us that compromise is the prelude to the next attack.

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