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Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
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Rules for Radicals (1971)

by Saul Alinsky

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
There are many books on propaganda, but this book is the "how to" book of agitation propaganda (aka activism) that has clearly been very influential on the political left's community organizers over the years. I'm sure Bernie has a copy in his back pocket along with his copy of Marx. Fun read though and useful if you want to raise hell for any reason and believe the ends always justify the means. If I only were lacking a moral compass and had a cause, I'd might try some of the techniques in this book myself. Also provides some psychological illumination as to how easily people's egos are appealed to in order to manipulate their opinions and behavior. ( )
  Chickenman | Sep 12, 2018 |
While the information in this book is dated, particularly the last few chapters, it still is a valuable manual. [a:Saul D. Alinsky|59314|Saul D. Alinsky|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1221544138p2/59314.jpg] gives solid advice that is surprisingly poignant and effective even today. It's easy to see that this is a manual many politicians use - and if not, it's one that is so universally accurate that many seem as if they are using it. A good primer, and a valuable resource for anyone who wants to be well-informed as to common political tactics in today's society. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Maybe a 3.5. Written in too scholarly a manner for my tastes, maybe because it's 40 years old. Still interesting and useful. ( )
  nheredia05 | Jun 12, 2018 |
Dated and full of filler

Stricter editing would have helped, especially in the earlier portions of the book. Clunky sentences and missing punctuation made for a slow read in places. Alinsky's use of - current at the time - slang dated the text badly. He included a great deal of anecdotal filler as well. The strategies are still sound, in a broad brush sense. ( )
  Feralreader | Nov 25, 2017 |
Why didn't I learn about Alinsky back in school? I've been flirting with both the philosophical and practical significance of organizing and activism for sometime now. Alinksy makes the irrefutable argument as to its importance.

A disclaimer: our author is clear that activists start by oversimplifying and polarizing a situation, then moving into nuance and compromise at the negotiation stage. And that is what he does with this book. It's monolithic, iconic, archetypal. And, if taken with a grain of salt, invaluable. As Saul might whisper to you in private, it's also not a totally accurate appraisal of reality, or even organizing. But I'm totally fine with that.

The book gets rolling with raising priority number one: communication. How will you ever influence your community if you alienate them? The example he gives: you wouldn't come into a Jewish community eating a ham sandwich... And yet this is constantly what "radicals" do, and where they fail—begin by insulting those with whom they need to work with.

To core narrative of this book is about power—about how the "have nots" can take power from the "haves" and distribute it more equitably. It's also pragmatic to the point of being atheistic. Maybe that's partially why Alinsky could both be a significant influence for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and why Clinton and Obama could become totally unmoored from their essential values.

More on this thread of relativism—Alinsky argues that principles are worthless. Charles Eisenstein makes this point as well, but in a very different way. The common ground would be in what Carol Sanford refers to as "regeneration." Frameworks are useful when they help us custom-tailor solutions to the endless diversity of experience we encounter in life. Models and best practices hobble us when we use them "out of the box," without any attempt to regenerate them in each specific instance. I think there's a middle ground which bridges both values and flexibility.

Almost fifty years on, the book could not be better suited to our time. His analysis of the political dynamics at the time strongly mirror what we see today—when the left fails to integrate working-class whites, they join the jingoistic right. You want to resist Trump? Pick up a copy of this book.

I'm fascinated to learn who has picked up where Alinksy left off. Bill McKibben—obviously. I've heard the names of Jonathan Smucker and Jane McAlevey mentioned as well, although I haven't had the opportunity to explore their works thus far. ( )
  willszal | May 14, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saul Alinskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jay J. Smith StudioCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.
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To pander to those who have no stomach for straight language, and insist upon bland, non controversial sauces, is a waste of time... I do not propose to be trapped by tact at the expense of truth.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679721134, Paperback)

First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:04 -0400)

Guides young revolutionaries in the art of human communication and explains the tactics of organizing others to work within the system for social change.

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