Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#5 / Rules For Radicals

I think I must have read Rules For Radicals shortly after its publication in 1971. I loved it! The book is by Saul Alinsky, who died in 1972. Alinsky's book is a classic manual for political organizers, and it has continuing relevance. That contemporary relevance is evidenced, among other things, by an article in the December 2015 edition of In These Times, entitled "Bernie's Rules for Radicals." At least, that was the title in the hard copy version.

The article from In These Times quotes Alinsky to the effect that his aim is "to suggest how to organize for power: how to get it and to use it." That's what Sanders is attempting, too. 

It is our American belief that "power" derives, ultimately, from "the people."

"We the people" have power initially, and we grant some limited measure of that power to the government, to act on our behalf. Maybe Alinsky should have said that his purpose was to suggest how we can "get our power back." 

The way that the people can get power, in order to use it, the way we can get our power back, is to engage in politics. There is no other way. This is what Sanders is calling his "political revolution." The In These Times' article puts it this way: 

What makes Sanders a radical, and what constitutes the essence of his revolution, isn’t his commitment to certain spending priorities or a particular economic plan—it’s his fierce commitment to democracy.

“Change never takes place from the top down,” he told his audience at the University of Chicago. “It always takes place from the bottom up. It takes place when people by the millions, sometimes over decades and sometimes over centuries, determine that the status quo—the world that they see in front of them—is not the world that should be, and they come together. And sometimes they get arrested. … And sometimes they die in the struggle. And what human history is about is passing that torch from generation to generation to generation.”

Bernie's "Rules For Radicals." Maybe only a single rule. It's pretty simple. Get engaged!

Let's take our power back.

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1 comment:

  1. It's worthwhile to read Alinsky's earlier "Reveille for Radicals" as well.

    I disagree that we want to "get power." Power is the problem, not the solution.

    "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Lord Acton

    What we want is to disperse power among the people and reduce, and wherever possible, eliminate pathways to the concentration of power in any individual or organization.

    Power to the people, collectively, not individually.


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