In recent years, the Marxist movement in America has evolved from a quiet, distant whisper into a boisterous, momentous roar. Some dismiss this growth as a “product of the times,” however, the aggrandization of Marxism has been a methodical process, engineered by its leaders at the top. The means by which this is possible is through a process called “community organizing.” One prominent social group in America, Black Lives Matters, has been on record identifying themselves as “trained organizers” and “trained Marxists.” Their statement about being “trained Marxists” raises the question—what is this training and where did it come from? To discover this, it is essential that the works of Saul Alinsky, the Godfather of modern community organizing, are analyzed.
Alinsky was born in Chicago in 1909, to Russian immigrant parents. He is renowned for bolstering the community organizing scene in Chicago, and his influence eventually spread throughout the United States. In 1940, Alinsky founded the Industrial Areas Foundation to train would-be organizers and it is currently the longest standing and largest network of community-based organizations. His organizing principles have influenced some of the most notable community organizers in history, including Barack Obama during his upbringing in Chicago. To ensure his legacy as the leader of the community organizing movement, Alinsky authored his magnum opus entitled, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer just one year before his death. This book acts as an encyclopedia for the would-be organizer with many contemporary Marxist organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, pulling tremendous amounts of influence from it.
In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky outlines the philosophic and tactical foundation for anybody who wishes to radicalize, organize, and mobilize the people within their communities. Although he claims to disavow any dogmatic ideology, Alinsky leaves piecemeal evidence in his book that necessarily reveal his sympathies for radical Marxism. In the introduction to the book, Alinsky states that “few of us survived the Joe McCarthy holocaust of the early 1950s.” He then goes on to say that “even fewer” than those who did survive McCarthyism developed a true understanding of Marxism “beyond the dialectical materialism of orthodox Marxism.” By admitting that McCarthy was effective at removing Marxist detractors from the government, Alinsky validates the premise of the McCarthy movement. Alinsky later declares that “corporations must forget their nonsense about ‘private sectors’" and asserts that the objective of a radical revolution should be to “use power for the more equitable distribution of the means of life”—statements that are eerily reminiscent of Marxist philosophy.
As the book progresses, Alinsky conveys an over-simplified version of the world in which all individuals fit into one of three distinct classes: the “haves,” the “have-a-little-want-some-mores,” and the “have-nots.” In this depiction of the world, the “haves” are, without exception, megalomaniacal tyrants whose existence is rooted in a quest to maintain power and to oppress the “have-a-little-want-some-mores” and the “have-nots.” He claims that the moral duty of the latter two classes is to be the radicals that organize and mobilize against the “haves” in pursuit of a fundamental change to the system. Ultimately, Alinsky advocates for an outright “revolution” against the system, akin to the one fought by our founders in the late 18th century.
Once Alinsky establishes the necessity for revolution, he attempts to answer the everlasting question; “Does the end justify the means?” However, this question proves to be too broad and abstract for Alinsky. He clarifies that the question a radical should be most concerned with is, “does this particular end justify this particular means?” By asking this revised question, Alinsky reduces the ethics of means and ends to a shapeless amorphism. He asserts that the virtue of an end, as well as the malignancy of a means, are both relative to the perspective of the observer. Therefore, any end can justify any means depending on how much that particular end is valued by the revolutionary. Because “trained Marxists” and “trained organizers” adhere to these decrees, they believe that means such as rioting, looting, and in extreme cases, murder and assassination, are justified in the pursuit of the noble end of social equity. Furthermore, Alinsky advocates that an organization should label its ends in ambiguous terms like “equality, liberty, [and] fraternity.” Since the landscape of a revolution is in constant flux, these generalized terms allow for deceptive mass appeal and permit the revolutionaries to evolve their stances while staying true to their cause. If one were to inspect the mission statements of any modern Marxist organization, they would find that the organization adheres to this rule of ambiguity.
In addition to advising would-be organizers on the ethics, or lack thereof, pertaining to means and ends, Alinsky offers the reader tactical advice in the field of community organizing. He declares to the reader that “the first step in community organization is community disorganization.” To accomplish this, Alinsky advises that the organizer should “rub raw the resentments of the people” and “fan the latent hostilities…of the people to the point of overt expression.” In other words, the organizer’s role is to “agitate to the point of conflict.” Once this agitation is accomplished, the disgruntled members of the community will readily join any movement to address the issues fueling their “latent hostilities.” The real-world parallels of this principle in action can be observed through the social agitation of groups like BLM that magnify specific issues to extract the “latent hostilities” of the community. However, Alinsky acknowledges that people attribute varying levels of significance to different issues. Therefore, he advocates that any single community organization should fight for a broad spectrum of social issues to maximize the organization’s appeal. Ultimately, the organization should not “care why [people] join [it],” because the organization is “better off if they [do].” This sundry nature of recruits creates a system of quid pro quo between its diverse members while maintaining the unity of all members under the umbrella of the organization’s ultimate goal. For example, Black Lives Matter appeals to a slew of social issues including race relations, LGBTQ+ issues, and even family structure. However, as declared by their founders, BLM is ultimately a Marxist organization. Thus, BLM offers its motley recruits a platform to pursue their respective interests, and in return, the recruits collectively pursue the end goal of BLM—Marxism.
Once an organization has a sufficient number of recruits and a clearly defined goal, it must select an enemy. According to Alinsky, this enemy cannot be something “general and abstract,” “it must be a personification.” The organization must villainize an individual, or a set of individuals, and hold them as the absolute, polarized enemy. Any redeemable qualities in this declared enemy must be covered up and ignored. Then after the enemy is declared and publicized, it is time for the organization to act. Alinsky allows the organizer to be imaginative with their tactics since the political landscape is an ebb and flow of action from the revolutionary and reaction by the opposition. He suggests that the organization leverage its resources, whatever they may be, to maximize their potential efficacy. One specific tactical example conveyed by Alinsky is to “just tell them off and don’t give them a chance to say anything.” He also points out that the organization “has bodies,” then asks the ominous rhetorical question, “how can they use them?” If these tactics prove to be successful, the organization will inevitably find themselves at the negotiation table. In this situation, Alinsky advises the organizer to “demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent,” and if the organization had nothing to begin with, it emerges from the negotiation “30 percent ahead.”
The recent movement, purveyed by BLM, to “defund the police” is in lockstep with the process explained above. After the tragic death of George Floyd, a personified enemy was immediately defined – police officers. Despite the fact that many police officers help in the pursuit of domestic tranquility, BLM and its followers declared the police an absolute enemy. In addition to conventional protesting, BLM and its followers engaged in rioting and other forms of “activism.” They utilized the resources they had to engage in both conventional and non-conventional forms of activism. Additionally, they regularly “tell off” any detractor and refuse their right “to say anything.” When it comes to negotiations, they demand 100 percent defunding of police forces across America. However, even if they are only able to accomplish a 30 percent reduction in police funding, they will emerge from the negotiations 30 percent ahead. These similarities between Alinsky’s suggestions and the actions of BLM expose where their “training” has come from.
In conclusion, Saul Alinsky established the largest community organizing empire the nation has ever seen. He intended his Rules for Radicals to be the training manual for the would-be organizer and revolutionary. The juxtaposition of Alinsky’s works with the actions of a modern Marxist organization reveals the influence that Alinsky still has 50 years after his death. Although the Marxist movement is highly organized and nearly ubiquitous at this moment in history, they lack an intellectual appeal for their cause, so they dilute their arguments with “vestiges of the past.” Fortunately, they are following rules that can be accessed by anyone willing to search for them. Because of this, those who wish to stop this Marxist revolution in America can remain one step ahead of these would-be revolutionaries. As Sun Tzu said, “it is more important to out-think your enemy than to out-fight him.”
About the Writer
This contributor is a 26-year-old man who currently resides in South Georgia. He grew up in Irvine, California, and is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science in hopes of one day becoming a lawyer. Due to his line of work, he must remain anonymous for the next few months.