David Horowitz On Saul Alinsky

2009 August 17
by INC

The David Horowitz Freedom Center and Discover the Networks have another brain child: a blog titled NewsReal.  On their About Page, its purpose is explained:

NewsReal tells who the day’s newsmakers on the political Left really are – exposing their track-records, their worldviews, their key affiliations, and their agendas.

Sunday, Horowitz wrote a post titled, Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me.  Glenn Beck is on vacation this week, but David Horowitz has been invited to be on his show on August 24th to discuss Saul Alinsky.  As he reviews and re-reads Alinsky in preparation for the interview, Horowitz has decided to do a series of blog posts on Alinsky.  This series should provide  invaluable insight and understanding.

The first post deals solely with the dedication of  Rules for Radicals.

“Lest we forget, an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical:” (Pause there for second. Now continue): “from all our legends, mythology, and history(and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

So Alinsky begins by telling readers what a radical is. He is not a reformer of the system but its would-be destroyer. This is something that in my experience conservatives have a very hard time understanding….They assume that radicals can’t really want to destroy a society that is democratic and liberal and has brought wealth and prosperity to so many. Oh yes they can….

Until conservatives begin to understand exactly what drives radicals and how dishonest they are — dishonest in the their core — it is going to be very hard to defend the system that is under attack. For radicals the noble end — creating a new heaven on earth — justifies any means. And if one actually believed it was possible to create heaven on earth, would he not willingly destroy any system hitherto created by human beings?

Having gone to college during a time when radicals wreaked havoc and destruction nation-wide, I am not at all skeptical of his assertions, but emphatically agree with his words.  This is precisely what so many on the right and even those who would not consider themselves conservatives, have failed to grasp.  They are under the illusion that the Left has different ideas about which policies will work in this country, but they still do not think the Left would be so foolish as to burn the village down to accomplish their goals.  They don’t realize that burning the village down is the goal.

I highly recommend his post in its entirety.  Horowitz incisively enlarges on the comparison of Satan to radicals.  I look forward to the rest of the series.

UPDATE: Part II is now up:  Hell on Earth.

As Alinsky himself puts it they are seeking to answer the question “Why am I here?” — a question which traditional religions attempt to answer but whose answers radicals scorn. Modern radicalism is a secular religion and its hunger for meaning, and hope and change cannot be satisfied by anything less than grandiose, totalizing schemes to transform the world. To bring up their failures, the enormities they are guilty of, the crimes committed in the name of their religion is to strike a blow at hope itself, which is why they cannot and will not hear it.

One kind of hell or another is what radicalism — progressivism — has in fact achieved since the beginning of the modern age when it conducted the first genocide during the French Revolution.

UPDATE: As Horowitz continues the series, I will update to link to his posts and quote excerpts.  Note the theme of destruction of opponents.

Part III: Boring From Within: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me

Conservatives think of war as a metaphor when applied to politics. For radicals the war is real. That is why partisans of the left set out to destroy their opponents, not just refute their arguments. It is also why they never speak the truth. Deception for them is a military tactic in a war that is designed to elminate their opponents….

Alinsky’s book could be called Machiavellian Rules for Radicals, because it is all about deception, about keeping others in the dark about your intentions until it is too late. Alinsky even acknowledges Machiavelli as his model: “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be.” These are the famous lines that Michelle Obama made in her own Democratic Convention speech.

Part IV: To Have And Have Not: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me

For Alinsky and his Machiavellian radicals politics is war. No matter what they say publicly or pretend to be, they are at war….

Because politics is a war for radicals they perceive opponents of their causes as enemies on a battlefield and set out to destroy them by demonizing and discrediting them….Glenn Beck…Sarah Palin is another conservative they consider extremely dangerous and therefore have set out to destroy, personally. The list is as long as there are conservative leaders….

…“In this book,” Alinsky explains, “we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people.” (p.3) Power has to be “seized” because the Haves will defend what they have (and thus deprive the Have-Nots of what they want). That is why radicals are organized for war.

This myth of the Haves and the Have-Nots is the radical version of the religious division of the world into Good and Evil. If all deprivations and all the social misery in the world are attributable to the greed and selfishness of one group — the Haves — radicals would have a righteous cause. But it happens to be false, and the radicals’ claim to be fighting in the cause of justice a lie. It is the precise lie with which Marx begins the Communist Manifesto….

Part V: Post-modern leftism: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me, Part V

Saul Alinsky came of age in the 1930s as a Communist fellow-travelerbut his real social milieu was the world of the Chicago mobsters to whom he was drawn professionally as a sociologist….

Like other post-modern leftists he understood that there was something deeply flawed in the Communist outlook,  but like them he never really examined what those flaws might be…The Alinsky radical has one principle — to take power from the so-called Haves and give it to the so-called Have-nots. What this amounts to, we shall see, is a political nihilism…

Part VI: Means and Ends: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me

Alinsky’s biographer with the following anecdote about Alinsky’s advice to students wishing to protest the appearance on their campus of the first George Bush, before he became president because he was America’s representative to the UN during the Vietnam war…

“He told them…to go hear the speech dressed up as members of the Ku Klux Klan, and whenever Bush said something in defense of the Vietnam War, they should cheer and wave placards, reading ‘The K.K.K. supports Bush.’ And that is what the students did with very successful, attention-getting results.” (Let Them Call Me Rebel, pp. xv-xvi)

This anecdote tells you everything you really need to know about this mentor to Hillary Clinton and the Obamas, and the ACORN radicals….Because your purpose is to erase him and the system he is alleged to represent. Therefore pick the symbol of the greatest evil Americans — a small minority of Americans — were ever associated with, and use it to obliterate everything good they ever did in the service of your cause, which is to destroy the system which created them….every means is justified, as we shall. see. (To be continued…)

Part VI continued: Means and Ends Two: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me

David Horowitz continues with his analysis of Alinsky’s rationale of the means and ends, placing it within historical and moral context.  This is a brief excerpt, please take the time to read his post in its entirety:

For anti-capitalist radicals — as indeed for zealots generally — the ends justify the means. It has ever been so — for the Jacobins, the Communists, the fascists and now the post-modern Alinsky/Obama left. And that is because of the very nature of those ends as radicals conceive them. A world without poverty, war, racism, or “sexism” is so noble, so perfect in contrast to everything that has preceded it — that it would be criminal not to deceive, lie, and even murder in order to advance or protect the cause. As Nietzsche once observed: “Idealism kills.”…

Rules for Radicals is about tactics in a war where the enemy is the “Haves” who are defending the status quo and all its manifold evils. It is a war that pits noble, planet-saving radicals against the entire social, moral and legal order. The radical goal is saving mankind, and the arguments of his critics are naturally that his means are unpatriotic, subversive, deceptive, violent, illegal and immoral.

Consequently, to brace his radical disciples against their opposition and supply them with self-justifying rationales, Alinsky devotes an entire chapter to the problem of “Means and Ends” — of how a radical can justify breaking the moral order in order to achieve radical ends (pp. 24 et seq). In his handling, there are 11 rules for radicals to explain how radical ends justify radical means. The chapter is explicitly an effort to answer those liberals who refuse to join the radical cause saying “I agree with your ends but not your means.”

Alinsky begins the chapter by telling us that the very question “does the end justify the means” as stated is “meaningless.” The real question is “does this particular end justify this particular means?”

The whole discourse about means and ends that follows, was made forty years earlier in 1938 in a famous (and far more intelligent)  pamphlet by the Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky….

Part VI (continued 2): The Nazi Option: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me

If conservatives defend the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, and oppose racial preferences, why not compare them to slave owners and call them “racists?” If they oppose disloyal, dishonest and violent radicals, it might be helpful to call them Nazis.  If liberals or even other leftists who share your progressive goals, nonetheless don’t like your methods, how about referring to them as “objectively” fascist?

This was in fact the exact term Stalin used to denounce the Marxist critics of his policies during the Thirties before he put them in front of firing squads. Alinsky’s logic and strategy are the same.


H/T:  NewsReal Blog

45 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 August 17 9:50 am
    rightwingyahoo permalink

    Well, I’ll start. Many will shy away from this issue because of its religious overtones. Say “satan” in a sentence and people’s eyes gloss over almost as quickly as if you say “Hitler” or “Stalin”.

    But, this goes back to what conservatives understand about the nature of man, vs. the liberals wild appetites and depraved standard of justice.

    For those who are curious, read Sowell’s thoughts on “constrained” (right) vs. “unconstrained” (left) worldviews, in his book “A Conflict of Visions”, and why the founders knew that human nature had to be constrained, and set up a government to do exactly that, because they knew deep down what human nature really is.

    Contrast that with the insanity, false morality and license of the left, and the need to make someone else pay the consequences of those choices.

    The Constrained and Unconstrained Visions

  2. 2009 August 17 9:56 am
    rightwingyahoo permalink

    And this is why some of us on the right want to get it over with against the left.

    Come on you lefties, stop lying, stop hiding, stop slandering, stop intimidating and straw-dogging, just hoist your black banners and your portraits of Marx, and Lenin, and come on out into the open and fight for undisputed mastery.

    And it will be over quickly.

  3. 2009 August 17 9:58 am
    INC permalink

    Alinsky arrogantly dedicated his book to Satan and Horowitz’ uses that to drive his points home.

  4. 2009 August 17 10:00 am
    INC permalink

    Here’s an interview Peter Robinson did with Thomas Sowell in which he also discusses A Conflict of Visions. I’ve quoted from it numerous times.

    The Point Of No Return

  5. 2009 August 17 10:02 am
    rightwingyahoo permalink

    Yeah, but people say “Oh what, now you’re saying the Dems and the left are the devil?…whatever”….

    Well, I won’t say it if you don’t like it, but you look around you, look at the results…

  6. 2009 August 17 10:08 am
    MFG permalink

    The left is evil

    The left is Satanic

    It is immoral to be a Democrat

    I’ll say it

    It’s true, why not say it…

  7. 2009 August 17 10:13 am
    mpthompson permalink

    The left is evil

    The left is Satanic

    It is immoral to be a Democrat

    How much would you pay to see Palin write that on Facebook? I could just hear right now the ‘pop’, ‘pop’, ‘pop’ of lefties heads exploding.

  8. 2009 August 17 10:15 am
    INC permalink

    I think Horowitz is writing for a conservative audience with this post. I don’t believe he is an observant Jew, but I’m not up on his present religious beliefs.

    Alinsky did the dedication for shock value. Horowitz uses the shock value by listing Satan’s tactics in order to wake up conservatives to several things:

    1. Destruction: The radicals’ goal of destroying our system of government and life.

    2. Dishonesty: The radicals’ core of dishonesty–the end justifies any means. Rush has called Obama a serial liar. Horowitz uses the example of ACORN and election fraud in his post.

    3. Deception: The radicals’ continual name changing (he says progressives is the most consistent) to hide their agenda.

    4. Draw: The radicals’ mentality (you shall be as gods).

    5. Dominion:

    Oh, and let’s not forget this — the kingdom that the first radical “won” was hell.

  9. 2009 August 17 10:16 am
    MFG permalink

    “A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty, are accomplices in it. The pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancour, produces an indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

    Edmund Burke

  10. 2009 August 17 10:17 am
    INC permalink

    mpt, that I would love to see!

  11. 2009 August 17 10:17 am
    INC permalink

    MFG, thanks for the quote from Burke.

  12. 2009 August 17 10:49 am
    brucefdb permalink

    Look, this knowledge that ‘man is flawed’ is why the Constitution was written the way it was. It was written to protect man from gaining dominion over man. It is the basic Judeo/Christian tenet. Rule by the best and brightest always leads to tyranny.

  13. 2009 August 17 11:00 am
    INC permalink

    I agree, Bruce.

    Those who perceive themselves as the “best and brightest” are the most arrogant and likely to run roughshod over others.

  14. 2009 August 17 11:09 am
    aureliusx permalink

    Most liberals are fundamentally stasists, in Postrel terms.

    Virginia Postrel – Libertarian

    They want a new system, yes, but one that is entrenched, immoveable, where human freedom is leached out of the system and citizens are reduced to cattle.

    Most conservatives, ironically, are dynamists– they value liberty and justice above all, where the glory of the free human mind can take flight, and where each citizen stands on his own– not a servant of the government, and where the government cannot inhibit free action, movement, innovation, and thought.

    The radical left wants to burn down the system we have now, but do not mistake it for dynamism. They have in mind the worst form of stasism– where none are free, all are equal, and the State is the permanent master of all.

  15. 2009 August 17 11:15 am
    brucefdb permalink

    Most conservatives, ironically, are dynamists aureliusx

    Of course modern day ‘liberals’ stole that descriptive from free market types, we are the true liberals…..conservatives are all about personal freedom.

  16. 2009 August 17 11:28 am

  17. 2009 August 17 12:44 pm
    rightwingyahoo permalink

    Oh, and let’s not forget this — the kingdom that the first radical “won” was hell.

    Technically, he won nothing but a future sentence, and a vagabond existence until then.

    So really, what did he win? Nothing, and lost everything.

    Same with the left. They think they are on the verge of winning it all by getting their agenda thru, but the opposite is true, and I don’t mean seats in congress.

  18. 2009 August 17 12:51 pm
    INC permalink

    Well, I was quoting Horowitz’ understanding, although I agree with you.

  19. 2009 August 17 1:10 pm
    INC permalink

    Horowitz has posted the second part of the series. I’ve updated the post to include the link. He continues to discuss Alinsky and radicals in both political and spiritual terms. This was unexpected to me, but I like it, because in my opinion, it’s a vital tie to make.

  20. 2009 August 17 2:02 pm
    bc3b permalink

    It’s fun to watch libs yell when they get “Alinskyed.”

  21. 2009 August 19 10:07 am
    INC permalink

    I’ve updated the post to include Parts III and IV. I’ll continue to update the series as he writes.

    Note the theme of destruction of opponents.

    …partisans of the left set out to destroy their opponents, not just refute their arguments.

  22. 2009 August 20 11:03 am
    INC permalink

    A link to Part V has been added. Today Horowitz mentions Alinsky’s social ties to the Capone gang and the one principle of the Alinsky radical.

  23. 2009 August 20 11:38 am
    INC permalink

    Before the election last fall, Dan McLaughlin wrote a lengthy series on the candidates. This part has links to the Alinsky-Obama connection.

    POLITICS: The Integrity Gap, Part II of III: Sen. Barack Obama

    The first post is the intro of this second part in his series.

    These are the other posts within Part II. Links to each one over at the first link.

    Obama’s Rootless Ambition looks at the influences that shaped Obama before he ran for office.

    This is the one to read about Alinsky.

  24. 2009 August 20 11:39 am
    INC permalink

    This is the pertinent paragraph with Dan’s embedded links:

    During law school, Obama “spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course taught by [left-wing theorist Saul] Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation.” * (More on Alinsky and Obama’s community organizer days here, and on the Alinsky’s explicit advocacy of dissembling and moral relativism here).

    There are four embedded links, including the asterisk as a separate one. All are still working for me today.

  25. 2009 August 20 11:51 am
    INC permalink

    1. The first one is an IBD editiorial, titled:

    Barack Obama’s Stealth Socialism

    2. From TNR (this link is at the * above):

    The Agitator

    This column is very long (believe it or not, this is just a small excerpt), but it really goes to the heart of Obama’s training in politics and power.

    Not long after Obama arrived, he sat down for a cup of coffee in Hyde Park with a fellow organizer named Mike Kruglik. Obama’s work focused on helping poor blacks on Chicago’s South Side fight the city for things like job banks and asbestos removal. His teachers were schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicagotrained social scientist….

    On this particular evening, Kruglik was debriefing Obama about his work when a panhandler approached. Instead of ignoring the man, Obama confronted him. “Now, young man, is that really what you want be about?” Obama demanded. “I mean, come on, don’t you want to be better than that? Let’s get yourself together.”

    Kruglik remembers this episode as an example of why, in ten years of training organizers, Obama was the best student he ever had. He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.

    In the 13 years between Obama’s return to Chicago from law school and his Senate campaign, he was deeply involved with the city’s constellation of community-organizing groups. He wrote about the subject. He attended organizing seminars. He served on the boards of foundations that support community organizing. He taught Alinsky’s concepts and methods in workshops. When he first ran for office in 1996, he pledged to bring the spirit of community organizing to his job in the state Senate. And, after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, his wife, Michelle, told a reporter, “Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.” Recalling her remark in 2005, Obama wrote, “I take that observation as a compliment.”

    By defining himself as a “community organizer” above all else, Obama is linking himself to America’s radical democratic tradition and presenting himself as an heir to a particular political style and methodology that, at least superficially, contrasts sharply with the candidate Obama has become….

    Obama so mastered the workshops on power that he later taught them himself. On his campaign website, one can find a photo of Obama in a classroom teaching students Alinskian methods. He stands in front of a blackboard on which he has written, “Power Analysis” and “Relationships Built on Self Interest,” an idea illustrated by a diagram of the flow of money from corporations to the mayor….

    …When Obama returned to Chicago to practice law, he joined the board of Rudd’s foundation. Now he was going to the other side. “That’s a switch!” she told him. Obama insisted that nothing would change. “Oh no,” he said, according to Rudd. “I’m going to use the same skills as a community organizer.”

    In fact, Obama had already been applying Alinsky’s core concepts–rigorous analysis of an opponent’s strengths, a hardheaded understanding of self-interest as a fundamental organizing principle, a knack for agitating people to act, and a streetwise sense of when a raw show of power is necessary–to situations beyond the South Side….

    Speaking of what he learned as an organizer, Obama himself told me, “I think that oftentimes ordinary citizens are taught that decisions are made based on the public interest or grand principles, when, in fact, what really moves things is money and votes and power.”

  26. 2009 August 20 11:59 am
    INC permalink

    3. The third link is to another of Dan’s posts written in September:

    POLITICS: The Organizer-Based Community

    This one has the photo of Obama teaching Alinsky. I think it was written before the Alinksy term “community organizer” was fully understood.

  27. 2009 August 20 12:03 pm
    INC permalink

    4. Links to another IBD editorial:

    Obama’s Radical Roots And Rules

    Sen. Obama was trained by Chicago’s Industrial Areas Foundation, founded in 1940 by the radical organizer Saul Alinsky. In the 1980s, Obama spent years as director of the Developing Communities Project, which operated using Alinsky’s strategies, and was involved with two other Alinsky-oriented entities, Acorn and Project Vote.

    The far-left Alinsky had no time for liberalism or liberals, declaring that “a liberal is (someone) who puts his foot down firmly on thin air.” He wanted nothing less than transformational radicalism. “America was begun by its radicals,” he wrote. “America was built by its radicals. The hope and future of America lies with its radicals.” And so, “This is the job for today’s radical — to fan the embers of hopelessness into a flame to fight. To say, ‘. . . let us change it together!’ “…

    Obama calls his years as an Alinskyesque community organizer in Chicago “the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.” But as radicalism expert Richard Lawrence Poe has noted, “Camouflage is key to Alinsky-style organizing. In organizing coalitions of black churches in Chicago, Obama caught flak for not attending church himself. He became an instant churchgoer.”

    Indeed, Alinsky believed in sacrificing ethics and morals for the great cause. “Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times,” Alinsky wrote in his last book, “Rules for Radicals,” adding that “all values are relative in a world of political relativity.”…

    Alinsky’s writings even explain what often seems like Obama’s oversized ego….

    According to 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.”…

    Alinsky also readily admitted that he didn’t trust the people themselves. “It is the schizophrenia of a free society that we outwardly espouse faith in the people but inwardly have strong doubts whether the people can be trusted,” he wrote. “Seeking some meaning in life,” the middle class, according to Alinsky, “turn to an extreme chauvinism and become defenders of the ‘American’ faith.”

    This is evocative of Obama’s remark during the primaries that small-town Americans are “bitter” and “cling to guns or religion.”…

    Obama’s rhetorical window-dressing is easily recognizable as Alinskyesque camouflage….

  28. 2009 August 20 12:07 pm
    INC permalink

    Those articles connect the dots. Once you start reading, you can easily see the Alinsky influence on Obama.

  29. 2009 August 21 1:37 pm
    INC permalink

    Today in Means and Ends: Alinsky, Beck, Satan and Me, Part VI, David Horowitz begins to discuss Alinksky’s means to accomplish his ends. I referred a while back to Alinksy’s “ethics” of means and ends. Here’s a brief Wiki post on them.

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