Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals

Back when Barack Obama was first running for president, I was among those worried about his community organizing ties to the Marxist activist Saul Alinsky.  I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat, though this quotation from Alinsky does sort of describe what I’m hearing from many Democrats:  “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists.”

The Washington Post‘s Melinda Henneberger has written a column expressing disappointment that President Obama has not been following Alinsky’s notorious “Rules for Radicals.”  See  Saul Alinsky would be so disappointed: Obama breaks ‘Rules for Radicals’ – She the People: – The Washington Post.

But today conservatives are vying for the title of “radical.”  Newt Gingrich claims he is the most radical conservative running for president.  Ron Paul is being lauded for his “radical” proposals.

Consider Alinsky’s thirteen “Rules for Radicals“:

#1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. 

#2. Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat…. [and] the collapse of communication.

#3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

#4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.  You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

#5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

#6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

 #7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.  Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time.

#8. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

#9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

#10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

#11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.
#12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

#13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’. . .any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’. . .One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.

Where do you see these tactics at work?  Are conservatives as well as leftists using them?  Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Answers:
    1. Newt.
    2. Most radicals, left and right, environmentalist, islamist, pro-war, racist, even radical vegans use them. And they are used on this blog, not by Gene, but by at least 2 commenters quite regularly – who unfortunately miss point #7.
    3. No civilized, self-respecting person should ever use them. Yes, the hint is intentional :) . No, figure it out yourselves.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Answers:
    1. Newt.
    2. Most radicals, left and right, environmentalist, islamist, pro-war, racist, even radical vegans use them. And they are used on this blog, not by Gene, but by at least 2 commenters quite regularly – who unfortunately miss point #7.
    3. No civilized, self-respecting person should ever use them. Yes, the hint is intentional :) . No, figure it out yourselves.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    As the Ten Commandments are to love, these are to hate.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    As the Ten Commandments are to love, these are to hate.

  • Tom Hering

    Saul Alinsky? Seriously? It’s the 21st century, guys. Not the 1970s. Thinkers like Gene Sharp and activists like Kalle Lasn have been far more influential for quite a while now. Just look at OWS. Then look at Alinsky’s rule #12, and it ought to be clear as a bell that contemporary activists are anything but Alinskyites.

  • Tom Hering

    Saul Alinsky? Seriously? It’s the 21st century, guys. Not the 1970s. Thinkers like Gene Sharp and activists like Kalle Lasn have been far more influential for quite a while now. Just look at OWS. Then look at Alinsky’s rule #12, and it ought to be clear as a bell that contemporary activists are anything but Alinskyites.

  • Bob

    From the Right: Is this number 3?

    Tea Bagger Allen West tells liberals they should leave the U.S.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/gop-rep-west-tells-obama-and-democratic-leaders-to-get-the-hell-out-of-the-united-states/

  • Bob

    From the Right: Is this number 3?

    Tea Bagger Allen West tells liberals they should leave the U.S.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/gop-rep-west-tells-obama-and-democratic-leaders-to-get-the-hell-out-of-the-united-states/

  • http://www.christianimagination.com Seth

    In his books, which I’ve read, Alinsky also quotes our Founding Fathers, talks positively of democracy, and talks negatively of Soviet Communism. In the quote above, he’s using Marxism as an example of a system with a prime truth, then Christianity, and then he differentiates himself from both. I’m not pro-Alinsky, but I was curious what he had to say in his words.

    His overall approach, as he explains it, figuring out how to beat oppressive power structures when one has no money or power. He was of the opinion that the opposition doesn’t play fair, so neither would he.

    I agree radicals of varying types use them. I would also argue that some of these seem perfectly acceptable in war. As far as #1, I’ve seen power plays in the business world, though probably not because of Alinsky. #13 stands out to me as one used in politics, moreso by the Democrats. #4 is used by those pressuring corporations to live up to their brand image.

    I can see using #2. A variant is used in most community development today. With #6, getting people to be active on something they enjoy makes sense. #7 also makes sense, as campaigns have a limited shelf life. Some of these aren’t particularly novel. These are really designed to be used together strategically to achieve a specific end. As a whole, it lacks integrity and honesty. It’s not worth winning if one loses their soul in the process.

  • http://www.christianimagination.com Seth

    In his books, which I’ve read, Alinsky also quotes our Founding Fathers, talks positively of democracy, and talks negatively of Soviet Communism. In the quote above, he’s using Marxism as an example of a system with a prime truth, then Christianity, and then he differentiates himself from both. I’m not pro-Alinsky, but I was curious what he had to say in his words.

    His overall approach, as he explains it, figuring out how to beat oppressive power structures when one has no money or power. He was of the opinion that the opposition doesn’t play fair, so neither would he.

    I agree radicals of varying types use them. I would also argue that some of these seem perfectly acceptable in war. As far as #1, I’ve seen power plays in the business world, though probably not because of Alinsky. #13 stands out to me as one used in politics, moreso by the Democrats. #4 is used by those pressuring corporations to live up to their brand image.

    I can see using #2. A variant is used in most community development today. With #6, getting people to be active on something they enjoy makes sense. #7 also makes sense, as campaigns have a limited shelf life. Some of these aren’t particularly novel. These are really designed to be used together strategically to achieve a specific end. As a whole, it lacks integrity and honesty. It’s not worth winning if one loses their soul in the process.

  • http://afeatheradrift.wordpress.com Sherry Peyton

    If you wish to malign Mr. Alinsky, it rather behooves you to know who he is. He is the antithesis of what you paint him as. So very typical of the far right. Just the usual knee-jerk reaction which stems from hearing the name from the mouth of one of the circus clowns.

  • http://afeatheradrift.wordpress.com Sherry Peyton

    If you wish to malign Mr. Alinsky, it rather behooves you to know who he is. He is the antithesis of what you paint him as. So very typical of the far right. Just the usual knee-jerk reaction which stems from hearing the name from the mouth of one of the circus clowns.

  • Steve Billingsley

    1. I don’t think these rules are a good guide to how anyone should behave, regardless of their political bent.

    Also, I do agree that Alinsky is a much more complex (and in some ways, sympathetic) character than the typical caricatures. The linked article actually paints an interesting picture of the man).

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/243654/saul-alinsky-complicated-rebel-ronald-radosh?pg=2

    Worth reading. I don’t think Obama is an Alinskyite per se. I think he is (and always has been) a fairly typical liberal politician with a fair amount of cult of personality thrown in for good measure.

  • Steve Billingsley

    1. I don’t think these rules are a good guide to how anyone should behave, regardless of their political bent.

    Also, I do agree that Alinsky is a much more complex (and in some ways, sympathetic) character than the typical caricatures. The linked article actually paints an interesting picture of the man).

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/243654/saul-alinsky-complicated-rebel-ronald-radosh?pg=2

    Worth reading. I don’t think Obama is an Alinskyite per se. I think he is (and always has been) a fairly typical liberal politician with a fair amount of cult of personality thrown in for good measure.

  • Steve Billingsley

    The second paragraph, should have had a 2. in front of it (just forgot to put it in)

  • Steve Billingsley

    The second paragraph, should have had a 2. in front of it (just forgot to put it in)

  • SKPeterson

    Sherry @ 6 – I don’t see any maligning of Alinksy at all, in either Dr. Veith’s re-post or in the comments. Alinsky is being acknowledged as a complicated person with some interesting observations on politicial activism. Are you pulling an undeclared #13 on us? Are you criticizing Henneberger or deliberately missing the point of this thread?

  • SKPeterson

    Sherry @ 6 – I don’t see any maligning of Alinksy at all, in either Dr. Veith’s re-post or in the comments. Alinsky is being acknowledged as a complicated person with some interesting observations on politicial activism. Are you pulling an undeclared #13 on us? Are you criticizing Henneberger or deliberately missing the point of this thread?

  • DonS

    I’m with Steve @ 7.

    As to the “rules” themselves, the first problem is labeling those with whom you politically disagree “enemies”. I like “opponents” much better, as it connotes a disagreement on issues, not a visceral hatred of the person.

    Most of the rules are simply hard-nosed politics. Political operatives will always engage in hard-nosed politics — that’s life. The problem we have today is that it is all about politics and never about governance. If everything you do as a political leader is done in view of the next campaign, you have selfishly failed your constituents in favor of your own ends. If you are going to govern ethically, and fairly, for the benefit of the people you serve, you should govern in accordance with the principles you advocated in your last political campaign, regardless of their political ramifications. The only exception should be if you have had a genuine change of heart about those principles, in which case you should clearly communicate that change of heart to the people.

    The rule I despise the most is Rule #5. It is the principle most practiced, seemingly, in today’s world. Ridicule and criticism is much easier than governance — it is easier and more effective to be critical than to be constructive. The second most despicable rule is #13, to the extent that the target is a person, rather than an idea.

    Genuine engagement on the philosophical and practical differences between the parties, absent ridicule and “targeting”, would go the farthest toward an actual solution to the problems that plague us. Unfortunately, though, it’s lousy politics, apparently.

  • DonS

    I’m with Steve @ 7.

    As to the “rules” themselves, the first problem is labeling those with whom you politically disagree “enemies”. I like “opponents” much better, as it connotes a disagreement on issues, not a visceral hatred of the person.

    Most of the rules are simply hard-nosed politics. Political operatives will always engage in hard-nosed politics — that’s life. The problem we have today is that it is all about politics and never about governance. If everything you do as a political leader is done in view of the next campaign, you have selfishly failed your constituents in favor of your own ends. If you are going to govern ethically, and fairly, for the benefit of the people you serve, you should govern in accordance with the principles you advocated in your last political campaign, regardless of their political ramifications. The only exception should be if you have had a genuine change of heart about those principles, in which case you should clearly communicate that change of heart to the people.

    The rule I despise the most is Rule #5. It is the principle most practiced, seemingly, in today’s world. Ridicule and criticism is much easier than governance — it is easier and more effective to be critical than to be constructive. The second most despicable rule is #13, to the extent that the target is a person, rather than an idea.

    Genuine engagement on the philosophical and practical differences between the parties, absent ridicule and “targeting”, would go the farthest toward an actual solution to the problems that plague us. Unfortunately, though, it’s lousy politics, apparently.

  • Jerry

    The Lord has blessed us with a political system with far more freedom than has existed in world history. There’s nothing particularly Biblical about it; CF Walther wasn’t sure that political freedom was exactly a good for Lutherans. However it is an earthly blessing just the same, and one that I am afraid to lose.

    I see the question being raised is whether the Republican candidates along with the current occupant of the White House understand that blessing. In summary, Alinksky saw freedom as evil. Is that a view shared by our politicians? Are Alinsky’s tactics being used to chase away leaders who might understand freedom? Is that how we ended up with the Republican candidates we have now? Are Americans so ready to surrender freedom that they would surrender to those inspired by Alinksy?

    Does the pro-life movement need to curtail freedom to save the lives of the unborn, and others who are too weak to defend themselves? I don’t believe so. Under freedom, the pro-lifers would have the ability to sufficiently educate voters such that the protection of life would be seen as an issue of freedom. Furthermore Alinsky himself stated he was inspired by Satan. So no, pro-lifers definitely should not use Alinsky methods! What’s sad is Alinsky methods are used against those who recognize the right to life by those who should know better, Republican candidates.

  • Jerry

    The Lord has blessed us with a political system with far more freedom than has existed in world history. There’s nothing particularly Biblical about it; CF Walther wasn’t sure that political freedom was exactly a good for Lutherans. However it is an earthly blessing just the same, and one that I am afraid to lose.

    I see the question being raised is whether the Republican candidates along with the current occupant of the White House understand that blessing. In summary, Alinksky saw freedom as evil. Is that a view shared by our politicians? Are Alinsky’s tactics being used to chase away leaders who might understand freedom? Is that how we ended up with the Republican candidates we have now? Are Americans so ready to surrender freedom that they would surrender to those inspired by Alinksy?

    Does the pro-life movement need to curtail freedom to save the lives of the unborn, and others who are too weak to defend themselves? I don’t believe so. Under freedom, the pro-lifers would have the ability to sufficiently educate voters such that the protection of life would be seen as an issue of freedom. Furthermore Alinsky himself stated he was inspired by Satan. So no, pro-lifers definitely should not use Alinsky methods! What’s sad is Alinsky methods are used against those who recognize the right to life by those who should know better, Republican candidates.

  • Bob

    DonS,

    I agree with your using “opponent” vs. “enemy” with regards to how we treat others who are at other points along the political spectrum.

    I still like the stories of how Tip O’Neill and Reagan, who were strongly opposed to one another ideologically, would the end the day over a drink and a cigar.

    Too bad things have degenerated since then.

  • Bob

    DonS,

    I agree with your using “opponent” vs. “enemy” with regards to how we treat others who are at other points along the political spectrum.

    I still like the stories of how Tip O’Neill and Reagan, who were strongly opposed to one another ideologically, would the end the day over a drink and a cigar.

    Too bad things have degenerated since then.

  • Bob

    No, Alinsky never said he was inspired by Satan nor does he dedicate his book to him. Alinsky dedicates the book to his wife.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201009200054

  • Bob

    No, Alinsky never said he was inspired by Satan nor does he dedicate his book to him. Alinsky dedicates the book to his wife.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201009200054

  • Tom Hering

    Monica Crowley on The O’Reilly Factor:

    Ok, let’s — first of all, let’s keep in mind who Saul Alinsky was and how he directly influenced Barack Obama. Saul Alinsky wrote “Rules for Radicals” in ’71 and dedicated it to Lucifer.

    Not true. The book is dedicated “To Irene.” On the page of quotations that begin the book, however, Alinsky (quoting himself) acknowledges Lucifer as the first effective radical. See for yourself by using the “click to look inside” feature here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Radicals-Saul-Alinsky/dp/0679721134

    Does this mean Alinsky was “inspired” by Satan? Or does it mean that he – like Thomas Paine (also quoted) – saw the Church as an establishment enemy, and rather enjoyed saying things that were sure to offend we Christians?

  • Tom Hering

    Monica Crowley on The O’Reilly Factor:

    Ok, let’s — first of all, let’s keep in mind who Saul Alinsky was and how he directly influenced Barack Obama. Saul Alinsky wrote “Rules for Radicals” in ’71 and dedicated it to Lucifer.

    Not true. The book is dedicated “To Irene.” On the page of quotations that begin the book, however, Alinsky (quoting himself) acknowledges Lucifer as the first effective radical. See for yourself by using the “click to look inside” feature here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Radicals-Saul-Alinsky/dp/0679721134

    Does this mean Alinsky was “inspired” by Satan? Or does it mean that he – like Thomas Paine (also quoted) – saw the Church as an establishment enemy, and rather enjoyed saying things that were sure to offend we Christians?

  • formerly just steve

    One can see these tactics at work in any of a number of government run schools. Just spend some time on an University or California campus. Or, if California is just too expensive, crowded, or arrogant for you, just go to the NEA website, which openly promotes Rules for Radicals.

  • formerly just steve

    One can see these tactics at work in any of a number of government run schools. Just spend some time on an University or California campus. Or, if California is just too expensive, crowded, or arrogant for you, just go to the NEA website, which openly promotes Rules for Radicals.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The Atlantic also had an article comparing Newt and Alinsky recently: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/saul-alinsky-a-true-american-exceptionalist/252068/

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The Atlantic also had an article comparing Newt and Alinsky recently: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/saul-alinsky-a-true-american-exceptionalist/252068/

  • Tom Hering

    formerly just steve @ 15, conservatives can go looking closer to home. From The Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 2012:

    FreedomWorks, the tea party group headed by former Republican House leader Dick Armey, gives copies of “Rules for Radicals” to its leaders. “His tactics when it comes to grass-roots organizing are incredibly effective,” FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon told The Wall Street Journal. Tea partyers aggressively confronting lawmakers at town hall meetings is straight from Alinsky’s playbook.

    Conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. called the Chicago radical “very close to being an organizational genius.”

  • Tom Hering

    formerly just steve @ 15, conservatives can go looking closer to home. From The Christian Science Monitor, January 28, 2012:

    FreedomWorks, the tea party group headed by former Republican House leader Dick Armey, gives copies of “Rules for Radicals” to its leaders. “His tactics when it comes to grass-roots organizing are incredibly effective,” FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon told The Wall Street Journal. Tea partyers aggressively confronting lawmakers at town hall meetings is straight from Alinsky’s playbook.

    Conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. called the Chicago radical “very close to being an organizational genius.”

  • formerly just steve

    Bob, #13, no, of course the NEA isn’t recommending it for reading by students. They’re just recommending it for reading by teachers who teach our students what to read. Who teach our students how to be radicals themselves, as seen on so many campuses. But, hey, the NEA is free from guilt because they didn’t recommend it to students.

    I would counter your post from mediamatters by an equally balanced site like worldnetdaily but I think my point is clear.

  • formerly just steve

    Bob, #13, no, of course the NEA isn’t recommending it for reading by students. They’re just recommending it for reading by teachers who teach our students what to read. Who teach our students how to be radicals themselves, as seen on so many campuses. But, hey, the NEA is free from guilt because they didn’t recommend it to students.

    I would counter your post from mediamatters by an equally balanced site like worldnetdaily but I think my point is clear.

  • formerly just steve

    Tom, #17, I’m really not interested in the “but conservatives do it too” argument that’s so popular here when talking about what our public “education” system us doing to the children of this country. I wouldn’t think you would be either.

  • formerly just steve

    Tom, #17, I’m really not interested in the “but conservatives do it too” argument that’s so popular here when talking about what our public “education” system us doing to the children of this country. I wouldn’t think you would be either.

  • Jonathan

    Tom @14. Monica Crowley….Alistair Crowley.
    Just saying. See how these things start? :)

  • Jonathan

    Tom @14. Monica Crowley….Alistair Crowley.
    Just saying. See how these things start? :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m pretty tired of hearing about “Rules for Radicals”.

    Most of the time I hear that title (or Alinsky’s name) bandied about, it seems like a fairly shallow attempt at applying guilt by association. It’s not hard to find someone you disagree with engaging in one or more of these “rules”, and once you’ve done that, it’s a short hop to “therefore you’re a radical”, and then a quick jump to “therefore you’re bad/wrong”. Tada!

    I mean, I know conspiracy theorists just love the idea of a Manchurian (presidential) Candidate, but how naive do you have to be to be surprised (as the article’s author was) that:

    The president is not an infiltrator of the dreaded establishment, but the personification of it. … Alinsky’s blueprint for revolution is the opposite of Obama’s ultra-traditional path to power — via Harvard and elected office.

    Gee, ya think? Ya think that might apply to pretty much every President, not just Obama, too?

    Look, is it any surprise that the word “radical” is every bit as inchoate these days as are “conservative” and “liberal”? It’s all in the framing. A person championing a return to the Constitution as it was understood in the 19th century could be a “conservative”, a “radical”, “a liberal”, or maybe all three. Same goes for a person arguing for us to maintain our current entitlement system.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m pretty tired of hearing about “Rules for Radicals”.

    Most of the time I hear that title (or Alinsky’s name) bandied about, it seems like a fairly shallow attempt at applying guilt by association. It’s not hard to find someone you disagree with engaging in one or more of these “rules”, and once you’ve done that, it’s a short hop to “therefore you’re a radical”, and then a quick jump to “therefore you’re bad/wrong”. Tada!

    I mean, I know conspiracy theorists just love the idea of a Manchurian (presidential) Candidate, but how naive do you have to be to be surprised (as the article’s author was) that:

    The president is not an infiltrator of the dreaded establishment, but the personification of it. … Alinsky’s blueprint for revolution is the opposite of Obama’s ultra-traditional path to power — via Harvard and elected office.

    Gee, ya think? Ya think that might apply to pretty much every President, not just Obama, too?

    Look, is it any surprise that the word “radical” is every bit as inchoate these days as are “conservative” and “liberal”? It’s all in the framing. A person championing a return to the Constitution as it was understood in the 19th century could be a “conservative”, a “radical”, “a liberal”, or maybe all three. Same goes for a person arguing for us to maintain our current entitlement system.

  • formerly just steve

    Jonathan, #20, she was also born the same year that Sergent Pepper’s won album of the year. And, as we know, that album was dedicated to Alistair Crowley. She was also born 18 years after Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard held a bizarre love triangle in an attempt to birth the Antichrist. 18 = 6+6+6.

    Hmmm.

  • formerly just steve

    Jonathan, #20, she was also born the same year that Sergent Pepper’s won album of the year. And, as we know, that album was dedicated to Alistair Crowley. She was also born 18 years after Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard held a bizarre love triangle in an attempt to birth the Antichrist. 18 = 6+6+6.

    Hmmm.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to the “rules” themselves, others have already noted that many of them are common sense. I mean, who’s going to complain about an opponent using #4? “Boohoo! You’re making me live by my own rules!” Wouldn’t that be an open admission of hypocrisy? And don’t we all agree that hypocrisy is a bad thing?

    I really don’t see what all the hype is. These rules might lead to some hardball tactics, but I’m not sure any one of them could be said to be beyond the pale. The only statement that Veith quoted that I would take issue with is this one:

    One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.

    This is one rule that Christians should not follow, though unfortunately many of us do exactly that.

    Anyhow, where do I see these tactics at work? I could argue that the many attempts to portray Obama as an Alinskyite radical were themselves good examples of #13. Which is, you know, ironic.

    And of course conservatives are using them as well as leftists! Others have already given more concrete examples, but is anyone here going to argue that conservatives haven’t used ridicule (#5) or attempts to inflate their own power (#1)? And every time you hear a conservative lament “So much for caring about diversity” or something similar, you can put a quarter in the Rule #4 jar.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to the “rules” themselves, others have already noted that many of them are common sense. I mean, who’s going to complain about an opponent using #4? “Boohoo! You’re making me live by my own rules!” Wouldn’t that be an open admission of hypocrisy? And don’t we all agree that hypocrisy is a bad thing?

    I really don’t see what all the hype is. These rules might lead to some hardball tactics, but I’m not sure any one of them could be said to be beyond the pale. The only statement that Veith quoted that I would take issue with is this one:

    One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.

    This is one rule that Christians should not follow, though unfortunately many of us do exactly that.

    Anyhow, where do I see these tactics at work? I could argue that the many attempts to portray Obama as an Alinskyite radical were themselves good examples of #13. Which is, you know, ironic.

    And of course conservatives are using them as well as leftists! Others have already given more concrete examples, but is anyone here going to argue that conservatives haven’t used ridicule (#5) or attempts to inflate their own power (#1)? And every time you hear a conservative lament “So much for caring about diversity” or something similar, you can put a quarter in the Rule #4 jar.

  • Tom Hering

    I just hope I live to see Rules For Radicals being followed by the 13,000 inhabitants of Moon Base Newt – when they agitate for statehood.

  • Tom Hering

    I just hope I live to see Rules For Radicals being followed by the 13,000 inhabitants of Moon Base Newt – when they agitate for statehood.

  • Steve Billingsley

    “Moon Base Newt” – what a descriptive phrase in so many ways.

  • Steve Billingsley

    “Moon Base Newt” – what a descriptive phrase in so many ways.

  • SKPeterson

    They’ll agitate for independence Tom – that’s when the words turn to zero-g space bullets and we throw Alinsky out for Mao’s Little Red Book. Or something like that.

  • SKPeterson

    They’ll agitate for independence Tom – that’s when the words turn to zero-g space bullets and we throw Alinsky out for Mao’s Little Red Book. Or something like that.

  • Tom Hering
  • Tom Hering
  • kerner

    Klasie @1:

    “3. No civilized, self-respecting person should ever use them.”

    I disagree. Perhaps it is because my vocation is adversarial, but I find very little offensive about the “rules” themselves.

    This does not mean I am any friend of Saul Alinsky. But politics is an adversarial process, and the “rules” appear to be statements of tactics in that process. It is not necessary to deplore your adversary’s tactics to resist him. And it seems to me that it is possible to find a varient of almost all these “rules” in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
    http://suntzusaid.com/

    For example take rules #1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. and #9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

    and compare them with Sun Tzu:

    “19 Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. #20 Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

    Or take rule #5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

    And compare Sun Tzu:
    “22 If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. ”

    (You might even compare this: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” ― Martin Luther)

    I could find more comparisons, but you get the point.

    I probably use some varient of one or another of Alinsky’s “rules” every day in negotiations or litigation. Everyone who contends in an adversarial process does so. The only one I try to avoid is #5, but the threat of #5 (letting your opponent know he will look foolish if he pursues a certain course) Is basically combining #5 with #9, and is a gentler (and often more fruitful) way to proceed in my particular field.

    But politics is different. In politics, getting the opposition to appear ridiculous can be an important tactic. Nobody wants to vote for a guy who is laughable, and political satire is used by both sides all the time for that very reason.

    But all I’m saying is that most of these rules are morally neutral. I oppose Alinsky’s (and probably Sun Tzu’s) politics, not his tactics. I neither like nor dislike Saul Alinsky because he has used them, and I feel the same way about Sun Tzu.

  • kerner

    Klasie @1:

    “3. No civilized, self-respecting person should ever use them.”

    I disagree. Perhaps it is because my vocation is adversarial, but I find very little offensive about the “rules” themselves.

    This does not mean I am any friend of Saul Alinsky. But politics is an adversarial process, and the “rules” appear to be statements of tactics in that process. It is not necessary to deplore your adversary’s tactics to resist him. And it seems to me that it is possible to find a varient of almost all these “rules” in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
    http://suntzusaid.com/

    For example take rules #1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. and #9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

    and compare them with Sun Tzu:

    “19 Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. #20 Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

    Or take rule #5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

    And compare Sun Tzu:
    “22 If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. ”

    (You might even compare this: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” ― Martin Luther)

    I could find more comparisons, but you get the point.

    I probably use some varient of one or another of Alinsky’s “rules” every day in negotiations or litigation. Everyone who contends in an adversarial process does so. The only one I try to avoid is #5, but the threat of #5 (letting your opponent know he will look foolish if he pursues a certain course) Is basically combining #5 with #9, and is a gentler (and often more fruitful) way to proceed in my particular field.

    But politics is different. In politics, getting the opposition to appear ridiculous can be an important tactic. Nobody wants to vote for a guy who is laughable, and political satire is used by both sides all the time for that very reason.

    But all I’m saying is that most of these rules are morally neutral. I oppose Alinsky’s (and probably Sun Tzu’s) politics, not his tactics. I neither like nor dislike Saul Alinsky because he has used them, and I feel the same way about Sun Tzu.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@28), I, too, thought of that Luther quote in regards to rule #5. Except I couldn’t remember how the Luther quote went, exactly. Good job.

    Of course, to continue my point from above (@21), Luther was both an arch “radical” and an arch “conservative”. As it were.

    Anyhow, I agree with your post.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@28), I, too, thought of that Luther quote in regards to rule #5. Except I couldn’t remember how the Luther quote went, exactly. Good job.

    Of course, to continue my point from above (@21), Luther was both an arch “radical” and an arch “conservative”. As it were.

    Anyhow, I agree with your post.

  • kerner

    I try hard not to use those kinds of tactics here (although old habits are always hard to break). We discuss the merits of issues here. We aren’t operating a political campaign. And these are fundamentally different undertakings. I agree that, in the discussions we have here, i.e. trying to better understand Christianity and culture, the rules for radicals have no place. But if we are in an adversarial process, I don’t see how anyone could not use them to some degree and be effective.

  • kerner

    I try hard not to use those kinds of tactics here (although old habits are always hard to break). We discuss the merits of issues here. We aren’t operating a political campaign. And these are fundamentally different undertakings. I agree that, in the discussions we have here, i.e. trying to better understand Christianity and culture, the rules for radicals have no place. But if we are in an adversarial process, I don’t see how anyone could not use them to some degree and be effective.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course Kerner, but I never thought you civi.. oops, was I writing that?? :) :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course Kerner, but I never thought you civi.. oops, was I writing that?? :) :)

  • Cincinnatus

    Saul Alinsky is boring.

  • Cincinnatus

    Saul Alinsky is boring.

  • kerner

    Hey Bob@4:

    Calling Allen West a “Teabagger” is ad hominem and obcene and probably violates Matthew 5:22 and the positive side of the 8th Commandment…

    …oops, just used Rule #4 :D

  • kerner

    Hey Bob@4:

    Calling Allen West a “Teabagger” is ad hominem and obcene and probably violates Matthew 5:22 and the positive side of the 8th Commandment…

    …oops, just used Rule #4 :D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat”

    Uh, wouldn’t that actually be an improvement over the incredible influence peddling and offshoring of the jobs we domestic proletariat used to hold?

    Obama is no more pro-proletariat than Bush, etc. The most pro-proletariat is probably Ron Paul. If you work for a living and do not derive most of your income from investments, you are the proletariat.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat”

    Uh, wouldn’t that actually be an improvement over the incredible influence peddling and offshoring of the jobs we domestic proletariat used to hold?

    Obama is no more pro-proletariat than Bush, etc. The most pro-proletariat is probably Ron Paul. If you work for a living and do not derive most of your income from investments, you are the proletariat.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    If you are not a citizen or legal resident, or you are not working, you are not proletariat. Proletariat are the productive workers who are citizens and legal residents. Every government should be pro-proletariat.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    If you are not a citizen or legal resident, or you are not working, you are not proletariat. Proletariat are the productive workers who are citizens and legal residents. Every government should be pro-proletariat.

  • kerner

    Klasie @31:
    I never claimed to be civilized. :D

    Cincinnatus @32:
    See, that’s why you Ron Paul supporters are doomed to disappointment. He, and you, seem to be all about principles, which is only half the battle. You never give enough thought to actually getting your principles into the law and getting your people into office, which requires strategy and tactical awareness. The Constitution won’t enforce itself, buckaroo. ;)

  • kerner

    Klasie @31:
    I never claimed to be civilized. :D

    Cincinnatus @32:
    See, that’s why you Ron Paul supporters are doomed to disappointment. He, and you, seem to be all about principles, which is only half the battle. You never give enough thought to actually getting your principles into the law and getting your people into office, which requires strategy and tactical awareness. The Constitution won’t enforce itself, buckaroo. ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Um, Kerner (@36), do you see any Ron Paul supporters here (I could think of at least three commenters on this thread who could be described that way) poo-pooing the use of tactics, even hard-nosed tactics?

    Or are you just employing Rule #5? (I’m already tired of this game, myself.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Um, Kerner (@36), do you see any Ron Paul supporters here (I could think of at least three commenters on this thread who could be described that way) poo-pooing the use of tactics, even hard-nosed tactics?

    Or are you just employing Rule #5? (I’m already tired of this game, myself.)

  • Tom Hering

    “I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat …”

    Did anyone ever seriously think he would? Alinsky wasn’t a Marxist. Why would Obama be?

    Excerpt from a Playboy interview with Alinsky, from Wikipedia:

    I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.

  • Tom Hering

    “I admit that Obama has not set up a dictatorship of the proletariat …”

    Did anyone ever seriously think he would? Alinsky wasn’t a Marxist. Why would Obama be?

    Excerpt from a Playboy interview with Alinsky, from Wikipedia:

    I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith asks: “Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?”

    Dr. Veith, what do you think of conservatives using this one:

    o Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

    I think you’ve written posts pointing out the hypocrisy of liberals.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith asks: “Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?”

    Dr. Veith, what do you think of conservatives using this one:

    o Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

    I think you’ve written posts pointing out the hypocrisy of liberals.

  • kerner

    tODD @37:

    First of all, I’m only partly serious, hence the ;)

    But, no, I don’t see any Paul supporters overtly eshewing tactics. I only see Cincinnatus @31 expressing boredom at the writings of an author whose subject matter was political tactics (and some pretty effective tactics, I think).

    But I think it’s not completely unsupported to observe that libertarians, who want more than anything to be left alone as much as possible, generally aren’t that enthusiastic about concerted political activity. Deep down, I think many libertarians dislike the whole political process and do not aspire to political power. Hence they don’t like to think about political strategy and tactics very much. And not liking to think about those things, they don’t.

    Which is, of course, consistent with Rule #6.

  • kerner

    tODD @37:

    First of all, I’m only partly serious, hence the ;)

    But, no, I don’t see any Paul supporters overtly eshewing tactics. I only see Cincinnatus @31 expressing boredom at the writings of an author whose subject matter was political tactics (and some pretty effective tactics, I think).

    But I think it’s not completely unsupported to observe that libertarians, who want more than anything to be left alone as much as possible, generally aren’t that enthusiastic about concerted political activity. Deep down, I think many libertarians dislike the whole political process and do not aspire to political power. Hence they don’t like to think about political strategy and tactics very much. And not liking to think about those things, they don’t.

    Which is, of course, consistent with Rule #6.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 36

    So, the ends justify the means?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 36

    So, the ends justify the means?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Which is, of course, consistent with Rule #6.”

    that is the most inherently problematic rule, isn’t it?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Which is, of course, consistent with Rule #6.”

    that is the most inherently problematic rule, isn’t it?

  • SKPeterson

    I can think of a few conservatives who used Alinsky-like tactics – Lee Atwater perhaps being the right-wing uberexample, Karl Rove, Dick Armey (haven’t heard much from him vis-a-vis Newt) and Bob Dole to a greater or lesser extent. As has been pointed out, each of these tactics are part and parcel of the means of popular political partisanship.

    It also seems that Clinton used many of these same tactics, but more in an avuncular manner.

  • SKPeterson

    I can think of a few conservatives who used Alinsky-like tactics – Lee Atwater perhaps being the right-wing uberexample, Karl Rove, Dick Armey (haven’t heard much from him vis-a-vis Newt) and Bob Dole to a greater or lesser extent. As has been pointed out, each of these tactics are part and parcel of the means of popular political partisanship.

    It also seems that Clinton used many of these same tactics, but more in an avuncular manner.

  • Dust

    Tom at 24…..Moon Base Newt? That’s good, but let’s “radicalize” it and “free base” Newt :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    Tom at 24…..Moon Base Newt? That’s good, but let’s “radicalize” it and “free base” Newt :)

    cheers!

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    I read alinsky’s _R for R_ twice as opposition research-
    To answer your question:
    “Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?”

    YES!

    C-CS
    Pres
    LA Lutherans for Life

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    I read alinsky’s _R for R_ twice as opposition research-
    To answer your question:
    “Are there ways maybe that conservatives–for example, pro-life activists– should use them?”

    YES!

    C-CS
    Pres
    LA Lutherans for Life

  • kerner

    sg @41:

    “So, the ends justify the means?”

    I didn’t say that. What I mean is that tactics that are permissible in an adversarial struggle are not necessarily the way people ought to behave at all times. We are debating theoretical principles here, not trying to achieve a concrete goal.

  • kerner

    sg @41:

    “So, the ends justify the means?”

    I didn’t say that. What I mean is that tactics that are permissible in an adversarial struggle are not necessarily the way people ought to behave at all times. We are debating theoretical principles here, not trying to achieve a concrete goal.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Do y’all remember the book, Winning Through Intimidation ?

    http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Through-Intimidation-Robert-Ringer/dp/0449207862

    The tactics cited by Dr. Veith all seem to be based on emotion. None seems primarily a means for cogent discussion and striving for a win-win situation. So, probably the best folks won’t even want to be involved in such efforts.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Do y’all remember the book, Winning Through Intimidation ?

    http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Through-Intimidation-Robert-Ringer/dp/0449207862

    The tactics cited by Dr. Veith all seem to be based on emotion. None seems primarily a means for cogent discussion and striving for a win-win situation. So, probably the best folks won’t even want to be involved in such efforts.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Amen sg.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Amen sg.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith asks: “Where do you see these tactics [by Alinsky] at work?”

    Most frequently by Liberals/Leftists.

    President Obama champions them. Here are excerpts from a recent article:

    “The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.

    Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.

    Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to “shove it down the throats” of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.

    It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.

    And few on the political left have any sense of modesty about any of their culture-changing schemes.

    They are so right that of course the coercive power of the state — with its machinery of stripping away the property and liberty of those who run afoul of it — should be deployed to wipe out mendicants and heretics.

    This is the chief character flaw of the leftist movement — their inability to respect anyone at all but their own. A very provincial and solipisitically childish way to view the world, of course, which leads to a vicious arrogance in attempting to pound, pound, pound square pegs into the round holes the state has cut for them.

    The left would just be wrong, and not dangerous, if it weren’t so arrogant about disposing of people’s freedom with a single thoughtless line of legislation.

    It is that, the arrogance and the profound disrespect of anyone who does not wear the feathers and warpaint of their tribe, that makes them not just wrong but sinister.”

    From: Radical: For No Reason Except To Punish Cultures He Abhors, Obama Mandates That Catholic Organizations Must Now Pay for Abortions for Their Workers.

    Democrats and today’s Liberals… bleah. Thank God for Dr. Gene Veith and his push back against Liberal Fascists.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith asks: “Where do you see these tactics [by Alinsky] at work?”

    Most frequently by Liberals/Leftists.

    President Obama champions them. Here are excerpts from a recent article:

    “The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.

    Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.

    Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to “shove it down the throats” of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.

    It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.

    And few on the political left have any sense of modesty about any of their culture-changing schemes.

    They are so right that of course the coercive power of the state — with its machinery of stripping away the property and liberty of those who run afoul of it — should be deployed to wipe out mendicants and heretics.

    This is the chief character flaw of the leftist movement — their inability to respect anyone at all but their own. A very provincial and solipisitically childish way to view the world, of course, which leads to a vicious arrogance in attempting to pound, pound, pound square pegs into the round holes the state has cut for them.

    The left would just be wrong, and not dangerous, if it weren’t so arrogant about disposing of people’s freedom with a single thoughtless line of legislation.

    It is that, the arrogance and the profound disrespect of anyone who does not wear the feathers and warpaint of their tribe, that makes them not just wrong but sinister.”

    From: Radical: For No Reason Except To Punish Cultures He Abhors, Obama Mandates That Catholic Organizations Must Now Pay for Abortions for Their Workers.

    Democrats and today’s Liberals… bleah. Thank God for Dr. Gene Veith and his push back against Liberal Fascists.

  • kerner

    “War is the continuation of diplomacy (or politics, or policy–translations vary) by other means.”
    Carl von Clausewitz

    “Diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means.”
    Zhou En-lai

    “War is not the continuation of policy, it is the breakdown of policy.”
    Hans von Seekt

    There are always alternative systems to resolving disputes; non-adversarial systems. These always include systems that ideally seek the “win-win”. Governments, and attorneys , and (I assume) political operatives, need to be able to pursue their goals in both systems. The “rules” for the diplomat/negotiator would be different from that of the radical or the warrior. As an attorney, I try to pursue both systems at once, because confrontation is difficult and expensive and unpredictable. But I have said for years that my greatest victories are those when the opposition gives me what I want, but thinks it is their own idea. On the other hand, one incentive to get the other side to be reasonable and seek that “win-win” solution is the knowledge that your client has a good litigator on his side. You know, the old saying that the best way to get peace is to be prepared for war.

  • kerner

    “War is the continuation of diplomacy (or politics, or policy–translations vary) by other means.”
    Carl von Clausewitz

    “Diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means.”
    Zhou En-lai

    “War is not the continuation of policy, it is the breakdown of policy.”
    Hans von Seekt

    There are always alternative systems to resolving disputes; non-adversarial systems. These always include systems that ideally seek the “win-win”. Governments, and attorneys , and (I assume) political operatives, need to be able to pursue their goals in both systems. The “rules” for the diplomat/negotiator would be different from that of the radical or the warrior. As an attorney, I try to pursue both systems at once, because confrontation is difficult and expensive and unpredictable. But I have said for years that my greatest victories are those when the opposition gives me what I want, but thinks it is their own idea. On the other hand, one incentive to get the other side to be reasonable and seek that “win-win” solution is the knowledge that your client has a good litigator on his side. You know, the old saying that the best way to get peace is to be prepared for war.

  • kerner

    sg @47 (and et tu, Klasie):

    Sigh. I know we have had different definitions of what is “best” in a lot of different contexts in the past, but I hope you will give me a little leeway here. I suggest that on this issue, there is no “best”. Any civilization in this fallen world needs both nurturers and fighters as well as all the other vocations. Each serves an important purpose and none should presume to think that they are “best” or superior to the others. I would think that the Lutheran doctrine of vocation is pretty clear about that.

  • kerner

    sg @47 (and et tu, Klasie):

    Sigh. I know we have had different definitions of what is “best” in a lot of different contexts in the past, but I hope you will give me a little leeway here. I suggest that on this issue, there is no “best”. Any civilization in this fallen world needs both nurturers and fighters as well as all the other vocations. Each serves an important purpose and none should presume to think that they are “best” or superior to the others. I would think that the Lutheran doctrine of vocation is pretty clear about that.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    oops, sorry bad choice of words.

    I just meant that the folks with best integrity and qualifications, highly civic minded, might be so put off by the process that they choose not to participate and we all are worse off for it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    oops, sorry bad choice of words.

    I just meant that the folks with best integrity and qualifications, highly civic minded, might be so put off by the process that they choose not to participate and we all are worse off for it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner, the point is that there are “horses for courses”, but it seems that rational, civilized discourse is for the birds and everything reverts to the above tactics almost immediately. Everything is in the extreme, everything is overemphasized, polarization and ideology above all. Every man a partisan-bot.

    When one jumps into extreme tactics at the slightest provocation / difference of opinion, what the hell are you going to do when the real provocation, the real problems come??

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner, the point is that there are “horses for courses”, but it seems that rational, civilized discourse is for the birds and everything reverts to the above tactics almost immediately. Everything is in the extreme, everything is overemphasized, polarization and ideology above all. Every man a partisan-bot.

    When one jumps into extreme tactics at the slightest provocation / difference of opinion, what the hell are you going to do when the real provocation, the real problems come??

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    You’re right, of course. And I think I know why. Nowadays, the right has no confidence in the ability of their leadership to negotiate rationally with the left. This is because our leadership has such a long track record of failure as negotiators. For decades, the question was whether the left would eat half our lunch, or all of it. Reagan was a pretty good negotiator, but we haven’t seen his like since.

    And today the conservative media sees any attempt to negotiate rationally as a defeat because they think that we never come out of negotiations better off than we were. So the conservative media promotes confrontation. Coincidentally, confrontation makes for more profitable radio and TV (well, maybe it’s not a coincidence).

  • kerner

    Klasie:

    You’re right, of course. And I think I know why. Nowadays, the right has no confidence in the ability of their leadership to negotiate rationally with the left. This is because our leadership has such a long track record of failure as negotiators. For decades, the question was whether the left would eat half our lunch, or all of it. Reagan was a pretty good negotiator, but we haven’t seen his like since.

    And today the conservative media sees any attempt to negotiate rationally as a defeat because they think that we never come out of negotiations better off than we were. So the conservative media promotes confrontation. Coincidentally, confrontation makes for more profitable radio and TV (well, maybe it’s not a coincidence).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner – incidentally, the best example of failed leadership, failed negotiating – Gingrich.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kerner – incidentally, the best example of failed leadership, failed negotiating – Gingrich.

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