In attending the occupation of Oakland, I was struck by how the American Left has coalesced around the advocacy of Saul Alinsky, a man that 99% of the so called 99%ers have doubtlessly never heard of. In the 1930’s Alinsky created the “crisis strategy” which prescribed flooding welfare rolls in order to bankrupt cities. David Horowitz has led the country in detailing how it was the Alinsky model which profoundly influenced Barack Obama and gave birth to vast “shake-down” organizations such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). But even more importantly, he points out it was Alinsky, who, though not a communist, united the various socialists, anarchists, union workers, the disadvantaged and disaffected into a nihilist common cause—the seizure of power.
So successful was his strategy in uniting the American Left that in 1969, a Wellesley undergraduate by the name of Hillary Rodham wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky comparing him to Martin Luther King and Walt Whitman. In his Rules for Radicals, Alinsky writes, The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution. Without committing itself to a specific end game or vision of the future, Alinsky was crystal clear. The only organizing principle of the new Left would be the destruction of American society, its economic system and the seizure of its instrumentalities of power. During Oakland’s occupation, Allinsky’s political nihilism was utterly on display.
On a classically perfect autumn day in Oakland, mid 70’s, sunny, and crystal clear, dressed to look like an occupier, I first encounter a group of them sitting in front of Chase bank branch. They’d put crime tape over the ATM and are sitting in front of the main entrance which is locked and are smugly making sure that no customers will try to enter the branch. Peering through the windows, I see that some employees are inside presumably catching up on paperwork. One of the occupiers has a large wad of one dollar bills in her hand. She gives me one and says, “Here take it. We’re practicing generosity.” I take it and give it to homeless guy a block away and tell him where he can go to get some more.