Alinsky didn't ignore traditional moral standards or dismiss them as unnecessary. He was more devious -- he taught his followers that "moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means."
To achieve his goals, he sought local community organizers who projected confidence and vision as well as change. Barack Obama fit the profile.
Alinsky didn't want just talkers, he wanted radicals who were prepared to take bold action to organize the discontented, precipitate crises, grab power and thereby transform society. He taught his organizers how to infiltrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties, gain influence in them and then introduce change.
The qualities Alinsky looked for in a good organizer were ego ("reaching for the highest level for which man can reach -- to create, to be a 'great creator,' to play God"), curiosity (raising "questions that agitate, that break through the accepted pattern"), irreverence ("nothing is sacred"; "detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality"), a sense of humor ("the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule") and an organized personality with confidence in presenting the right reason for his actions only "as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved."
The organizer must "rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. ... An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent."
Alinsky trained his community organizers to adopt a "middle-class identity" and familiarity with their "values and problems." After achieving "the priceless value of his middle-class experience," he will "begin to dissect and examine that way of life as he never has before."
Alinsky's trainees are instructed to return to the suburban scene of the middle class with its variety of organizations, from PTAs to League of Women Voters, consumer groups, churches and clubs. Alinsky boasted: "With rare exceptions, our activists and radicals are products of and rebels against our middle-class society. ... Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class."
Put "Rules for Radicals" on your must-read list if you want to understand much of contemporary politics.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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