Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals is the late work of community organizer Saul D. Alinsky, and his last book, published in 1971, shortly before his death. His goal for the Rules for Radicals was to create a guide for future community organizers to use in uniting low-income communities, or "Have-Nots", in order to empower them to gain social, political, legal and economic equality by challenging the current agencies that promoted their inequality. Here, Alinsky compiled the lessons he had learned throughout his personal experiences of community organizing spanning from 1939-1971 and targeted these lessons at the current, new generation of radicals.
Divided into ten chapters, Rules for Radicals provides a lesson on how a community organizer can accomplish the goal of successfully uniting people into an active organization, with the power to effect change on a variety of issues. Though targeted at community organizations, these chapters also touch on myriad other issues that range from ethics, education, communication, and symbol construction to nonviolence and political philosophy.
Though published for the new generation of counterculture-era organizers in 1971, Alinsky's principles have been successfully applied over the decades by numerous government, labor, community, and congregation-based organizations. The main themes of his organizational methods elucidated upon in Rules for Radicals have been recurring elements in political campaigns in recent years. The book and its author (who are otherwise quite obscure outside of academic and community organizing circles) have been brought up by conservative and Republican pundits in both the 2008 and 2016 Presidential campaigns as Obama was a community organizer and Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Alinsky. The book can be exploited for Scare Campaigns despite its not all that earth shattering content because of its sarcastic dedication to Lucifer.
The rules were:
- Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Power is derived from two main sources money and people. Have-Nots must build power from flesh and blood.
- Never go outside the expertise of your people. It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
- Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
- Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
- Ridicule is mans most potent weapon. There is no defense. Its irrational. Its infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
- A good tactic is one your people enjoy. Theyll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. Theyre doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
- A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Dont become old news.
- Keep the pressure on. Never let up. Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
- The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
- "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.
- If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive. Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
- The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Never let the enemy score points because youre caught without a solution to the problem.
- Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
This book provides examples of:
- Flaw Exploitation: If you can find it, target it.