Friday, July 01, 2005

Mass Organizing Tactics

Given the inability of certain leadership groups and people to plan out a proper protest campaign here, I think that Saul Alinsky's principles need repeating. These are excerpted from Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, pp. 126-140 and they are classic.
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Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have. Tactics are those conscious deliberate acts by which human beings live with each other and deal with the world around them. In the world of give and take, tactics is the art of how to take and how to give. Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves.

For an elementary illustration of tactics, take parts of your face as the point of reference; your eyes, your ears, and your nose. First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power. Second the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then...conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does. Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

Always remember the first rule of power tactics:

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

The second rule is: Never go outside the experience of your people. When an action is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

The third rule is: Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their 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.

The fourth rule carries within it the fifth rule: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.

The sixth rule is: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.

The seventh rule is: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which it becomes a ritualistic commitment...

The eighth rule: Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

The ninth rule: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

The tenth rule: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

The eleventh rule is: If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative...

The twelfth rule: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. you cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying "You're right--we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us."

The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and "frozen." By this I mean that in a complex, interrelated, urban society, it becomes increasingly difficult to single out who is to blame for any particular evil. There is a constant, and somewhat legitimate, passing of the buck....

It should be borne in mind that the target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target....

One of the criteria in picking your target is the target's vulnerability--where do you have the power to start? Furthermore, the target can always say, "Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?" When you "freeze the target," you disregard these arguments and, for the moment, all others to blame.

Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all of the "others" come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target.

The other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract such as a community's segregated practices or a major corporation or City Hall. It is not possible to develop the necessary hostility against, say, City Hall, which after all is a concrete, physical, inanimate structure, or against a corporation, which has no soul or identity, or a public school administration, which again is an inanimate system.

3 comments:

Ben Plonie said...

I notice that telling the truth does not have a place on the list, in this amoral chess game. But it does make the Smolanim more understandable. If consciously following this protocol, it is a conspiracy. If unconscious, it is a meme.

Regarding rules Five and Six, I suggest a refinement of the display of orange: An Orange on Black version of the Israeli flag, a reverse video distress signal. Unfortunately, you do not have the American method of displaying an upside down flag as a distress symbol.

And just to be annoying, how about attaching Tsitsit to the corners (symbolic ones, not of kosher construction). This would be some marketing tactic!

Pass it on...

YMedad said...

The Tzitzit fringes would only symbolize the 'fringe element' aspect of those who wish to portray the anti-disengagement forces of extremists.

Anonymous said...

You know, in my military and law enforcement career, I have looked at several tactics that are designed to achieve some goal.

I have never been more scared than when I had to enter a house with a violent offender who knew as much about law enforcement tactics as I did.

The failing of Saul Alinsky and others that follow him is the lack of morality.

Obama has without argument been successful in the process of the strategies of Saul Alinsky. But even now with the exposure of his lack of integrity when it came to campaign promises and the reversal of those promises, his employing of people like Kevin Jennings - an advocate of NAMBLA and of sexual abuse of children as a school safety czar, etc., etc. Obama's use of tactics won't be enough to sustain him.

I believe your greatest strength is the truth, integrity, morality, and living by an honorable standard.

If someone were to use rule 13 from Saul Alinsky and that person were also armed with the truth, integrity, and lives by an honorable standard, would defeat a person like Obama every time.