Saturday, September 08, 2012

Alinsky and the politics of resentment

From the Harvard PhD, Jerome Corsi's book, Saul Alinsky:The Evil Genius Behind Obama [Kindle Edition](Paperless Publishing, 2012):
Alinsky fashioned himself a modern day Machiavelli, well-versed and comfortable with Machiavelli’s teaching that, “It is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.” ... Alinsky repeatedly stressed that the advantage of the “have-nots” centered in numbers. “The resources of the Have-Nots are (1) no money and (2) lots of people.” This, he advised, required the Have-Nots to use street tactics to succeed. “For example, I have emphasized and re-emphasized that tactics means you do what you can with what you’ve got, and that power in the main has always gravitated towards those who have money and those whom people follow.”

As Machiavelli sought to advance himself by advising the prince how to use the amoral tactics to gain and hold political power, Alinsky fashioned himself championing the economically downtrodden.... Alinsky taught that politics, camouflaged as “community organizing,” was the only effective way that the socialist elites could mobilize the Have-nots to take power from the Haves.

Long before Barack Obama used the rallying cry of “Hope and Change,” Alinsky used the themes of “Hope and Change” as code words for creating a socialist revolution in the United States. His goal was to set in motion a peaceful revolution, using the ballot box, not bombs or bullets, to wrench power from the hands of capitalist elites and business leaders currently in charge.... But, to be successful, Alinsky encouraged activists and radicals to cut their hair, put on business suits, and run for political office. Appropriately, Rules for Radicals was subtitled “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.”

Alinsky’s methodology began by teaching “community organizers” to raise the consciousness of the economically disadvantaged, who were typically also minorities. The goal was to stir the pain of economic suffering in order to creating awareness in an economic underclass of their disadvantages. “The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt oppression,” he wrote. “He [the community organizer] must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concernedenough to act.” From there, the community organizer’s job was to mobilize the discontent into political power. When Alinsky asked new students why they wanted to organize, he shouted back at them a one-word answer: “You want to organize for power.” (emphasis mine)
It would be interesting to consider what Friedrich Nietzsche might have had to say about this. Nietzsche thought that what he called the "slave morality" of Judaism and Christianity stemmed from ressentiment (he used the French word) against the "master morality" of those in power. Max Scheler (whom Ernst Troeltsch called the "Catholic Nietzsche") showed in his fine study, Ressentiment,translated by Lewis B. Coser (Marquette University Press, 1994), that Nietzsche's criticism was mis-directed, that nobody was less reactionary (animated by resentiment, spite, envy, etc.) than the likes of Jesus or St. Francis of Assisi. Rather, he showed, ressentiment was the province of movements such as bourgeois atheistic humanism and associated political ideologies, which rejected (and resented) the idea of objectively binding and obliging principles and standards (e.g., natural law). It would be interesting to see what Scheler might have said about the neo-Marxism of Alinsky.

[Via Fr. Z.]