Saul Alinsky and the 2008 presidential election

politics | May 15, 2008 | By Stephanie Block

By this point, most people are aware that Hillary Clinton, a contender for the Democrat Party’s nomination as a candidate in the 2008 presidential elections, wrote an analysis of Saul Alinsky’s organizational theories for her college thesis. She met Alinsky through a church group and remained in touch with him until his death in 1972.

Alinsky was an interesting acquaintance for an ambitious politician. He founded the Industrial Areas Foundation in 1940 and authored two books on organizing, Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals—the latter written as a poor man’s Machiavelli. In these works, he observed that the worldly mechanisms for power come from money and large numbers of organized people. Therefore, Alinsky taught his “people’s organizations,” in their quest for power, should seek money and numbers.

Opponents were to be treated not “as persons but as symbols representing ideas...inimical to the welfare of the people.” Who determined the “welfare of the people?” The organizer, of course.

The Marxist notion of class conflict predicated his worldview. In politics, the “end justifies almost any means” and “all effective actions require the passport of morality”. Along the same lines, Alinsky said that “the ethics of means and ends is that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments....Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means.”

Don’t flaunt your revolutionary ambitions, Alinsky taught his organizers – infiltrate. Look like the enemy. Talk like him. Get into his institutions and change them from within.
This is not the stuff of the “good guys.”

In fact, it is so morally flawed that when Machiavelli published a similar set of practical principles for his prince, the Church put his book on its Index of “forbidden” reading. The fact that one can get his way unscrupulously – that unscrupulous means work – doesn’t make it good.

Nor does the contemporary mantra of “preferential option for the poor” intend a separate moral code for the poor. Society can address the special needs of the poor without violating fundamental ethical standards. Alinsky was simple wrong and Clinton’s attraction to his brand of organizing is problematic.

Mrs. Clinton, however, isn’t the only Alinskyite seeking the Democrat Party presidential nomination. Senator Barack Obama was trained by Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, has taught workshops on the Alinsky method, and spent four years as a community organizer in Chicago. Later, he worked with ACORN and its offshoot Project Vote, which are branches of the Alinskyian network.

These two aspiring candidates, regardless of which party acquires the White House plum in November, are important for Catholics to consider. They both uphold abortion “rights” and special legal “rights” for homosexual behavior. They both support Planned Parenthood. And both have been trained by an organized, ideologically motivated network that gets a great deal of its power – that’s right, money and people – from the Catholic Church.

Surely not, you gasp. The Catholic Church decries abortion as the greatest assault against human life yet known to mankind. The Catholic Church insists—against great social pressure to be silent — that homosexual behavior is “disordered.”

Yet here is the Catholic Church filtering millions of dollars into the Alinskyian networks through its annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development and through its congregational support of various network affiliates. Therefore, here is the Catholic Church, supporting Alinskyian political activism.



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