In a Spero News podcast
, author and syndicated columnist Stephanie Block spoke about the origins of Alinskyianism and how it has influenced politics, and even religion, in America for many decades. Block is the author of “Organizing the Culture of Death
: Using congregations for progressive politics through Alinskyian organizing,” as well as the four-volume study entitled “Change Agents: Alinskyian among religious bodies.” She is a frequent contributor to Spero News, and other publications.
Block traced the development of Alinskyianism to Saul Alinsky, who was the founder of the Industrial Areas Foundation and author of the book “Rules for Radicals.” His ideas about community organizing have been adopted all over the United States and have been copied in movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
When asked to define what “Alinskyianism” means, Block said “You can mean several things by it. One is the tactics in politics, or in public life, which involve a certain very orchestrated bullying of public officials to attain the ends that you are seeking. And in a more specific sense, and in the sense that I write about it, it is a movement within the churches, and that include certain progressive sides of the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith, and both the Protestant and the Catholic – the more progressive elements …to politicize their congregations and to use that political sensibility for progressive political purposes.”
One of the greatest successes of Alinskyianist organizations, said Block, is in having changed the national conversation over immigration so as to focus on the humanitarian aspects of immigration and immigrants. Among Catholic thinkers, she said, there are two channels in the conversation over immigration. One is the legitimate right of nations to control their borders and promote public safety, while the other is the upholding of the dignity and rights of immigrants. Alinskyian organizing, she said, have changed that “to focus only on the welfare and the interests of the immigrant.”
Another area of concern for citizens, said Block, is the success Alinskyian organizers have had under both Democratic and Republican presidents in seeking to nationalize education and curricula in the United States. By eliminating diversity, and parental control, Alinskyian principles would serve to suppress basic human rights with regard to the education of children, said Block.
Among politicians who have utilized Alinskyian principles is Hillary Clinton, a native of Chicago -- where Alinsky himself was very prominent -- who was in correspondence with him as college student in the 1960s.