Monday, January 30, 2012

Saul And Leo

It happens to be the birthday of Saul Alinsky.  He's been dead 40 years but it's amazing how often his name pops up, usually as an accusation.  He was a community organizer who wrote Rules For Radicals, laying out his strategies to help the underclass, based on a lifetime of experience.

Very few Americans have heard of him, much less read his book, but that doesn't stop Newt Gingrich and others on the right from claiming he's Obama's guru.  My attitude is so what? I have no doubt Obama and Hillary Clinton and others on the left know about Alinsky, and maybe even learned a few things from him, but it's not as if Obama's hiding what he believes. Of course he's trying to make his programs and tactics sound as good as he can, that's what everyone does, but his campaign is not some sort of Alinsky-based conspiracy.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the left attacking neocons not too long ago, and whenever they could dropping in the dreaded name of political philosopher Leo Strauss.  It's true, some neocons were inspired by Strauss's teachings, but leftists exaggerated his power and malevolence so much that they turned him into Emperor Palpatine.  Even if Strauss were as bad as they claimed, once again, so what?  The politicians who might have been inspired by him ran and/or served publicly, and whatever ideas they had the public could decide about openly.

It's really as silly as someone accusing another politician of having read Machiavelli, or Lao Tsu.  But certain names end up having a talismanic quality for partisans.  Another recent example is the left obsessed by the Koch Brothers, whom they assume are not only bankrolling every right-wing cause, while the right believes George Soros is behind everything.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tea Party is fairly open about reading Alinsky, and why not? And of course Limbaugh mentions it all the time. I guess one of the tricks, though, is isolating a target, and you have to have a little bit of help doing that or it fails.

2:54 AM, January 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Saul is the mastermind, what exactly has he and his rules achieved. I sense that the world as it is is very different from the one he envisioned. Not that he wasn't pretty smart with some insightful ideas, its just that he (and most other philosophers/theoreticians) don't hold up very well as evil geniuses whose ideas are behind everything one side or another doesn't like

2:40 PM, January 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Saul would be pretty happy. Half of America doesn't pay taxes. More people than ever are on food stamps. The banks, the schools, the hospitals and the auto companies are run by the government. The military is shrinking. We go to war when the UN says it's okay. Why wouldn't he like that?

3:01 PM, January 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Half of America doesn't pay income taxes, and thanks to witless Boehner, the payroll tax has been eliminated and is never coming back, so now probably two thirds or more of America pays no explicit federal tax.

But boy to they pay hidden taxes, both in the form of deadweight regulatory loss, imposed direct costs and indirect loss, and corporate taxes of all sorts (about $2 trillion worth as of 2008, not sure what the Great Obama Depression has done to that figure).

Oh, well. To quote two of the greats, it's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for, and the people know what they want, so they should get it good and hard.

4:55 PM, January 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's some Alinsky strategy. First you run for President claiming you support the free market. Then you get us so deep in debt we have no hope of paying it off, while pouring on programs that will get us in deeper and passing laws preventing the free market from doing anything (oppressive regulations and not even taking the obvious trillions we could get through oil exploration). Then when the problems mount you blame the richest and make sure they're the publics targets, even though the definition of the richest is never quite clear and can change easily through time once you can create regulations at whim.

6:03 PM, January 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, no question. The debt is definitely a choice meant to destroy the country. But I think he's sincere about it. He did say he was remaking America, and he's been clear that most of the things someone like me would say are great about the country are things he finds abhorrent. I suppose the bottom line is it takes a village, and sometimes you have to destroy the village to save it.

2:34 AM, January 31, 2012  

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