Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Saul And Leo

January 30, 2012

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.


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