Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saul Alinsky and "wise as serpents", part 2

Continued from yesterday...
Because Alinsky was sensitive to criticism that he wasn't ethical, he also included a set of rules for the ethics of power tactics. You can see from these why his ethics were so frequently questioned.

Rules to test whether power tactics are ethical:

1. One's concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one's personal interest in the issue.
Here we see Alinsky's depravity. Our personal interest as Christians in this issue makes it even more imperative that we behave ethically. The end does not justify the means. Atheist ethics is about ends. Christian ethics is about means.
2. The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
I'm not sure what Alinsky means here, but it's evil.
3. In war the end justifies almost any means.
No. No end justifies evil means, and in (ideological) war one must be especially careful of this temptation. Vital ends require extraordinary scrutiny of means.
4. Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
There are eternal truths that are not altered by chronology. If we find ourselves thinking 'it's only ethical to use this tactic in this situation', we need to rethink the tactic.
5. Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
Yes. Ethical reflection frequently suggests means not previously considered, and proliferation of means warrants careful scrutiny of ethics.
6. The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
The opposite is true. The more important the end, the more care is needed to police the means.
7. Generally, success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
'Winners write history" is presumably what Alinsky means here. Bastard.
8. The morality of means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
Ethics is independent of the order of battle.
9. Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition to be unethical.
That is true of atheists and Darwinists.  When we win, they howl.
10. You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
What a clear synopsis of Alinsky's ethics. Bastard.
11. Goals must be phrased in general terms like "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," "Of the Common Welfare," "Pursuit of Happiness," or "Bread and Peace."
Atheists do this incessantly: "Science", "Reason", "Good Science Education".

We do this too, of course, in our own way, but we are telling the truth.

It's important to note that the tactics I'm referring to here are only appropriate to the blogsphere. This war is fought on many fronts-- in politics, in churches, in schools and universities, in homes, and in each of us, at times. Ridicule and "freeze, personalize, polarize" are extraordinarily effective in the blogsphere. They are likely inappropriate for a discussion at work between friends.

Understanding Alinsky is essential for protagonists in this war. It is not natural to Christians, for whom the Sermon on the Mount is our ethical ground. But Alinsky's tactics are the currency of our current struggle, and we ignore him at our peril. We need to understand Alinsky. Unfortunately, it means a long deep look into a cesspool.

Christians must understand the tactics atheists use against us, and we must use some of those same tactics-- those that can be employed ethically-- in defense of the Truth.

Shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16


  1. Mikem you b query the meaning Alinski when he wrote:

    "The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment."
    Reads like something from Kafka's 'Trial' doesn't it?
    Here is my take on the meaning of this.
    I get the feeling he is writing about insurrection, revolt, or rebellion in these lines. An overthrow.
    My read of this section is his rather artistic way of explaining the winners of a conflict will right the post struggle rules and run the show trials.
    A kind of 'history is written by the victors', but with a built redundant incentive for ruthlessness. So basically he saying ethics are relative during the struggle, and that they will be resolved and reformed in a new order once one side is victorious; either that statu quo power, or the radical force that Alinski champions.
    So interpreted , I think he is suggesting YET AGAIN that when in a struggle for power a ruthless disregard of normal ethics is not only permitted, but the norm and that such ruthlessness is advantageous.
    It it inferred, it seems to me, that there is incentive to 'throw out the rules' due to the fact they are subjective and will be rewritten by necessity.
    I would also note that the style is wickedly brilliant, and WIDE open to interpretation. This will make this man's work widely attractive to underground groups.
    Alinsky wears the laurels of the left's academe.
    Isn't it NUTS to imagine that a sitting US president was apparently working with this guy in Chicago?

  2. Crus:

    I think that your interpretation is right. Alinsky was brilliant, and very evil.

    I share your dismay with our current US leadership. Obama was trained in the school of Alinsky in Chicago.

    I do believe that Alinsky's tactics can be used for good, in limited ways in certain circumstances. Just as bullets that are so often used to kill innocents can be used for good (by soldiers and police), to protect the innocent, when they are used ethically.

    Using Alinsky's tactics is to walk a fine line. I hope I'm walking on the right side of it.



  3. “The more important the end, the more care is needed to police the means.”

    If this where true, it would seem that one should be more hesitant to steal food to feed his staving family than to steel a lawnmower to mow his lawn.


  4. @KW:

    My point is obvious. When we are strongly motivated to do something, we are particularly vulnerable to violating ethical principles to accomplish it.

    It's when we believe what we are doing is right and vital that we have to take a little bit of extra time to ensure that our means are ethical.

  5. >religion
    I seriously hope you guys don’t do this.

  6. @Costanza,
    You missed half your equations, silly.
    You SHOULD have wrote:
    You can also add
    The last is true in every sense. Quantitative and Qualitative. Bigger corpus, more adherents, more complex, more relevant, more interesting etc.
    But I guess we can give you half grades for effort.

  7. @Mike,
    I understand your concern regarding 'the line'. As far as I can see, you seem to be defending that line - not leading forays into enemy territory. Even if you did, I could see the reasoning.
    So far as I can tell (re blogging etc), you have been a perfect gentleman, Doctor...and a verily Christian one at that. That said, there are many who will see what I do and say as outside the norm, even heretical. Not in substance, you understand. But in delivery and manner. Even my military service would be questioned as 'unchristian' by some. I cannot speak to all these ideas.
    I will let God judge that.
    The way I see it, our Lord commanded us to Love our Enemies. Love includes an understanding, even if that is counter to your own reason.
    To UNDERSTAND Alinsky and to use that understanding to counter such attacks is well within those bounds that you describe as 'the line', IMHO.
    Also, we must recognize that like many other minds on the left, that he expresses his strategy extremely effectively - but that strategy is not actually original. Nothing of that realm is. It's all new. Reinvented wheels. So, in effect, Alinsky is advising the left used tried and true tactic in a specific way, but the tactic itself is unoriginal. Barbarity itself is unoriginal, and I would suggest this is a modern form of it.
    To run with our Lord's metaphor a few feet more: Turning the serpent at it's own tail is not to become the snake, but to wisely avoid being bitten.
    I hope that makes some sense? LOL
    Blessings in return, Mike.
    To you and your family from me and mine.

  8. @Crus:

    Thank you, and thank you for your insight.

    [...Even my military service would be questioned as 'unchristian' by some. I cannot speak to all these ideas.]

    Of course the Lord never criticized soldiers for doing their work. He even asked that the Roman soldiers be forgiven for crucifying him.

    I actually think that He had a special respect and love for those who put their lives on the line for others-- "Greater love hath no man..."

    Military service is service of great sacrifice and honor. As for Christians who criticize soldiers for doing their job, I think that they mistake Christianity for pacifism. Pacifism is no virtue when it entails abandonment of innocents to suffer harm.

    Christian doctrine obviously prohibits killing of innocents, but extolls defense of the innocent and the offer of great sacrifice to serve others.

    Which is what honorable military service is all about.

  9. @Constanza


    I seriously hope you don't do that.