Part Four of a series: "What did Barack Obama teach ACORN?"
• Read the entire series: here
Saul Alinsky: the purpose of community organizing "is to get rid of four-legged rats so we can get on to removing two-legged rats."
What does it take to be a good community organizer? When Barack Obama trained community organizers for an ACORN subsidiary, Project Vote, he taught from the 1971 book 'Rules for Radicals', by the late socialist Saul Alinsky.
Although he attended Occidental College, and graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama calls his Alinskyite experience "the best education I ever had." In the photo above-left, Obama is teaching Alinsky's principles of "Power Analysis" and "Relationships built on self-interest" as seen written upon the blackboard [click photo to enlarge.] This post contains another selection from Alinsky's "playbook of the Left."
Let's find out more about the man expected to be elected President of the United States next month.
The selection, below, reveals:
• The long term goal of community organizers is creating a national popular force.
• Community organizers come from all walks of life and are generally undistinguished.
• Labor union organizers make poor community organizers.
• The purpose of community organizing "is to get rid of four-legged rats so we can get on to removing two-legged rats"
excerpted from "Rules for Radicals", by Saul Alinsky: The Education of an Organizer(nwrepublican.blogspot.com)
The building of many mass power organizations to merge into a national popular power force cannot come without many organizers. Since organizations are created, in large part, by the organizer, we must find out what creates the organizer. This as been the major problem of my years of organizational experience: the finding of potential organizers and their training. For the past two years I have had a special training school for organizers with a full-time, fifteen-month program.
Its students have ranged from middle-class women activists to Catholic priests and Protestant ministers of all denominations, from militant Indians to Chicanos to Puerto Ricans to blacks from all parts of the black power spectrum, from Panthers to radical philosophers, from a variety of campus activists, S.D.S. and others, to a priest who was joining a revolutionary party in South America. Geographically they have come from campuses and Jesuit seminaries in Boston to Chicanos from tiny Texas towns, middle-class people from Chicago and Hartford and Seattle, and almost every place in between. An increasing number of students com from Canada, from the Indians of the northwest to the middle class of the maritime Provinces. For years before the formal school was begun, I spent most of my time on the education as an organizer of every member of my staff. [...]
As I look back on the results of those years, they seem to be a potpourri, with, I would judge, more failures than successes. Here and there are organizers who are outstanding in their chosen fields and are featured by the press as my trained 'proteges', but to me the overall record has been unpromising.
Those out of their local communities who were trained on the job achieved certain levels and were at the end of their line. If one thinks of an an organizer as a highly imaginative and creative architect and engineer then the best we have been able to train on the job were skilled plumbers, electricians, and carpenters, all essential to the building and maintenance of their community structure but incapable of going elsewhere to design and execute a new structure in a new community.
Then there were others who learned to be outstanding organizers in particular kinds of communities with particular ethnic groups but in a difference scene with different ethnic groups couldn't organize their way out of a paper bag.
Then there were those rare campus activists who could organize a substantial number of students - but they were utter failures when it came to trying to communicate with and organize low-middle-class workers.
Labor union organizers turned out to be poor community organizers. Their experience was tied to a pattern of fixed points, whether it was definite demands on wages, pensions, vacation periods, or other working conditions, and all of this was anchored into particular contract dates. Once the issues were settled and a contract signed, the years before the next contract negotiation held only grievance meetings about charges on contract violations y either side. Mass organization is a different animal, it is not housebroken. There are no fixed chronological points or definite issues. The demands are always changing; the situation is fluid and ever-shifting; and many of the goals are not in concrete terms of dollars and hours but are psychological and constantly changing, like "such stuff as dreams are made on." I have seen labor organizers almost out of their minds from the community organizing scene.
Among the organizers I trained and failed with, there were some who memorized the worlds and the related experiences and concepts. Listening to them was like listening to a tape; playing back my presentation word for word. Clearly there was little understanding' clearly, the y could not do more than elementary organization. The problem with so may of them was and is their failure to understand that a statement of a specific situation is significant only in its relationship to and its illumination of a general concept. Instead they see the specific action as a terminal point. they find it difficult to grasp the fact that no situation ever repeats itself, that no tactic can be precisely the same.
Then there were those who had trained in schools of social work to become community organizers. Community organization 101, 102, and 103. They had done "field work" and acquired even a specialized vocabulary. They cal it "C.O." (which to use means Conscientious Objector) or "Community Org." (which to us evokes a huge Freudian fantasy.) Basically the difference between their goals and ours is that they organize to get rid of four-legged rats and stop there; we organize to get rid of four-legged rats so we can get on to removing two-legged rats. Among those who, disillusioned, reject the formalized garbage they learned in school, the odds are heavily against their developing into effective organizers. One reason is that despite their verbal denunciations of their past training there is a strong subconscious block against repudiating two to three years of life spent in this training, as well as the financial cost of these courses.