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March 27, 2012

Sympathy for the Devil: Saul Alinksy's Amoral, Ends-Justify-the-Means Style

Good piece from John Fund, quoting from a 1972 Playboy interview of Obama's political mentor.

But just before his death in 1972, he synthesized the lessons he had learned into a book called “Rules for Radicals,” in which he urged radicals to make common cause with anyone to further their ends. The book was even dedicated, presumably tongue in cheek, to Lucifer, “the very first radical,” who “rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.”

Alinsky argued for moral relativism in fighting the establishment: “In war the end justifies almost any means. . . . The practical revolutionary will understand [that] in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind.”

Where did Alinsky get this amorality? Clues can be found in a Playboy magazine interview he gave in 1972, just before his death. In the closest thing to a memoir Alinsky left, he told how he decided to do his (never-completed) doctoral dissertation in the 1930s on the Al Capone mob, and to do it as “an inside job.” He caught the eye of Big Ed Stash, the mob’s top executioner, and convinced him he could be trusted as a sort of mob mascot who would interpret its methods to the outside world. “He introduced me to Frank Nitti, known as the Enforcer, Capone’s number-two man,” Alinsky told Playboy. “Nitti took me under his wing. I called him the Professor and I became his student. Nitti’s boys took me everywhere.”

Alinsky recalled that he “learned a hell of a lot about the uses and abuses of power from the mob,” and that he applied that knowledge “later on, when I was organizing.” The Playboy interviewer asked, “Didn’t you have any compunction about consorting with — if not actually assisting — murderers?” Alinsky replied: “None at all, since there was nothing I could do to stop them from murdering. . . . I was a nonparticipating observer in their professional activities, although I joined their social life of food, drink, and women. Boy, I sure participated in that side of things — it was heaven.”

This actually encapsulates the difference between a classic liberal and a left-wing radical pretty succinctly.

The classic liberal believes that there should not be a war in society, nor a state of unrest approaching a war. There are rules of good behavior, within a society. There are lesser rules of good behavior owed to foreign actors (as in a war against an alien state). But within the actual "family," a higher standard of conduct is required towards one's fellow citizens.

The leftwing radical of course holds the opposite -- nearly every leftwinger believes that war against foreign states is somehow illegal, and that we owe greater standards of good conduct to those outside the family.

And within the state? They believe in the rules of war.

They fundamentally see their fellow citizens -- at least those not part of The Cause -- as hostile enemies to be defeated By Any Means Necessary. And that includes violence, where needed.


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posted by Ace at 05:04 PM

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