Rules for Radicals (part 1)

Tonights Talking Point Memo explores the influential writings of Saul Alinsky.

Rules for Radicals (part 1)

Alinsky was a political activist and author. His most famous book is Rules for Radicals published in 1971. His writings and rules have inspired the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in their political campaigns.

Rules for Radicals begins with this:

What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.

The other side of politics, that’s the right side, have now learned that they too can use Alinsky’s thirteen tried and tested rules to understand and defeat our opponents.

Tonight we explore the first seven of Alinsky's rules

Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have.

If your organisation is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do. That’s what idiotic sock puppet twitter groups like Sleeping Giants do to bully weak company CEOs and boards

Never go outside the experience of your people.

People are happy to do what they are familiar with.

Asking them to step outside of their comfort zone causes anxiety, fear, confusion and retreat. The losers at ANTIFA and Extinction Rebellion understand this and have people colour coded for what they are prepared to do – for example it might be blue for someone prepared to march with a sign and red for someone prepared to be arrested.

Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent.

By forcing your opponents out of their comfort zone you cause the emotional reaction you want to avoid yourself. Perhaps the best analogy is to take away any home court advantage.

If they are used to a supportive crowd, have your people turn up early, fill the seats and watch them squirm. It’s what the ABCs Q&A program have been doing for years.

Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters.

You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. The same people who preach tolerance try to stifle free speech. The same groups who claim to fight for the families support policies that kill jobs and increase the cost of living. Exposing hypocrisy is one of the most powerful weapons you can have in the fight for freedom.

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

There is no defence. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.

Think about this, former Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin is best remembered for the line: “I can see Russia from my house

The only problem is she never said it. The line was from a television comedy skit but it stuck and did a lot of political damage.

The key to success is not to take it too far because being too hard on your opponent casts them as the victim.

A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.

People have fun by being part of a community where they make friends and share interests. It’s also wise to identify what people particularly enjoy because they are likely to be better at it.

Some people can easily write letters while others prefer to make calls. Find what your people enjoy and they’ll do it.

A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

The moment you engage in conflict with your opponent your greatest enemy is time.

Human beings can sustain an interest in a particular subject only over a limited period of time. The emotional fervor of a particular experience can last just so long … After a period of time it becomes monotonous, repetitive, an emotional treadmill, and worse than anything else a bore.

Don’t let your supporters get bored with you or by you!

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