Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals as a guide for his fellow socialists in gaining power in a world owned by The Man. Alinsky postulated that gaining power required suppressing any scruple, any principle, or any long-term goal which interfered.
I reject that premise on several grounds. Briefly, principle is all we have, pragmatism bores the base, and since power corrupts I wish not to have too much of it for too long.
Reading over his Rules, several things a apparent. First, these are rules for radicals, not for normal people. Second, their focus is myopically on statist, leftist radicals gaining power from normal people, not for normal people defeating statist, leftist radicals and then keeping them at bay. More generally, these are rules for outsiders looking in, not a prescription for governing, and certainly not for governing a free people.
So I decided to come up with counterpoints, and quickly realized that for each of Alinsky’s grubby little Sith aphorisms, a better, higher, more noble Jedi way was inside, pleading to be written down and followed. I wrote down a first stab at them, and I’d like your help in getting it right. Feel free to make comments, suggestions, ask for explanation, or even to tell me that you think we have to become Alinskiites to destroy the Alinskiites.
Alinsky Rule 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy
thinks you have.”
Free Way 1: Liberty is not only what you can do, but what the
statist hesitates to control.
Alinsky Rule 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
Free Way 2: Remove a man’s chains, placing upon him no undue
burden, and be prepared to marvel at his industry and the good works of his gratitude.
Alinsky Rule 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
Free Way 3: Never underestimate your enemy.
Alinsky Rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
Free Way 4: Force the statist to admit his statism.
Alinsky Rule 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
Free Way 5: Man will do the extraordinary for the respect of his peers.
Alinsky Rule 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
Free Way 6: A good tactic is one that demonstates principle.
Alinsky Rule 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
Free Way 7: A good tactic, since it is good, never gets old.
Alinsky Rule 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
Free Way 8: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never,
never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in,
except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force.
Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” –
Alinsky Rule 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
Free Way 9: “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – God
Alinsky Rule 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push
through and become a positive.”
Free Way 10: Look for the good in everything.
Alinsky Rule 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive
Free Way 11: The best solution is to stop doing things that don’t work.
Alinsky Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Free Way 12: Allow for inevitable human failure, change, and redemption.