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Using Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals for today

Saul Alinsky. Fight

Always remember the first rule of power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have — Saul Alinsky – Rules for Radicals

Trump lost the popular vote. Trumpsters should be constantly reminded of this. They do not have a mandate. Left / liberals / progressives have thousands of organizations as well as congressmembers on its side. Silicon Valley and many large corporations mostly are too, at least as far as diversity, equal rights, and feminism goes. They aren’t going back.

In addition, many Trumpsters will soon enough become disillusioned with him. Some already are. They are potential short-term allies and can be highly effective because they can reach people the left can’t hope to.

The left also has the ability to put hundreds of thousands in the streets. Protests do have an effect. Richard Nixon said at the time that anti-Vietnam War protests had no effect of him. Years later it came out Nixon looked at an antiwar protest of one million in the streets of DC outside the White House and said to aides, we’re screwed. In current news, the South Korea president is about to resign in large part due to huge, unending protests against her. People in the streets is always a good idea when you are out of power and want to create change.

Beyond the actual power we have, which is considerable, is the power the enemy thinks we might have. Protest terrifies the right and they don’t understand, as witness the ludicrous claims that Soros financed the recent anti-Trump protests. If protest confuses them, we should certainly do much more of it.

Now is the time to figure out what power we have and how to use it. Please, no more terrified posts about how horrendous Trump might be. Instead, spend that time building power and organizations to oppose him. You’ll feel better when you do.

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Wealthy Democratic insiders cannot be trusted to fight Trump

fight back

Democratic insiders like David Brock, rather than learning lessons from the Clinton defeat they helped create, instead are plowing ahead begging money to – wait for it – finance more of the same oblivious tactics that lead to Trump winning. The real problem with DC insiders like them is they value order and no waves above almost everything else. The transition to Trump must be orderly, why even Obama says that. Rowdy disorder and serious protest upsets their cozy little DC bubble. They are the apparatchiks, loyal defenders of the established order. Our side lost? Oh well, our think tanks will spew out think pieces, we will have pricey conferences looking for solutions. It matters little to them if the working class is hurting. They are insulated from such trifles. Or so they think.

They will work to protect their class, which includes monied members of both parties. This is key. They don’t want real change and often say, in many different ways “we agree with your goals but not your tactics” or “change must be incremental.” They are afraid of grassroots protest from the streets because they can’t control it and it is alien and strange to them. Yet grassroots protests is where the real fightback from Trump will come from. And will spread upwards until the Brocks can no longer ignore it. Then they may act. My point is, we all need to start now protesting Trump when he does something outrageous. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

However odious he is, Brock should be seen as an outgrowth of the donor class that enables him. And enabled Trump. Carriers of a worldview that regards those to their left as vulgar naïfs, liberal political elites have assiduously tended to the Beltway consensus for years, moving in a social circle entirely isolated from poor and working-class people.

Now that consensus has exploded, in no small part because of their own myopic smugness.

Trump at least pretended to care about the poor and said I hear you.

David Brock would have us believe that he can step in and drain this fetid swamp. But for all his sharp barbs, he and his wealthy cronies are members of the same plutocracy that has given us Trump. Their sanctimonious spending won’t just spark more anti-elite enmity — it will fail to produce any meaningful remedies to economic insecurity.

Multiracial, working-class politics remains the only way out of this hideous landscape. Otherwise we can expect years of acute economic precarity and rising right-wing nationalism.

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Organize, plan, and resist


It’s time to stop moaning about what Trump might do and instead think and plan about how to oppose and counter him when he gets extreme.

Marxists, socialists, and anarchists have an enormous history of tactics and strategies that can be used by anyone. Saul Alinsky too.

Please note, I did not say be Marxist, socialist or anarchist, only that they have 150 years of experience successfully organizing against and countering right-wing threats and extremism. Learn from them. Adapt the lessons to the current situation.

Alinksy was not ideological. His Rules for Radicals have been used by the right as well as the left to get power and to counter the opposition. 3, 4, and 13 seem especially suited for now.

What do you think?

Alinky’s Rules for Radicals

1. Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the expertise of your people.
3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.
4. Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on. Never let up.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

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What to do when caught in riot situations

Ballistic Radio has solid, down to earth info on what to do if you’re at a protest that looks like it’ll turn seriously violent or if you’re just driving by and get caught in one. They interview Greg Ellifritz, a cop who runs the excellent Active Response Training, which also has useful self-protection info.

If you’re at a protest, watch for warning signs. If the tempo changes, smiles vanish, and people start putting on hoodies, it’s probably time to leave. If things get really dicey, walk along walls quietly moving away from the area. Do not run, that could attract attention and you might get chased. Keep arms up and in front peacefully making a way for you to get out.

If you’re in a car, always pay attention. Know alt routes. Leave enough space between you and other cars so you have room to turn around. If your car is surrounded and they start breaking the windows, drive slowly, not fast. If it’s life-threatening, you can use the car as a weapon. Be aware you may have to justify to law enforcement what you did. Do not drive fast. Hitting a 200 lb. person at 50 mph could disable your car. And they then mob will be really pissed.

Use social media to monitor protests and be aware that Waze can be hacked with phony reports to funnel traffic to a predetermined area.

“When you start seeing indications that the crowd is changing in temperament from one of maybe protest to one of violence you really need to get out of there as quickly as you can.” — Greg Ellifritz

The Mob Rules (Podcast – Season 4, Ballistic Radio Episode 186, November 20th, 2016)


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