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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RUBEN LACKMAN: RULES FOR RADICAL REASONING

Before we got snowed in, I checked out Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  I was, of course, familiar with it, having been at the University of Kansas in 1970, the year it was published, which was also the year of the Kent State “shoot-out”, plus many other “community actions”, or as they were known on the streets of Lawrence, Kansas, “rent-a-riots.”  They would “organize” a “confrontation with whatever they were against---- Universities, Banks, Businesses, High-schools, whatever was handy.  They would say the confrontation would “happen” accidentally, drawing a crowd, which would draw the police into a confrontation in which a “community organizer” would be shot by the police.  How does one “predict” that the police will shoot a rioter?  One doesn’t.  The ranking organizer takes out one of his “organizers” as a sacrifice for the cause. In all the mayhem, who’ll know?  I was at the University of Kansas the day after a student got shot dead in a “police confrontation, just off campus at a little café.  At the TV on- site broadcast, a student who had been in the café at the time of the killing, said “since the student had been killed by a 30 caliber rifle bullet, and the police had only handguns, the student must have been shot by a sniper from up in that building,” pointing to one of KU’s adjacent buildings. You, dear reader, find this hard to believe?  I did too, and I was there.  Rules for Radicals was published in 1971.
Now, for the 2010 “community organizers.  Who is their Patron Saint?  I’ll quote Saul Alinsky’s own introduction to his Hero. He says,  “Lest we forget at least an over-the –shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins-- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom---Lucifer.”
Alinsky sums up, in the prologue, (p xxiv). “A final word on our system. The democratic ideal springs from the ideas of liberty, equality, rule through free elections, protection of the rights of minorities {Why, since the “greedy” wealthy have, in every age, and all societies, been a “miniorty”, are their rights ignored??} and freedom to subscribe to multiple loyalties in matters of religion, economies, and politics rather than to total loyalty to the state. {Notice here Alinsky’s rejection of “total loyalty to the state”, meaning also to a president/dictator.}
Great dangers always accompany great opportunities. {notice, Alinsky does not say “great dangers always present great opportunities, as do our present community re-arrangers} The possibility of destruction is always implicit in the act of creation. Thus the greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.” Notice Alinsky’s next line. “From the beginning the weakness as well as the strength of the democratic ideal has been the people.  People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by ALL of the people.{Again, notice Alinsky says “by” all the people, NOT “for” certain classes or castes or levels or income} One hundred and thirty-five years ago Tocqueville gravely warned that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves , self-government would pass from the scene. Citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in a society predicated on voluntarism.
We are not here concerned with people who profess the democratic faith but yearn for the dark security of dependency where they can be spared the burden of decisions.{Here is where the complete failure of our universities, colleges, and high schools to teach students how to do critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and disciplined research, in order to make freedom—keeping choices} Reluctant to grow up,{why else would any sane, healthy, life and freedom loving young individual consider it an honor to remain a baby on their parent’s health care plan??} or incapable of doing so, they want to remain children and to be cared for by others.{by a government mandate, using , of course, their own tax $$$} Those who can, should be encouraged to grow; for the others, THE FAULT LIES NOT IN THE SYSTEM, BUT IN THEMSELVES.”{so there you have Saul Alinsky, before he was polluted by our modern “Beloved global President” as the USA/Jan-19-2011,page 2a put it}
Here we are desperately concerned with the vast mass of our people who, thwarted through lack of interest or opportunity, or both, do not participate in the endless responsibilities of citizenship and are resigned to lives ‘determined by others.’  To lose your ‘identity’ as a citizen of democracy is but a step away from losing your identity as a person. People react to this frustration by not acting at all.  The separation of people from the routine daily functions of citizenship is heartbreak in a democracy.”
I’ll insert Alexis de Tocqueyille, from “Democracy in America”, here, as did Alinsky. “It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life.”{In 2011, this means the government mandating how many ozs of salt, sugar, pepper, Mountain-Dew, Miller Lite, or where you can smoke, use your phone, what kind of gas you can use or pass. We even have “catch and release” mouse traps to please PETA!!!!!!!} “For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out everyday, and it is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience, which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, ant throws the burden of it on a small number of men. It is vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependant on central power, to chose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the ‘faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves’, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.
Back to Alinsky—“It is a grave situation when a people resign their citizenship or when a resident of a great city, though he may desire to take a hand, lacks the means to participate.{This means, in 2011-that the “powers/government” has pre-empted every individual freedom, and mandated every individual choice.} That citizen sinks further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization. The result is that he comes to depend on “public authority” and a state of civic-sclerosis sets in.{Think here, like sclerosis of the human liver, but in “citizenship in a Constitutional Republic of “We, the people…” it means in the “body politic” the hardening and ultimately, the death of the living citizen ‘live-er’ as a living, volitional, free human, and not an election day button pusher.}
From time to time there have been external enemies at our gates; there has always been the enemy within, the hidden and malignant inertia that foreshadows more certain destruction of our life and future than any nuclear warhead.  There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself, and IN HIS POWER TO DIRECT HIS FUTURE.
I salute the present generation.  Hang on to one of your most precious parts of youth—laughter—don’t lose it as many of you seem to have done, you need it.  Together we may find some of what we’re looking for—laughter, beauty, love, and the chance to create.” Saul Alinsky. 1971
I also salute the present young generation. The students I’ve had who always wanted to “Go boldly where no men have gone before.” Work up the moral strength and integrity, and self-reliance and self-confidence to tell your old parents to take you off their “hospital plan.” Be a man!!! Be a woman!!  A 26 year old toddler!!! Life insurance in which death is not a pre-existing condition!!! The proper response to most of these asinine government flatulences is healthy laughter, plus it’s good for your health.  And I don’t mean the sick comic of our so-called comedians on TV.
I did not address the sorrow resulting from the defeat of The Earl Of Palm-er-oy: or the quitting of Lord Byron, aka “The Kid from Regent”; or the advance notice of the surrender of The Deficit Hawk, due I suppose, to the red ink that exploded in his eyes when he voted for that “Mother of all Ponzi” schemes health care bill, which, any time after 2008, his and Lord Byron’s votes could have derailed.
Rules for Radicals, and the “organizers” was, in the “seventies”, what Sarah Palin and Going Rogue, and the Tea-Parties are today.  Alinsky’s problem then was the same as Obama’s now: change without definition is possible when the victims smell and see the cheese, but it becomes impossible when they see the trap, and also see that, unlike PETA, the Obama trap is NOT a “catch and release one.  It’s especially suspicious when the Boss Mouseketeer has a House and Senate full of midget Mouseketeers riding as “outriders”trying to herd in all the “we, the people,” mice.  Millions of the mouses lost interest in the Congressional Cheese, and in listening to them “cut the cheese” for the benefit of those too ignorant to understand on their own. The mouses were too busy drinking tea: And it’s green tea, not red tea!!!

 

Citizen of ND since 1953, Ruben has BS and BA degrees from Dickinson State University, MA in English from University of Kansas, and was a Mandan High School teacher for 20 years, College faculty member at Dickinson State, Bismarck State, and the University of Mary. Married to wife Lois since 1958 with 5 children.

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