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Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky
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Rules for Radicals Quotes Showing 1-30 of 89
“Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, "Is this true?" "Just because this has always been the way, is the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?" To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search of ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“A word about my personal philosophy. It is anchored in optimism. It must be, for optimism brings with it hope, a future with a purpose, and therefore, a will to fight for a better world. Without this optimism, there is no reason to carry on. If we think of the struggle as aclimb up a mountain, then we must visualize a mountain with no top. We see a top, but when we finall yreach it, the overcast rises and we find ourselves merely on a bluff. The mountain continues on up. Now we see the "real" top ahead of us, and strive for it, only to find we've reached another bluff, the top still above us. And so it goes on, interminably.
Knowing that the mountain has no top, that it is a perpetual quest from plateau to plateau, the question arises, "Why the struggle, the conflict, the heartbreak, the danger, the sacrifice. Why the constant climb?" Our answer is the same as that which a real mountain climber gives when he is asked why he does what he does. "Because it's there." Because life is there ahead of you and either one tests oneself in its challenges or huddles in the valleys of a dreamless day-to-day existence whose only purpose is the preservation of a illusory security and safety. The latter is what the vast majority of people choose to do, fearing the adventure into the known. Paradocically, they give up the dream of what may lie ahead on the heighs of tomorrow for a perpetual nightmare - an endless succession of days fearing the loss of a tenuous security.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“If people don't think they have the power to solve their problems, they won't even think about how to solve them.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgment 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 very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“In the beginning the organizer's first job is to create the issues or problems.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral;”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Love and faith are not common companions. More commonly power and fear consort with faith....Power is not to be crossed; one must respect and obey. Power means strength, whereas love is a human frailty the people mistrust. It is a sad fact of life that power and fear are the fountainheads of faith.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“In his Social Contract, Rousseau noted the obvious, that “Law is a very good thing for men with property and a very bad thing for men without property.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Do one of three things.One,go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves.Two,go psycho and start bombing-but this will only swing people to the right.Three,learn a lesson.Go home,organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegatepos”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“A bit of a blurred vision of a better world. Much of an organizer’s daily work is detail, repetitive and deadly in its monotony. In the totality of things he is engaged in one small bit. It is as though as an artist he is painting a tiny leaf. It is inevitable that sooner or later he will react with “What am I doing spending my whole life just painting one little leaf? The hell with it, I quit.” What keeps him going is a blurred vision of a great mural where other artists—organizers—are painting their bits, and each piece is essential to the total.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment 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.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Political realists see the world as it is: an arena of power politics moved primarily by perceived immediate self-interests, where morality is rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Be not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Conflict is the essential core of a free and open society. If one were to project the democratic way of life in the form of a musical score, its major theme would be the harmony of dissonance.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny. A reformation means that masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don't know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. They won't act for change but won't strongly oppose those who do. The time is then ripe for revolution”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“The sit-down strikers began to worry about the illegality of their action and the why and wherefore, and it was then the chief of all C.I.O. organizers, Lewis, gave them their rationale. He thundered, 'The right to a man's job transcends the right of private property! The C.I.O. stands squarely behind these sit-downs!' The sit-down strikers at GM cheered.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“The life of man upon earth is a warfare … — JOB 7:1”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with complete certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“one’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s distance from the scene of conflict.”
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“History is made up of "moral" judgments based on politics. We condemned Lenin's acceptance of money from the Germans in 1917 but were discreetly silent while our Colonel William B. Thompson in the same year contributed a million dollars to the anti-Bolsheviks in Russia. As allies of the Soviets in World War II we praised and cheered communist guerrilla tactics when the Russians used them against the Nazis during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union; we denounce the same tactics when they are used by communist forces in different parts of the world against us. The opposition's means, used against us, are always immoral and our means are always ethical and rooted in the highest of human values.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“If one wants to act, the dilemma is how and where; there is no "when?" with time running out, the time is obviously now.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
“Humor is essential to a successful tactician, for the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule. A sense of humor enables him to maintain his perspective and see himself for what he really is: a bit of dust that burns for a fleeting second. A sense of humor is incompatible with the complete acceptance of any dogma, any religious, political, or economic prescription for salvation. It synthesizes with curiosity, irreverence, and imagination. The organizer has a personal identity of his own that cannot be lost by absorption or acceptance of any kind of group discipline or organization.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Mark Twain once put it, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Power”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
“Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future.”
Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

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