Alinksky's Rules - Abridged - Granite Grok

Alinksky’s Rules – Abridged

Most martial arts will stress one important point – use your opponent’s strength against them.  I did Tae Kwon Do for a number of years and learned that the surprise attack works well, when you have a "straight ahead" attacker use a more circular pattern.  Good puncher?  Switch to a lot more kicks and stay to the "outside".  Better kicker?  Do the opposite.  It all hinges on the pattern you can identify and know how to neutralize the advantage.  Always seem to work well (those many years and many pounds ago)..

Seems to work well in politics as well – have a plan for what is unfolding in front of you (or, if really caught by surprise, what’s going on behind you).  That, however, seems to have been the problem for conservatives lately – what IS that pattern, how do I know there IS a pattern, and if I even have an idea of what is going on, how to neutralize it.

We’ve all been hearing about Alinsky’s Rules for a while, and I finally found a really decent abridged version of them here (having not bought the book yet).  It is worthwhile reading and upon doing so, have found a number of them have been attempted to be used against Doug and I by various Progressive folks in the past ("…you’re not following your own FAQs by showing that lady…" – Rule #4 [it failed by the way – they hate being ignored. Better yet, they’re not used to having their enemies doubling back and going onto the offensive against them!]).

And I think that’s the key for conservatives lately – few have taken the time to read the Rules.  You should…and start using them yourselves!  After all, they’ve had much success with them – just think of it as political Akido – recognize the pattern, develop a plan ahead of time to neutralize the pattern, and execute the plan:

RULE 1: "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the "real" issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy
." Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

RULE 4: "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. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

RULE 5: "Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon." There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

RULE 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy." They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid "un-fun" activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

RULE 10: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.) 

(H/T: Craig Miyamoto)