History

The Book of Saul

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Because you didn't really need to see the RULES FOR RADICALS cover again.

Over at NR, the conservative historian Ronald Radosh reviews Nicholas von Hoffman's recent book about Saul Alinsky. He winds up giving the lefty rabble-rouser a mixed but fairly friendly assessment. The essay has a rather tentative air, and while Radosh generally refrains from challenging von Hoffman's views, he also tends to stop short of claiming those opinions as his own. Still, at a time when much of the right believes Alinsky was one of the great villains of American history, it's a change of pace to see a magazine like National Review airing the thesis that Alinsky was "a man with a libertarian sensibility who supported all the little men fighting against any large structure."

Elsewhere in Reason: My own post about the von Hoffman book, and my article arguing that the core problem with ACORN is that it wasn't Alinskyan enough.

NEXT: Nice Ayn Rand Cover, National Review!

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  1. Word on the street is that the conservatives were planning to take Alinsky tactics to use for their own designs.

    1. “Alinsky tactics, baby! Fighting fire with fire!!! WOOOOOOO!!!”

  2. Alinsky was “a man with a libertarian sensibility”

    Huh. Rubber Saul.

  3. I’ve been “politically aware” and active for, say 20 years, and known about a decent variety of minor movers + shakers on the left and right going back to, say, the New Deal.

    I’d never heard of Aulinsky until about 2 years ago when Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh started shouting his name over and over and over again. And their callers started refering to using “Aulinsky tactics against the left, baby!”. And everyone else is acting like they’ve always been aware of this guy and his status as some foundational figure in the imagination of the left for the last million years.

    So my question is, why wasn’t I cc’d on the memo?

    1. Because Alinsky died over 20 years ago. He didn’t much matter until Obamanut the latter day Alinsky disciple forced his way into our lives.

  4. I really doubt the republicans were really going to take Alinsky’s tactics and put them in use on the streets.
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  5. So my question is, why wasn’t I cc’d on the memo?

    They don’t tell the marks.

    1. If you’d heard from Abbie Hoffman, you’d’ve heard of Saul Alinsky.

      If there could be said to have been a prominent modern Stirnerite, Alinsky was it.

      1. Alinsky and Stirner had just about nothing in common. And while Hoffman and Alinsky had a similar talent for playing the media (and a similar sense of humor), there’s some pretty substantial differences between them as well.

        1. But Abbie Hoffman credited Alinsky a lot, regardless of whatever Alinksy may have thought of him.

          And Stirnerites, when you can find them, have little in common with each other. Don’t be blinded by the I-ness in Stirner to his advice on methods.

      2. I’m not a *complete* idiot – I know who Abbie Hoffman is, but I’d never heard the name Alinsky until he was inducted into the current script of the two minutes of hate.

      3. Here’s what I’m talking about: Do a Google Book search for “Alinsky” in the text of a random selection of books on the 60’s, the left, radicals:

        The sixties papers: documents of a rebellious decade
        NO RESULTS

        Deconstructing the left
        1 mention, in passing

        American extremists: militias, supremacists, klansmen, communists & others
        NO RESULTS

        The Nation guide to the Nation
        1 citation in the bibliography

        It didn’t happen here: why socialism failed in the United States
        2 citations in the bibliography

        Ramparts, 1970-1972
        NO RESULTS

        The Theater Is in the Street: Politics and Performance in Sixties America
        NO RESULTS

        Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies
        NO RESULTS

        The spirit of the sixties: making postwar radicalism
        1 mention in passing, 3 citations in bibilography

        Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Voices, and Viewpoints
        1 mention in passing

        Yale Law School and the sixties: revolt and reverberations
        NO RESULTS

        Second Thoughts: Former Radicals Look Back at the Sixties
        NO RESULTS

        This guy could have been, at most, a minor figure in his time, right?

        1. His glory days were pre-’60s.

  6. What that is? What that is be? Shit in rectal sauce.

  7. Still, at a time when much of the right believes Alinsky was one of the great villains of American history

    When “much of the right” means “self-selected bloggers (because they answered!) whose daily traffic is almost 100/day”.

  8. I don’t see Andi Sullivan.

    I don’t see David Frum.

    I don’t see John McCain.

    Are you sure the people RWN polled were “conservative”?

  9. von Hoffman still writing books, jesus awre we going to see teradactyls flying too?

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  11. I read the book but did not like it, to crass for my taste.

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