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Rules for Radicals

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Rules for Radicals er en bok av Saul Alinsky som ble utgitt for første gang i 1971. Boken handler om hvordan radikale aktivister bør gå frem for vinne makten i et samfunn. Forfatteren taler for en stille og usynlig maktovertagelse, som står i kontrast med den klassiske marxismens tro på nødvendigheten av væpnet revolusjon for å vinne makten i et samfunn. Boken beskrives i kapittel 1 "Purpose" som Machiavelli for dem uten makt, der målet ikke er å bevare makt, men å tilrive seg den. Alinsky var selv en erfaren politisk organisator og aktivist, og boken er basert på hans egne erfaringer.

Fra bokens dedikasjoner:

    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.– Rules for Radicals


  • Prologue
  • The Purpose
  • Of Means and Ends
  • A Word About Words
  • The Education of an Organizer
  • Communication
  • In the Beginning
  • Tactics
  • The Genesis of Tactic Proxy
  • The Way Ahead


I kapittelet Tactics setter Alinsky opp følgende hovedregler:

  1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. Power has always derived from two main sources, money and people. Lacking money, the Have-Nots must build power from their own flesh and blood. A mass movement expresses itself with mass tactics. Against the finesse and sophistication of the status quo, the Have-Nots have always had to club their way. In early Renaissance Italy the playing cards showed swords for the nobility (the word spade is a corruption of the Italian word for sword), chalices (which became hearts) for the clergy, diamonds for the merchants, and clubs as the symbol of the peasants.
  2. Never go outside the experience of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat. It also means a collapse of communication, as we have noted.
  3. Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
  4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.
  5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.
  6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which it becomes a ritualistic commitment, like going to church on Sunday mornings. New issues and crises are always developing, and one's reaction becomes, "Well, my heart bleeds for those people and I'm all for the boycott, but after all there are other important things in life"—and there it goes.
  8. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
  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. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign. It should be remembered not only that the action is in the reaction but that action is itself the consequence of reaction and of reaction to the reaction, ad infinitum. The pressure produces the reaction, and constant pressure sustains action.
  11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative. We have already seen the conversion of the negative into the positive, in Mahatma Gandhi's development of the tactic of passive resistance.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand and saying "You're right—we don't know what to do about this issue. Now you tell us."
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and "frozen." By this I mean that in a complex, interrelated, urban society, it becomes increasingly difficult to single out who is to blame for any particular evil. There is a constant, and somewhat legitimate, passing of the buck. In these times of urbanization, complex metropolitan governments, the complexities of major interlocked corporations, and the interlocking of political life between cities and counties and metropolitan authorities, the problem that threatens to loom more and more is that of identifying the enemy. Obviously there is no point to tactics unless one has a target upon which to center the attacks.

— Rules for Radicals

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