March 16, 2009

Proof Community Organizer = Radical

This man is going to change your life. He's been trying to do so since at least the early 1970's. Most people don't know who he is. His Name is Edward Chambers. He looks normal enough. He has an impressive title - Executive Director of the IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation), and he's a published author. And you wouldn't know it to look at him, he is a radical follower of Saul Alinsky and connected to Barack Obama.

He represents a more important radical connection for the President than did William Ayers. He represents the ideological background of President Obama.

This an old discussion in a way. But President Barack Obama frequently touted his community organizer roots. And the roots of community organizing are really worth re-visiting, because unlike those in the Martin Luther King Jr. mold, the real roots of community organizing are based in radicalism.

For those of you still unaware of who Saul Alinsky was, let me start with a little about that, because it is important.  If you already know, you can skip down this post a little ways.


In this documentary, narrated by Alec Bladwin, the genus of the modern community organizer is revealed to be none other than the radical Saul Alinsky.

Who is Saul Alinksy? As read by Mark Levin;

Of course the media (at least CBS) jumped all over it.

Palin was attacking poor people? That's a ridiculous assertion. And people jumped to Obama's defence, without knowing what it really meant:

What does Community Organizer really mean?

From Wikipedia, a definition;

Community organizing is a process by which people living in proximity to each other are brought together in an organization to act in their common self-interest. Unlike other forms of more consensual "community building," community organizers generally assume that social change necessarily involves conflict and social struggle in order to generate collective power for the powerless. A core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence key decision-makers on a range of issues over time.

Robert Fisher and Peter Romanofsky have grouped the history of "community organizing" (also known as "social agitation") in the United States into four rough periods:

1880 to 1900 : People sought to meet the pressures of rapid immigration and industrialization by organizing immigrant neighborhoods in urban centers. Since the emphasis of the reformers was mostly on building community through settlement houses and other service mechanisms, the dominant approach was what Fisher calls social work.

1900 to 1940 : Community organizing was established distinct from social work, with much energy coming from those critical of capitalist doctrines.
1940 to 1960 : Saul Alinsky, based in Chicago, is credited with originating the term community organizer during this time period. Alinksy wrote Reveille for Radicals, published in 1946, and Rules for Radicals, published in 1971. With these books, Alinsky was the first person in America to codify key strategies and aims of community organizing. He also founded the first national community organizing training network, the Industrial Areas Foundation, now led by one of his former lieutenants, Edward Chambers.

The following quotations from Alinksy's 1946 "Reveille for Radicals" gives a good sense of his perspective on organizing and of his public style of engagement:

A People’s Organization is a conflict group, [and] this must be openly and fully recognized. Its sole reason in coming into being is to wage war against all evils which cause suffering and unhappiness. A People’s Organization is the banding together of large numbers of men and women to fight for those rights which insure a decent way of life. . . .

A People’s Organization is dedicated to an eternal war. It is a war against poverty, misery, delinquency, disease, injustice, hopelessness, despair, and unhappiness. They are basically the same issues for which nations have gone to war in almost every generation. . . . War is not an intellectual debate, and in the war against social evils there are no rules of fair play. . . .

A People’s Organization lives in a world of hard reality. It lives in the midst of smashing forces, dashing struggles, sweeping cross-currents, ripping passions, conflict, confusion, seeming chaos, the hot and the cold, the squalor and the drama, which people prosaically refer to as life and students describe as “society.

Sounds pretty radical. The fight on Obama's community organizing was off-point. The roots of it are based in radicalism, and the fight focused on experience. That was an issue. But Alinsky should have been the main issue. Obama the candidate was not an organizer in the mold of Martin Luther King Jr., but rather in the Alinsky mold.

David Walls, Professor Emeritus of Sociology Sonoma State University, Updated from The Workbook, Summer 1994:

Around 1970 several national networks began to coalesce and develop systematic
and distinctive approaches to community organizing. These include the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), ACORN, Citizen Action, National People's Action, PICO, DART, and the Gamaliel Foundation. Each was indebted, in greater or lesser degree, to Alinsky and his early organizing programs in Chicago through IAF. Many influential organizers, including Tom Gaudette and Fred Ross, Sr., developed their characteristic approaches based on experience with Alinsky's projects. With IAF support Ross founded the Community Service Organization in California in 1949, enlisting talented young organizers Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta to develop a network of organizations in Mexican American communities, and later worked with them in the United Farm Workers union. Although Alinsky and many others have argued that community organizing is a discipline distinct from wider social movements, his early projects drew energy and inspiration from such movements: Chicago's Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council was established in 1939 during the Packinghouse Workers organizing drive, and civil rights activities energized such 1960s projects as The Woodlawn Organization in Chicago and FIGHT in Rochester.

Methodical training of community organizers can be dated from 1969, when Midas Muffler founder Gordon Sherman gave Alinsky a sizable grant. As IAF executive director, Edward Chambers continued the program following Alinsky's death in 1972, setting training at the heart of IAF's expanded organizing activity, centered on broad-based organizations, built around religious congregations and parishes and often including civic associations and labor unions. IAF's most successful projects have been based in Texas, where Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) in San Antonio helped elect Henry Cisneros as the city's first Hispanic mayor. As

IAF state director, Ernesto Cortes, Jr. built a powerful network of six affiliates, collectively known as Texas Interfaith; he is now the IAF southwest regional organizer. IAF's East Brooklyn Congregations set up Nehemiah Homes to build 2,100 low-cost houses and became a model for federal housing assistance. Baltimore's BUILD has tackled education, jobs, and housing. IAF presently has 57 affiliates in 21 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Edward Chambers is a radical. Here's his book on Amazon.

Roots for Radicals. Calling him a radical does not seem to be such an over-the-top notion does it.

And here's the frighten part. President Obama isn't exactly a sleeper cell of the radical movement.

The American Monetary Institute, an organization set up for 'The Independent Study of Monetary History, Theory and Reform', has at least twice had Edward Chambers as a speaker.

How did they bio him on his speaker page? They used the following description:

Ed Chambers is a Philosopher, political organizer, and Author of "Roots for Radicals," Organizing for Power, Action and Justice; the advanced source book for achieving progressive goals. Dr. Chambers discusses principles of organization that can apply to monetary reform. The IAF, founded by the late Saul Alinsky has an exceptionally strong record in getting movements started and into self financing positions of strength. Ed Chambers trained Barack Obama in street organizing when he moved from the Harvard Law Review to Chicago's South Side; and in the difference between what is, and what should be!

"Ed Chambers trained Barack Obama." The degrees of separation between the President and radical socialism just keep decreasing.

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