May 18, 2009

How To Defeat Alinksy Rules- Part 2

What are Alinsky's Rules for Radicals? Why are they important? How can they be countered? Liberals, radicals and progressives use these rules against conservatives and mainstream America on a daily basis, without people being aware of how they are being manipulated by it. The left has a co-ordinated approach to political activism. By simply conforming to these rules, intentionally for many, subconsciously by others, liberals and socialists are working from a game plan that is effective simply because of its relentlessness. A ceaseless unresting effort that works by wearing down resistance and winning the little battles of attrition.
I also wrote ideas for countering each of these rules. This continues that thread, picking up at Alinsky's Rule 7.

One overarching point to consider, is that while the left has several advantages over conservatives, we still have one important advantage. The left has to move people from an inert position to a position of change on any given issue. Tradition, cultural norms and morals are spread across time for a reason - they work. The truth of reality is on our side. But so is the fact that people's comfort level is typically with tradition. Our job is easier - it is to convince people not to move rather than to move. That sounds like complacency but it is not. What it means is that we have to work hard to convince people that traditional values are still our best bet, we simply have the proof of history on our side.

Name one society that allowed homosexual marriage throughout history and reached what could be considered a dynasty. There's...well...none. Res ipsa loquitor. Rome declined steadily as what built the empire was forgotten. We simply need to remind people that this was the case and we risk the same fate here and now, and every day we don't remember the lessons of history.

Continuing in the battle for hearts and minds with Alinsky's rules.

Rule 7: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time....

This is quite true. Alinsky, while being a radical socialist, did have some accurate insights. And this was one of them. People don't want the drudgery of ceaseless, redundant effort. The left has the entertainment industry - movies, concerts, comedians. Those are inherently interesting and fun. What does the right have? NASCAR, country music...not much else in terms of entertainment. Entertainment is important.

While NASCAR and country music are something, they aren't categories that generate the same number of new converts, particularly among the youth. Winning hearts and minds is a big deal. Keeping up enthusiasm among the hearts and minds requires constant effort. People get bored easily, and particularly so in today's fast-paced entertainment and media environment. The right needs new tactics. Sports in general is an untapped area of fun and crowds for example.

Of course the left has education and the news media all but sewn up. Those need to be countered too. Particularly the education aspect - events related to education and tactics related to educational influence are highly important touch points.

What else is needed is a parallel industry for music, for movies, for television. Not just Fox. And without it, you risk having any message being drowned out not only by sheer volume from the left, but also by the glitz and inherent entertainment appeal.

You want Proof the left does this? Here's part 1 of 43,769.

The entertainment industry provides an opportunity to tie a message to fun. Directly, and yet often surreptitiously. The right cannot afford to leave that advantage solely to the left.

Nonsensible's Counter - The interesting thing about this rule is that Alinsky recommends changing tactics to keep the fight interesting. Obviously the counter to that would be to force the liberals to keep the tactic the same so that the momentum dies a natural death. But how do you keep an opponent's tactic from changing? Tricky. Firstly you have to recognize the change in tactics for what it is. What looks like something that's moved on could be something that has the same root goal as the original tactic but has not yet been identified as such.

Alternatively, instead of changing tactics, the militants could change people, by attracting a new set of people and engaging them in a tried and true tactic, it looks like a fresh tactic, or a tactic that continually works. So the counter to the changing tactic has to be twofold; (1) force the radicals back to the original tactic and (2) prevent them from attracting new recruits to support the tactic as the original cast dissipates from natural attrition.

Recognize a tactic change. Prevent the new tactic from succeeding as early as possible by marginalizing it. The left does this constantly - look how they under-reported and marginalized the Tea Parties. Outwork your opponent when there's a tactic change - a change in tactics is an opportunity to take advantage of because it means a tactic isn't working. If you can push them back to an older tactic you can paint the radicals as using the same old tired approach and they don't have any new ideas.

Conversely, another approach would be to change your own tactics more frequently than your opponent. This will keep them off guard, and on the defensive. A reactive combatant is less prone to make progress than a pro-active combatant.

Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose.

This rule is critical, perhaps most critical. It ties all of the other rules together into one fundamental concept of battle. More simply put - stay on the offensive and never let up. It's a variation of a theme espoused in The Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living or get busy dying."

In this case it's get busy winning, or get busy losing.

Nonsensible's Counter - Keep the pressure on. Get busy attacking or get busy defending. You can be proactive or reactive. Which do you think is better? Conservatives are more likely to be imbued with entrepreneurial spirit. We should have a higher aptitude to be proactive. The battle between left and right is part of a war that can only be won through attrition if you are on the offensive. If you aren't attacking, you are losing. So attack. Do this through volume of attacks and talking points and through specific laser-like guided missile attacks that knee-cap an opponent's main argument points.

Keep finding the issues that can drive your message. If there are no issues of the day that are relevant, create them. Create them by using your ideas for the country to be highlighted as issues.

Lastly, tie up all the events possible - every event from a garage sale, to a bake sale to a town hall meeting is an event. Own as many events as possible. Every event is a medium for your message.

Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself.
When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.
Nonsensible's Counter - Boycotts, threats, falsely exaggerated protests are all not as bad as they sound. This is a psychological ploy. Or psychological warfare. Do boycotts really work? Do disruptions really work? I urge you to follow the logic of a tried and true principle;
We don't negotiate with terrorists.

Nonsensible's Counter - So, don't cave. Be prepared to weather every storm. A boycott, as Alinsky's rule #7 itself indicates, will pass. Be prepared to counter the claims, but be steeled enough to ignore them.

Rule 10: "If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside... every positive has its negative."

In other words, if you push the other side far enough to create a negative (e.g. violent reaction), you will score points with public sympathy.

Nonsensible's Counter - Fight fire with water. Douse the argument with a cold splash of facts. Cite credible sources and avoid the histrionics the other side is using and hoping for you to respond with. Their histrionics are contrived, yours is apt to be emotional and blunderous. But remember, all politics is theater. So one important thing to remember though, by being rationale and calm, you don't want to come across as cold. You want to come across as personable and someone to whom the audience can relate.
John Stossel does this very well.

Point their argument out for what it is - melodramatic tripe. If they cite facts ask them to provide references for the facts. Don't allow them to side-step the question with a dismissal. Make them answer it. But be empathetic not confrontational.

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.)

Nonsensible's Counter - Three easy points.

(1) Have a solution to the issue being discussed.
(2) Know and be able to refute the opponent's solution.
(3) Be able to sell your own ideas as the right solution, with relatable, tangible facts.

This denies the radical credibility and wins the issue for you. Essentially many of these come down to simple debating class principles. You want to win on points. Switching to a boxing metaphor, a knockout would be nice, but an effective counter-punching technique will give you the chance to find that knockout opportunity. In fact, you might not even need the knockout.

Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

By doing this the radical attempts to marginalize key figures in the opposition by isolating these figures and making them unpalatable, thereby seperating leadership from the conservative base. This either wins converts or at least neutralizes the ability to mobilize around a countering viewpoint.

Nonsensible's Counter - These personalizations must be pointed out for what they are - the attempt to avoid real debate on issues by demonizing legitimate viewpoints that at the very least should be debated on their own merits.

If liberals can't stand up to real debate on their ideas or ours, then their ideas must lack credibility beyond ridicule and derision. Demand factual debate. Challenge them to discuss and when they refuse they will rightly be portrayed as afraid, unprepared or intellectually incapable of honest debate.
Two quick examples;

Al Gore denies there is debate. Why? Because he isn't prepared.

RE: Her point on Bush spending - it's small potatoes compared to Obama. Besides, it's a diversionary tactic. Clearly she's violated Alinsky's Rules and gone into areas where she has no clue about what she's saying.

So there you have it. Some ideas on how to fight the Alinsky doctrines. I hope somebody was taking notes.


  1. Thanks. I will be reading and re-reading this and part 1.

  2. Re-reading this for the second time around. I really appreciate this post.

  3. Hello, congratulations for this topic.
    Is there any way to watch the videos you posted? (other related videos or stored in another server than youtube?) Unfortunately the videos have been removed from Youtube. The silent rise of censorship...

    1. After a while videos get dated and often taken down. I should update the embedded videos (and links) is as this is one of my more popular posts. Thanks for the heads up.


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