Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rules for Radicals

Saul Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals back in 1971. Alinsky said that his book was "for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

Are Alinsky's rules still valid today? Which need to be revised? Which did Rove use successfully to help the Haves hold onto power? Which did Kerry use successfully? Which could Kerry have used that he didn't?

Rule 1: Power is both what you have and what your opponent thinks that you have. If you have few members, hide your numbers and make a lot of noise.

Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion and retreat.

Rule 3: When possible, do go outside the experience of an opponent.

Rule 4: Make your opponent live up to his own rule book.

Rule 5: Ridicule is your most potent weapon. Ridicule is difficult to counter and it infuriates your opponent, causing him to react to your advantage.

Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long is not a good idea. Change tactics.

Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Maintain a constant pressure on the opposition.

Rule 9: The threat of your tactic or action is more terrifying than the tactic or action itself. Use this to your advantage.

Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You have to know what to say when your opponent asks you, "If you're so smart, what would you do?"

Rule 11: Pick your target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Don't attack an abstract such as a corporation. Identify a responsible individual and ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.