By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
First thing in the morning you can’t decide whether to shower before or after you get dressed, that is what the message looks like sometimes.
Edifying communications today are a tall order. It’s tough enough to develop messaging for brands in a constantly changing market. But when we have to not only craft the message but ensure that all the branches of the organization are consistently delivering the same version, it can be downright impossible, especially when the message is build on a lie. The larger the organization, the more challenging it is. When members of the organization are so easily offended from within and without it and they shift from one crisis to another, sometimes at a lightening speed, it is a wonder that neck braces from whiplash aren’t a badge of office.
Saul Alinsky espoused his Rules for Radicals in which he recommends mostly working within the system to overwhelm and implode the system. Below, you’ll find Alinsky’s list of 13 “Rules for Radicals,” offered with his proviso that political activism cannot be a self-serving enterprise: “People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people.” It is a good thing we live in a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy.
1. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.
8. “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
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.
11. “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
12. “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.
13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
Alinsky’s rules can and have been used for anti-democratic designs. But he defines the U.S. as a “society predicated on voluntarism.” His vision of democracy leans heavily on that of keen outside observer of early America, Alexis de Tocqueville, the French philosopher “gravely warned,” writes Alinsky, “that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves, self-government would pass from the scene.” (1)
About fourteen years ago we started living under a group who lived by the next quote: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before,” said Rahm Emanuel, who was then a U.S. congressman.
Is it any wonder their message is not consistently coherent. Chaos seems to be the norm in their messaging. Chaos in the streets seems to be their desire. Once chaos has been fomented then a central heavy hand can institute things that you think you could not do before. An unchecked central heavy hand could install things voters would never allow in a paper ballot only election.
Is it too much to ask to heed the warning of Alexis de Tocqueville and stay regularly involved in the action of governing otherwise we will watch self-government pass from the scene?