Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – Text and Commentary

REFERENCE: RULES FOR RADICALS – A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals

In his book, Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky posits the “Have Nots” against the “Haves”, classic Marxism. The text is unedited by this writer.

Saul’s Rules (start on page 127)

No. 1: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

No. 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.

No. 3: Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

No. 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.

No. 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.

No. 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.

No. 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.

No. 8: Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.

No. 9: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

No. 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.

No. 11: If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter side; 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.

No. 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.”

No. 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.”

Alinsky quotes Old and New Testament scripture, Shakespeare,

Fair Use

The above text was copied from the book to (1) educate community leaders on the current tactics employed to disrupt, undermine, and overthrow our republican form of government in favor of a Marxist society; (2) to criticize leftist activism that is destructive to civil discourse and good order.

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