On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon broke the news of a young Hillary Clinton’s correspondence with socialist agitator Saul Alinsky. Alinsky, whose philosophy has long been linked with President Barack Obama’s focus on community organizing, was a far larger influence on Clinton, who wrote her thesis at Wellesley on Alinsky.
Alinsky fully embraced the tenets of socialism – as Stanley Kurtz points out, Alinsky wrote in his first work, Reveille for Radicals, “Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of the comparative handful.” In order to accomplish those goals, as Alinsky spelled out in his follow-up work, Rules for Radicals, community organizing was necessary: a strategy by which an organizer would find the “Have-Nots” in particular communities and encourage them to agitate against the “Haves” – almost always, a corporation. Disturbing the general population, lying, and cheating were musts.
What makes Alinsky unique is his focus on messaging. He recognizes that naked radicalism does not sell – instead, he suggests that true radicals hijack the language of the Founding Fathers, for example. Time magazine described him thus: “Alinsky claims to be doing nothing more un-American than following the precepts of the Founding Fathers. In the Federalist papers, James Madison warned against allowing any class or faction to acquire too much power. In his own way, Alinsky is trying to redress the balance of power within contemporary America…He surely offers proof – if any is needed – that significant change can be accomplished within the American system.”
What sort of change? He wanted “individual freedom” supplanted with “communal freedom.” He wrote, “The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.”
In Hillary’s thesis, she does criticize Alinsky for not going far enough – she wanted to go into government itself and use its tools for manipulation, as Alana Goodman points out: “Many of the Alinsky-inspired poverty warriors could not (discounting political reasons) move beyond the cathartic first step of organizing groups ‘to oppose, complain, demonstrate, and boycott’ to developing and running a program.”