Friday, August 21, 2009

George Breitbart on the enduring heritage of Saul Alinsky

Fascinating article by Andrew Breitbart about the strategy of demonizing one's opponents:

The origins of manufactured "politics of personal destruction" is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based "progressive" street agitator titled, "There Is Only the Fight."

Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky's techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, "Rules for Radicals." In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.

"Rule 12: 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. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

Breitbart applies his analysis to explain the extraordinary hatred of George W. Bush in the last administration, and maintains that Bush's disappearance from the political scene has left a void that progressives are filling with a diffusion of targets: Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, the Mormons, the tea party participants. Progressives are using Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" as their playbook, he says.

He might be right that left is more familiar with the rulebook for radicals than the right. Both sides seem to have an instinct for the gains to be gotten by playing the demonization game, though.

Machiavelli is alive and well in 21st-century US politics, it seems.

Read the whole article.

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