Union Gangsters: Saul Alinsky

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In a biography of Alinsky which was close to being a love letter, Nicholas von Hoffman writes of Alinsky’s “biography of Lewis which was close to being a love letter.” In that 1949 book, Alinsky coldly recounts the events of 1922’s Herrin Massacre, in which John L. Lewis’s United Mine Workers (UMW) murdered twenty nonunion mine workers with impunity. A fawning Alinsky compares Lewis punching carpenters’ union leader William Hutcheson at a 1935 American Federation of Labor convention to colonists firing at the red coats at Lexington. Alinsky conceded of his mentor’s leadership of the UMW that there is “no question that Lewis runs the union with a strong dictatorial hand.” Rather than repulse the fledgling community organizer, the strong-arm tactics of the CIO and UMW strongman infatuated him. John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography foreshadows the more widely read Rules for Radicals published twenty-two years later. Dismissing critics of Lewis’s controversial tactics, his aide/biographer explained, “In the arena of power politics, the question of the ethics of means and ends can only be relegated to an academic arena.”

But this didn’t stop him from questioning the means of one of his most famous disciples. Alinsky chastised employee Cesar Chavez for not taking advantage of an expense account and argued with the Mexican-American organizer to accept a raise. Alinsky’s foundation lent financial backing to Chavez’s efforts to unionize migrant agricultural workers but he found his methods, such as public fasts, embarrassing. “Though the saintly Cesar later emerged to cast a spell over men like Bobby Kennedy, women like Dorothy Day and a wide liberal public, he was not a figure Saul could trust,” von Hoffman, hired by Alinsky the same day as Chavez, recounted. “The leadership he admired and whose decision making he could rely on was that of a Franklin Roosevelt or a John L. Lewis, men who might be devious, cynical, power loving and glory seeking but who lacked that pious tick that can make for calamity.”

The contrasting appraisals of the very different men—finding a saint in the sinner Lewis and a sinner in Saint Chavez—tell us more about the appraiser than the appraised.

Whereas Chavez’s methods appealed to the public’s decency, Lewis and Alinsky’s more forceful methods assumed that their targets had no decency. Thus, they fought fire with fire. “The organizer should know and accept that the right reason is only introduced as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved, although it may have been achieved for the wrong reasons to achieve the right goals,” instructs Rules for Radicals. “He should be able, with skill and calculation, to use irrationality in his attempts to progress toward a rational world.”

These “wrong reasons” included violence. “The subject was too touchy and to bring it up was to invite misquotation and distortion,” von Hoffman writes in his biography. “In private, though, he would say that violence has its uses.” It did as the head of a CIO goon squad. And Alinsky later boasted of his Depression-era involvement with Chicago mobsters. Enforcer “[Frank] Nitti took me under his wing,” he told Playboy shortly before his 1972 death. “I called him the Professor and I became his student. Nitti’s boys took me everywhere, showed me all the mob’s operations, from gin mills and whorehouses and bookie joints to the legitimate businesses they were beginning to take over. Within a few months, I got to know the workings of the Capone mob inside out.” He coolly crowed about detached discussions of mafia hits with Nitti, telling Hugh Hefner’s magazine, “I learned a hell of a lot about the uses and abuses of power from the mob, lessons that stood me in good stead later on, when I was organizing.”

Saul Alinsky dedicated Rules for Radicals to Satan. He kept a framed picture of a mad bomber on his office wall. He found in Machiavelli an ethical democrat. He labeled Al Capone a “public benefactor.” He was a moralist for amorality.

A common sin of activists involves allowing the brilliant ends to blind one to the dark means. At first glance, Saul Alinsky appears a repeat offender of this familiar transgression. But Alinsky is really that unique figure so caught up in pursuing devious means that he loses track of the ends.

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  • kafir

    Never EVER buy union made goods. A percentage of every dollar spent on union made goods go into the coffers of scum like White House Stinky (BO), Chucky (the kapo) Schumer, Harry (the pervert) Reid, Nancy (beads) Pelosi, and the list goes on.

    • Guest of the World

      How about the scum who make union wages? Those creepy people who work for a living! How dumb is that!!!??? How dumb were union fights to go for the 8-hr workday and sick days and all of that. How creepy!!!!

  • davarino

    A sick man

  • StephenD

    Cheer up! You don't have to grieve his long ago passing. We have committed disciples of his in the highest offices in the land. We can be the benefactors of this nearly supernatural inspiration. Just keep in mind the supernatural is from the darkest chambers of hell.

  • BLJ

    Alinsky was a thug and an extremely evil man. And the top two Dems are his disciples. The sad fact is that the American people have no clue who this creep was and how his philosophy has shaped Comrade O and Lady Hill.

  • mrbean

    Alinsky's crowning achievement was his recruitment of a young high school student named Hillary Rodham. She met Alinsky through a radical church group. Hillary wrote an analysis of Alinsky's methods for her senior thesis at Wellesley College. They remained friends until Alinsky's death in 1972. That Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama share an Alinskyite background tells us two things. First, they are leftists, dedicated to overthrowing our Constitutional system. Second, they will go to any length to conceal their radicalism from the public. That is the Alinsky method. And that is today's Democratic Party.

    • StephenD

      Exactly! And because it is calculated it is ever the more evil.
      I see it as them doing wicked deeds to our grandchildren. Despicable!

  • Amused

    "Wicked deeds to our grandchildren " ?? Whast a total buffoon you are StephenD .Maybe you'd prefer your grandchildren to be subservient to their "benevolent employers " , and start their working carrer at 7 , work 12 hours a day , 6 or 7 days a week .Complain and they're fired . OR
    Most likely someone like you , would make sure your grandchildren would be trained to be the taskmasters .
    Just remember , that the teachers who taught such an ungrateful contemptuous dufus like you to read and write …were Union .
    But your frothing hatred matches nicely with another numbskull here calling himself kafir .

    • WilliamJamesWard

      With the joy of ringworm and the afterglow of acid reflux you make your point,
      to which I am amused……………………………………..William

  • Amused

    LOL….yea ok Ward .Too bad I suffer from neither eh .I'd be willing to bet all I have in the bank that of you three TOOLS , none have ever worked at physical labor in your lives at all . In addition , express a complete and total ignorance of the labor movement in the US nor the abuses that led to it's necessity .[AND STILL DO]
    And just like Flynn , remain brainwashed consevative parrots , gleening any ..er…knowledge of these things from the same old poltical memes , bought and paid for by big buisiness ,right back to the days of Henry Ford's Goon Squads .And ALSO , just like them and their historic predecessors dont knw the difference between pursuing the goals of capitolism and utterly stomping on the rights of individuals .

    • WilliamJamesWard

      I have probably more time in Unions than you have lived but that is unimportant.
      I have also been in management and politics amongst other work. I started work
      at 8 years old but my bio is nothing to brag on. I admired many in the labor
      movement of which I was a part and was absolutely aware of management
      evils and worker mistreatment and did all I legally could as others did to change
      my working world. Today Union leaders are using the membership for political
      activism that goes past fair wage and benefit activity and have ruined many a
      good company and destroyed worker jobs. I think back to the New York, Herald
      Tribune, Journal American newspapers destroyed in the late "50's by Union
      demands that cost everyone their work. I will not beat a dead horse here but
      Unions have become the tools of leftist/communist undermining and not much
      on looking after workers, on this point maybe you are aware. It is people
      who go bad , management and union reflect societial values and the political
      class has destroyed the working life and economy in America, so it goes.
      Merry Christmas…………………………………………William

  • Thinker

    Amused, have you been in the union kool-aid again? Also, what is the difference between a "brainwashed conservative parrot" and a brainwashed union parrot?

  • Amused

    Oh that's easy Thinker , and thank you for providing [yourself ] as an excellent example !
    The UNION Advocate , recognizes reality and learns from the past , is aware of the historical facts and is able to view it from a standpoint of fairness and equity. [*nb -this only comes after actual effort on the part of any honest inquiry .]
    On the other hand , the brainwashed conservative parrot , does no such earnest research , is totally reactionary , and that , to the incitements of ignorant ideologues the conservative front puts up , filled with pro-buisiness spin and political memes .Sorta like a pavlovian response .The resulting contempt for their fellow Americans who literally built this country , and purposed blindness to the consequences like most all mining disasters , the B.P. Refinery Explosion , the B.P. Platform explosion , to name a few , [since your knowledge most likely is superficial and has a short historical attention span] , resulting in great loss of life and destruction of property , which can be traced back to your kind of thinking [lol an oxymron for you and your tag ] Go do your homework , you're wet behind the ears .

  • Amused

    …..and as far as the rest of the "conservative narrative " big buisiness offers a kick in the teeth to it's own sychophants ,as you may have notice the recent cave in of Lowes , regarding the removal of its sponsorship from the American Muslim Documentary .[btw , not at all an a-typical, buisiness first America second mentality ]

  • Amused

    I guess free speech is only acceptable speech …to you know who .And how easily that is given up for profit .

  • Amused

    It's no wonder , all the handwringing , denigration for , and whining about OWS .If you birds had your way I' m sure this country would slip into fascism .

  • nondhimmicrat

    I think I finally understand community organizing. It's where the organizer goes around in
    communities where no one works and promises them government checks if they vote

  • bigs

    Amused; classic Alinsky tacktics keep running your mouth and not listening to reason. I will bet you've never ever created a job or had to make a payrol, try if you have the balls and you'll see that it's frigin hard even in the best of economies. You are free to quit your job if you don't like it or you're treated unfairly it's still America(for now). With that said, when we put the horse before the cart the cart goes nowhere.

  • bigs

    Whoops I meant cart infront of the horse.

  • MoFreedom

    Alinsky alleges he joined the mob to write a research paper. But he never wrote any research paper on the mob & may've been killed for even thinking about it.

    He also alleges he left the mob after two years. But all of us know no one leaves the mob alive. So, Alinsky may’ve have been working for the mob all along as a masterful shakedown artist. After all, what's the difference between a shakedown artist & a community organizer.

  • MoFreedom

    Further, Alinsky admitted to having ties to communists in a 1972 Playboy interview. Here's what he said:

    "Anybody who tells you he was active in progressive causes in those days and never worked with the Reds is a goddamn liar. Their platform stood for all the right things, and unlike many liberals, they were willing to put their bodies on the line. Without the Communists, for example, I doubt the C.I.O. could have won all the battles it did… I was in charge of a big part of fund raising for the International Brigade and in that capacity I worked in close alliance with the Communist Party… During in the Depression the Communist Party was a positive force for social change."

    Plus, when subversives got down in the dirt, they made sure they didn't leave any trails leading back to CPUSA. Even though it actively recruited Soviet spies from among its members, CPUSA always tried to maintain plausible deniability. Communism was just another ideological point of view, as it liked to say.