Consider the words of the dean of Chicago Community Organizing, Saul Alinsky. His book Rules for Radicals is clearly in play during this election. Alinsky writes about a society (the 60s, but could just as well be today), where the systems of society have quit working. He sees it as a revolution.
Remember we are talking about revolution, not revelation; you can miss the target by shooting too high as well as too low. First, there are no rules for revolution any more than there are rules for love or rules for happiness, but there are rules for radicals who want to change the world: there are certain central concepts of action in human politics that operate regardless of the scene or the time. To know these is basic to a pragmatic attack on the system. These rules make the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one who uses the tired old words and slogans … This failure of many of our younger activists to understand the art of communication has been disastrous.” (p. xviii)
It’s clear his discussion of means and ends has been understood by the Obamas…
“Life and how you live it is the story of means and ends. The end is what you want, and the means is how you get it. Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. he has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.” (p. 24-25)
“The Ninth Rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.” (p. 35)
We see Alinsky’s words on “tactics” every day. Caling for McCain to stay positive, for example, while his own surrogates “leak” false and damaging inuendo daily.
“Always remember the first rule of power tactics: Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. The second rule is: Never go outside the experience of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, it results in confusion, fear, and retreat. It also means a collapse in communication, as we have noted. The third rule is: Whenever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.” (p. 126-127)
“Use the power of the law by making the Establishment obey its own rules. Go outside the experience of the enemy, stay inside the experience of your people.
Here is the Obama playbook. In black and white.
thanks to Chris Heuer for some of the background research.