What Community Organizing Isn’t

If you want to make changes in your community, instead of just writing about it, you have to read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

I regret I didn’t get my copy until December, after Obama took the election.  I was quoting it from other people’s writings, but didn’t fully understand the import of the book.  No wonder ACORN was using it, and how Obama successfully came out of nowhere politically to beat all the insiders for the office.

Today, I found an old post by beeveedee on Community Activism, what it is and what it isn’t.  He/she quotes from Alinsky on why Palin didn’t understand the importance of being an organizer.

Advocacy / Activism – Simply being in favor of something does not make you an organizer. In fact, community organizers are, at least in their professional lives, distinguished by not really being in favor of anything except building the power of organized people. Once you’ve built power, then you don’t have to stop at being in favor of things. You can actually get them. Advocacy and activism are about being right. Organizing is about being effective.

This is why we couldn’t understand Mr Obama.  Whatever we claimed he was, he wasn’t.  He acted however he needed to act to build power.  He promised what he thought his listeners wanted, only he did it with more finesse than Ms Clinton, his primary opponent.

Question now is whether he’s got the skills to use that power.  He advocated for a portion of the electorate, most of whom lose interest between elections.  But he didn’t organize Congress.  He wasn’t there long enough.  Alinsky told us:  If you’re not there organizing, you’re just increasing the census.

Let me leave you with beeveedee’s concluding thought:

Let me say at plainly as I know how: If you are building the power of organized people to hold political and economic systems accountable, you are organizing. If you aren’t doing that, you’re not organizing.


4 Responses to What Community Organizing Isn’t

  1. Glen says:

    In the middle searching old friends, found your website.Just passing by.By the way, your website have great content! 🙂

    Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
    Instead, the power company will pay YOU!

  2. Cederash says:

    Очень познавательно. Спасибо.
    (translation: Very informative. Thank you.)

  3. Ferinannnd says:

    Действительно полезный пост, спасибо.
    (Translation: Really useful post, thanks.)

  4. Avertedd says:

    Здорово! (Wow!)

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