Saul Alinsky’s 24 Rules for Radicals

Contrary to popular belief, Saul Alinsky did not state only 13 rules in his seminal community organizing work, Rules for Radicals. He had 24 rules.

The below is Appendix E from Matthew Vadum’s book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, which was published by WND Books in 2011. Copyright © 2011 by Matthew Vadum.

APPENDIX E: Saul Alinsky’s Rules from Rules for Radicals

Saul Alinsky describes 24 rules in Rules for Radicals. Of those 24 rules, 13 are rules of “power tactics”:

1. “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”

2. “Never go outside the experience of your people.”

3.  Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy.”

4. “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.”

5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

6. “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.”

7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”

8. “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for    your purpose.”

9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”

11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.”

12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”

13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

The remaining 11 rules Alinsky describes are concerned with “the ethics of means and ends”:

14. One’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue … Accompanying this rule is the parallel one that one’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s distance from the scene of conflict.”

15. “[T]he judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.”

16. “[I]n war the end justifies almost any means.”

17. “[J]udgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.”

18. “[C]oncern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.”

19. “[T]he less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.”

20. “[G]enerally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.”

21. “[T]he morality of a means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.”

22. “[A]ny effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.”

23. “[Y]ou do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.”

24. “[G]oals must be phrased in general terms like ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,’ ‘Of the Common Welfare,’ ‘Pursuit of Happiness,’ or ‘Bread and Peace.’”

Copyright © 2011 by Matthew Vadum.