Having only read excerpts of Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals, I was pleased to have the opportunity to sit down and read it for myself in its entirety. Knowing how influential Alinksy was for the young Obama (and many others who now occupy seats of power) I am more worried than I was before now that I’ve actually read this book. Go to the library and pick up the book. You need to read it.
The subtitle of the book is “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” It is not an inappropriate subtitle. Alinsky is all about pragmatism and realism. Alinsky is dismissive of ethical questions related to the question “Does the end justify the means?” He says:
The practical revolutionary will understand Goethe’s “conscience is the virtue of observers and not of agents of action”; in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind. The choice must always be for the latter. Action is for mass salvation and not for the individual’s personal salvation. He who sacrifices mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar conception of “personal salvation”; he doesn’t care enough for people to be “corrupted” for them. (pg 25, chapter titled: Of Means and Ends)