Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 - June 12, 1972) was an author, activist, and liberal community organizer and rabble-rouser in Chicago who developed a method of local organizing that was widely copied by Democrats, and influenced Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He is credited with coining the term "community organizer." His most well-known accomplishment was the book Rules for Radicals. He wanted reform inside the system by pressuring government officials to take into account the needs and wants of neighborhood residents, and he believed that the end justified any means.
He was opposed by far-left radicals who wanted to destroy capitalism and who feared that Alinsky was strengthening it by resolving the issues most important to the poor, and was nicknamed "The Red" for his radicalism—his book was dedicated tongue-in-cheek to Lucifer, the first radical.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Community Organizer
- 3 Association with subversive organizations
- 4 Rules for Radicals
- 5 Death and Legacy
- 6 Quotes
- 7 See also
- 8 Works
- 9 Further reading
- 10 Documentaries about Saul Alinsky
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Alinsky was born on January 30, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois, to Russian-Jewish parents Benjamin and Sarah Tannenbaum Alinsky. While living in Chicago, he attended Marshall High School. His parents divorced when he was thirteen. Early on, Alinsky was educated in an Orthodox Yeshiva, where he learned the teachings of Rabbi Hillel.
After moving to California with his Father and graduating from Hollywood High School, he attended the University of Chicago, where he received a doctorate in archaeology. In addition, he was awarded a fellowship in sociology which he never completed.
When he finally graduated college it was in the midst of the Great Depression, and found it hard to find work in his field of study. He said: "Archaeologists were in about as much demand as horses and buggies. All the guys who funded the field trips were being scraped off Wall Street sidewalks."
While he was attending the University of Chicago, he met Helene Simon, his first wife. They married in 1932, and remained married until her death in an accidental drowning in 1947. They had two children, Kathryn and David. In 1952, he married Jean Graham. After his divorce from Graham in 1969, he married Irene McInnis in 1971.
Influence of University of Chicago
During that time, he was heavily influenced by sociologists from the Chicago School of Sociology. As a student, the two professors who had a most profound impact on him were Ernest Watson Burgess and Robert Ezra Park. Park in particular would become Alinsky's favorite professor. Later as a graduate student, he would be influenced by the work of another University of Chicago sociologist, Clifford Shaw.
Edward Chambers, a director for the Industrial Areas Foundation noted that Alinsky's principles for organizing are contained in his autobiography of John Lewis. By the time Alinsky reached the streets and started working with union activists like Lewis and Samuel Gompers, he had already developed his principles based on the teaching he received from his professors.
Illinois Institute of Juvenile Research
In 1931, he went to work as a sociologist for the Institute of Juvenile Research (IJR), which was run by Shaw. It was through this work that he attributed much of America's criminal activity to poverty.
Alinsky's approach to community organizing stressed "self interest as the generating reality of life." This view was solidified by his experiences in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) as an organizer in the style of labor union leaders Samuel Gompers and John L. Lewis. Many of the CIO organizers that he worked with were card-carrying communists.
Alinsky produced notable results like the Back of the Yard and the Woodlawn organizations in Chicago, which led him to spend the next decade spreading his methods across the entire nation, "from Kansas City and Detroit to the barrios of Southern California." The panic-stricken city council of Oakland, California, introduced a resolution banning him from the city.
Using the funding from Marshall Field III, Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation utilized confrontational tactics and dramatic protests to help members gain bargaining status and a larger share of the local pie. He disavowed with increasing vigor any national issue strategy or ideological outlook. The weakness of his emphasis on the organizer as a tactician only and the granting of control to those organized was that racist goals could be chosen by the membership as a whole.
Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council
After parting ways with the Institute of Juvenile Research in 1939(some sources say that he was fired by Shaw), he teamed up with Joseph Meegan where they formed the Back-Of-The-Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC), named after the Union Stockyards, the meatpacking district of Chicago which was made infamous by Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle. This was his first act of "community organizer," and cemented his position as a radical reformer. John Lewis' main organizer in the Back of the Yards was Herb March, who became good friends with Alinsky.
In reviewing the BYN, Alinsky made the following observation:
A survey of the possibilities for community organization of the residents of the Back of the Yards neighborhood reveals two basic social forces which might serve as the cornerstone of any effective community organization which would, first, be representative of the people of the community and, second, by the very virtue of such representation, posesses the necessary strength to effect constructive changes in the life of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. These two elemental social institutions are, first, the Catholic church and second, organized labor.
Alinsky's work in BYNC could not have been possible without his contacts among churches favorable to Christian socialism, the Social Gospel, and Social Justice. For his effective use of faith-based organizations, Alinsky's method has sometimes been referred to as Congregation-based Community Organizing.
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
For a more detailed treatment, see Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Several decades later, many of the early organizers who participated in the BYNC would go on to help establish the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. On August 25, 1995, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin gave a speech which began:
It is fitting that we are gathered here because since the beginning, Chicago has been important to the Campaign and the Campaign has been important to Chicago. As you may know, Msgr. George Higgins of this Archdiocese wrote a Labor Day message that pointed the way to the Campaign; Auxiliary Bishop Michael Dempsey of Chicago was the CHD’s first spokesperson; Msgr. Jack Egan organised the 'Friends of CHD' in the mid-1970s, and for decades has been an inspiration to the Campaign's work; the great work of community-organising began in Chicago, and Chicago has many important networks and training centres; CHD enjoys a rich tradition of support here, both in the form of active and enthusiastic participation by people in organisations and projects funded by CHD, and in the generous donations to the annual CHD Collection.
In these remarks, Bernardin highlights four points directly linked with Alinsky. George Higgins' Labor Day message was authored by a protege of Alinsky, P. David Finks. Alinsky's first priest intern was Jack Egan, and the "Friends of CHD" was modeled on an Alinsky strategy designed ten years earlier known as "Friends of FIGHT". Bernardin stated that the great work of community organizing began in Chicago, which is a reference to the BYNC, as is the reference to the "important networks" in the area - all of these organizations based their methodologies on the Alinsky model. Lastly, the "organizations and projects" funded by CHD are all of the left wing Alinsky-style organizations in the Chicago area that the Catholic Campaign had worked so hard to deliver funds to.
Bernard J. Sheil, the auxiliary bishop of Chicago was made an honorary chairman of the BYNC, which "gave Alinsky and Meegan's campaign added visibility and luster". Bishop Sheil made national headlines in 1954 for his public denunciations of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Industrial Areas Foundation
Having demonstrated his proven abilities in organizing through his activities at BYNC, Alinsky was awarded funding from the Marshall Field Foundation. Using this funding, the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) was born in 1940, which was largely responsible for most of the liberal community groups throughout the country.
In the 1960s, the Temporary Woodlawn Organization (TWO) was formed on behalf of local churches to confront a plan by the University of Chicago to expand in the area, as well as work toward better neighborhood schools. They consulted with Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation to help confront Mayor Richard J. Daley's secretary of education, Benjamin Willis.
Woodlawn organized a series of protests, using negative publicity to its advantage. In once instance, residents brought their cameras into the schools and took pictures of unoccupied desks. during protests in front of the homes of white slumlords, black residents were bussed in where they held signs all the way up and down the streets distributing pamphlets and protesting to gather attention to the situation.
During the 1940s, Alinsky learned of the community organizing activities of Fred Ross. Ross and Alinsky met, and in 1947, Alinsky hired Ross to work at the Industrial Areas Foundation.
With the aid of Alinsky and the IAF, Ross would go on to found the Community Service Organization (CSO) in Los Angeles, California, with his friend Edward R. Roybal. CSO is well known for teaching others the Alinsky ways, such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
Alinsky had a tendency to rub the sores of a community raw. During the Great Society campaigns of Lyndon Johnson, he organized groups like FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today) in order to push the Eastman Kodak Company to hire more black workers. Headed by the radical pastor Franklin Florence, FIGHT chose to remain an exclusively black organization. In response, Friends of FIGHT was formed, in order to bring in the involvement of white progressives.
One of the most well known strategies was the use of the "fart in", or "flatulent blitzkrieg". Activists were to eat a large baked bean dinner, then attend the quiet Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra where the operation could be better heard. Later, Alinsky threatened a "piss in" at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The plan was leaked to city officials that well-dressed black activists would stand in front of the urinals and occupying toilets in men's bathrooms, blocking patrons who actually needed to use the facility from doing so. The plan was never implemented, as the city caved in to their demands.
In 1965, Syracuse University opened the Community Action Training Center (CATC) under the guidance of Professor Warren Haggstrom. Haggstrom, who was a fan of Alinsky's ideals of community organizing, received a grant from the federal government's Office of Economic Opportunity to open the CATC. The grant was for the amount of $314,000. Using this funding, Haggstrom hired Saul Alinsky as a consultant, who also brought in the assistance of Fred Ross. Using the available base of indoctrinated students at the University of Syracuse, the CATC sent "trained" students to go out into the neighborhoods and whip up the residents into a frenzy. It did not take long for the mayor of Syracuse, William F. Walsh, to point out that the purpose of the center was to "train agitators" and teach "Marxist doctrines of class conflict." After Walsh and Haggstrom flew to Washington, D.C., to put pressure on the OEO, funding for the CATC was canceled. No longer having the direct funding of government largess, Alinsky labeled Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty" as a political pork barrel, as there was nothing left in it for him.
Alinsky's hard-knock, do-anything techniques rubbed many leaders the wrong way, and in 1967 he found himself without a contract. Alinsky would influence many activists in organizing, such as Wade Rathke, Michael Gecan, Greg Galuzzo, Edward T. Chambers, and Ernesto Cortes, many of whom went on to become leaders in Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation. The Black Panther movement in the 1960s made it hard for Alinsky to organize the black populace; they had a difficult time dealing with white leadership. He finally settled with organizing middle-class white Americans to protest against the deterioration of the suburban markets. Alinsky is best known for his work around the city of Chicago, but he also traveled to other places to build up community organizing efforts in places like California, New York City, Michigan, and several other "trouble spots".
Association with subversive organizations
The CPUSA newspaper, the Daily Worker named Alinsky as one of the sponsors of a dinner for Pearl Hart, a notorious communist fronter, arranged by the Midwest Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born. Alinsky was identified in the Daily Worker as chairman of the Public Housing Association of Chicago Illinois. The American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born, with which the Midwest Committee was affiliated, was cited by the President Harry S. Truman's Attorney General Thomas Clark as subversive and Communist. It was also cited by the Special Committee on Un-American Activities as one of the oldest auxiliaries of the Communist Party of the United States.
Speaking in an interview with Playboy Magazine, Alinsky explained the following:
PLAYBOY: What was your own relationship with the Communist Party?
ALINSKY: I knew plenty of Communists in those days, and I worked with them on a number of projects. Back in the Thirties, the Communists did a hell of a lot of good work; they were in the vanguard of the labor movement and they played an important role in aiding blacks and Okies and Southern sharecroppers. 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 also sympathetic to Russia in those days, not because I admired Stalin or the Soviet system but because it seemed to be the only country willing to stand up to Hitler. 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.When the Nazi-Soviet Pact came, though, and I refused to toe the party line and urged support for England and for American intervention in the war, the party turned on me tooth and nail. Chicago Reds plastered the Back of the Yards with big posters featuring a caricature of me with a snarling, slavering fanged mouth and wild eyes, labeled, "This is the face of a warmonger." But there were too many Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians and Latvians in the area for that tactic to go over very well. Actually, the greatest weakness of the party was its slavish parroting of the Moscow line. It could have been much more effective if it had adopted a relatively independent stance, like the western European parties do today. But all in all, and despite my own fights with them, I think the Communists of the Thirties deserve a lot of credit for the struggles they led or participated in. Today the party is just a shadow of the past, but in the Depiession it was a positive force for social change. A lot of its leaders and organizers were jerks, of course, but objectively the party in those days was on the right side and did considerable good.
Rules for Radicals
In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky wrote specifically to the 1960s generation of New Left radicals: "What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."
His "rules" derive from many successful campaigns where he sowed the seeds of class warfare with community organizing, getting people fighting power and privilege, whom he convinced people were the root of all their "problems". He uses several authors in the book who are associated with individual liberty, such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. Alinsky uses the following quote from Tocqueville in the prologue:
unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves, self-government would pass from the scene.
Tocqueville, like Jefferson, believed that government was best when it was limited. Alinsky believed the opposite, and in the book takes time to lament Jefferson as only caring for his own "naked self-interest in the clothing of "freedom," "equality of mankind," "a law higher than man-made law," and so on." It becomes quite clear that when Alinsky wrote of "self government", he meant nothing more than base materialism and wealth redistribution.
The Hillary Letters
In a letter written in 1971, Rodham had asked Alinsky when his new book, Rules For Radicals was going to be published:
- "When is that new book coming out - or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation? I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille [for Radicals] and need some new material to throw at people. You are being rediscovered again as the New Left-type politicos are finally beginning to think seriously about the hard work and mechanics of organizing. I seem to have survived law school, slightly bruised, with my belief in and zest for organizing intact."
Hillary's correspondence with Alinsky reveals that she has a primary focus on the ends, more than the means. It also highlights that the correspondence is more than just run of the mill fan-mail. Alinsky's secretary, Georgia Harper, wrote that "Since I know his feelings about you, I took the liberty of opening your letter because I didn't want something urgent to wait for two weeks."
In her 1969 thesis entitled "There Is Only The Fight" she praised Alinsky and his methods for community organizing:
- "His are the words used in our schools and churches, by our parents and their friends, by our peers. The difference is that Alinsky really believes in them...Alinsky is regarded by many as the proponent of a dangerous socio/political philosophy. As such, he has been feared - just as Eugene Debs or Walt Whitman or Martin Luther King has been feared, because each embraced the most radical of political faiths - democracy."
Furthermore, she described Alinsky this way:
- "He is a neo-Hobbesian who objects to the consensual mystique surrounding political processes; for him, conflict is the route to power."
The Alinsky Method
For Alinsky, organizing is the process of highlighting whatever he believed to be wrong and convincing people they can actually do something about it. The two are linked. If people feel they don’t have the power to change a situation, they stop thinking about it.
According to Alinsky, the organizer — especially a paid organizer from outside — must first overcome suspicion and establish credibility. Next the organizer must begin the task of agitating: rubbing resentments, fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy. This is necessary to get people to participate. An organizer has to attack apathy and disturb the prevailing patterns of complacent community life where people have simply come to accept a situation. Alinsky would say, “The first step in community organization is community disorganization.”
Through a process combining hope and resentment, the organizer tries to create a “mass army” that brings in as many recruits as possible from local organizations, churches, services groups, labor unions, corner gangs, and individuals.
Alinsky provides a collection of thirteen rules to guide the process. But he emphasizes these rules must be translated into real-life tactics that are fluid and responsive to the situation at hand.
- Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
- Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
- Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
- Rule 4: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
- Rule 5: Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
- Rule 6: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
- Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
- Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”
- Rule 9: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.
- Rule 10: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. Unceasing pressure results in reactions that are essential for the success of the community organizer's campaign.
- Rule 11: If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive. Every positive has its negative.
- Rule 12: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”
- Rule 13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.” 
The astute reader can readily identify many of these rules on the "Talk" pages of Conservapedia. The enemies of conservatism and Christianity (or indeed any Religion) have practiced without end, Alinsky's "rules", especially numbers 13, 8, 5 and 4.
Of Means and Ends
In addition to his more well known set of 13 general rules for community organizers, Alinsky sets out a set of 11 rules on means and how to achieve any end.
- The first rule of the ethics of means and ends: One's concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one's personal interest in the issue.
- The second rule of the ethics of means and ends: The judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment.
- The third rule of the ethics of means and ends: In war, the end justifies almost any means.
- The fourth rule of the ethics of means and ends: Judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological vantage point.
- The fifth rule of the ethics of means and ends: Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.
- The sixth rule of the ethics of means and ends: The less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means.
- The seventh rule of the ethics of means and ends: Generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics.
- The eighth rule of the ethics of means and ends: The morality of a means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory.
- The ninth rule of the ethics of means and ends: Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.
- The tenth rule of the ethics of means and ends: You do what you can with what you have and clothe it in moral garments.
- The eleventh rule of the ethics of means and ends: Goals must be phrased in general terms like "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," "Of the Common Welfare," "Pursuit of Happiness," or "Bread and Peace."
Alinsky concluded that anybody asking the proverbial question of "Does the End justify the Means"" is always asking the wrong question. The real question is and has always been "Does this particular end justify this particular means?"
Politicization of all aspects of life
Alinsky did not believe that "politics" should be confined to political topics. He believed that non-political topics could be politicized for the opportunities they represented. In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky wrote:
All of life is partisan. There is no dispassionate objectivity. The revolutionary ideology is not confined to a specific limited formula.
In this quote as well as his activities, such as the piss-in/fart-in campaigns, no aspect of life was off limits to be used for political gain. Nowadays everything is politicized and partisan. But in Alinsky's day, this was brand new.
Death and Legacy
Alinsky died of a heart attack on June 12, 1972 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He was 63 years old. Time Magazine wrote of Alinsky that "It is not too much to argue that American democracy is being altered by Alinsky's ideas." William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote of Alinsky on October 19, 1966 in the Chicago Daily News:
For a fee ALINSKY contracts to come into your city and, so to speak, bust up the joint. His purposes, needless to say, are like the Jacobins in France who sought to break up the power structure so as to release the energies and increase the opportunities of the lower class. ALINSKY is twice formidable. For one thing, he is very close to being an organizational genius. For another he has a way of making practical idealists feel sort of foolish - by pushing aside their efforts to help the poor or the racial minorities as ventures in facility.
ALINSKY cannot abide men of reason or conciliation. He thrives on strife, the more the better, and especially relishes the opposition when it is tough. Add to all this a penetrating sense of irony. "An integrated neighborhood" he once observed, "is defined as the length of time between arrival of the first Negro and the departure of the last white."
In addition, Buckley noted that one of Alinsky's favorite tactics was to employ left wing priests and ministers, because police have a built in reluctance to tossing them into a jail cell. On the December 11, 1967 broadcast of his show Firing Line, William Buckley interviewed Alinsky in a discussion known as "Mobilizing The Poor."
Several conservative talk radio hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage, attribute many of the strategies of the Democratic Party to Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. Hillary Clinton's senior honors thesis was an analysis of the works of Saul Alinsky and the effect that they have on politics today. Barack Obama can also trace his roots to the teachings of Saul Alinsky and the use of them at the Alinskyite organization ACORN. Obama had a passion for Alinsky's work. In 1988 while he was still at Harvard, Barack wrote "Problems and promise in the inner city", which became a chapter in the book "After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois." Under the tutelage of an Alinsky admirer John L. McKnight, Obama says he got the "best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School." 
His most well known book "Rules for Radicals", in addition to its influence among leftists, became a useful tool for members of the Tea Party Movement. Organizations like FreedomWorks handed out copies of the book to members of its leadership and would use it to train activists all across the country.
Alinsky has played a role in several presidential elections. In the Presidential Election 2012, candidate Newt Gingrich declared that President Obama "is legitimately and authentically a Saul Alinsky radical", routinely bringing up Alinsky during the primaries. It was also learned that Mitt Romney's father George Romney knew Alinsky and was sympathetic to his views. Governor Romney said in 1968: "I think you ought to listen to Alinsky."
During the 2016 presidential election, then candidate Ben Carson urged Americans to read the book Rules for Radicals to get a better grasp on the tactics used by community organizers. Carson again brought up Alinsky at the RNC, pointing out that Hillary Clinton's "Hero" is Saul Alinsky.
Alinsky did an interview with Playboy Magazine shortly before he died, which has become a primary source of information about Alinsky's views first hand. In the interview, he revealed how he learned many of his tactics from mafia bosses like Frank Nitti, who was Al Capone's number two man. Alinsky was less interested in the wealth of the mob than he was their ability to keep an iron fist on power in the community. Additionally, during the interview he discussed his view of the afterlife:
ALINSKY: ... if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
PLAYBOY: Why?ALINSKY: They're my kind of people.
ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I've been with the have-nots. Over here, if you're a have-not, you're short of dough. If you're a have-not in hell, you're short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I'll start organizing the have-nots over there.
PLAYBOY: Why them?
The Diocese of Davenport awarded Alinsky with its Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in 1969.
Two documentaries have been produced about the life and influence of Saul Alinsky. In 1999, a documentary titled The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy was produced, and 2016 the EWTN released a second documentary titled A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
- "Much of the time, though, the organizer will have a pretty good idea of what the community should be doing, and he will want to suggest, maneuver, and persuade the community toward that action. He will not ever seem to to tell the community what to do; instead, he will use loaded questions."
- "THAT PERENNIAL QUESTION, "Does the end justify the means?""
- "The end is what you want, and the means is how you get it."
- "Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means."
- "A People's Organization is dedicated to an eternal war. It is a war against poverty, misery, delinquency, disease, injustice, hopelessness, despair, and unhappiness. They are basically the same issues for which nations have gone to war in almost every generation. A war is not an intellectual debate, and in the war against social evils there are no rules of fair play."
- "Power goes to two poles: to those who've got money and those who've got people."
- "There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds he becomes a founding father."
- "Nothing can be lifted or moved except through power."
- "To the organizer, compromise is a key and beautiful word. It is always present in the pragmatics of operation. It is making the deal, getting that vital breather, usually the victory. If you start with nothing, demand 100 per cent, then compromise for 30 per cent, you’re 30 per cent ahead."
- "We must believe that it is the darkness before the dawn of a beautiful new world; we will see it when we believe it."
- "In the beginning the organizer's first job is to create the issues or problems."
- "When those prominent in the status quo turn and label you an "agitator" they are completely correct, for that is, in one word, your function - to agitate to the point of conflict."
- "The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself."
- "The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act."
- "Whenever anyone asks me my religion, I always say - and always will say - Jewish"
- "Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict."
- "History is a relay of revolutions; the torch of idealism is carried by the revolutionary group until this group becomes an establishment, and then quietly the torch is put down to wait until a new revolutionary group picks it up for the next leg of the run. Thus the revolutionary cycle goes on."
- "The answer I gave the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one"Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing - but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.""
- "Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough."
- "The organizer is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which man can reach - to create, to be a "great creator," to play God."
- "Tactics must begin within the experience of the middle class, accepting their aversion to rudeness, vulgarity, and conflict. Start them easy, don't scare them off."
- "All this and more must be grasped and used to radicalize parts of the middle class."
- "I have on occasion remarked that I felt confident that I could persuade a millionaire on a Friday to subsidize a revolution for Saturday out of which he would make a huge profit on Sunday even though he was certain to be executed on Monday."
- "Nitti took me under his wing. 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."
- Reveille for Radicals, 1946
- John L. Lewis: An Unauthorized Biography, 1949
- Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, 1971. Full text search on Archive.org
- The Philosopher and the Provocateur: The Correspondence of Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinsky edited by Bernard E. Doering (1994), 118pp. Maritain was a conservative Catholic theologian
- "Community Analysis and Organization", American Journal of Sociology 46 (1941): 798.
- "From Citizen Apathy to Participation", Paper presented at the 6th Annual Fall Conference, Association of Community Councils of Chicago, Chicago, October 19, 1957, Box 32, file 523, Industrial Areas Foundation Archive, University of Illinois at Chicago
- The Philosopher and the Provocateur: The Correspondence of Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinsky, Bernard Doering, 1994
- Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, Narrated by Scott Lange, 2015 (Unabridged Audiobook)
- Thirteen Tactics for Realistic Radicals: from Rules for Radicals, 2016
- Bailey, Robert, Jr. "Radicals in Urban Politics: The Alinsky Approach." 1974. 187 pp.
- Billson, Janet M. "Saul Alinsky: The Contributions of a Pioneer Clinical Sociologist" Clinical Sociology Review, 2, 7-11
- Engel, Lawrence J. "Saul D. Alinsky and the Chicago School" The Journal of Speculative Philosophy New Series, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2002), pp. 50–66
- Engel, Lawrence J. "The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development" Theological Studies 59 (December 1998) 636
- Finks, David, P. "The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky" 1984.
- Horwitt, Sanford D. "Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky: His Life and Legacy" (1992), 595pp
- Levine, Charles F. "Understanding Alinsky, Conservative Wine In Radical Bottles." American Behavioral Scientist 1973 17(2): 279-284.
Documentaries about Saul Alinsky
- The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky & His Legacy, ITVS, (1999)
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, Eternal Word Television Network, (2016)
- Guess who recommended Obama to enter Harvard Worldnetdaily, September 24, 2008
- Saul David Alinsky
- American Social Leaders and Activists
- Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy, p. 551
- The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame
- Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World
- Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition
- American Social Leaders, p. 12
- Encyclopedia of leadership: A-E, Volume 1
- Saul Alinsky, community organizing and rules for radicals
- Mrs. Alinsky Drowns After Saving 2 Girls, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 4th, 1947
- IT NEVER HURTS TO HAVE A FEW ENEMIES, The New York Times
- American Reformers: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, p.
- Community Organizing: Addams and Alinsky
- Saul D. Alinsky and the Chicago School
- The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky
- Collective Action for Social Change: An Introduction to Community Organizing
- The Ecology of Prevention: Illustrating Mental Health Consultation
- Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals. 1. 1971.
- The Chicago School of Sociology: Institutionalization, Diversity, and the Rise of Sociological Research
- The Chicago Area Project, by Ernest W. Burgess, Joseph D. Lohman, and Clifford R. Shaw, 1937
- Organization Man, Saul Alinsky`s Legacy Is Alive, Well And Living In The Neighborhoods, Chicago Tribune, by P. David Finks
- Saul Alinsky & Rules for Radicals Ultimate Collection
- Oakland Split on Presbytery Bid to Alinsky, Chicago Tribune, May 3rd, 1966
- Alan S. Miller, "Saul Alinsky: America's Radical Reactionary." Radical America 1987 21(1): 11-18. 0033-7617
- Reclaiming the Strike Zone: Do it American
- The Origins of American Criminology
- Joseph Meegan, Back Of Yards Council Co-founder, Chicago Tribune
- Remediation of Former Manufactured Gas Plants and Other Coal-Tar Sites
- Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice
- John Podesta, the Center for American Progress, and the Communist-friendly Modern Progressive Movement
- Community Analysis and Organization, by S. D. Alinsky
- Saul Alinsky Goes to Church
- The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development
- Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy, p. 70
- LIFE Apr 19, 1954
- The Possibility of Popular Justice: A Case Study of Community Mediation in the United States
- Poverty in the United States: A - K., Volume 1
- Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era: Revitalization Politics in the Postindustrial City
- Residents of Woodlawn seeing improvements, as a 40-year rebuilding effort starts to pay off
- Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974
- Chicago Portraits: New Edition
- The Practice of Macro Social Work
- Black Cuban, Black American: A Memoir
- Rethinking the Chicano Movement
- Ask President Obama to award Presidential Medal of Freedom to Cesar's mentor, Fred Ross Sr.
- Who is Saul Alinsky?, CBS News
- Hearing(s) Held in Rochester, New York, September 16-17, 1966, Volumes 35-962
- The Mid-Atlantic Region
- JULY ‘64, PBS
- Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky
- Pursuing Justice: Traditional and Contemporary Issues in Our Communities and the World
- Saul Alinsky: A Complicated Rebel, National Review
- Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky
- Syracuse University: The Tolley Years, 1942-1969
- The Urban Racial State: Managing Race Relations in American Cities
- The Battle for Welfare Rights: Politics and Poverty in Modern America
- The Post-Standard from Syracuse, New York · Page 7, May 30, 1966
- Reports of the Commission on Subversive Activities of the Territory of Hawaii, p. 12 pdf.
- Interview with Saul Alinsky, Part Ten
- Know Thine Enemy, The New York Times
- Rules for Radicals, page 44
- The Hillary Letters
- The Hillary Letters, Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky correspondence revealed, September 21, 2014
- What does the Hillary-Alinksy letter reveal?
- Liberal Media Ignore "Hillary Letters", Accuracy In Media
- HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON , Discover the Networks
- Alinsky's daughter: Here's the truth about Hillary the media won't tell you
- The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, page 95
- Rules for Radicals, page 127
- Still the Alinsky Playbook, National Review
- STRATEGIC PUBLIC RELATIONS; Alinsky's Rules for Radicals
- Rules for Radicals, page 24-47
- Rules for Radicals, page 47
- Rules for Radicals, page 10
- Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice
- Essay: Radical Saul Alinsky: Prophet of Power to the People
- Report, United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation, pp. 41-42
- Firing Line Mobilizing the Poor, National Review
- Democrats and the Legacy of Activist Saul Alinsky (audio file), NPR
- What This Community Organizer Really Did, Human Events
- Why Do Catholics Keep Funding the Radical Left?, American Thinker
- Why Organize
- FreedomWorks doing Alinsky strategy training
- Two Ways to Play the 'Alinsky' Card, Wall Street Journal
- Newt Gingrich: President Barack Obama is "Legitimately and Authentically a Saul Alinsky Radical" (Video), Gateway Pundit
- Sarah Palin defends Newt against "cannibal" GOP, CBS News
- Bill Moyers, Progressive Propagandist, American Thinker
- CNN Bypasses Obama-Alinsky Ties, but Links Tea Party to Alinsky, Media Research Center
- Saul Alinsky and the Romneys' Progressive Activism
- When Liberal Governor George Romney Met Saul Alinsky
- Romney's Way: A Man and an Idea
- Why Is Dr. Ben Carson Urging Americans to Read Saul Alinsky’s 'Rules for Radicals'?, The Blaze
- Carson: We Need to Inform People About Hillary Clinton's Radical Hero
- Who Is Saul Alinsky? Ben Carson Claims He Was Hillary Clinton's 'Role Model', NBC News
- Look who Michelle Obama was CAUGHT plagiarizing DNC speech from...
- Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Offers Fresh Look at Saul Alinsky, Far-Left Bromides, Breitbart.com
- D’Souza’s America, National Review
- Pacem In Terris Past Recipients
- Review of The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy
- Saul Alinsky: a wolf in sheep's clothing
- A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING - Official Trailer
- Rules for Radicals, page 91
- Rules for Radicals, page 24
- Rules for Radicals, page 43
- Reveille for Radicals, page 133
- Rules for Radicals, page 127. See footnote
- Rules for Radicals, page 34
- Reveille for Radicals, page 22
- Rules for Radicals, page 59
- Rules for Radicals, page 196
- Rules for Radicals, page 119
- Rules for Radicals, page 117
- Rules for Radicals, Prologue, page xxiv
- Rules for Radicals, page 116-117
- Rules for Radicals, page 21
- Rules for Radicals, page 22
- Rules for Radicals, page 61
- Rules for Radicals, page 195
- Rules for Radicals, page 186
- Rules for Radicals, page 150
- Playboy interview
- FBI files on Saul Alinsky, 1
- FBI files on Saul Alinsky, 2
- William F Buckley Jr & Saul Alinsky - Mobilizing The Poor
- Alinski's Rules: Must Reading In Obama Era, by Phyllis Schlafly, February 2, 2009
- Problems and promise in the inner city, by Barack Obama
- SAUL ALINSKY, Discover the Networks