Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Legacies to the Left of Me

The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy - Documentary blurp: "Alinsky's hard-nosed politics were shaped by the rough and tumble world of late 1930's Chicago. Back then, the city, still in the grips of the Great Depression, was controlled by the Kelly-Nash political machine and by Frank Nitti - heir to Al Capone's Mafia empire. In 1938, with a freshly minted graduate degree in criminology from University of Chicago, Alinsky went to work for sociologist Clifford Shaw at the Institute for Juvenile Research. He was assigned to research the causes of juvenile delinquency in Chicago's tough "Back-of-the-Yards" neighborhood. In order to study gang behavior from the inside, Alinsky ingratiated himself with Al Capone's crowd, and came to realize that criminal behavior was a symptom of poverty and powerlessness."

Another blurp: Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote, "Power concedes nothing without demand." THE DEMOCRATIC PROMISE: SAUL ALINSKY AND HIS LEGACY is the story of ordinary people making demands for the power to govern their own lives. Narrated by Alec Baldwin, the documentary examines both the history of community organizing - through the work of Saul Alinsky - as well as the current state of community organizing, as shown by contemporary organizations in New York and Texas.

How can ya not win over the hearts and minds of disempowered folks when using the names of Douglass, Baldwin, and Capone. A Black icon, a Hollywood beefcake, and a member of the romanticized Mafioso. Who better to learn community organizing from than an international street gang? Badabing.

Note I use the word disempowered meaning you have been deprived of power/authority, but the "Left" prefers "disenfranchised," meaning you have been deprived of some privilege. The Left/progressives do like the term "empowerment," particularly the women's movement, meaning "official authority" usually to act on someones behalf. The World Bank also likes to use the term "empowerment." It may be code for "here let me do that for you while I pick your pocket and screw your children."

Alinsky is considered the pioneer, the father of "community organizing." An icon of the '60s social movements and influence on many today. Hillary Clinton's senior thesis at Wellesley College was on Alinsky, There Is Only The Fight...": An Analysis of the Alinsky Model. In the '80s Alinsky disciples hired Obama as a Chicago community organizer.

When I was young and dumb Saul was an icon of mine too. His theory is to organize and select a leader to take your fight to the man ... as we can see, the "leaders" usually do quite well after they meet with "the man" but I fail to see where the little people have benefited much with Alinsky's methods.

Alinsky "came to realize that criminal behavior was a symptom of poverty and powerlessness." Hmmm, I grew up poor among other poor folks and we never considered crime an option. But that was an era of parents without societal excuses, when delinquency and thuggery were a family shame - not a ghetto badge of manhood, or a symptom of something outside mom and dad's control that could be cured with mo' money.

And how does Saul explain the rich and powerful who exhibit criminal behavior just as often as those in poverty? Explain to me how the hundreds of folks I have known in Central America, decent and generous, who would literally give you the shirt off their back, their last bowl of soup, living in the worst poverty, and live so without criminal behavior.

This docudrama "is the story of ordinary people making demands for the power to govern their own lives." Alinsky may have improved the lives of some in his era - but it has since become that making demands translates to electing community leaders to squeeze more funds from BigDaddy Government and in exchange, Government Authority will run your dependent little life for you. If you cannot squeeze enough to meet your demands and you choose crime - then you can say "the government made me do it."

We have transformed into a nation of ordinary thugs and thieves, from top to bottom, with too many folks looking for a way to extort ("get over on") someone or something, where simple day-to-day respect for others is the exception rather than the rule. We are the least self-governing society I know - preferring to be government franchised (privileged) rather than accepting authority over our lives.

Looking back I don't know if guys like Alinsky began their theories and careers with sincerity or if they were manipulating the public for their own ego and financial gain, and/or political ideology - when you get in bed with dogs like the Capone crowd you usually get up with fleas. Not to mention the US is run like an organized crime ring with most folks awaiting their allotted share from the family don.

I'm the least religious person I know, but I sometimes think of the phrase about false prophets and ye shall know them by their fruits. And looking around in the year 2008, America is in no better position with the legacy/fruits of Saul Alinsky or his disciples.


Gino said...

interesting analysis.

generally, i find that those who seek to enfranchise(grant privilage) are also the first to take privilage from unfavored groups.
you need to pay homage to the new man, who secured the spoils, if you want a share of.
the new man becomes the local proprietor/franchise holder, of the same crooked enterprise.

i prefer empowerment: the ability to do for yourself, without hinderence from the local boss.

but, i'm also a libertarian, so i tend to distrust 'my betters' anyway.

Kate-A. said...

I have libertarian leanings but there is probably too much of the platform I would disagree with.

I prefer the definition of ability to do for self too - but these days it seems even that has to be granted by some proprietor, to which an individual is then beholden.

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