In the last column we introduced Saul Alinsky’s rules for organizing the masses to achieve one’s goals. Alinsky enumerated eleven “rules” on how to accomplish this end.
His rules are presented in the second chapter of Rules for Radicals entitled “Of Means and Ends.”
The chapter starts: “That perennial question, ‘Does the end justify the means?’ is meaningless as it stands; the real and only question regarding the ethics of means and ends is, and always has been, ‘Does this particular end justify this particular means?’”
Alinsky then goes on from there with his exposition of the eleven rules of ethics of ends and means.
- The first rule of ethics of means and ends is that one’s concern with the ethics of means and ends varies inversely with one’s personal interest in the issue, i.e. the more personal the matter is to you the less the ethics of the means used by you matters.
- The second rule is that the judgment of the ethics of means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
- The third rule is that in war the end justifies almost any means.
- The fourth rule is that judgment must be made in the context of the times in which the action occurred and not from any other chronological viewpoint.
- The fifth rule is that the concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa. If you only have one choice of action than the ethical question never arises if victory is to be achieved.
- The sixth rule is that the less important the end to be desired, the more one can afford to engage in ethical evaluations of means. If you are arguing over an ice cream cone you probably will not need to use nuclear weapons.
- The seventh rule is that generally success or failure is a mightydeterminant of ethics. The winners write the history books.
- The eighth rule is that the morality of a means depends upon whether the means is being employed at a time of imminent defeat or imminent victory. If you are already winning the war you can afford to be somewhat magnanimous.
- The ninth rule is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical, e.g. terrorism.
- The tenth rule is that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments. In Lenin’s April Theses he states, “They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.”
- The eleventh rule is that goals must be phrased in general terms like “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” “Of the Common Welfare,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” or “Bread and Peace.”
Alinsky ends chapter two with a reminder. “Means and ends are qualitatively interrelated…the true question…always has been ‘Does this particular end justify this particular means?’”
Pretty cold-blooded, diabolical stuff, especially coming from Progressives who purport to have the corner on compassion.
The Art of War, attributed to Sun Tzu, Machiavelli’s The Prince and Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals all have this in common. Each work is devoid of moral judgments. Each preaches achieving victory on the battlefield without thought of moral or ethical consequences.
More to come.
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Rules for Radicals, pp36-37