- On Debate
I get a lot of heat from the left for adopting one of their tactics: baiting. But let’s see where those tactics comes from. Saul Alinsky. Our president’s hero.
The western concept of political debate originated in the right of the enfranchised warrior to debate tactics in order to gain consensus on those tactics — since unlike eastern militaries, western tactics required individual initiative. The citizen warrior’s right was predicated on forgoing theft, fraud, and violence, and speaking the truth and only the truth in the process of that debate. If truth was abandoned, error was presumed, passons could be forgiven. But if RIDICULE was employed, then the prohibition on violence for the purpose of debate was forgone, and the ridiculed could fight and kill the man who broke the contract by which we put down our weapons and enter debate.
While Marx and marxists were wrong in their understanding of the physical world, of human nature, and of economics, they could be counted upon to adhere to rational discourse and confine themselves to moral criticism.
Saul Alinsky was one of the first people to strategically abandon the western principle of honest discourse and promote argumentative ‘the ends justify the means’.
To those of us who are from the aristocratic manorial tradition, within which dishonesty, cowardice, or loose and libelous words are reason to end someone’s life, Alinsky’s tactics are a violation of every civic principle, and draw out our basic conservative instinct to kill threats to our hierarchy, social order, and group competitiveness.
His strategy (from a lost link) is this:
CREATE AN IDEOLOGICAL ARMY OPERATING ON EMOTIONAL ANTAGONISM NOT A PROGRAM OF RATIONAL SOLUTIONS THAT THEY ARE UNABLE TO INTELLECTUALLY DEFEND ON THEIR OWN.
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 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.
SUN TZU: DECEPTION IS MORE POWERFUL THAN HONESTY
Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent 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.
SPEAK IN THE IGNORANT VOICE OF YOUR PEOPLE SO THEY FEEL THEY SPEAK THROUGH YOU
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 an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
ARGUE FOR BLACK OR WHITE FALLACIES THAT FORCE THE CRITICISM OF YOUR OPPONENT BUT WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE YOU TO DEFEND YOURSELF OR PROPOSE SOLUTIONS
Rule 4: Make opponents 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.”
AVOID REASON, IT WOULD ONLY EXPOSE YOUR LACK OF A SOLUTION OR UNDERSTANDING OF POLITICAL REALITY.
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.
THE LOWER CLASSES HAVE NOTHING USEFUL TO DO, SO GIVE THEM AN EXCUSE TO ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES AND CELEBRATE A UNITED IDENTITY. SUCH RELIGIONS ARE OPIATES OF THE MASSES.
Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
A MEANINGFUL ARGUMENT IS OPEN TO CRITICISM AND REQUIRES INTELLECTUALIZATION OF THE SOLUTION. INSTEAD, MAINTAIN THE GROUP’S EMOTIONAL AND MORAL ANTAGONISM TOWARD YOUR OPPONENT AND AVOID THE SELF DOUBT THAT WOULD OCCUR IF THEY HAD TO BECOME INTROSPECTIVE.
Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
CONTROL THE INITIATIVE BUT PREVENTING YOUR OPPONENT FROM DETERMINING THAT YOU HAVE NO PROPOSED SOLUTION OTHER THAN THE ACCUMULATION OF POWER. THE RATIONAL MAN CNANOT UNDERSTAND THIS SIMPLISTIC A STRATEGY: OBTAIN POWER. ONCE YOU HAVE POWER YOUR ARGUMENTS DO NOT MATTER. POWER CAN BE OBTAINED THROUGH MORALIZING, CRITICISM AND DISTRACTION. IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE OBTAINED BY SOLUTION, ARGUMENT OR REASON. THAT ONLY WEAKENS YOU.
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.”
RELY ON TERRORISM WHENEVER POSSIBLE. CREATE FEAR BECAUSE UNCERTAINTY AND FEAR IS A GREATER THAN THE ACTUAL RESULT. PEOPLE WILL ABANDON MAORAL AND TRADITIONAL PRINCIPLES IF YOU MAKE IT HARD ENOUGH FOR THEM TO RESIST YOUR PURSUIT OF POWER.
Rule 9: The threat is 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.
STICK WITH YOUR ATTACKS, NEVER OFFER SOLUTIONS THAT WOULD ExpOSE YOU TO CRITICISM
Rule 10: 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?”
DEMONIZE INDIVIDUALS. DO NOT ENGAGE IN REASON. DO NOT ENAGE IN FACTS. SIMPLY DEMONIZE AND RIDICULE THE INDIVIDUAL AND HIS POLITICAL POWER TO INFLUENCE OTHERS WILL DIMINISH.
Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
CONTROL YOUR ENEMY’S RESPONSES TO YOU SO THAT HE BECOMES EMOTIONALLY RATHER THAN RATIONALLY ENGAGED AND LOSES HIS ONE REAL STRENGTH: RATIONAL SOLUTIONS.
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.”
Seattle, WA, United States
I am an independent theorist of Political Economy in the Conservative Libertarian tradition. And as a methodological Propertarian I attempt to complete the work of Rothbard and Hoppe by suggesting post-democratic political solutions for heterogeneous polities.
"De Philosophia Aristocratia"
Anglo Conservatism is the remnant of the European Aristocratic Manorial system and the Classical Liberal philosophy of the Enlightenment, combined with our ancient tribal instincts for group persistence and land-holding. It currently consists as a set of sentiments rather than as an articulated rational philosophy. And without that rational articulation, conservatives lack the ability to create and promote a plan that is a positive and rhetorically defensible alternative to the hazards of accidental bureaucracy and purposeful socialism.
This lack of an articulated philosophy leaves conservatives vulnerable in the public debate with Schumpeterian public intellectuals whose advantage in both volume of production, and simplicity of argument poses a nearly insurmountable challenge.
Libertarianism by contrast, is a rational philosophy of an articulate but permanent minority. It is based upon a solid, rational and critical methodology, even if it is flawed in its initial assumption: the principle of non-violence.
Unfortunately the Rothbardian Anarchist movement has appropriated the term "Libertarian", and left Classical Liberals and Conservatives alienated from the only system of thought with which they need to articulate their political sentiments in rational and empirical rather than moralistic and sentimental form.
By repairing the flaws in Libertarian philosophy we can use its methodology to provide a rhetorical solution for conservatives - a language which in turn may become an articulated philosophical body of argument and advocacy for the frustrated conservative majority.
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