Fighting Fire With Fire

Politico has a rather interesting article on how the tactics of Saul Alinsky are being used today — especially by those who not only consider Alinsky their ideological mortal enemy, but his very tactics repugnant.

First up, there’s nothing per se wrong with using an enemy’s tactics — especially against that enemy. Three of Nazi Germany’s greatest innovations were unrestricted submarine warfare (especially the use of “wolfpacks” of subs), the blitzkrieg, and the Autobahn. All three were cheerfully adopted by the US, to tremendous success.

Second, there is a delicious irony in taking one of one’s opponent’s favorite tactics and using it against them. There’s a whole “hoist by one’s own petard” sense of schadenfreude when you see your enemy’s favorite weapon blow up in his hands.

Third, it’s entirely consistent with Alinsky’s own rules. They are remarkably nonpartisan. This is just an application of Alinsky’s Rule 4 — “”Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” They have declared these tactics legitimate, so they have no grounds to howl.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Tea Party movement — by accident or design — has managed to successfully circumvent the most potent of Alinsky’s rules. By not having a clearly-defined leadership, the “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” falls kind of flat. Also, the “ridicule is man’s most potent weapon” is failing — the use of juvenile sexual slurs agains the Tea Partiers never really took hold among the general public, as the general public is not too comfortable with tossing around terms like “tea-bagging.”

The Politico article boils down to “They’re using our best weapons against us! And worse, it’s working!”

Damn straight it is. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sweeter sound than that of those stuck pigs.

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