Thursday, January 10, 2008

Saul Alinsky? Really?

This e-mail from one of Sullivan's readers is overstated (even beyond the author's explicit admission), but offers a fascinating perspective.

I had never heard of Saul Alinksy before reading the e-mail, but this excerpt from Alinksy sounds familiar to anyone following Barack Obama, no?

"There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.

That seems exactly what Obama is preaching, a revolution without the John Edwards-style fighting rhetoric we typically associate with one. Of course, that may be required for a revolution that paradoxically aims at taming rhetoric and establishing political harmony.

The thing is, Alinsky was apparently the thesis subject for Hillary Rodham, while Obama incorporated many of the man's teachings in his years as a community organizer. If the subject wasn't so obscure, it might even become part of the Ali-Frazier storyline that seems to be forming between the two candidates.

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