Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rules for Radicals

“Libertarianism is clearly the most, perhaps the only truly radical movement in America,” wrote the great Karl Hess almost 40 years ago [The Libertarian Forum, June 16, 1969]. “It grasps the problems of society by the roots. It is not reformist in any sense. It is revolutionary in every sense.”

Unfortunately, outside of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s New Libertarian Manifesto (1980), very little appropriate literature on revolutionary strategy is available to radical Left Libertarians who’ve grown beyond the basic “why to” to the inevitable “how to” stage. Most guides to revolution focus on seizing power, not diminishing it. And most are written from an explicitly communist point of view. Even left-collectivist organizer Saul Alinsky recognized this in 1971:

“The Have-Nots of the world, swept up in their present upheavals and desperately seeking revolutionary writings, can find such literature only from the communists, both red and yellow. Here they can read about tactics, maneuvers, strategy and principles of action in the making of revolutions. Since in this literature all ideas are imbedded in the language of communism, revolution appears synonymous with communism. … We have permitted a suicidal situation to unfold wherein revolution and communism have become one.”

To set right the situation, Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals, “a revolutionary handbook not cast in a communist or capitalist mold, but as a manual for the Have-Nots of the world regardless of the color of their skins or their politics.” There is no doubt when reading Alinsky that he was willing to lean on government when he believed it necessary. He was by no means an anarchist. But Rules for Radicals remains, after 36 years, the closest thing we have to what might be called a “generic” tract on revolutionary “how to.” And for that reason, I intend to reflect here on some of its contents over the next few days.

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At 1:31 PM, Blogger Joel Davis said...

well it's important to remember mutualism's "how to" the gradual mutualization of social services (usually including commercial as well as state services.) until the state's diminished to the point where a serious campaign can get rid of it. I always thought mutualizing utilities instead of privatizing them would be a good first-try. But then again, it all depends on your politics and I'm a little biased towards mutualism.


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