February 10th, 2008

Survival of the Stablest?

A letter of mine is printed in the new, not yet online, issue of The New Individualist.  My letter is a reply to an article Roger Donway wrote about that free-wheeling, free-loving Romantic, Percy Shelley.  My letter mentions that Roger's viewpoint reminded me of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke's essay is often considered to be the founding document of modern conservatism.

Roger's latest column, in this new issue, looks a bit like a reply to my letter.  He titles it "Reflections of a Tory Individualist," and makes a case that a free society will embrace a stable form of virtue:
If ever we get a free society, I believe, the morality of its citizens will most closely resemble the morality of the freest societies we have so far known: the morality of mid-nineteenth-century England and America, which is to say, Victorian morality.
Roger writes a good essay, but even I am not quite convinced, despite the fact that my current mode of life would stand up pretty well under those standards.

I'm trying but failing to work up euphoria
For morality under Victoria.

Alinsky's Legacy

Saul Alinsky was a Chicago "organizer" who was influential for his theories of how to effect change.

He may become more influential yet! Both of the major Democratic candidates are mentioned in the Wikipedia article about Alinsky:
Alinsky was the subject of Hillary Rodham's senior honors thesis at Wellesley College, "There Is Only The Fight...": An Analysis of the Alinsky Model. Rodham commented on Alinsky's "charm," but rejected grassroots community organizing as outdated. Once Hillary Rodham Clinton became First Lady of the United States, the thesis was suppressed by the White House for fear of being associated too closely with Alinsky's ideas.

Alinsky also had a significant influence on Barack Obama, who is a United States Senator and candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Obama particularly used Alinsky's techniques while participating in Chicago community organizations in the 1980s.
This essay by Kyle-Anne Shiver tries to cast the conflict between them as a fight between users of Alinsky's techniques.

Here is a summary of Alinsky's famous Rules for Radicals. I like #1 a lot:
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.
Like a blowfish, puff up your appearance.
Let them believe you have countless adherents.