In this world laws are written for the lofty aim of "the common good" and then acted out in life on the basis of the common greed. In this world irrationality clings to man like his shadow so that the right things get done for the wrong reasons?afterwards, we dredge up the right reasons for justification. It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral; a world where "reconciliation" means that when one side gets the power and the other side gets reconciled to it.
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The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns.... All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new.
The organizers first job is to create the issues or problems, and organizations must be based on many issues. The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. . . . An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.
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From the moment the organizer enters a community he lives, dreams... only one thing and that is to build the mass power base of what he calls the army. Until he has developed that mass power base, he confronts no major issues.... Until he has those means and power instruments, his tactics are very different from power tactics. Therefore, every move revolves around one central point: how many recruits will this bring into the organization, whether by means of local organizations, churches, service groups, labor Unions, corner gangs, or as individuals.
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Life is there ahead of you and either one tests oneself in its challenges or huddles in the valleys of a dreamless day-to-day existence whose only purpose is the preservation of a illusory security and safety. The latter is what the vast majority of people choose to do, fearing the adventure into the known.
The organizer must become schizoid, politically, in order to slip into becoming a true believer. Before men can act an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil. He knows there can be no action until issues are polarized to this degree.
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Men don't like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.
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The organized labor movement as it is constituted today is as much a concomitant of a capitalist economy as is capital. Organized labor is predicated upon the basic premise of collective bargaining between employers and employees. This premise can obtain only for an employer-employee type of society. If the labor movement is to maintain its own identity and security, it must of necessity protect that kind of society.
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Many of the lower middle class are members of labor unions, churches, bowling clubs, fraternal, service, and nationality organizations. They are organizations and people that must be workedwith as one would work with any other part of our populations - with respect, understanding, and sympathy.
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A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism.
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A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny. A reformation means that masses of our people have reached the point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don't know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. They won't act for change but won't strongly oppose those who do. The time is then ripe for revolution
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Theres 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 change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.
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Organized religion has too often followed the road of other people's institutions. It has made adjustments, compromises, and surrenders to a materialistic civilization for the benefit of material security in spite of occasional twinges of conscience and moral protests. The result has been that today much of organized religion is materialistically solvent but spiritually bankrupt.
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The people of America are red, white, black, yellow, and all the shades in between. Their eyes are blue, black, and brown, and all the shades in between. Their hair is straight, curly, kinky, and most of it in between. They are tall and short, slim and fat, athletic and anaemic, and most of them in between. They are the different peoples of the world becoming more and more the "in between." They are a people creating a new bridge of mankind in between the past of narrow nationalistic chauvinism and the horizon of a new mankind--a people of the world. Their face is the face of the future.
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I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it's Christianity or Marxism... The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.
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We must face the bitter fact that we have forsaken our great dream of a life of, for, and by the people; that the burning passions and ideals of the American dream lie congealed by cold cynicism. Great parts of the masses of our people no longer believe that they have a voice or a hand in shaping the destiny of this nation. They have not forsaken democracy because of any desire or positive action of their own; they have been driven down into the depths of a great despair born of frustration, hopelessness, and apathy. A democracy lacking in popular participation dies of paralysis.
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Organized business has assumed that greater profits would be pretty much of a cure-all, and it has to a major extent ignored the fact that the welfare of business rests upon the welfare of the consumers of a nation; that business or free enterprise will function in a democracy only so long as the democracy functions.
An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma to begin with, he does not have a fixed truth -- truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing.... To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond to the realities of the widely different situations....
As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be - it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.
It should be borne in mind that the target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target. There is a constant squirming and moving and strategy . . . on the part of the designated target. The forces for change must keep this in mind and pin that target down securely. If an organization permits responsibility to be diffused and distributed in a number of areas, attack becomes impossible.
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Let the liberal turn to the course of action, the course of all radicals, and the amused look vanishes from the face of society as it snarls, "That's radical!" Society has good reason to fear the radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know that while liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of conservatives.
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Radicals, on the other hand, want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of just a comparative handful. They feel that this minority control of production facilities is injurious to the large masses of people not only because of economic monopolies but because the political power inherent in this form of centralized economy does not augur for an ever expanding democratic way of life.
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Do you like people? Most people claim that they like people with, of course, a "few exceptions." When the exceptions are added together it becomes clear that they include a vast majority of the people. It becomes equally clear that most people like just a few people, their kind of people, and either do not actively care for or actively dislike most of the "other" people.
The seventh rule of the ethics of means and ends is that generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics. The judgment of history leans heavily on the outcome of success or failure; it spells the difference between the traitor and the patriotic hero. There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds he becomes a founding father.
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The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away. In this book we are concerned with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people; to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation, equal and full opportunities for education, full and useful employment, health, and the creation of those circumstances in which man can have the chance to live by values that give meaning to life.
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