Who is Saul Alinsky, and why does the right hate him?

Who is Saul Alinsky, and why does the right hate him?

Saul Alinsky is the father of community organizing.

In a Dissent piece, veteran organizer Mike Miller quoted a young Barack Obama giving a quite good definition of the core ideas behind community organizing:

Organizing begins with the premise that (1) the problems facing inner-city communities do not result from a lack of effective solutions, but from a lack of power to implement these solutions; (2) that the only way for communities to build long-term power is by organizing people and the money [they raise] around a common vision; and (3) that a viable organization can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership—and not one or two charismatic leaders—can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions [and “grassroots” people].

The key to community organizing is that it’s not about winning on any one issue. It’s about creating broad coalitions, and training community members to conduct hardball campaigns that let them win on lots of issues. “Professional organizers focus on building community and power,” Miller writes. “Issues are simply tools for the building process.”

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