Saul Alinsky and Coronavirus

An editorial essay in The Washington Times [1] argues that much of the hyper-crisis reporting and governmental action related to COVID-19 aligns with principles laid out in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.   Chumley begins her argument by quoting one of Alinsky’s foundational presuppositions, “[a]ny 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.”[2] She argues that “[t]his is Coronavirus Chaos, exemplified.” In support of that bold statement, she provides examples of America being in full panic mode and willing to sacrifice more civil liberties to gain more perception of security. She argues that the Constitution has effectively been suspended, to the applause of the left and right. Pastors have been arrested for conducting services, fathers handcuffed for taking their kids to the park, public protest outlawed, and individuals drug from public transportation by the police.

Chumley observes that all of this, and more, have occurred in a time when we have yet to understand the real nature of Coronavirus. She observes that even a mere hint of skepticism is met in the public and private square with ostracization and ridicule. This comports well with Alinsky’s foundational presupposition, of a non-challenging attitude by defeated people, combined with later suggestiong toward the use of ridicule. Americans are not allowed to work, to produce and create a livelihood. Quoting Alinsky again she observes that this “shake[s] up the prevailing patterns of […] lives — agitate[s], create[s] disenchantment and discontent with the current values.” Chumley does not suggest that Coronavirus is not real, nor that it is necessarily a creation intended to bring about the consequences observed. She merely points out that the crisis and reaction cycle related to the event meshes well with Alinsky’s radical prescription. Her observation itself is a radical statement, bold questions and observations in a time when the discussion is so limited in the public square.

The Washington Times piece raises numerous questions that policymakers should be asking and framing during this event. Chumley raises two issues that are undeniable facts. First, the progressive left-liberals have held an objective of implementing many of the policies that have so easily entered public policy over the proceeding weeks, the adoption of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)[3] as one example. The second is perhaps subject to interpretation but hard to argue against, much of the behavior of left-liberal media outlets and politicians align with Alinsky’s Rules, it appears that progressives are taking advantage of the crisis, perhaps even exacerbating it, in order to enact policies they might never gain consensus to enact otherwise.

If we ignore the ease that governments across the land have attacked religious liberty, often to cheers of ‘Christians’, as well as numerous other assaults on civil liberties and basic common sense and address just the implications of our adoption of MMT, we find those implications to be profound. One simply cannot put the genie of universal basic income and magic money creation back in the bottle once released. The longer the lockdowns continue, the more ‘stimulus packages’ passed by the Federal Government, the nearer we approach to establishing a universal basic income scheme. Printing money to give to people not producing is contrary to historical lessons, averse to common sense and contrary to biblical teachings (Proverbs 12:24). Public policymakers across the land must take action now to react to Cornovirous in a principled, right-reasoned, common sense manner. The Governors in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennesee have recently taken the right steps in restarting their economies – others should follow.

Chumley’s interpretation of recent events and her analysis of progressive left-liberals utilization of this crisis to advance their agenda is a cautionary lesson for policymakers. Policies made in a time of uncertainty, when facts and truth are distorted and the emotions of the populace enflamed are often bad policy.

 

Chumley, C. “Coronavirus and the smell of Saul Alinsky”, The Washington Times. 18 April 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/18/coronavirus-and-smell-saul-alinsky/.

[1] One might argue, perhaps correctly so, that The Washington Times has a bias. Other news organizations that disavow the existence of their own observable bias would certainly make this claim in an effort to support an argument that the Times is not a legitimate news outlet. This is an absurd argument, in a time when the entire ‘Fourth Estate’ has abandoned neutrality and objectivity, the Times is as much a legitimate news source as any other.

[2] The Washington Times via, S Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010), https://books.google.com/books?id=VIH0UbZ8qU4C. p. XiX.

[3] See for instance, “Unlimited Money and No Liquidity: Welcome to 2020”, https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/unlimited-money-and-no-liquidity%3A-welcome-to-2020-2020-04-15.

Author: Barry

Southerner, father, husband, Christian and a retired Army field grade officer. Author of five books and of several papers and articles on ethics, culture, history, geopolitics and military affairs. He is the Executive Director of The Calhoun Institute and a partner at B&B Clark Consulting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *