In 1971 Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals transformed political discourse. Do conservatives realise what is being done every time a new, mad radical campaign appears? Have they read the playbook and know how to respond, and do we need “Rules for conservatives”?
The Rules were written to empower powerless communities, but empower activists, whose ideas are not always benevolent, or sensible even if meant well. In the final rule, “polarize” encapsulates the division caused, leading to hatred. Taken as a whole, the Rules are wise, effective and frightening in their implications and effects. Maybe they encapsulate things that have gone before in politics, which are most effective when stirring hatred and division, and we might be grateful for Alinsky’s honesty about that. We still have to see it for what it is though.
Creating resentment, creating a belief that the other side hate you and conspire against you, and that therefore they are an enemy to be treated as vermin – that is the Marxist approach assuming all human relations are about class war and class oppression, and it is evil.
An American commentator did write a “Rules for Conservatives” in response. Apparently it is written from a particular American perspective, and a couple of reviews suggest it is more a jeremiad than a programme for action, but without reading it I cannot comment further.
How would Rules for conservatives be framed and how would they differ from Rules for Radicals? We could cut out the hatred and division, the demonization of the other side, but that is the most effective part of the Rules.
A key approach surely must be to stay calm so as to portray yourself as the calm, rational side, then to combat assertions with facts and statistics, and to expose expressions of hatred for what they are. From this, some rules might emerge.
Another approach is the establishment one; namely to welcome the radical in, appear to embrace their idea, examine it and take it in hand, for taxpayer’ money to be spent on it, so the radical can go away and work on something else, while the establishment smothers the idea they took on. Brexit has been like that.