SAUL ALINSKY QUOTES

American community organizer (1909-1972)

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: power


History is a relay of revolutions.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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If people don't think they have the power to solve their problems, they won't even think about how to solve them.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: power


Change comes from power, and power comes from organization. In order to act, people must get together.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Democracy is alive, and like any other living thing it either flourishes and grows or withers and dies. There is no in-between. It is freedom and life or dictatorship and death.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: democracy


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.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: America


Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: freedom


Last guys don't finish nice.

SAUL ALINSKY, attributed, In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All

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Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one's bridges because you're never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: life, passion


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 unknown.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: life, adventure


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.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: America, democracy


The American people were, in the beginning, Revolutionaries and Tories. The American people ever since have been Revolutionaries and Tories. They have been Revolutionaries and Tories regardless of the labels of the past and present. Regardless of whether they were Federalists, Democrat-Republicans, Whigs, Know-Nothings, Free Soilers, Unionists or Confederates, Populists, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, or Progressives. They have been and are profiteers and patriots. They have been and are conservatives, liberals, and radicals.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: America


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.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: law, power


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.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: business, democracy


The prerequisite for an ideology is possession of a basic truth.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Tags: truth


Radicals 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 auger well for an ever expanding democratic way of life. Radicals want to see the established political rights or political freedom of the common man augmented by economic freedom. They believe that Lincoln's statement that a nation cannot exist half-free and half-slave is applicable to the entire world and includes economic as well as political freedom. In short, radicals are convinced that the marriage of political rights will produce a social morality in which the Golden Rule will replace the gold standard.

SAUL ALINSKY, Reveille for Radicals

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Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: change


The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice.

SAUL ALINSKY, Rules for Radicals

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Tags: doubt