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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rules for Radicals 
In Costa Mesa

Today let’s look at some “rules” for persuasion. Although they're not propaganda, they are also unethical ways to influence beliefs and behaviors. We'll talk about three or four of “Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals” which underlay much of the training for “agitators” (whom we now call “activists”) during the 60’s. They're still being used, but they're probably not still being memorized by today’s “Radicals.”

 Alinsky gained some fame for planning a “fart in” to disrupt the Rochester Philharmonic and a “Piss in” at O'Hare Airport. His rules are still being used but the demonstrations are toned down; just disrupting City Council meetings with screaming tirades, protest songs, and obscene gestures will do now.

Using Alinsky Rules in 2012

Alinsky’s Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” is often used in our campaigns. “Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”

We certainly see that in a lot of the comments following letters in the Daily Pilot, and in the signs brandished toward the dais by the audience during meetings and forums. Essentially, this is trying to get your way by hurting or embarrassing opponents instead of by convincing them and their undecided brethren. “Shouting down” an opponent also comes to mind.

Candidates make agitators' job harder

Have you noticed the personal attacks on Mensinger, Monahan, and McCarthy, and the venomous outbursts in blogs and comments after Pilot letters? That's Rule 1 in action. What makes the agitators’ job a lot harder in Costa Mesa, though, is the toughness and integrity of those three candidates.

Even worse for the Anti’s, more and more people are actually reading the charter and comparing what it says to what the Anti-everything factions say. And, worst of all, many people are reading Mensinger’s Contract with Costa Mesa which makes very obvious the difference between concrete plans for the city and angry opposition to everything.

A couple more Rules used here

Then there’s RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people” and Rule 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”  

“Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don't address the 'real' issues. This is why: the agitators avoid things about which they have no knowledge.” Rule 2 is being followed in this election.

And watch the campaigns as clearly irrelevant arguments blindside organizations under attack, such as the Pro-Charter folks. This is an application of Rule 3.

Example of 2 and 3

For example, applications of Rules 2 and 3 are clearly seen in the repeated insistence about how the Charter makes it possible for Council members to use “No-Bid contracts” to give their friends business. The pro-charter folks find it hard to address something that doesn't exist in the Charter, like no-bid contracts. The Anti’s want to keep them busy defending the irrelevant and undefined.

In reality, as we've discussed, “No-Bid contract” is a purchasing term that separates formal from informal bidding procedures, usually based upon dollar value. The Charter doesn't mention it because purchasing is done, under current laws and procedures--that do not change under the Charter--by City staff. Council members not only do not influence purchasing procedures (which would send them to jail), they can't even award a contract. They just approve or disapprove the contracts negotiated by the City staff.

Making Rules 2 and 3 work

So, the Anti-Charter folks won't debate relevant issues, because the provisions of the Charter are not within “the expertise of your people.” And the Pro’s get redirected to irrelevant warnings of a non-existent danger—in fact an undefined danger— that’s outside “the expertise of their people.” Alinsky's rules in action!

Blew it on Rule 10

However, the Union folks missed the boat as far as Alinsky’s Rule 10 goes: "Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog."

The blustering and intimidating advocated by the PD Union’s law firm seems to have been counterproductive – the three M’s and Righeimer got sympathy and support after the boorish behavior of the ones Righeimer calls the “Union Goons.”


We've gone beyond propaganda to influencing through Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. We're looking at where some of his techniques are used in Costa Mesa’s election. 

We already know, of course, where the money to support the battle against the Charter is coming from --Sacramento-based unions. And we've discussed the why -- the loss of the employee-paycheck ATM (payroll-deductions for political assessments) under the Charter. Today we're viewing the how – the battle techniques that the money is buying.

1 comment:

  1. D. Please submit this to the Daily Pilot or OC Register. You really nailed this one.

    It is nice reading a local blog thst is not filled with hate, misrepresentations, venom or stupid race science and racism. Please keep up the good work.