Letter to the Editor: Alinsky’s Rule #4

Ain’t it funny how life points out a lesson and then immediately sends you an opportunity to put it to good use?

Ed Driscoll, in his take on the Paul Krugman-New York Times narrative fiasco, linked to the Alinksy Defeater Blog’s lesson on Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals #4. If you’re as familiar with this rule as I was until today, allow me to illuminate.

Saul Alinsky, the godfather of community organizers everywhere, wrote:

“The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

And the Defeater’s Blog’s remedy for such an attack:

Why is this important to understand? It points out a basic flaw. People often profess one thing and then live in complete contradiction to what they profess, or at the very least neglect the things they claim to be most important in favor of the most expedient.

Let us be clear that people being people are generally going to fall short of any expectations they put upon themselves. The key Alinsky found was that this could be used to discredit those making claims they did not live up to. It is a deceptively simple and powerful tactic.

(Read the rest of the Defeater’s Blog for more info, starting here.)

Anyways, it made sense to yours truly, and it got me wondering when or how I could apply it.

Enter Jeffery Simpson, the Globe & Mail’s senior political columnist and Canada’s authority on all things progressive and smug. My letter to the G&M is below:

Jeffery Simpson seems to take great joy in pointing out the hypocrisy of conservatives’ supposed inability to “deliver what they promise” (“Whistlin’ past the graveyard of conservative vows,” January 14):

“Canadian Conservatives and U.S. Republicans have spent at least three decades pledging three things: lower taxes, smaller government and a balanced budget. Their record has been so dismal, and the gap between promise and fulfilment [sic] so large, that citizens have to wonder what’s been going on. Conservatives, who are very good at attacking other ways of thinking, might reflect themselves on why their ideology has so frequently produced this performance gap.”

This line of thought could work just as easily to describe “small-l” liberals pursuing their own pet causes over the past 30 years. Could Mr Simpson provide clear evidence of how centre-left governments have had a significantly better record than conservatives in, say, mitigating our impact on the environment, eliminating poverty, or providing reasonable access to health care? Perhaps liberals, who are very good at attacking other ways of thinking, might reflect themselves on why their ideology has so produced their own performance gap.

Robert Huck
Saskatoon, SK

You see what he did? You see what I did? This letter might not be published—it was inelegant and far from my best work—but that’s not the point. The bullshit argument put forth by Simpson does not deserve to be fought on his terms. His was a lazy column; it deserved nothing but a direct rebuke on my own frame.

Don’t accept their premise.

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