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The Quotable Saul Alinsky
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March 17, 2008, 03:46 PM
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Saul Alinsky, famed radical community organizer in mid-20th-Century Chicago, figures prominently in Steve Sailer`s current article on Barack Obama at VDARE.com`s main page.

My impression, as a Chicago native and a grad student at the University of Chicago (also Alinsky`s alma mater) in the 1970s, was that Alinsky, though a committed leftist, was a man without illusions about humanity. Pertinent to the immigration-sanity movement, there`s a well-known Alinsky quote that strikes me as a great antidote to the bleatings of the ethnic-grievance brigades within the Treason Lobby:

The fact that people are poor or discriminated against doesn`t necessarily endow them with any special qualities of justice, nobility, charity or compassion.

You can find that quote all over the Web, here for example. I haven`t stumbled upon a source that actually gives the time and place where Alinsky said it. But I`ve been aware of the quote for at least 30 years, and I`ve no doubt that he did say it. It`s also consistent with other things I heard attributed to him back when I was in Hyde Park (the University of Chicago`s neighborhood).

My own formulation of Alinsky`s idea in the quote above is this: The people you’re trying to help aren’t any better than the people you’re working against, and if you interchanged them, you’d wind up with the same struggle on your hands.

The Alinsky quote also brings to my mind a theme enunciated a number of times by David Horowitz, once a man of the left who is now a stalwart of the right:

There is a sense, of course, in which the left has always been defined by its destructive agendas. Its utopian vision was just that – utopian, a vision of nowhere. In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy.  In the vast library of socialist theory (and in all of Marx’s compendious works), there is hardly a chapter devoted to the creation of wealth – to what will cause human beings to work and to innovate, and to what will make their efforts efficient. Socialism is a plan of morally sanctioned theft. It is about dividing up what others have created. Consequently, socialist economies don’t work; they create poverty instead of wealth. This is unarguable historical fact now, but that has not prompted the left to have second thoughts.