Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Alinsky Factor, Part One of Four

A book from the early 1970's is now getting much scrutiny of late in political circles. That book is entitled, "Rules For Radicals" by Saul Alinsky. This book has been alleged to be one of the founding sets of principles behind the Obama candidacy in the 2008 presidential election, and some of the tenets therein are now being adopted by other "grass roots" movements.

So let's take a look at those rules, and how they may or may not pertain to those of us stuck here in Hotel California...

RULE 1: "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." Power is derived from 2 main sources - money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

SEIU: Much has been made of the vaunted SEIU ground game, and they attempted to show that off in the Fresno battle by parachuting in somewhere between 500 and 1000 people, and spent upwards of $10M to defend the Fresno IHSS consortium. The thought process is that SEIU's ability to bring in so many people on short notice keeps other upstart organizations from trying to fight SEIU toe-to-toe. This tactic may be effective back east, but it is woefully inadequate out here on the Left Coast. Quite simply put, people aren't scared of SEIU any more, as the San Francisco Labor Council so vividly proved. Grade: D

NUHW: The Reds have had to take advantage of the latter source - people. With one-tenth the manpower and 5% of the monetary resources, NUHW came within 250 or so votes of knocking off SEIU. NUHW has defeated SEIU at Doctor's, but has lost votes at Hawkins and a couple of nursing homes in the wake of the Fresno defeat. In the time since, there have been reported difficulties in getting enough signatures for the San Francisco IHSS fight. Whether it is because people are marshalling their energies for the upcoming Kaiser campaign, or for other reasons, the steam seems to have gone out of NUHW's sails of late. The potential to raise peoples hopes and ambitions still remains, but there is a sense of inevitability building in to some folks which is quite difficult to breach once it has gained a foothold. Grade: C-

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don't address the "real" issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

SEIU: One of the biggest mistakes SEIU made in the immediate aftermath of the trusteeship was to insist on a loyalty oath to SEIU, with termination of any and all stewards who show the slightest bit of disloyalty to the Purple People Beaters. Esquirol Medina and Thug Regan sent out the letter (along with Esquirol Medina's robocall to the membership) swearing up-and-down that nothing would change, when we all knew what would happen - and happen it did. As a result, Zombie UHW lost its best and brightest stewards, and has had to replace them with stewards who may or may not be the best, but certainly are not the brightest - and none of whom enjoy the unqualified support of the rank and file. The resultant feeling of insecurity has only been exacerbated by SEIU's inexcusable decision to partner with KaiPerm in laying off 1600 people. The end result of this is that the only thing SEIU has been able to do of late is to put out press release after press release, trying to convince people that they are still large and in charge. It is admittedly what SEIU is really good at, even if nobody with half a brain believes what they say. Grade: C

NUHW: The Reds have, by and large, stayed within the expertise of their people, but of late that has not been of much help as there has been no real structure to NUHW's activities of late, as was seen by the anemic response to the SEIU "We Didn't Really Negotiate For Layoffs (eventhoughwereallydid), We Promise!!!" Informational Picket Tour of California. NUHW stewards at several KaiPerm facilities have been forced to take a lower profile, but their refusal to play along with the LMP game has resulted in most all LMP and UBT groups to grind to a halt. Unfortunately, right now, you can't fight something with nothing. Grade: D

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy." Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

SEIU: This isn't really SEIU's bag, except for their propensity to tell the One Big Lie in the wake of the Marshall Hearings. However, because every presser they put out gets automatically repeated nationwide, their One Big Lie tends to reverberate much louder than is warranted. This, combined with NUHW's inability of late to bring the final vote across the line, has contributed to a great sense of unease within the NUHW support base. Grade: B

NUHW: Team Red has picked up several unlikely allies and collaborators in this process, including Paul Pringle at the Los Angeles Times, Randy Shaw at BeyondChron, and several different website directors who are collectively clowning SEIU from stem to stern, including UNITE/HERE (with the "Wrong Way SEIU" site), SMART (with the "SEIU-SMART" website) and now the "Purple People Beaters" website that just popped up. (Ed: I'd forgotton about the hopefully only temporarily departed PerezStern) It is notable that as it stands right now, there is only one separate pro-SEIU website going right now, whose author is quite possibly functionally illiterate, at least based strictly on his writing style; this individual is pretty much only capable of regurgitating SEIU press releases...of course, without links or attribution. Grade: B

More in a later post...

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