“Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. Dream on it. Let your mind take you to places you would like to go, and then think about it and plan it and celebrate the possibilities. And don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream.”–Liza Minnelli
“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”–Antonio Gramsci
Cheapskate and easily distracted, I have long loved and collected the inexpensive little books publishers put out from time to time, usually in a series, to “celebrate” some PR occasion – the various mini-Penguins put out on their 60th, 70th, etc. anniversaries – or else serve as a loss leader for various authors or series.
Usually these will be a chapter or more from a larger work: Chapter One of Sexual Personae or four lectures on “work versus toil” from the larger Selected Writings of William Morris. Sometimes the whole of a short book will be on offer, stripped of the elaborate introductions and notes of the full-price edition; in this way my usual practice, of reading only the introduction and notes, is cleverly inverted – cheapness trumps laziness!
The e-book revolution has put this on steroids, and since publishers usually try to squeeze more out of older books – like the 78s repackaged by labels in the early days of the LP, and LPs in the CD era – I often have the chance to make the acquaintance of books I’ve noticed for decades but never got around to.
Case in point: Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971). This was a nicely-produced Random House hardcover and later Vintage paperback, appealing to the eye and hand like any well-produced volume, long before I had any political interests; yet, as I say, somehow I never got around to buying it, much less reading it.
More recently, of course, it’s been on my radar first as a book Hillary Clinton wrote about at Wellesley, and later as a book bearing a dedication to Lucifer. But even all that wasn’t able to get me to take the plunge into ‘60s radical-land, especially after Lawrence Murray here at Counter-Currents did the yeoman’s task of reading it for us:
The crucial question is: Why I am writing about Rules for Radicals? Simply put, the Alt Right is a radical movement that is interested in community organizing and propaganda. (((Alinsky))) wanted to organize “Have-nots” and “Have a little, want mores” against the “Haves,” and for them to meme effectively to that end. The Alt Right wants to organize white people against the occupation government (a globalist coalition comprised of Davos men, Hart-Celler Americans, and overseas Israelis), and for them to meme effectively to that end.
Reading Rules for Radicals won’t change anything you believe ideologically, since (((Alinsky))) never really makes the case for what he believes in anyway. (Even if he did, if you are reading this you already know he is wrong.) But hopefully, young radicals, you will take some lessons from it about how to better approach your task.
Indeed. Toward that end, Murray pulls out and comments on the “Thirteen Rules,” and indeed the urge to pull the supposed “good stuff” out of what is no doubt a turgid mass of ‘60s “radical” boilerplate is an obvious move; even Alinsky, ever the salesman, puts them in a separate, user-friendly chapter.
And now Vintage has done the same for its Vintage Shorts Kindle series, reprinting the chapter for a mere $0.99. I pounced at last!
Reading Alinsky narrating the history and providing illustrations around the rules themselves – usually in the form of self-congratulatory anecdotes about various campaigns – did indeed leave the expected unsavory flavor of some old-timey radical windbag, chomping on his cigar as he denounces The Owners while looking around for a spittoon. But then I found this remarkable passage (italics as usual are mine):
The one problem that the revolutionary cannot cope with by himself is that he must now and then have an opportunity to reflect and synthesize his thoughts. To gain that privacy in which he can try to make sense out of what he is doing, why he is doing it, where he is going, what has been wrong with what he has done, what he should have done and above all to see the relationships of all the episodes and acts as they tie in to a general pattern, the most convenient and accessible solution is jail. It is here that he begins to develop a philosophy. It is here that he begins to shape long-term goals, intermediate goals, and a self-analysis of tactics as tied to his own personality. It is here that he is emancipated from the slavery of action wherein he was compelled to think from act to act. Now he can look at the totality of his actions and the reactions of the enemy from a fairly detached position.
Every revolutionary leader of consequence has had to undergo these withdrawals from the arena of action. Without such opportunities, he goes from one tactic and one action to another, but most of them are almost terminal tactics in themselves; he never has a chance to think through an overall synthesis, and he burns himself out. He becomes, in fact, nothing more than a temporary irritant. The prophets of the Old Testament and the New found their opportunity for synthesis by voluntarily removing themselves to the wilderness. It was after they emerged that they began propagandizing their philosophies. Often a revolutionary finds that he cannot voluntarily detach himself, since the pressure of events and action do not permit him that luxury; furthermore, a revolutionary or a man of action does not have the sedentary frame of mind that is part of the personality of a research scholar. He finds it very difficult to sit quietly and think and write. Even when provided with a voluntary situation of that kind he will react by trying to escape the job of thinking and writing. He will do anything to avoid it.
Jail provides just the opposite circumstances. You have no phones and, except for an hour or so a day, no visitors. Your jailers are rough, unsociable, and generally so dull that you wouldn’t want to talk to them anyway. You find yourself in a physical drabness and confinement, which you desperately try to escape. Since there is no physical escape you are driven to erase your surroundings imaginatively: you escape into thinking and writing. It was through periodic imprisonment that the basis for my first publication and the first orderly philosophical arrangement of my ideas and goals occurred.
Typically, Alinsky alludes to the “prophets” of the Bible (remember, the book is dedicated to Lucifer), rather than the most obvious examples that immediately come to mind – on the one hand, Antonio Gramsci:
At the trial of Antonio Gramsci in 1928, the prosecutor declared: “We must stop this brain from working for 20 years.” Gramsci, the former leader of the Italian Communist Party and a gifted Marxist theoretician and journalist, was sentenced to two decades’ imprisonment by Benito Mussolini’s fascist government.
Yet confinement marked the flowering, rather than the decay, of Gramsci’s thought. He embarked on an epic intellectual pursuit with the aim of an enduring legacy. His Prison Notebooks, as they became known, comprised 33 volumes and 3,000 pages of history, philosophy, economics and revolutionary strategy.
And on the other, Adolf Hitler:
Hitler began writing Mein Kampf in 1924 in Landsberg prison, following his conviction for high treason for attempting to overthrow the German republic in November 1923 in the so-called Beer Hall Putsch. Although his coup failed, Hitler used his trial as a pulpit to spread Nazi propaganda. Largely unknown before this event, he gained immediate notoriety in the German and international press. The court sentenced him to five years imprisonment, of which he served only 8 months. With his political career at an all-time low, he hoped that publishing the book would earn him some money and serve as a propaganda platform to air his radical views and attack those whom he accused of betraying him and Germany.
Perhaps Gramsci was too high-brow, and who wants to link their ideas to Hitler, or treat him as a normal politician or even revolutionary?
In any event, Alinsky’s comments on the environmental and disciplinary requirements for the writer’s life chime in with Greg Johnson’s recent reflections on the subject.
There are other interesting points in Alinsky’s remarks. That prison should raise the issue of imagination is not unexpected. We’ve explored before the relation between prison, boredom, masturbation, fantasy, and creation. As Sartre said regarding Jean Genet:
One is bored in a cell; boredom makes for amorousness. Genet masturbates; this is an act of defiance, a willful perversion of the sexual act; it is also, quite simply, an idiosyncrasy. The operation condenses the drifting reveries, which now congeal and disintegrate in the release of pleasure. No wonder Our Lady horrifies people: it is the epic of masturbation.
And more recently we’ve explored the superiority of leisure over the cult of action (“It is here that he is emancipated from the slavery of action wherein he was compelled to think from act to act”), although, ironically, it was Alinsky’s beloved Marx who did the most to promote the deification of work and action.
Of course, it may come as a surprise to most Americans to learn that traditionally, prisons have proved to be places of meditation and rejuvenation; although America leads the world in incarceration, another aspect of America’s “exceptionalism” is that the overwhelming numbers of the black chappies therein have turned these monasteries of the last resort into non-stop anal fuckfests.
Prison makes for both withdrawal from action and consequently dreaming. Moreover, we’ve recently been discussing the same process of withdrawal in the context of Colin Wilson’s Religion and the Rebel.
Here’s how SoulSpelunker presents Wilson’s discussion of Arnold Toynbee on the importance of withdrawal for both conceiving a vision and imparting it to the masses:
How do the visionaries, the Outsiders, gain this supreme knowledge, and how do they convince the masses their ideas will heal their cultures? And Wilson asks, “How does the man of genius persuade the uncreative majority to follow him?” . . .
Toynbee offers an idea called “withdrawal and return” (Toynbee 217). The course followed by the creative minority, the mystics and supermen, who lead civilizations into new glories, “pass first out of action into ecstasy and then out of ecstasy into action on a new and higher plane” (ibid.). Just as Moses ascended Sinai to commune with Yahweh in solitude for forty days and nights, to be illuminated, and then to return to his people with a new way of living, so the creative individuals withdraw into solitude to solve the hard problems facing their people. Toynbee writes,
The withdrawal makes it possible for the personality to realize powers within himself which might have remained dormant if he had not been released for the time being from his social toils and trammels” (ibid.).
The creative ones must escape to be alone for a time to receive insight and enlightenment. And “when they emerge, it is with the power to stimulate the rest of society to overcome the challenges” (Wilson 113). These creative individuals are Outsiders, the rebels of society who have a vision for the future.
Needless to say, our world needs this now! What we don’t need is a group of economic elites getting together and coming up with new ways of taking advantage of the masses. This is why our civilization is collapsing.
“Toynbee is guardedly optimistic” (Wilson 127), whereas Spengler does not believe our civilization has a chance to be reborn. “Re-creation by self-analysis is the most fundamental meaning of existentialism” (ibid.). The task that lies ahead for the Outsider is nothing less than formulating solutions that will transform our world.
And as we noted at the time, we find here a clear application of Neville Goddard’s “simple method for changing the future.” The parallel would have been clearer if Alinsky had specified Moses and Jesus rather than vaguely alluding to “the prophets of the Old and New Testaments,” for in both figures we find withdrawal, ecstasy, or rising up and returning with new realities:
To rise in consciousness to the level of the thing desired and to remain there until such level becomes your nature is the way of all seeming miracles. “And I, if I be lifted up, I shall draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32]. If I be lifted up in consciousness to the naturalness of the thing desired, I shall draw the manifestation of that desire to me.
“No man comes unto Me save the Father within Me draws him” [John 6:44], and “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30].
My consciousness is the Father who draws the manifestation of life to me. The nature of the manifestation is determined by the state of consciousness in which I dwell. I am always drawing into my world that which I am conscious of being.
If you are dissatisfied with your present expression of life, then you must be born again [John 3:7]. Rebirth is the dropping of that level with which you are dissatisfied and rising to that level of consciousness which you desire to express and possess.
To rise to the level of any state is to automatically become that state in expression. But, in order to rise to the level that you are not now expressing, you must completely drop the consciousness with which you are now identified.
Until your present consciousness is dropped, you will not be able to rise to another level.
Do not be dismayed. This letting go of your present identity is not as difficult as it might appear to be.
Indeed, for Neville, “Moses” and “Jesus” are themselves imaginary, not “real” people of history but images of the method of salvation. This is what it means to “follow” Jesus. In expressing his views, Neville can be as radical as any old commie organizer; here he ties together his psychologized view of the Bible, the method, and the disdain for worldly wealth and glory of one who has been to the mountaintop:
All day long man exercises his creative power, unwittingly bringing confusion into his world. Then he rushes to a church and prays to a God who does not exist, for the only God is I AM! There is no other God and there never was another God. Practice [the method] by going to the mountain top. I hope your ambition is to have scripture unfold within you, for that would transcend anything here.
But, perhaps you are one of those who want to leave this world so famous or wealthy that your remains will reside in some huge mausoleum, even though there is no assurance the building and its contents will survive. If so, that’s all right, but you now know where Moses is buried. Throughout the centuries men have been looking for Moses in the wrong place. Thinking he was buried on the outside, they search in vain, for God buried him in the skull of man.
Containing God’s plan of salvation, Moses reveals the pattern which – when it unfolds – saves man. The word Jesus means, “Jehovah saves”. When God’s pattern unfolds, God has saved himself. Like a seed which disappears as it becomes what it contained, the pattern unfolds into the tree of life to become one with God, the Father of the seed. Take my message to heart and dwell upon it. Set your mind fully upon this hope that God’s pattern of salvation will erupt in you while you are in this sphere. It must erupt for you to leave this world of sin and death and enter eternity. There you will be a king within yourself, creating – not by reason, but by the life you know to be yourself. There you will no longer be an animated body; but as a life-giving spirit, you are God Himself.
When you read scripture in the future, don’t think of it as records of myth or secular history, but glorious revelations of God as eternal states of consciousness, personified. Moses is the personification of an eternal state containing the perfect pattern God designed for the purpose of saving himself. It is God who became man that man may become God. Knowing that he had the power to die and overcome death, God died. Now he must overcome death, and he will.
History tells us of the great Roman Empire and the Chinese Empire. We are living in the day when the great British Empire is vanishing. There was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, and now it has diminished in size to almost nothing. Every empire dies in time.
People die and dynasties die and all of the great fortunes will die. I understand that Hughes and Getty both have a personal fortune in excess of one billion dollars. If their fortune was invested at six percent interest, they would receive $175 thousand a day, seven days a week. Yet, when they leave this little segment of time, they will not take it with them. That’s this society, so why put your hope in it? Instead, put your hope upon this plan contained in Moses, for buried in you God’s plan will erupt and you will enter the promised land as Joshua, called Jesus.
Returning to the Thirteen Rules themselves, there is one, the thirteenth, that Alinsky thinks is one of those that “should always be regarded as universalities.” It is perhaps his most famous:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Alinsky says that “the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen’” because in our modern, bureaucratic, societies, it is difficult to actually “single out who is to blame,” and any potential candidate can, with more or less legitimacy, “pass the buck” elsewhere.
When you “freeze the target,” you disregard these arguments and, for the moment, all the others to blame. [They] will come out of the woodwork very soon.
The other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract such as a community’s segregated practices or a major corporation or City Hall. It is not possible to develop the necessary hostility against, say, City Hall, which after all is a concrete, physical, inanimate structure, or against a corporation, which has no soul or identity, or a public-school administration, which again is an inanimate system.
With this focus comes a polarization. As we have indicated before, all issues must be polarized if action is to follow. The classic statement on polarization comes from Christ: “He that is not with me is against me” (Luke 1 1:23). He allowed no middle ground to the moneychangers in the Temple. One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.
It is interesting to see Alinsky revert to his religious examples, for here we have another clear parallel to Neville and thus the Western Mystical Tradition; specifically, with nothing less than Neville’s “simple method for changing the future.” This is, as we’ve explained elsewhere, as follows:
- Form a clear, detailed picture of what you desire (“Pick a target, freeze it”).
- Relax into a state resembling sleep, or a controlled dream state (again, jail, meditation, lucid dreaming, or some other state of withdrawal from action).
- “Enact a mental scene that contains the assumption and feeling of your wish fulfilled. Run the little drama over and over in your mind until you experience a sense of fulfillment.” (“Personalize it and polarize it” until you can “develop the necessary hostility against” it.)
Interestingly, just as his master Marx subverted the Western Tradition by privileging action over contemplation, here Alinsky replaces the traditional feeling of love with one of hate. Here is how Evola articulated the true, Traditional understanding:
In order for any image to act in the way I am talking about, it must be loved. It must be assumed in a great, inner calm and then warmed up, almost nourished, with sweetness, without bringing the will or any effort into play, and much less without expectations. The Hermeticists called this agent “sweet fire,” “fire that does not burn,” and even “fire of the lamp” since it really has an enlightening effect on the images.
As Neville says, when asked how we will know when we have imagined enough, “You will know when you are unable to continue, as you are impotent after making love.” And as Dr. Lecter says, “If we do as God does, often enough, we become as God is.”
I suppose, theoretically, either love or hate would do; sort of like Robert Mitchum’s phony preacher in Night of the Hunter. I’ve previously discussed how meme warfare operated in accord with Neville’s method to elect Trump; it even worked for Trump when his opponents obsessively imagined the horrors of a Trump victory. (Be careful what you imagine).
As Lawrence Murray says, “[Rule thirteen] is my favorite and I think Alt Right troll ops have done this quite well,” and concludes:
I think the Alt Right is already in something of an unholy alliance with (((Alinsky))). That our trademark tactic is trolling while that of our enemies is banning and/or overreacting says something about how much society has been restructured since the 1960s . . . The meme war favors the offense.
The alliance with Alinsky may be unholy, but not the one with Neville. Although a connection with Trump can be discerned through Norman Vincent Peale, I don’t know of any direct influence of Neville on the Alt Right.
Nevertheless, what Neville is retailing is the Western or European Tradition in its simplest and clearest form, suitable for the Kali Yuga; going forward, it would be better to profit by drinking deeply from the clear, cold springs opened up by this charismatic Anglo-Barbadian immigrant success story than from the dank, turbid jugs being retailed by various Euro-Siberian sad sacks and mountebanks.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
 “These facts had been there for all to read in the Acknowledgments, but Dixon, whose policy it was to read as little as possible of any given book, never bothered with these.” Kinglsey Amis, Lucky Jim (London: Victor Gollancz, 1954), Chapter One.
 “As for Clinton, there is no doubt that she was deeply impressed by Alinsky’s work. In 1969, she wrote ‘There Is Only the Fight . . .’: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model,” a 92-page senior thesis at Wellesley College on the elder radical’s tactics. At the Clintons’ request, the thesis was embargoed until after they left the White House. Readers hoping for evidence of wild-eyed revolutionary sentiment will be disappointed. It is plodding student work, admiring of Alinsky’s goals while quietly taking exception to some his more extreme tactics.” Roger Kimball, “Want to understand Hillary Clinton? Read Saul Alinsky,” Washington Examiner, September 18, 2016.
 Aaron Blake & Frances Stead Sellers, “Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky and Lucifer, explained,” The Washington Post, July 20, 2016. “[Ben] Carson’s implication seems to be that Alinsky speaks favorably about the devil and that makes him toxic for Clinton.” To see why I would be interested in a book dedicated to Lucifer, see my review of Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas (London: Artktos, 2016), as well as the title essay in my collection Green Nazis in Space! New Essays on Literature, Art, & Culture, edited by Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015).
 Saul Alinsky, Thirteen Tactics for Realistic Radicals: From Rules for Radicals (A Vintage Short) (New York: Vintage Books, 2016), Kindle Android version.
 George Eaton, “Why Antonio Gramsci is the Marxist thinker for our times,” The New Statesman, February 3, 2018. Eaton says that “Gramsci was even claimed by the French far-right group Nouvelle Droite and its Belgian counterpart Vlaams Blok . . . the right has since made use of the flexible and durable concept of hegemony [although] Gramsci’s own politics were unambiguously Marxist. . . . In an era of social media, viral videos and mass higher education, Gramsci’s concept of hegemony feels startlingly prescient. Indeed, he ever more appears not merely a Marxist thinker for our times, but perhaps the thinker.”
 Jean-Paul Sartre, Introduction to Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers (London: Panther Books, 1973), p. 10.
 “Justice O’Connor pointed out that such a broad wording could have escrowed fees from many literary works, giving as examples The Autobiography of Malcolm X (which describes crimes committed before the author became a major civil rights figure), Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (where the author acknowledged his refusal to pay taxes), and the Confessions of St. Augustine (wherein the author admits that he stole pears from a neighboring vineyard).” Mark A. Conrad, “New York’s New ‘Son of Sam’ Law – Does It Effectively Protect the Rights of Crime Victims to Seek Redress from Their Perpetrators?” Fordham Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal, vol. 3, book 1, 1992.
 But as always, “No Homo!”
 SoulSpelunker quotes from Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History: Abridgement of Vols. I-VI, by D. C. Somervell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946) and Colin Wilson, Religion and the Rebel (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin: 1957).
 One rises in consciousness by discarding all limiting determinations until one reaches the sense of pure Existence that precedes all such definite identities; Neville is the ultimate existentialist, for whom existence precedes essence.
 You see what I mean about writing like an old commie organizer.
 See the title essay, and others, in Magick for Housewives: Essays on Alt-Gurus.
 Mitch Horowitz, “Mirror Man: The Centrality of Neville,” in his edition of Neville’s Five Lessons: A Master Class (1948; reissued by New York: Tarcher/Perigree, 2018).
 See my “Bombs Away! Neville and the Neocons,” loc. cit.
 Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2001), “Commentary on the Opus Magicum, p. 57. “The fire of the lamp” recalls Neville’s “You must be like the moth in search of his idol, the flame.” Dr. Lecter asks Clarice Starling, “What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp?” Again, an investigator muses over one of Buffalo Bill’s tell-tale moths: “Somebody grew this guy. Fed him honey and nightshade, kept him warm. Somebody loved him.” Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991).
 “When you pray believe that you have received, and you shall receive. When the physical creative act is completed, the sinew which is upon the hollow of man’s thigh shrinks, and man finds himself impotent or is halted. In like manner when a man prays successfully he believes that he is already that which he desired to be, therefore he cannot continue desiring to be that which he is already conscious of being. At the moment of satisfaction, physical and psychological, something goes out which in time bears witness to man’s creative power.” Five Lessons, op. cit., Lesson One.
 A seeming paradox: Neville claimed to have learned his method from a “black Ethiopian rabbi named Abdullah,” while Alinsky’s parents were “strict Orthodox, their whole life revolved around work and synagogue . . . I remember as a kid being told how important it was to study.” He considered himself to be a devout Jew until the age of 12, after which time he began to fear that his parents would force him to become a rabbi (Wikipedia). This is consistent with Evola’s view that the Hermetic tradition survived centuries of Christian heresy-hunting by being hidden among the rabbis, re-emerging during the Enlightenment; as for Judaism itself, Evola states in “The Jewish Question in the Spiritual World”that “The Old Testament does contain elements and symbols of metaphysical, and hence universal value, even if they were borrowed from other sources.”
 “The idea is quite plain. A teaching exists – and has always existed – that can lead to a higher development. . . . Man cannot invent it by himself. He can hew out cisterns for himself but they hold no water – that is, no Truth.” Maurice Nicoll, The New Man: An Interpretation of Some Parables and Miracles of Christ (London: Stuart & Richard, 1950; New York: Hermitage House, 1951; with a Foreword by Jacob Needleman, Baltimore: Penguin, 1972.; London: Watkins, 1981; Utrecht: Eureka Editions, 1999).