There’s a lot of good stuff in Jesse Walker’s review of Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky, but here’s my favorite bit:
In the early ’60s, the book reveals, Barry Goldwater contacted Alinsky and the two men had a meeting. “The conversation,” von Hoffman reports, “was about Goldwater’s opposition to pending civil rights legislation. Saul shared the conservative misgivings about the mischief such laws could cause if abused, but he told Goldwater that he should not morally and could not politically oppose the legislation unless he had a better idea himself.”
Read the whole thing. And an emphatic ‘hear-hear!’ for Walker’s conclusion:
There’s a lesson there for the Tea Partiers who have been studying Alinsky’s tactics, should they care to explore the rest of his legacy. If they’re serious about building a real alternative to the Bush/Obama megastate, as opposed to merely being used by the Republicans and discarded as soon as the GOP is in a position to relaunch the K Street Project, the activists need to build countervailing power of their own, rooted not merely in talk radio and the Internet but in the indigenous institutions that shape people’s everyday lives. In some areas — bank bailouts, eminent domain, the crackdown on civil liberties, America’s imperial foreign policy — they might even reach across the invisible lines that separate their favorite segments of civil society from the churches and councils that mobilize people on the grassroots left, to work together on issues of shared concern even when they aren’t about to back the same candidates. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to cross a boundary, even if there’s a risk that a stranger might hit you in the head with a rock.