Friday, August 28, 2009

Transforming the Tide for Transformation


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Yesterday, I was asked to give a talk on the City of Malabon University (CMU) for AB Political Science Students on a Lecture-Forum entitled "Political Science and its Place in the Society" as partial fulfillment of the requirements of PolSci 402 (Planning Method). Not being a polsci major, I considered talking about my "political" experiences as a development activist. But gauging that they need something more, I resorted to Saul Alinsky, the legendary community organizer.

Here is the presentation.


View more presentations from jmmiraflor.


Most of the points I raised here were derived from this very important book by Alinsky, "Rules for Radicals". To understand the importance of this book, we have to quote from the author himself:

"What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away,"


Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals": For the Have Nots


Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince": For the Haves

To quote wikipedia on Alinsky: "Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909, Chicago, Illinois – June 12, 1972, Carmel, California) was a community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing in America. His ideas were adapted by some American college students and other young organizers in the late 1960s and formed part of their strategies for organizing on campus and beyond."

"Saul Alinsky died of a heart attack at the age of 63 in 1972."



Even Obama learned quite a few things from Alinsky.

It's fortunate that some students of CMU, as assisted by Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) already had some experience in militant tactics as they campaigned against the assumption of the notorious Dr. Benjamin Tayabas as CMU president. I hope the presentation will be able to help them refine their tactics further.

15 comments:

mayangmagiliw said...

depende rin yung "attack, attack, attack" kung anong arena ang ginagalawan mo. dapat marunong ring mag-gain ng networks. si sun tzu sabi (or something to this effect hehe) learn WHEN to attack..ohah.pahiram ng ppt.

James Miraflor said...

tama naman. lahat naman ng "rules" ni alinsky ay pwedeng baligtarin, depende sa tactical moments :-) syempre, kung minsan, kailangang manimbang kung aatake o hindi.

ang lesson lang naman ata nya ay, never lose the initiative. kumbaga sa larong Go (o Weiqi), never lose your "sente" (initiative), and always force your opponent into "gote" (an irresistible move that (s)he needs to respond to). ayun, hehe.

bagongpagasa said...

This article only serves to perpetuate the "shallowness" in Philippine politics. Hindi ba dapat transformative ang engagement at towards clarification of issues? Whatever happened to the effort to gear the debate towards issues rather than personalities? Where is the effort to move away from "cheap shots" and towards substance?

James Miraflor said...

ibang diskurso pa ang transformative politics. it is true na hindi nga nakakatulong sa pagunlad ng issues-based politics ang "personalistic" at emotion-based tactics ni Alinsky. in fact, the mere effectiveness of it may further corrode what is already there.

the direction should be for the deepening of "rational" democracy. but for tactical moments, we should be able to harness the latent powers of the masses. besides, doing Alinsky tactics also have a transformative value - maybe not on development of democratic processes and political practices, but on the confidence of the masses to undertake changes.

anyway, the democratic institutions we have right now are biased towards the interests of the ruling - this must be reversed if we are to deepen and strengthen democracy in favor of the masses.

Major Tom said...

Nice introduction to Mr. Alinsky. of course I've heard about him prior to this, but not as much. :-)

pinoygossipboy said...

naks naman, talo pa ang isang pol sci major. LOL

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mark said...

bagongpagasa is right on the money. I just read this interview @ PDI:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090917-225620/Ten-people-came-to-my-office-with-10-rifles

It seems these tactics aren't exclusively for the less powerful members of society. The powers that be can use the same tactics to manipulate the masses. In the United Utates a campaign of disinformation is being waged by right-wing nuts and insurance companies against some sane health reforms that would benefit the worst off of society.

I'd like to know instances when these tactics resulted in substantial clarification of the issues. It seems when either side starts to use these tactics, the other is forced to do so as well and everything just degenerates into infantile bickering.

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