Thursday, February 16, 2012

All That Nutty Obama-Alinsky Jazz....

During the last US presidential election pantomime in 2008 some writers and commentators who leaned right-ward politically used to offer it as A Very Bad Thing that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then candidates, were once inspired and influenced by the views and writings of Saul Alinsky. From what I've gleaned about Mr Alinsky's views, I see it as a great pity that Clinton and Obama, and more especially our now President Obama, weren't more deeply influenced by them than appears to be the case. I now suspect that Mr Obama slept through many lessons. Simply by observing events, it's crystal clear that the current incumbent of the White House leads no left-wing conspiracy to bring socialism, communisim or anything beyond center-right, look-after-those-who-have-ism. The idea that Alinsky is a huge influence on the left, or has ever been so, is a myth of the right-wing media, a talking point for the masses who chatter in their sleep, a ploy to keep the country's armchair politicians busy and divided on yet another front, while those really in charge get on with filling their coffers.

Even now, in 2012, heading for another pantomime of an election, I still read some muddle-headed right-wingers throwing around Alinsky's name as a bad influence - prime cause of this current unpleasantness even. Lordy lordy! If only our president were following Alinsky's teachings there wouldn't be hungry children collecting sachets of tomato ketchup to take home, add water and make soup as something to eat when there's no food in the house; or families in bankruptcy due to a hospital bill, or without a family member because they couldn't afford to buy sufficient treatment and medication. Ye flippin' gods!!!!! This country can be as cold-hearted as any envisioned by Orwell or Bradbury.

Where are today's equivalent of US radicals of yesteryear: John Reed, Abbie Hoffman and Alinsky ? The guy in the White House is not one of 'em - of that I am 100% certain. OWS doesn't quite fit the bill, as yet - unfortunately - I'd thought it might have been at least the start of something good. Maybe it will rise again, more determined and with a very clear agenda.

From Askville by Amazon

Tough, pragmatic and a lover of humanity, Saul Alinsky pioneered a method of helping poor and working-class people organize themselves to improve their communities. Combining urban social theories he had learned at the University of Chicago with street smarts he had earned growing up in that city's Jewish ghetto, Alinsky first worked in prisons and as a juvenile delinquency researcher. Then, starting in crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods in the late 1930s, he helped unions, churches and other social groups unite and win everything from jobs to streetlights and garbage collection. He would immerse himself in the neighborhood, listen to ordinary people's troubles and needs, assess where power lay, and empower previously divided groups to seek common goals by standing up to government and corporate machines. With financial backing from department-store heir Marshall Field III, he established the Industrial Areas Foundation, which helped him extend his work to several U.S. cities. He had little patience for militants, Communists or dreamy liberals, saying he was a community organizer because he believed in American democracy and because "I can't stand to see people pushed around."

Saul Alinsky's natal chart: he was born in Chicago on 30 January 1909. I can find no time of birth for him so a 12 noon chart has to suffice. Rising sign and Moon degree will not be accurate.

Now here's a chart that fits like a glove! Sun and Mercury in socially-conscious intellectually-driven Aquarius; but even more significant is rebellious, revolutionary Uranus tightly conjunct Venus, in pragmatic Capricorn.

Natal Sun sextiles business-like Saturn in go-getting Aries on one side and energetic Mars in expansive Sagittarius on the other.

Unless born in the very first minutes of 30 January Moon would have been in communicative Gemini, somewhere between 1 and 12 degrees, and quite likely in harmonious trine to his Aquarius Sun.

I'd say that little lot is a recipe for exactly what manifested in Saul Alinsky.

From paras towards the end of an interview with Alinsky conducted by Playboy magazine in 1972 -
PLAYBOY: You seem optimistic. But most radicals and some liberals have expressed fear that we're heading into a new era of repression and privacy invasion. Are their fears exaggerated, or is there a real danger of America becoming a police state?

ALINSKY: Of course there's that danger, as this whole national fetish for law and order indicates. But the thing to do isn't to succumb to despair and just sit in a corner wailing, but to go out and fight those fascist trends and build a mass constituency that will support progressive causes. Otherwise all your moaning about a police state will just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's one of the reasons I'm directing all my efforts today to organizing the middle class, because that's the arena where the future of this country will be decided. And I'm convinced that once the middle class recognizes its real enemy -- the megacorporations that control the country and pull the strings on puppets like Nixon and Connally -- it will mobilize as one of the most effective instruments for social change this country has ever known. And once mobilized, it will be natural for it to seek out allies among the other disenfranchised -- blacks, chicanos, poor whites.

It's to that cause I plan to devote the remaining years of my life. It won't be easy, but we can win. No matter how bad things may look at a given time, you can't ever give up. We're living in one of the most exciting periods of human history, when new hopes and dreams are crystallizing even as the old certainties and values are dissolving. It's a time of great danger, but also of tremendous potential. My own hopes and dreams still burn as brightly in 1972 as they did in 1942.

Saul Alinsky died a few months after the interview, on June 12, 1972. I can't help but wonder what would be his thoughts on our situation in 2012.


Anonymous said...

GP: First on Saul Alinsky's map: his poor Venus placement in Capricorn, opposed by retrograde Neptune in Cancer certainly gave him the strong insights in what humans can suffer in "great America".

Second: The Bell of Liberty in Philadelphia always stroke me as a strong symbol, especially that it's cracked. Those "occupied to fill their coffers", as per T's definition, already then (1752) did not deam it necessary to have a new, entire bell founded, but had it mended and re-mended, even proud of the cracks (several, one very visible).

Originally this bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions. Cracked or not, it did it's job, legislators did their's and as you say T. "the others could go about their business"...

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~
Yes, and the USA is generally though of by astrologers as being "Cancerian" due to its 4 July birth as a Union. How wrong that identification has turned out!
Cancer is nurturing, sensitive, caring.....USA is the exact opposite.

I should stay away from politics - get too enraged by what's going on.

Liberty Bell - another misnomer.
The liberty some factions seek now is the liberty for the religious right to dictate to all women what to do with their bodies.

Things are on a downward slide here, picking up speed by the day.

Karen said...

I enjoy your writings and am especially pleased with this post about an activist who still has so much to say that remains relevant.

Wisewebwoman said...

Choosing between worse and worst has to be very tough, T. We are in an unsafe boat here in the Great White North due to Harper and his policies.
Days of uncertainty.

Twilight said...

Karen ~~ Many thanks - and yes, I agree, and wish more people felt as you do.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~~ Yes, exactly - put another way, the lesser of two evils is still evil. Even worse than that is the fact that, in the USA at least, the whole thing is little more than a pantomime for the benefit of the masses, while those pulling the strings get on with their rape of the middle class and the country.