Saul D. Alinsky was born in 1909
, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants
. His mother was Sarah Rice
. He died on June 12, 1972
He is considered by some the modern leader of American radicalism, being able to convert the energy of grassroots groups into pressure against government, corporate, and institutional control.
From the late 1930s onward, Alinsky worked on empowering disenfranchised communities through their own collective action. He urged raising the consciousness of people through popular education, leading people to accept systemic solutions to address class-based grievances. He believed that it was possible to achieve social justice through American-style democracy, by targeting the powerful members of society and out-manoeuvering them politically.
Alinsky's motivation originated from his witness of the suffering where he grew up in the Jewish ghetto of Chicago during the Depression. Alinsky started the Industrial Areas Foundation in 1940, it becoming a training centre for organizers of social change and community involvement. His work influenced the struggle for civil rights and the farm workers movement, as well as the nature of political protest.
Saul Alinsky demonstrated the immediate need of radical political action, and of rational political discourse. In the 1940s, he formed the organization, Back of The Yards Neighborhood Council within his own community. It served, partly as a pressure group and partly as a self-help operation, lobbying for better education and service opportunities, as well as the establishment of credit unions, and social housing.
He has written the following books:
Reveille for Radicals (1946)
John L. Lewis, an unauthorized biography
Rules for Radicals : A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971)
He has also made the following statements:
"Once you accept your own death all of a sudden you are free to live. You no longer care about your reputation ... you no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically - to promote a cause you believe in."
"I tell people the hell with charity, the only thing you’ll get is what you’re strong enough to get."
"Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and the way of life of the middle class. They have stigmatized it as materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering, brutalized and corrupt. They are right; but we must begin from where we are if we are to build power for change, and the power and the people are in the middle class majority."
"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."