Curiosity of the Saul Alinsky Model

I read a 19-page Playboy interview of Saul Alinsky. It was intriguing and frustrating. From it and the in-class discussion that followed, I’ve compiled a non-comprehensive list of questions:

(ahem)

  • I am curious why the discussion/introduction to the history of community organizing often begins with Alinksy. Who is being left out and why?
  • I understand Alinsky plays a big role and that his model was legitimated by the mainstream, but he was not the first. What does the legitimation of the Alinsky Model mean?
  • Does it mean that he spoke a “language” that the mainstream could understand and recognize? If so, what does that mean about what the model offers community organizing?
  • If the mainstream recognizes the model, does that lead to the co-optation of the model much like community organizers are co-opted into the system (as was discussed in the readings)? Some Conservative Right’s use the Alinsky model to support their organizing.
    • While we know there’s no such thing as pure, what does it mean for a model intended for progress (or betterment?) to be used against itself? Is this akin to fighting fire with fire? (This is where I get very perplexed by the militaristic language/framing.)
  • Was Alinksy and his model tokenized to serve a purpose that would ultimately reinforce the system perpetuating oppression? Is that what backsliding is born from?

More on this later…

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