65 Saul Alinsky Quotes On Success In Life

Saul David Alinsky was an American community activist and political theorist. His work through the Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation helping poor communities organize to press demands upon landlords, politicians, and business leaders won him national recognition and notoriety. Responding to the impatience of a New Left generation of activists in the 1960s, in his widely cited Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer Alinsky defended the arts both of confrontation and of compromise involved in community organizing as keys to the struggle for social justice. These Saul Alinsky quotes will motivate you.

Best Saul Alinsky Quotes

  1. “They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  2. “The organizers’ first job is to create the issues or problems, and organizations must be based on many issues. The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. . . . An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  3. “Never let a crisis go to waste” ~ Saul Alinsky, Saul Alinsky quotes on crisis
  4. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)” ~ Saul Alinsky
  5. “Control healthcare and you control the people” ~ Saul Alinsky

  6. “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage — the political paradise of communism.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  7. “True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  8. “The despair is there; now it’s up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  9. “The very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  10. “In the beginning the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  11. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  12. “Organization for action will now and in the decade ahead center upon America’s white middle class. That is where the power is. … 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.” ~ Saul Alinsky, Saul Alinsky quotes on middle class
  13. “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  14. “The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns…. All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  15. “The organizer must become schizoid, politically, in order to slip into becoming a true believer. Before men can act an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil. He knows there can be no action until issues are polarized to this degree.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  16. “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  17. “If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  18. “The third rule of ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  19. “The fourth rule is: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.” You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  20. “The most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired results.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  21. “There’s another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  22. “Change comes from power, and power comes from organization. In order to act, people must get together.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  23. “The thirteenth rule of radical tactics: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  24. “Let the liberal turn to the course of action, the course of all radicals, and the amused look vanishes from the face of society as it snarls, “That’s radical!” Society has good reason to fear the radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous. Conservative interests know that while liberals are most adept at breaking their own necks with their tongues, radicals are most adept at breaking the necks of conservatives.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  25. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  26. “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
  27. “In a fight almost anything goes. It almost reaches the point where you stop to apologize if a chance blow lands above the belt.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  28. “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 very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  29. “The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  30. “The only nonpartisan people are those who are dead.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  31. “Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  32. “Power just goes to two poles — to those who’ve got money, and those who’ve got people.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  33. From the moment an organizer enters a community, he lives, dreams, eats, breathes, sleeps only one thing, and that is to build the mass power base of what he calls the army.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  34. “It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  35. “Democracy is alive, and like any other living thing, it either flourishes and grows or withers and dies. There is no in-between. It is freedom and life or dictatorship and death.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  36. “Humor is essential to a successful tactician, for the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  37. “The democratic ideal springs from the ideas of liberty, equality, majority rule through free elections, protection of the rights of minorities, and freedom to subscribe to multiple loyalties in matters of religion, economics, and politics rather than to a total loyalty to the state. The spirit of democracy is the idea of importance and worth in the individual, and faith in the kind of world where the individual can achieve as much of his potential as possible.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  38. “The establishment can accept being screwed, but not being laughed at” ~ Saul Alinsky, Saul Alinsky quotes on establishment
  39. “Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  40. “The threat is generally more terrifying than the thing itself.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  41. “Always remember the first rule of power tactics; power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  42. “The people of America are red, white, black, yellow, and all the shades in between. Their eyes are blue, black, and brown, and all the shades in between. Their hair is straight, curly, kinky, and most of it in between. They are tall and short, slim and fat, athletic and anemic, and most of them in between. They are the different peoples of the world becoming more and more the “in-between.” They are a people creating a new bridge of mankind in between the past of narrow nationalistic chauvinism and the horizon of a new mankind–a people of the world. Their face is the face of the future.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  43. “Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  44. “Organized religion has too often followed the road of other people’s institutions. It has made adjustments, compromises, and surrenders to a materialistic civilization for the benefit of material security in spite of occasional twinges of conscience and moral protests. The result has been that today much of organized religion is materialistically solvent but spiritually bankrupt.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  45. Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, “Is this true?” “Just because this has always been the way, is the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?” To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search of ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  46. “The end is what you want and the means is how you get it.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  47. “The fact that people are poor or discriminated against doesn’t necessarily endow them with any special qualities of justice, nobility, charity or compassion.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  48. “Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you’re 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.” ~ Saul Alinsky, Saul Alinsky quotes on death
  49. “A racially integrated community is a chronological term timed from the entrance of the first black family to the exit of the last white family.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  50. “Asking a sociologist to solve a problem is like prescribing an enema for diarrhea.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  51. “We must face the bitter fact that we have forsaken our great dream of a life of, for, and by the people; that the burning passions and ideals of the American dream lie congealed by cold cynicism. Great parts of the masses of our people no longer believe that they have a voice or a hand in shaping the destiny of this nation. They have not forsaken democracy because of any desire or positive action of their own; they have been driven down into the depths of a great despair born of frustration, hopelessness, and apathy. A democracy lacking in popular participation dies of paralysis.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  52. “America’s corporations are a spiritual slum, and their arrogance is the major threat to our future as a free society.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  53. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  54. “Dogma, Whatever Form It Takes, Is The Ultimate Enemy Of Human Freedom.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  55. “From the moment the organizer enters a community he lives, dreams… only one thing and that is to build the mass power base of what he calls the army. Until he has developed that mass power base, he confronts no major issues…. Until he has those means and power instruments, his tactics are very different from power tactics. Therefore, every move revolves around one central point: how many recruits will this bring into the organization, whether by means of local organizations, churches, service groups, labor Unions, corner gangs, or as individuals.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  56. “The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  57. “Radicals, on the other hand, want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of just a comparative handful. They feel that this minority control of production facilities is injurious to the large masses of people not only because of economic monopolies but because the political power inherent in this form of the centralized economy does not augur for an ever-expanding democratic way of life.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  58. “Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  59. “It is a sad fact of life that power and fear are the fountainheads of faith.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  60. “An organizer working in and for an open society is in an ideological dilemma to begin with, he does not have a fixed truth – truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing…. To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond to the realities of the widely different situations.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  61. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  62. “The classic statement on polarization comes from Christ: ‘He that is not with me is against me.’ (Luke 11:23) He allowed no middle ground to the moneychangers in the Temple. One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  63. “The only people who become disillusioned are people who have illusions.” ~ Saul Alinsky

  64. “In this world laws are written for the lofty aim of “the common good” and then acted out in life on the basis of the common greed. In this world, irrationality clings to man like his shadow so that the right things get done for the wrong reasons – afterward, we dredge up the right reasons for justification. It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral; a world where “reconciliation” means that when one side gets the power and the other side gets reconciled to it.” ~ Saul Alinsky
  65. “Liberals like people with their heads, radicals like people with both their heads and their hearts.” ~ Saul Alinsky

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