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The Trifecta


I was going to write a post about the right’s odd obsession with Saul Alinsky, a man who has only been tangentially important to the American left since about 1982. I’ve been to my share of lefty meetings in my life and I can’t think of a single one where the name Saul Alinsky was mentioned, except maybe in passing or someone was talking about the past. The fact that conservatives think they have this gold mine in making a bogeyman out of an organizer who died in 1972 shows how completely clueless they are about the actual state of the American left.

But why bother with the full post. Because with conservatives recent discovery of Derrick Bell, too much information is now known about the secret leftist conspiracy to overthrow the white man’s democracy. We all know how influential race theorists, and academics as a whole, are on American society so it’s really quite impossible to overstate the extent to which Bell is responsible for such unconstitutional outrages as criticizing Sarah Palin or suggesting that James Madison did not agree with the Mississippi Republican Party circa 2012 on every issue.

We all know groups like this exist in 3s. So who is the third? Who is the final piece of the liberal-communist-socialist-fascist-islamonazi conspiracy to take away our freedoms by giving us health insurance and enforcing environmental regulations?

Michael Harrington.

I know that, in the real world, The Other America hasn’t been influential since sometime around the defeat of Walter Mondale. But this isn’t the real world that conservatives are working in. It’s the Real Real World, the world where they can read between the lines and figure out how obscure academics and long out of fashion social theorists are at the heart of the nefarious Democrats and their demands to do crazy things like recognize that the 14th Amendment protects black people and that union organizers should not be summarily executed.

It feels good to finally get this information off my chest. Now I can talk about how, after the revolution enslaves all white people, bell hooks will be leading the reeducation camps. It’s all part of the secret plan!

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  • Davis X. Machina

    If they go after Harrington, so help me….

    As a 9th grader in a Jesuit high school, I — and 150 of my peers — was made to read The Other America. I don’t know about the other 149, but I remember it to this day. That and John Hershey’s Hiroshima.

    The man, and his book, is not the only reason why I roll the way I do today, politically, but it’s part of it. He is the reason why as a lad I joined DSOC the day I heard about it, as a HS senior.

    • I’m sure his appearances with Buckley on Firing Line are all youtubed up and ready for launch.

  • Mrs Tilton

    Already getting the next trio lined up.


  • Hob

    WTF? How quickly our exalted revolutionary leaders are forgotten.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Actually I think #3 is Francis Fox Piven.

    Or Theodor Adorno.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Whoops….Hob beat me to Piven!

    • Mark

      Damn, I was going to say Herbert Marcuse but you beat me to the Critical Theory punch.

    • Jeffrey Kramer

      I thought Bell was the Third Man, 1 & 2 being Alinsky and Ayers.

  • Ruviana

    Yeah, I was going to mention Piven. But since we obviously have our first three, I think it’s on to Mrs. Tilton’s next set of nominees!

  • Shawn

    It will be Stokely Carmichael. Here goes. Stokely and Bernie Williams’s uncle helped sharecroppers register to vote in Alabama. Bernie Williams played for the Yankees, who was owned by Big Stein, who hung around with Nixon, who hired Roger Ailes, who produces the Rush Limbaugh show and created Fox news. OMG. Stokely Carmichael runs Fox! Oh wait. Let me try again….

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    In fact, Alinsky has been much more (tactically) important to the right than the left in recent years. The more self-conscious of the organizers of the Tea Party admit that their approach was ripped from the pages of Rules for Radicals.

    The right-wing obsession with finding Alinskyites on the left is, like so much else in contemporary American conservatism, one part fantasy, two parts projection.

    • Jamie

      How much of a role projection plays here is difficult to overstate.

      Rove made a career out of accusing people of doing exactly what he was doing. (Looked at one way, Atwater actually had a bit of shame, and would deny it.)

      Projection isn’t just a useful attack that muddies the waters – it is useful because I think a typical not-Republican ends up feeling a little confused by the attack. They (OK, I) tend to actually consider the charge and try to think about whether it has merit. At that point, from a tactical perspective, the game is over.

      But if we are suggesting new revelations for the end times of progressive Armageddon, I would like to suggest “Coming to Terms”, since Wesleyan has indirectly come up. Aside from talking about the gay and the sex, the post-structuralist interpretation of culture could be as useful as Alinsky for the tea baggers.

  • gocart mozart

    The lynch-pin of the conspiracy is Kevin Bacon. He seems to be tied to everything.

  • Paul Goodman is another strong possibility for #3—if we’re going to stick with intellectuals most relevant to the 1950s-1970s era. – TL

  • Come now, surely we are all familiar with The Towering Power of Saul Alinsky in American Political Science.

    (Seriously, I find the whole thing mystifying).

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The great thing about secret history narratives is that their very implausibility and apparent lack of connection to reality can be sold to the rubes as indications of how very secret and important the knowledge they impart is.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Also: “The Towering Power of Saul Alinsky” would be a great name for a musical group…especially a funk band.

      • commie atheist

        What is socialism? Tell me, tell me, if you think you know…what is socialism today, might become centrist free-market corporatism.

    • Sev

      Another odd thing is the frequency with which they spell his name ‘Alinski’ with an ‘i’- is there some code that we aren’t getting? Or do you just need to be functionally illiterate to understand this whole Illuminati meme?

      • Sounds more russki.

  • nick

    teh bell hooks wants 2 take yr capital letterz and give them to welfare queenzs my capital letterz belong 2 me i worked hard 4 them stop bell hooks

  • Ruviana

    I read some of Alinsky years ago and he lost me when he recounted an anecdote in which some Mexican-American group he was working with had prepared some Mexican food for a group. He complained about the food and people in the group said they hated it too but people “expected” it from them. I think it was to illustrate some point about stereotyping. WTF? Mexican food? Of course Alinsky DIED in 1972 and foodways have changed a lot in the intervening years….

  • dimchester

    I think it’s all a diversion from the reality of Gene Sharp. This is bigger than those cretins yelling “FIRE” for their puppetmasters.

  • c u n d gulag

    Oh, the poor SDS and the Yippies – forgotten by history!

  • R. Porrofatto

    Nah. If Saul Alinsky’s name were Michael Harrington, we wouldn’t hear of him. For the same reason Orwell didn’t give the evil Emmanuel Goldstein a name like Nigel Carruthers.

  • Bill Murray

    I weep a single tear that Russel Means or Dennis Banks haven’t yet made the cut

    • commie atheist

      Red, but not red enough.

  • Murc

    I’d like to add that I only vaguely knew about Alinsky before the right started freaking out about him a couple years ago, which made me actually go out and read some of his work. The only conclusion I could come to afterwards were that I -wish- the Democratic Party had some hardcore Alinskyites in positions of power and leadership.

    So thanks for that, right-wing. You helped me!

  • tomstickler

    There is a simple explanation for the obsession with Saul Alinsky: sounds like he may be of the Hebrew persuasion.

  • It’d actually be nice for Harrington to get more press.

  • homunq

    Cuddle up with William S. Burrows, leave on the light for bell hooks, I’ve been flirtin’ with Pierre Burton ’cause he’s so smart in his books.

    Haven’t actually thought about bell hooks, aside from sometimes singing that lyric, in probably 15 years. Thanks.

    But the third name is HOTHEAD PAISAN!

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