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Why The Hillary-Alinsky Letters Matter

Why The Hillary-Alinsky Letters Matter

On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon broke the news of a young Hillary Clinton’s correspondence with socialist agitator Saul Alinsky. Alinsky, whose philosophy has long been linked with President Barack Obama’s focus on community organizing, was a far larger influence on Clinton, who wrote her thesis at Wellesley on Alinsky.

Alinsky fully embraced the tenets of socialism – as Stanley Kurtz points out, Alinsky wrote in his first work, Reveille for Radicals, “Radicals 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 the comparative handful.” In order to accomplish those goals, as Alinsky spelled out in his follow-up work, Rules for Radicals, community organizing was necessary: a strategy by which an organizer would find the “Have-Nots” in particular communities and encourage them to agitate against the “Haves” – almost always, a corporation. Disturbing the general population, lying, and cheating were musts.

What makes Alinsky unique is his focus on messaging. He recognizes that naked radicalism does not sell – instead, he suggests that true radicals hijack the language of the Founding Fathers, for example. Time magazine described him thus: “Alinsky claims to be doing nothing more un-American than following the precepts of the Founding Fathers. In the Federalist papers, James Madison warned against allowing any class or faction to acquire too much power. In his own way, Alinsky is trying to redress the balance of power within contemporary America…He surely offers proof – if any is needed – that significant change can be accomplished within the American system.”

What sort of change? He wanted “individual freedom” supplanted with “communal freedom.” He wrote, “The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself.”

In Hillary’s thesis, she does criticize Alinsky for not going far enough – she wanted to go into government itself and use its tools for manipulation, as Alana Goodman points out: “Many of the Alinsky-inspired poverty warriors could not (discounting political reasons) move beyond the cathartic first step of organizing groups ‘to oppose, complain, demonstrate, and boycott’ to developing and running a program.”

Clinton’s letters to Alinsky show that she loved his style, even if she preferred a less overt form of resistance to the capitalist order. “I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille,” she wrote in 1971, “and need some new material to throw at people.” She told Alinsky that her “belief in and zest for organizing was intact” despite her time at that nefarious right-wing institution, Yale Law School. She added, “I am living in Berkeley and working in Oakland for the summer and would love to see you. Let me know if there is any chance of our getting together.”

She signs off, “There were rumors of your going to SE Asia to recruit organizers. Is the lack of imagination among my peers really so rampant as that suggests or did you get yourself a CIA-sponsored junket to exotica? I hope you are still well and fighting.”

In his book, Righteous Indignation, Andrew Breitbart writes, “It took Alinsky to shut up the opposition using the methodologies of political correctness, to frighten people into submission and create an informal anti-First Amndment regime where if you speak out, you become a personal target.”

Alinsky was the prophet, and Hillary was his messenger. And that should matter to everyone who wonders just where the famed political chameleon stands. 

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.

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