Born in Chicago in 1909 to Russian immigrant parents, Alinsky worked his way throughtheUniversity of Chicago, then dropped out of grad school to organize the poor in thecitys slums, demanding better working and living conditions. He went on to do thesame thing in otherUScities.Published the year before he died in 1972, Alinskys Rules for Radicals: A PragmaticPrimer for Realistic Radicals has been compared to the writing of Thomas Paine, and it inspired many young idealists (including, apparently,Hillary Clinton, who wrote herWellesley Collegesenior thesis on Alinsky)."What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what theybelieve it should be, Alinsky begins his book. The Prince was written by Machiavelli forthe Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on howto take it away."Some compare Alinskys activities and goals to a more recent American politicalinsurgency. The Tea Party comes from the same sense of outrage that the elites, as Gingrich callsthem, are running the country,Dick Simpson, aUniversity of Illinoisat Chicago political
scientist and former Chicago alderman, toldBloomberg News. The Tea Party hasunderstood how to mobilize their anger and turn it to political results, which is theunderlying motif of Alinsky. Alinsky, Simpson says, was a master community organizer who attempted to organizepeople without power, people that today wed call the 99 percent, by using the strengthof numbers to overcome clout and wealth.FreedomWorks, the tea party group headed by former Republican House LeaderDick Armey, gives copies of Rules for Radicals to its leaders. His tactics when it comes tograss-roots organizing are incredibly effective, FreedomWorks spokesman AdamBrandon told theWall Street Journal. Tea Partyers aggressively confronting lawmakersat town hall meetings is straight from Alinskys playbook.Conservative iconWilliam F. Buckley Jr.called the Chicago radical "very close to beingan organizational genius." As a former history professor, Gingrich not only understands Alinskys motif, hes madeit a key part of his campaign. Gingrich's clashes against the establishment are classic Alinsky, writes Philip Klein,senior editorial writer for the conservativeWashington Examiner.Democrats may rankle at Gingrichs painting Obama as an Alinsky acolyte a sort of red-baiting, although Alinsky never joined any organization, communist or otherwise.But some Republicans say the former House Speaker himself is destructively channeling Alinsky when, for example, he goes afterMitt Romneys wealth.