TIME IN JAIL The reaction of the status quo in jailing evolutionary leaders is in itself a tremendous contribution to the development

of the Have-Not movement as well as to the personal development of the evolutionary leaders. This point should be carefully remembered as another example of how mass jujitsu tactics can be used to so maneuver the status quo that it turns its power against itself. Jailing the revolutionary leaders and their followers performs three vital functions for the cause of the Have-Nots: (1) it is an act on the part of the status quo that in itself points up the conflict between the Haves and the HaveNots; (2) it strengthens immeasurably the position of the revolutionary leaders with their people by surrounding the jailed leadership with an aura of martyrdom; (3) it deepens the identification of the leadership with their people since the prevalent reaction among the Have-Nots is that their leadership cares so much for them, and is so sincerely committed to the issue, that it is willing to suffer imprisonment for the cause. Repeatedly in situations where the relationship between the Have-Nots and their leaders has become strained the remedy has been the jailing of the leaders by the establishment. Immediately the ranks close and the leaders regain their mass support. At the same time, the revolutionary leaders should make certain that their publicized violations of the regulations are so selected that their jail terms are relatively brief, from one day to two months. The trouble with a long jail sentence is that (a) a revolutionary is removed from action for such an extended period of time that he loses touch, and (b) if you are gone long enough everybody forgets about you. Life goes on, new issues arise, and new leaders appear; however, a periodic removal from circulation by being jailed is an essential element in the development of the revolutionary. The one problem that the revolutionary cannot cope with by himself is that he must now and then have an opportunity to reflect and synthesize his thoughts. To gain that privacy in which he can try to make sense out of what he is doing, why he is doing it, where he is going, what has been wrong with what he has done, what he should have done and above all to see the relationships of all the episodes and acts as they tie in to a general pattern, the most convenient and accessible solution is jail. It is here that he begins to develop a philosophy. It is here that he begins to shape long-term goals, intermediate goals, and a self-analysis of tactics as tied to his own personality. It is here that he is emancipated from the slavery of action wherein he was compelled to think from act to act. Now he can look at the totality of his actions and the reactions of the enemy from a fairly detached position.

he never has a chance to think through an overall synthesis. but the fact is that I did not want to come to grips with thinking and writing any more than anyone else involved in revolutionary movements does.Every revolutionary leader of consequence has had to undergo these withdrawals from the arena of action. The prophets of the Old Testament and the New found their opportunity for synthesis by voluntarily removing themselves to the wilderness. hopefully. and generally so dull that you wouldn't want to talk to them anyway. the subjects were very interesting and carried over through a luncheon discussion. and gone to spend the afternoon writing. nothing more than a temporary irritant. stopped in for a chat. for there would be cocktails at 5:30. Your jailers are rough. It was after they emerged that they began propagandizing their philosophies. He will do anything to avoid it. and. locked the door. which lasted until 2:30 or 3:00. The argument was made that this would be a good opportunity to get away from it all and write. a revolutionary or a man of action does not have the sedentary frame of mind that is part of the personality of a research scholar. Even when provided with a voluntary situation of that kind he will react by trying to escape the job of thinking and writing. He finds it very difficult to sit quietly and think and write. I could have gone back to my quarters. and after dinner there wasn't much point in trying to start writing because it was late and I was tired. The morning began with the institute sessions. a most interesting astronomer. You have no phones and. By the time he left it was 5:00 p. started writing. The institute sessions would last only from 10:00 to noon and I would be free for the rest of the afternoon and the evening. I welcomed the interruptions and used them as rationalizing excuses to escape the ordeal of thinking and writing. furthermore. there wasn't much point in starting to write then. Often a revolutionary finds that he cannot voluntarily detach himself. told everybody that I was not to be disturbed. but then one of the members of the discussion group. since the pressure of events and action do not permit him that luxury. Without such opportunities. Jail provides just the opposite circumstances. in fact. but most of them are almost terminal tactics in themselves. It was through periodic imprisonment that the basis for my first publication and the first orderly philosophical . Since there is no physical escape you are driven to erase your surroundings imaginatively: you escape into thinking and writing. unsociable.. He becomes. no visitors. Now it is true that I could have got up immediately after lunch. which you desperately try to escape. and after cocktails there wasn't much point in sitting down to start writing because dinner would be served soon. You find yourself in a physical drabness and confinement. he goes from one tactic and one action to another. except for an hour or so a day. and he burns himself out. I remember that once I accepted an invitation to participate in a one-week discussion at the Aspen Institute. Now I could sit and write from 3:00 to dinner.m.

that guy cares enough about us to go to jail for us. I'm predicating this on the jail sentence being no more than two months at the maximum. that inaction itself is a valuable gift to a revolutionary. and nobodybothered to read you your constitutional rights. So my wilderness." Sothey make a martyr out of you at no higher cost than a few days or weeks of cruddy food and a little inaction.you're constantly on the run. Sometimes the guards would come in when I was working and say. We can't let him down now. outside of one hour every day. pretty soon he . and I was generally so knocked out by the end of the day I'd just pass out the minute my head hit the pillow. you can go now. too. But arelatively short jail term is a wonderful opportunity to think about what you're doing and why. and later on his philosophy deepened and widened during his time in prison in Birmingham. After Back of the Yards. And I was able to turn his head around on the issues. I really used to enjoy jail. they just threw you behind bars.And actually. When you jail a radical. and since your surroundings were so draband depressing. I was never booked. we began to hit it off and soon became close friends. they'd just courteously lock me up. racing from one fight to another and from one community to another. where you're headedand how you can get there better and faster. it wasonly in Montgomery jail that he had the uninterrupted time to think out thoroughly the wider implications of hisbus boycott. formulateyour long term goals with detachment and objectivity and shape your philosophy. your only escape was into your own mind and imagination. people would probably be lighting candles to Zeus today. They'd always give me a pretty fair shakeIn jail. "Shit.arrangement of my ideas and goals occurred. as hewrote in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail. "Look. Reveille forRadicals. turned out to be jail. Theproblem you face with a heavy sentence is that you're knocked out of action for too long and can lose your touch. if they thought you were a troublemaker. I'll tell you when I want out." andI'd look up from my papers and say. he stoppedpickin' me up. I'm in the middle of the chapter. Most of the timeyou don't have any opportunity for reflection and contemplation." I thinkthat was the first and only time they had a prisoner anxious not to be released. Alinsky. ifthey'd given Jesus life instead of crucifying him. though. everybody will forget about you. and it was there I started writing my first book. Look at Martin Luther King.It was really great. [Excerpt from Playboy interview:] PLAYBOY: Did you run into much trouble yourself? ALINSKY: Yeah. you never get outside of yourself enough to gain areal perspective and insight into your own tactics and strategy. you didn't get any visitors. One result is that the inherent conflict between the haves and the have nots isunderlined and dramatized. wordreached the police chief of this nut who loved jail.and there's also the danger that if you're gone from the fight long enough. I was about as popular as the plague. a squad car would pull up and they'd take me off to jail as apublic nuisance. I used to save on hotel bills. because the minute I'd arrive in a new town the cops would slap me right in jail. Yourjailers were generally so stupid you wouldn't want to talk to 'em anyway. In the Bible the prophets could at least go out intothe wilderness and get themselves together. When you're out in the arena all the time. Jail certainly played an important role in my own case. Despite our politicaldifferences. "OK. Hell. After a few times like that. Now that he and I were buddies. you'replaying right into his hands. a private cell and decent treatment. where we were trying to organize a really foul slum called the Bottoms. The minute I'd get out of theUnion Station and start walking down the main drag. and one day he came around to see me. but about the only free time I ever had was on a sleeper train betweentowns. PLAYBOY: It also removes you from active participation in your cause." So jail is an invaluable training ground for radicals. There wasn't any crap about habeas corpus and the rights of theaccused in those days. there weren't any phones and. They say. one of our toughest fights wasKansas City. It's in jail that you can reflect and synthesize your ideas. and another is that it terrifically strengthens your position with the people you're tryingto organize. ALINSKY: Oh. like that of all radicals. though. which was too bad I had another book in mind but I'll always be grateful to him for giving mea place to digest my experiences.

and his changed attitude was a big help to that victory. . We eventually organized successfully andwon our major demands in Kansas City.did ahundred percent somersault and became prolabor right down the line.

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