Highlights from Rules for Radicals

“The establishment in many ways is as suicidal as some of the far left

If we fail to communicate with them, if we don’t encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right.

We must first see the world as it is and not as we would like it to be.

Political realists see the world as it is: an arena of power politics moved primarily by perceived immediate self-interests, where morality is rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest.

The pursuit of happiness is never-ending; happiness lies in the pursuit.

Concern for our private, material well-being with disregard for the well-being of others is immoral according to the precepts of our Judaeo-Christian civilization, but worse, it is stupidity worthy of the lower animals.

In short, ethics are determined by whether one is losing or winning.

The ninth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.

To oversimplify, what Gandhi did was to say, “Look, you are all sitting there anyway—so instead of sitting there, why don’t you sit over here and while you’re sitting, say Independence Now!'”

The Haves develop their own morality to justify their means of repression and all other means employed to maintain the status quo.

and as we use purifying synonyms, we dissolve the bitterness, the anguish, the hate and love, the agony and the triumph attached to these words, leaving an aseptic imitation of life.

To pander to those who have no stomach for straight language, and insist upon bland, non controversial sauces, is a waste of time.

he knows that worn-out words like “white racist,” “fascist pig,” and “motherfucker” have been so spewed about that using them is now within the negative experience of the local people

They knew not only of my concern about their plight but that I liked them as people. I felt their response in friendship, and we were together. It is in this totality of the situation that I did what, otherwise, would have been offensive.

With very rare exceptions, the right things are done for the wrong reasons. It is futile to demand that men do the right thing for the right reason—this is a fight with a windmill. The organizer should know and accept that the right reason is only introduced as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved, although it may have been achieved for the wrong reason—therefore he should search for and use the wrong reasons to achieve the right goals.

Communication on a general basis without being fractured into the specifics of experience becomes rhetoric and it carries a very limited meaning.

Organizations are built on issues that are specific, immediate, and realizable.

It is impossible to maintain constant action on a single issue. A single issue is a fatal strait jacket that will stifle the life of an organization.

We learn, when we respect the dignity of the people, that they cannot be denied the elementary right to participate fully in the solutions to their own problems. Self-respect arises only out of people who play an active role in solving their own crises and who are not helpless, passive, puppet-like recipients of private or public services.

One big problem is a constant shifting of responsibility from one jurisdiction to another—individuals and bureaus one after another disclaim responsibility for particular conditions, attributing the authority for any change to some other force.

You can insult and annoy him, but the one thing that is unforgivable and that is certain to get him to react is to laugh at him. This causes an irrational anger.

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 big middle-class majority.

They see the poor going to colleges with the waiving of admission requirements and given special financial aid. In many cases the lower middle class were denied the opportunity of college by these very circumstances.

People must be “reformed”—so they cannot be deformed into dependency and driven through desperation to dictatorship and the death of freedom. The “silent majority,” now, are hurt, bitter, suspicious, feeling rejected and at bay. This sick condition in many ways is as explosive as the current race crisis. Their fears and frustrations at their helplessness are mounting to a point of a political paranoia which can demonize people to turn to the law of survival in the narrowest sense.

The frenetic scene around them is so bewildering as to induce them to either drop out into a private world, the nonexistent past, sick with its own form of social schizophrenia—or to face it and move into action.

The middle classes are numb, bewildered, scared into silence. They don’t know what, if anything, they can do. This is the job for today’s radical—to fan the embers of hopelessness into a flame to fight.

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