Zach argues that calling Saul Alinsky Machiavellian is a crude slur. I’m not sure Alinsky would agree. Certainly, the violent character Poe depicts bears little resemblance to Alinsky; same goes for his Hillary Clinton et al. Alinsky did, however, argue persuasively with his “rules of means and ends” that the left is overly hostile to the development and deployment of power through organizing, and overly paralyzed by metaethical debates and overly splintered over tactics. I’d say there were several respects in which he was right. Hillary Clinton, incidentally, wrote her thesis criticizing Alinsky’s tenant organizing in Chicago. Needless to say, while there’s much that’s deeply problematic about the top-down nature and rigidity of Alinsky’s organizing model, and the distance it creates between the roles of organizers and leaders, I’d take his leadership model over Hillary’s neoliberal village any day. I won’t say any more of Richard Poe’s Freeper ramblings except that the best condemnation of the “respected Hillary biographies” he cites is recorded by David Brock, who wrote one of them and worked with the authors of the others.

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