Liberals vs. Radicals

Liberals utter bold words at meetings; they strut, grimace belligerently, and then issue a weasel-worded statement "which has tremendous implications, if read between the lines." They endlessly pass resolutions and endlessly do nothing. They sit calmly, dispassionately, studying the issue; judging both sides; they sit and sit still. The radical does not sit frozen by cold objectivity. He sees injustice and strikes at it with hot passion. He is a man of decision and action.

Liberals protest; radicals rebel. Liberals become indignant; radicals become fighting mad and go into action. Liberals do not modify their personal lives and what they give to a cause is small part of their lives; radicals give themselves to the cause. Liberals give and take oral arguments; radicals give and take the hard, dirty, bitter way of life. Liberals frequently achieve high places of respectability, ranging from the Supreme Court to Congress; the names of radicals are rarely inscribed in marble but burn eternally in the hearts of man. Liberals have tender beliefs and are filled with repugnance at the grime, the sordidness, the pain, the persecution, and the heart-break of battle; radicals have tough convictions which are calloused by the rough road of direct action. Liberals play the game of life with white and occasionally red chips; with the radical it's only blue chips, and all the chips are always down. Liberals dream dreams; radicals build the world of men's dreams.

There were those few, and there will be more, who really liked people loved people—all people. They were the human torches setting aflame the hearts of men so that they passionately fought for the rights of their fellow men, all men. They were hated, feared and branded as radicals. They wore the epithet of radical as a badge of honor. They fought for the right of men to govern themselves, for the right of men to walk erect as free men and not grovel before kings, for the Bill of Rights, for the abolition of slavery, for public education, and for everything decent and worthwhile. They loved men and fought for them. Their neighbor's misery was their misery. They acted as they believed.

The radical believes the complete man needs a complete job—a job for the heart as well as the hand—a jobs where he can say to himself, "What I do is important and has its place."

The radical will fight conservatives, whether they are business or labor leaders. He will fight any concentration of power hostile to a broad, popular democracy...


Excerpt from Reveille for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

posted by Russell Bannan

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