Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A curious connection came to me.

Gareth Porter, noted and always worthwhile defense-issues commentator, has this piece that stems from the Wikileaks document dump.*

One of the dumped documents is a diplomatic cable from the Russians last February, in which they assess and refute in great detail a US claim that the Iranians had a mysterious missile – somehow allegedly purchased from the North Koreans – which had the range to put all of Europe within the reach of alleged mobile, land-based Iranian nukes. The Russians raise extensive objections that substantially make it almost impossible for the alleged missile to work or for the Iranians to launch it (presuming they would have bought the untested product in the first place), and conclude by seriously doubting the existence of any such missile at all.

None of which is particularly relevant to the SO Mania Regime.

But then he gets to this bit: Both the ‘New York Times’ and the ‘Washington Post’ had access to the Russian cable through legitimate international media channels. BUT while they both published the US scare-stories about what the missile could do, they did not publish the seriously substantive doubts raised in the Russian cable. Because, the papers now say, the US government asked them not to.

Now note this: the papers were not refraining from publishing classified material – many of the world’s major papers have provided their readers with the Russian objections as well as the US scare-scenarios. The papers were purposely under-informing (thereby mis-informing) the American public in such a way that the public would be frightened by the scare-stories and there would be no countervailing facts or substantive and logical counter-possibility (to slow down any stampede that the selective reporting and non-reporting might cause).

The two major US papers published a scare-scenario that would serve the purpose of inciting a stampede, while at the same time they did not publish the substantive counter-possibilities (that would snuff out or slow down any such stampede).

Even more interesting is the fact that now the Wikileaks document shows that there was significant internal US government disagreement on whether such a magic-missile even existed at all. You can’t help but wonder, some day, what a Wiki-type document dump might reveal about government and legislative opinion in the run-up to the initiation and continuation of the SO Mania Regime and its enabling laws and the manipulative stampede of public opinion that lubricates it.

Neatly, the US government official who was assigned to take the point on the matter said that the government “believes” that the Iranians had the missile (which also of course presumes that the magical thing exists in the first place) but can offer no reliable sources or grounds for that belief.

In response to Russian requests for verifying information, the US said that it had no “hard evidence’, come to think of it, but produced a video of a North Korean military parade; the Russians reviewed that video and identified the missile in the parade as a different type of missile entirely. Which makes you think that the US government is either verrrry incompetent in vital matters or verrrry dishonest in vital matters.

Surely the SO community has entertained such thoughts from time to time.

When the US made some technical assertions that would at least provide the circumstantial possibility that such a missile’s existence was possible (and if THAT doesn’t sound kinda iffy then you haven’t been keeping up with the SO Mania and the government’s Findings and assertions), the Russians quickly demonstrated how each ‘explanation’ tossed out was individually close to impossible and taken as a collection of possibilities was statistically improbable to a stratospheric degree.

Anyone who has looked at the theoretical explanations of the dynamics of repressed-memories put forward by the supporters of recovered-memory can only nod in recognition at seeing this type of gambit by the government.

The government produced a “modeling study” that showed what would happen if this magic missile had just 300km more range to it than even the US dares to assert. But the Russians pointed out that to push the missile that far beyond its maximum range would exponentially increase the possibility that the thing would burn itself out before it ever got where it was going.

Oh, and that it was a missile designed to be launched from a submarine’s missile tubes, and would require major structural modifications to work from trucks or mobile launchers, and that the type of fuel system that worked in the controlled environment of a nuclear-sub’s storage and launch facilities would not work in the far less controlled environment of mobile-launching by land units.

What strikes me most forcefully in all of this is how quickly sensible and well-grounded objections can snuff out a stampede, especially when both the assertions and the objections are published for the public to review (which is what happened in Europe and the rest of the world).

In the SO Mania, this did not happen. You only have to look at the 570-page, densely packed double-issue of ‘Psychology, Public Policy, and Law’ for March-June 1998 to realize how many serious experts and professionals, from numerous areas of expertise, had, even at that early date, carefully laid out the extensive and profound problems with the ‘sex offender’ and what I call the SO Mania Regime. **

Of course, a media that was really trying to fulfill its responsibility as “a free press” might well have prevented a stampede by publishing the objections to the government’s (and the advocacies’) raging reports and claims. But – long before the Iranian missile matters of today – the media had decided to treat the government as just another important ‘demographic’ within its ‘consumer-base’, to be kept happy wherever possible by publishing what the demographic wanted to read. And, of course, a government is not just another consumer: it is the generator and keeper of many secrets and major public matters, and the bestower of gifts and bennies on a press that serves it well.

The article concludes with a comment by the head of an international strategic study institute that also debunked many of the US government assertions: the US and the Russians had “two different approaches to the subject”. Specifically, he said, “the Russians talked about the most likely set of outcomes whereas the US side focused on what might happen”.

Unpacking that comment – which says a lot on its very face – I get this: the Russian approach is to study all the evidence and then arrive at that “most likely set of outcomes”, whereas the US merely comes up with a nightmare scenario, says it “might” happen, and – secure in the knowledge that the American major media will not give any voice to countervailing information - simply sits back and waits for the desired public stampede.

Which, you have to admit, is a pretty good description of the SO Mania’s dynamics from the get-go.

And now it’s being deployed, these 20 years later, in the international arena, in a game of frightening nuclear brinkmanship (as they used to call it half a century ago).

This is what American policy – and politics – has come to: a dishonest manipulation of the public and in the service of a bad policy on grounds that are so largely phantasmagoric. You evoke the type of scenarios that arise in anybody’s middle-of-the-night nightmares, and then use that fuel to generate the hot fear that such things are happening in the actual waking world, and that therefore the desired program just has to become law and policy immediately.

Goebbels meets the Red Queen.


*I have written about the SO adventures of Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, on this site previously. As you may recall, in late summer he was suddenly accused of some sort of ‘sex offense’ by two females. Just about all the circumstances of their ‘report’ (they made no charges) and of the Swedish government’s handling of it (a lower level-prosecutor goes along with it over the weekend, a higher-level prosecutor withdraws everything on Monday, then nothing, then – just before the most recent big document dump – a curiously vague ‘international sex offense warrant’ is issued by a Swedish court, not with ‘charges’ but, as best I can make out, simply to interview or question him, though prosecutors refused several offers on his part to be interviewed; the warrant sounds more like a material-witness matter except that Assange is the accused (but still not charged) perpetrator.

**”Psychology, Public Policy, and Law”. Vol. 4, Number 1 / 2, March/June 1998. ISSN 1076-8971. This journal is published by the American Psychological Association, which has not otherwise distinguished itself in attempting to address the SO Mania Regime with any significant degree of integrity, but somehow allowed this journal to publish this remarkable double-issue volume, or at least failed to notice and stop it. A good-sized library may well have it; hard copies may still be available from the journal’s site.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I conclude this mini-series on Saul Alinsky’s 1971 book “Rules for Radicals”* that – I believe – has exerted and continues to exert a substantial and deforming influence on national politics.

I am skipping a couple of smaller chapters and proceeding directly to his concluding chapter entitled: “The Way Ahead” . The original Post on my other site is here.

Bear in mind that he wrote this in 1971, capping off a long career of Old Left (labor and economic issues) activism that spanned the difficult 1920s and 1930s although he and his Approach were around in the Sixties when – as I have been saying – it became an early how-to book for budding identities of the New Left (culture and gender issues much more than bread-and-butter economics).

“Organization for action will now and in the decade ahead center upon America’s white middle class.” Purely on the basis of economic issues this would have meant a focus on getting a larger (and in his view a legitimate) slice of the pie, and I don’t disagree with him here.

And in view of the ominous developments in the world’s economic condition, especially as that would bear on American economic matters, this might have been a very worthwhile focus.

In the SO Mania Regime, so densely seeded in the anti-male and anti-‘patriarchy’ excitements of radical feminism and the further excitements of Victimology, the focus for the Alinsky war-politics assault Approach was ‘men’, and – neatly – their sexual activity.

It was, if you look at it from the point of view of tactics and strategy, a shrewd gambit: in the evolutionary scheme of things, where Nature’s prime objective is the continuation of the species, the male is set up from the get-go to do a lot of impregnating. I do NOT thereby conclude that ‘men’ have a ‘natural right’ to use the supply of females as a deer-park simply to have sex.

Indeed, it has been the ongoing efforts of civilization to somehow build a workable and sustainable society by Shaping and channeling those male proclivities, and to permit the stable nurture of the young that the female – whatever current Correct dogma insists – is so consistently concerned with.

But certainly since the Sixties – although there have been deep societal dynamics working toward it for quite a while before that – the whole trend of the times has been to remove ‘obstructions’ and weaken the Shaping boundaries civilization and culture had imposed on primal energies. One thoroughly predictable effect of this has been a monstrous surge in sexual-activity (male and female) as generations were now raised with the idea that ‘sex is natural and always good’ and that it is ‘fun’ and that it is, really, a fundamental ‘right’ by which a person can ‘creatively express’ him/herself.

So many males – and I’m not talking about males in the Age of Patriarchy but males raised, as it were, in the Age of Liberation – were raised without the ability to place sexual activity in any constructive and Larger context; hence the modern ‘hook-up culture’.

The great danger has been – I hope it is becoming clearer now – that if the Culture and Society were not going to help young males (and females) develop a context and a ground through which they could Master their all-too-easily-tapped primal energies, then Government and Law would have to expand (‘engorge’ is not too strong a verb here, I think) in order to impose boundaries that increasing numbers of people could not deploy on their own.

This is a recipe for a police state Leviathan, which I have called the National Nanny or National Regulatory State.

And THAT is hugely anti-Constitutional and, frankly, anti-American.

Because the Framers presumed that the Citizenry would be Mastering themselves as adult human beings from the get-go, assisted by parents and culture and society. They would thus then bring these competences of maturity and self-mastery to the task of Grounding the actual political machinery of constitutional government, essentially governing their governors.

But instead We have a Society and Culture that do verrrry little to assist Mastery, and a Family that is now not only weakened by the centrifugal forces of urban life and consumerism, but also weakened by the Deconstructive assault on all ‘authority’ and ‘boundaries’ that has taken place – as official national policy – for the past 40 years. And on top of that, We have now a Society and Culture that consequently abandoned Maturity and Adult Authority in favor of Youthiness (to borrow Bush the Second’s term for it).

So in the SO Mania Regime I wonder if one of the thick cables of concern that support it is the government’s queasy awareness that having loosened up Society and Culture at their very core, it now has to resort to regulatory and criminal law to maintain any sort of social order at all.

If so, this cannot end well.

But Alinsky’s own Approach (Technique, Method) was taken from the days of labor-organizing and also of the revolutionary agitprop organizing refined (so to speak) by Communist and Nazi (Goebbels’ manipulation of public opinion for political purposes) organizing.

As I have said, that Approach was manipulative and although seeking decently a larger ‘empowerment’ for the workers (the Have-Nots in his schematic) it bore no small danger to a democratic, deliberative politics. It was also purely focused on economic matters as opposed to any Larger vision of America or of any culture and society, or of any Larger or Deeper dynamics.

This did reflect his unstated assumption that ‘economics’ were utterly essential to carrying on a decent life for workers and their families. And especially from the vantage point of American in 2010 I think that is an especially relevant assumption.

But the dynamics to which he did limit himself offered only a limited view of what is genuinely necessary in order to make a culture and society ‘tick’; he drank too deeply from the well of Marxist thought here. While economic empowerment (although that word must be verrry carefully deployed, especially after the past 40 years) is necessary, it is not sufficient to the health of a culture and a society. Engines are vital to a ship, but you also need a sturdy hull to ‘platform’ the motive-power.

An exclusively or predominantly Alinsky-ite approach to culture and society is going to be profoundly inadequate as a frame for reference and action.

So too, in the SO Mania Regime, an analysis of society merely from the point of view of sexual activity – society as merely a bunch of sexually active males and a bunch of potential female victims – is hugely insufficient, because hugely inaccurate, as a governing paradigm for appreciating and assessing AND sustaining the common-weal.

But THIS is precisely what has happened in the SO Mania Regime.

So simply taken on its own terms, Alinsky’s Approach is insufficient as a paradigm for effecting ‘change’. And ditto, the men-are-rapists approach is equally insufficient. And perhaps even more so, because whereas Alinsky, as a man of the Old Left, was primarily concerned with ‘economics’, the New Left concerns (driven so deeply by radical-feminism and Victimism) require monstrous Constitutional regression by engorging the power and role of the government police power.

And then, of course, History turns out to be more dynamic and complex than Alinsky’s Approach allows: his attempt to use his technique to organize and empower black and Chicano workers was quickly taken up by all of the other ‘revolutions’ that burst upon the American scene – with the Beltway’s vigorous support – in the later Sixties and since then.

The Boomers in their frothy youth did not simply seek to ‘organize’ the white middle class and its culture and society but rather to overthrow it (including the very productivity that allowed the country to convert its natural resources into actual wealth-assets); the goal for the Hippies and Yippies was some sort of Romantic perfect-society that would somehow ‘naturally’ arise once the oppressing detritus of ‘bourgeois white middle-class grown-up culture’ was swept away.

All of the anti-conformity and ‘gray flannel suit’ concerns raised (and legitimately so) in the 1950s by sociologists such as Riesman pushed the still-adolescent Boomers into a callow and thorough rejection of a culture and society that was not only ‘imperfect’ or ‘incomplete’ (as are all human endeavors, large and small) but in the Boomer view hostile to ‘freedom’ and enslaved to conformist servitude to ‘the Establishment’. The kids would bring creativity and freedom, mostly envisioned in the ways a teen-ager would imagine creativity and freedom: the chance to do what your parents told you you shouldn’t do too much of since you had to eventually get a job and support yourself and your family. ‘Free love’ – sex whenever, wherever, however – figured largely, as did the infatuation with short-cuts to feeling good about yourself, especially those short-cuts offered by various drugs and any state of intoxication that warded off the burdens of conducting your affairs with a mature and – not to put too fine a point on it – sober consciousness.

The Black Power second-phase of the civil-rights movement sought to inflame racial antagonism in order to emphasize the sweeping away not of merely the frakkulent Jim Crow Regime of the pre-1965 South but also the entire edifice of ‘white’ society and culture. The Haves were white; the Have-Nots were black.

The radical-feminists, who were mostly college-educated and read deeply in both Marxist thought and the derivative anti-colonial thought of French academics and intellectuals. The Haves were males and the Have-Nots were females. But this was a concept hugely fraught: rather than the palpable and measurable and very familiar Capitalist-Industrial concerns with economic security, the radical-feminists deployed Alinsky’s Approach in matters far less palpable and far more nebulous: the oppression of patriarchy, the radical individualism not of the worker-and-family but of the individual ‘woman’ – which logically called-for the fracturing of the entire concept of Family (not simply an American or capitalist construct but one that had been evolved by the species since its inception). **

Alinsky would have defined the essential Have-Not ‘unit’ as the worker-and-family; the radical-feminists would take his Approach and deploy it in far more troubled and foggy waters. For them the basic ‘unit’ of society and culture was not the Family, but the individual person (female, especially).

So too as Multiculturalism quickly expanded far beyond the Alinsky-ite concept of providing more economic security for migrant farm laborers toward an equally troubled and foggy waters where ‘American’ culture and society were themselves the Haves and they deserved no support and enjoyed no legitimacy that immigrants needed to respect. Indeed, much the opposite.

So too ‘Youth’ – that demographic eagerly erected by the Dems to bulk up the revolutionary momentum with its tinder-dry flammability, lack of ballasting ‘experience’ of life and events, and self-assurance that only ‘the young’ reely reely discovered the ‘secrets’ of life.

And so too Victimism, which seeks to reduce the Vision of society to merely a ‘war’ between the ‘perpetrator’ (primarily sexual in the American variant) and the victim.

And being in a ‘war’ is a seductive experience, especially if you’ve convinced yourself that you are on the side of Good. Both Left and Right could come together in the perfect matrix that was Victimism and in the perfect storm that was the SO Mania Regime.

The ‘struggle’ would provide that permanent source of Meaning and Purpose that meant any rival Meaning-systems (religion, philosophy) could be dispensed with. And indeed HAD TO BE gotten rid of, since – in best Marxist style – they were merely ‘opiates’ and tools of the Haves. Matters of Larger Meaning and Purpose could be left to private devotion if not, more usefully, completely dispensed with.

Alinsky reveals how much he is a man of the Old Left when he shares his vision of organizing “all of the low-income parts of our population … all the blacks, Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Appalachian poor whites”.

But he has laid the groundwork for subsequent decades by admitting that “if through some genius of organization they were all united in a coalition, it would not be powerful enough to get significant, basic, needed changes”. These ‘parts’ would still have to get “allies” because “the pragmatics of power will not allow any alternative”. He saw the ‘white middle class’ as the indispensable Ally (although as Haves they are the ‘enemy’ in his schematic, so I can’t see how he planned for any ‘alliance’ to be anything but tactical, in best Leninist style).

He did not envision that in the absence of any possibility of uniting all the disparate Identity Revolutions of the Seventies (and how could you simultaneously ally yourself with a ‘white middle class’ that you were in the process of Deconstructing root and branch, along lines of gender, ethnic diversity, and all the other axes-of-Identity?) the Beltway – the Establishment, the government itself – would engorge itself and step in to be the ‘ally’ of each and every Identity and the guarantor of whatever demands were made.

Since ‘men’ are almost one-half of the population, any rational national policy would want to ensure that their vital energies – not just their primal ones, but their advanced-level energies – would be well-grounded and well-Shaped. Instead, though, not only have ‘men’ been Deconstructed but they have been made the targets of Registration (I think the current numbers are that one out of every 200 males in this country is now on a sex-offender Registry for one reason (or pretext) or another).

And with the economy weakening – as it must, given the mess the Beltway has made of it – I worry that even more younger males, grown up under-boundaried, under-Shaped, and incapable of sufficient self-mastery, may well wind up regressing to or staying trapped in their primal sexual energies.

Alinsky presumed that the government would evolve (I would say ‘mutate’) into the Guarantor of the Golden Eggs, and simultaneously as the Prime (perhaps Only) Ally in the multivalent and polyvalent (and Hydra-headed) campaign to erase the infamy of ‘white middle class society and culture’. With results so inescapably obvious now. And We now have to add ‘male’ to ‘white middle class society and culture’.

He also errs hugely in equating the Boomery college students with the activist labor radicals of his own salad days: “Activists and radicals, on and off our college campuses – people who are committed to change … are products of and rebels against our middle-class society …“ But the campus radicals were not the gritty labor-organizers of the Old Left seeking a better slicing of the pie for adults who were trying to raise families and conduct life with decent wages.

The ‘radicals’ of the Sixties were precisely seeking to get away from ‘the pie’ altogether, abolish it, in favor of a less messy and more ephemeral ‘diet’ of groove and creativity and total freedom and ‘deep thoughts’ achieved through all manner of short-cuts.

In an America of – say – 1970, facing serious new world-wide challenges to its productive primacy, the campus radicals – demonstrating on their own campuses in a sort of in-house be-in – didn’t want to go out and improve productivity through larger and wider sharing of its fruits with the workers, but rather to do away with the workers and the culture they had built and in which, to wax scriptural for a moment, “they lived, moved, and had their being”.

Which – alas – has rather substantially been accomplished.

“Our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class. They have stigmatized it as materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering, brutalized, and corrupt. 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.”

If you substitute ‘male’ or ‘patriarchy’ for ‘middle class’ in that statement, you get an idea of just what the Beltway has been enabling for 40 Biblical years, and you can see where the SO Mania Regime could be sold to the pols as ‘progress’.

You can see where Alinsky, in trying to apply his Approach to the emerging New Left, is running off the rails. From the bread-and-butter economic issues of serious adults trying to get better wages to provide for their families against the long-known difficulties with the capitalist-industrial system, the struggle is now transferred to a far more general, amorphous, and in many ways dubious assault on the entire culture and society. And a profound assault it would have to be.

And this is only (1971) in a period when the Sixties ‘student’ revolution and the Black Power revolution are on the field. Once the agendas of radical-feminism and multiculturalism and so on and so forth have joined their own demands to the fray, the assault intensifies exponentially. And, of course, that includes the SO Mania Regime as one of its showcase and marquis ‘achievements’.

And Alinsky is forced into a combination of conceptual incoherence and duplicity: why ‘ally’ with so rotten a bunch as the middle-class? You are, after all, planning to tear them out, root and branch, and all their alleged pomps and all their alleged works. And why, now, ‘ally’ with ‘males’ and ‘patriarchy’? These elements are not only ‘decadent’ but ‘violent, oppressive, and sexually predatory’ by their very nature.

And surely there is absolutely no space left for a democratic politics. Indeed, a democratic politics would appear to be as debased as the society and culture from which it stems.

And just what ‘change’ can be wrought? What sort of ‘change’ can address ‘decadence’? And how much of all this ‘change’ – or at least the ‘struggle’ for it – can go on simultaneously without wrecking the society and the culture, twisting them to the point where they can no longer support the vital processes of any civilization and civilizing at all?

Worse, Alinsky addresses his organizers as themselves being from the middle-class. Thus, while he is tactically crowing that they should use what they know to go after their “own people”, he ignores the probability – inherent in his assessments – that anyone stemming from an American middle-class (and patriarchal) formative background has to be irretrievably tainted and compromised.

Still a man of the Old Left, though, Alinsky is urging that such an organizer will put away the “infantile dramatics of rejection” (p.185) and instead study the society and culture of his parents with cool analytic detachment, the better to in order to seek “bridges of communication over the gaps, generation, value”.

But still Alinsky, he urges this in order to effect this purely tactical bridge-building in order to “radicalize parts of the middle class”.

But why and how turn to your own purposes (radicalization) so thoroughly rotted a class? Alinsky here is no more On The Level than anything else in his darkling world: he is proposing merely temporary measures to manipulate a target class that is essentially rotten to the core – and how Communistical that sounds.

And you cannot read the material of the SO Mania Regime – the ‘studies’, the Findings, the court Opinions and Decisions and Orders – without getting a heart-strangling sense of the type of Leninist war on a target ‘class’ like the Kulaks (expansively defined as any peasant who owned at least one cow). Crush the Kulaks and it would be Year One of the glorious New Order! Yah.

Alinsky urges that special attention be given to neutralizing or mollifying “the nature of middle-class behavior with its hang-ups over rudeness or aggressive, insulting, profane actions”. After all, aggressive rudeness in the pursuit of ‘change’ is no vice. Come to think of it, NOTHING in the pursuit of ‘change’ is a vice, although this or that manifestation may be a tactical mistake depending on the moment.

But there is no deeper consideration of just why the middle-class might be slow to change. Or dubious of what is being proposed to replace what will be ‘changed’. Or worried that there is really nothing planned to replace what is ‘changed’. In this, Alinsky of the Old Left and the Boomery New Left merge; although Alinsky must betray his Old Left roots to do so – because no serious adult of the 1930s would have embraced the type of ‘revolution’ and ‘change’ demanded by the later 1960s (let alone the 1970s).

But the Boomers knew nothing of the 1930s, when your job suddenly disappeared and there was no way to put food on the table for your family. And they knew nothing of the 1940s, when Americans – especially those overseas – saw what happened when an entire society and culture were deranged and then, along with their supporting infrastructure, destroyed.

The Boomers had grown up with movies and TV and play-dough. And few has the rural farm experience that could have warned them that a dead Goose lays no Eggs, Golden or otherwise.

Perhaps now, in late middle age, the Boomers will come to appreciate the profound reservations that kept the adult generations of their youth from yielding invertebrately to every demand that showed up on the evening news.

But it may be too late – wayyyy too late – to fix things. Or rebuild what has been wrecked.

And in the gender-war mutation, the assault is on ‘patriarchy’ and therefore ‘males’ (and, although it is not considered polite to notice it, any females who don’t buy into the New Order). Victimism, dove-tailing nicely with the most radical of the radical feminist assertions about all sex being in essence rape, simply intensifies this sensibility.

Alinsky says about the lower middle class: “Insecure in this fast-changing world, they cling to illusory fixed points – which are very real to them.” Paging Dr. Alinsky! Dr. Alinsky to Examining One stat! He assumes that ‘change’ is always and utterly good, considers a fast-paced changing world to be utterly good and always to be preferred to less-change or more slowly-paced change.

In the gender-war mutation, such ‘illusory fixed points’ include the Constitution (put together by patriarchal Haves to oppress female Have-Nots) and all the conceptual tools that the Haves control: ‘Reason’, seriousness, tradition, prudence, established principles of any sort, and even ‘common sense’. And, of course, ‘Constitutionality’ – why respect the boundaries set by a document that was a sleazy ploy put together by the patriarchal Haves in the first place? It has to be ‘changed’, and ‘improved’.

And yet such ‘changes’ have come down to a monstrous RE-gression to police-state tactics and practices, to emotion-fueled frenzies, to all the symptoms that the Framers considered beneath the dignity of a free and mature People. Such progress.

Anybody who doesn’t get reely reely good and excited about all that is simply “insecure”. For Alinsky no other assessment of such people is possible; no other assessment will serve his Approach.

Fixed points that are “illusory” … naturally to Alinsky the Change-Minded all steadiness is illusory. Alinsky’s world is one in which a) Nothing Is On The Level and b) one of constant ‘change’. One simply keeps at it, ‘changing’ whatever looks to one as if it needs changing, and that can become a lifelong occupation, a vocation perhaps.

It was a little iffy in itself. When adopted by even more ambitious types (not the Hippies and the Sixties Youth, who never really took the time even to appear to think things through), the organizer-advocate cadres of the Identities of the Seventies, the whole thing mutated and permutated.

The list of ‘fixed points’ that needed to be Deconstructed and done away with grew like kudzu. Americans would be expected to live in a jelly-like world where nothing was solid, anything that was ‘established’ was most likely oppressive, and where all ‘change’ was pure liberation. If you had any doubts, you were merely a ‘backlashing’ Have who didn’t want to share Power.

What humans would become without a solid Trellis to Shape not only the structures and dynamics of society and culture but also the deep reservoir of individual energies would have to be ‘good’, and certainly better than what had been before. If you couldn’t see that, you were simply too far gone and would have to shut up or die off. You certainly didn’t deserve to have your concerns heard in the public forum.

The shift was intended to focus on ‘liberation’ rather than ‘democratic process’; as it had to be, from the revolutionary point of view, because by the very nature of a revolution most people aren’t going to really accept it and will stop it or slow it down if given the chance. They must not be given that chance.

He sees a Senate where “one third are millionaires” – a percentage long since surpassed. Nor, nowadays, has the presence of female pols done anything to reduce the irrationality or potential dangers of unbridled government. Indeed, just the opposite: from the earliest SO Regime in 1990 female politicians have been prime movers. (Which is not to say that women cannot make competent politicians.)

In what must be considered almost schizoid, and an indicator of how tortured his position had become, Alinsky quickly exhorts that the lower-middle class “must be worked with as one would work with the other part of our population – with respect, understanding, and sympathy”.

Alinsky’s Approach is demonstrably and almost necessarily manipulative even of those it seeks to help; it makes tactical alliances that are as permanent as paper, and he has assessed the lower-middles as grossly deficient and the rest of the middles as worse.

And while he has not embraced – has not yet seen – the full corrosive consequence of Identity Politics (he still refers to “our population”) yet he has already laid the groundwork for the divisiveness and manipulation and anti-democratic politics that Identity Politics has come to deploy.

Identity Politics and the cobbling together of tactical alliances: prime elements in the dove-tailing of Left and Right, of ‘science’ and policy and law, of ‘liberation’ and ‘order’; and all of it fueled by liberal infusions of cash, slyly doled out to any group or State that could produce the Correct theories and the highest ‘numbers’.

“To reject them is to lose them by default. They will not shrivel and disappear.” But they were rejected, for all practical purposes. Under the ever-intensifying assaults of ever-increasing demands by this or that Identity, and even more fundamentally by the abandonment of genuine deliberative democratic process and the embrace of revolution by elite imposition.

And in a hell-hot irony, as the dust clouds of the gender-culture wars fogged any long-term vision, the Beltway sought to enhance its own election-accounts by allowing Big Money to do whatever it wanted in exchange for PAC payments , thereby not only undermining Labor and the lower-middles but also – since the problem went unaddressed for so long - the middle-middles and upper-middles as well.

Alinsky saw something of that possible outcome in 1971: “If we don’t win them Wallace or [Agnew or] Nixon will.” In a two-party system, and given that the Dems would in 1972 turn themselves over to all the Alinsky-ite advocate-cadres of the Identities, there was no place for the lower-middles to go.

But Alinsky had convinced himself that he offered only a Technique, and not a philosophy of politics or of human beings (formerly called ‘philosophy of man’). That deftly kept him from having to deal with deep and complex matters he preferred to avoid, but the dynamics set in train by those matters continued to operate, now rendered more difficult by the veil of willful ignorance Alinsky had thrown over them.

The SO Mania Regime has someday to admit to its frakkulent underlying philosophy of man and of governance: if human beings are nothing but slaves to their primal energies, if they are incapable of effectively striving toward their ideals (or if they are so poorly raised that they have no higher ideals), if they are not united far more than they are divided, then only force (as Tito had to exert in postwar Yugoslavia) or cash (in post-Sixties America) or both (the National Nanny-Regulatory State) can unite them. But this is an unstable and shallow ‘unity’ compared to the profound unity of a common human species sharing the simultaneous capability for advancing to the uplands of a moral and social maturity or for stalling in the mud of un-mastered primal energies.

He hopes that even if the lower-middles (those employed-poor workers of his beloved Old Left days) can’t be completely won over, they could at least remain ‘in communication’ so that they could be persuaded not to offer “hard opposition” “as changes take place”.

But since he refused to see just how lethal and fraught the changes of the New Left really were, then he was unable to accurately grasp just how much opposition, and hardly unjustified, those ‘changes’ would ignite. He imagined that the New Left, in cooperation with the Old Left, would merely become a more powerful agent of the type of goals that the Old Left had espoused.

But the Old Left were not revolutionaries and their demands for better pay and working conditions were well within the bounds of what the American system was designed to handle. The New Left, on the other hand, was ‘revolutionary’ in the European sense: it sought not ‘reform’ but erasure, Deconstruction in the service of some cheerible Reconstruction, however much damage had to be imposed to get there. Damage such as the SO Mania Regime.

Indeed, with the assault on the entire concept of Family, the radical –feminist advocate-cadres were demanding an assaultive Deconstruction on one of the fundamental building blocks of Western and even world civilization. THIS was a ‘demand’ that required not only much deliberation but huge prudence, on the part of legislators and Citizenry alike.

In the event, the legislators didn’t want deliberation and prudence, and the Citizenry were deliberately kept in the dark as to just how profoundly fraught the New Order’s prerequisites really were.

Alinsky wanted his organizers to engage in a reformation of people – “people must be reformed” (p.189) – meaning that the organizer had a tactical (if not also a moral) responsibility to give the targeted Have-Nots a working awareness of just what was at stake. His was still an inadequate concept, but compared to the comprehensive deception and destabilizing of the Citizenry’s competence and authority Alinsky seems closer to the Framers than he really is.

Rather than re-forming through persuasion, those who ‘just don’t get it’ will have the New Order imposed on them and they will shut up and like it or … well, there really wasn’t any other alternative. No doubt – as later when the Iraq War was ‘planned’ – it was simply assumed that nobody would stand in the way of elite power.

But humans and their democracies are stubborn things, stubborn as ‘facts’ – or more accurately, stubborn as ‘reality’ – and the elites find themselves now greeted as liberators only by their own choirs and such clients as have had elite bennies ladled upon them by a pandering government.

And the bennie-trough is drying up.

Re-forming people can easily mask what is actually a de-forming. PRO-gress can easily imitate what is actually RE-gression.

And getting the American Citizenry used to Registries and to impossible-to-defend accusations and to all manner of civic debilities – lasting in many cases an entire lifetime … there is absolutely no way any of this can be seen as healthy for the civic competence of The People. Nor will that civic incompetence, once introduced, remain only at the site of its introduction; it will spread like the ocean water into the compartments of the Titanic’s hull until the whole American enterprise – as a civil and democratic society as well as an economy – is dragged down and beneath Time’s waves.

Alinsky makes mention of “the silent majority” – that phrase popularly deployed by Nixon’s administration to give some shape and traction to the vast majority of Americans (who would, 49 States to 1, reject the Dems in the election of 1972).

Americans had enough on their hands trying to keep things together in the Seventies without frightening themselves further by imagining that their own government would embrace a profoundly revolutionary and corrosive and Deconstructive Identity Politics. Who could imagine, after all, that a national government would actually support the Deconstruction of its own society and culture and political ethos? Who could imagine that an American government would do such a thing?

But the Beltway’s gambit – so similar to the latter-day Soviet nomenklatura – was to feather its own nest while pandering to Big Identity for votes and Big Money for cash. The Beltway, in effect, figured that it would survive and could masquerade enough to appear like a government; its members and their clients would carry on, battened on the Golden Eggs that were – witlessly – assumed to be the permanent cosmic birthright of the country.

But masquerading as a government and collecting all the checks accruing thereto wasn’t enough to actually conduct the vital and heavy responsibilities of government. Cartoonish thinking fostered the thought that cartoonish masquerade could be passed off as competent governance, and in that way the skids were greased for a cartoonish fake-government. With consequences that have proven all too real.

The SO Mania Regime has been a significant element in that pandering. And I think its lethality is far more comprehensive and intrusive and assaultive than most folks yet grasp.

Almost pathetically, Alinsky assures the faithful that “the issues of 1972 would be those of 1776, ‘No Taxation Without Representation’”; he wanted to see funds made available so that “members of the lower middle-class can campaign for political office”. The Dems lost 49 States to 1 in 1972, and even after they got rid of Nixon on a charge that – next to Bush-Cheney – looks like child’s-play, they embraced more and more of the Identities’ Deconstructive agenda in 1976, and the lower middle class so much the concern of Alinsky had by then become the rabid pool of every Identity’s boogeyman: white, male, oppressive, patriarchal, back-lashing, lumpish, bigoted and obstructive to any and all ‘change’.

He spends his last pages taking accurate aim at “the Pentagon”. But in the event, the New Left made common-cause with the Pentagoons (for significant consideration) and by Clinton’s time was eagerly demanding that as the Beltway had imposed ‘change’ on the American population, the military could do so on selected targets among the rest of the world’s populations. A project which the Bush-Cheney Mad Hatters considered a most useful and attractive Tea Party indeed.

Part of that ‘change’ has been the SO Mania Regime, even if Alinsky could never have imagined it (and perhaps as a man of the Old Left of the 1930s would have been repelled by it).

On his final page he insists that what he is proposing is merely “Part 2” of “the American revolution”. He clearly doesn’t understand the difference between the European approach to revolution (exemplified so luridly by his own Approach with its Marxist-Leninist conceptual heritage) and the American approach to revolution (exemplified by Washington and Franklin and pretty much the same major players who constructed the Constitution to ground the gains of their hard-won independence).

The So Mania Regime is certainly more in the ‘European’ approach to revolution and change than to the American approach as formulated by the Framers. Thus any student of 20th century European and Asian history will recognize the police-state tactics and the hellhot darkness of the assumptions underlying those tactics.

He does this, I think, in order to give his otherwise ‘valueless’ and ‘un-dogmatic’ Technique and Approach the validity and the robust allure of a genuine vocation: “the human cry of the second revolution is for a meaning, a purpose for life … literally a revolution of the soul”

As if the first revolution (1776, buttressed by 1787) offered no meaning and purpose; as if all the American generations prior to the New Left had lived their lives and made their achievements – large and small – without a sense of meaning or purpose and without a soul.

This is the type of exaggerated mega-hype that not only deluded the cadres but also demeaned everybody but the Boomers themselves.

And I would say, deluded Alinsky himself.

That concludes my look at him.

Trying to offer his Old Left organizing techniques as ‘relevant’ to the New Left, hoping to sidestep the yawning voids that separated the two Lefts by soft-selling his Approach as merely a Technique with “no dogmatic assumptions”, he embarked on a task that was deceitful and impossible from the get-go. But in stretching as far as his own temperament and imagination could manage, he wound up offering a rich trove of manipulative and deceitful tactical advice to those who were indeed revolutionaries, anti-democratic and illiberal and dismissive of any deliberative political ethos in their arrogant assurance that they ‘got it’ and everybody else in the country ‘just didn’t get it’.

The results are with Us now. And they will remain with Us for a long time to come.

What then are We to do with him now?

He has had such a profound influence on the development and conduct of Identity Politics that he cannot simply be considered as being of ‘historical’ interest. His reductionist and Flat and negative view of humans and human affairs; his dismissal of any reliable efficacy residing in human ideals and the human ability to self-correct through rational means; his consequent dismissal of the dynamics of a genuine deliberative democratic politics; his darkling paradigm of suspicion that leads to a form of nihilism in the context of those politics; the poisonous fruit of his abiding dysphoric suspicion in the eternal ‘war politics’ of Have vs. Have-Not (however the definitions of those terms are expanded); his abiding refusal to look fully and deeply into the motivating dynamics of his Approach nor entertain the hardly negligible consequences of certainties; his cartoonish conception of humans and their strivings and their political affairs … all of these are active today and indeed have contributed to the stunningly incompetent state of American politics.

None of this can be ignored. (Whether the damage to the American Framing Vision and ethos can be sufficiently repaired is another question, no less vital.)

And you can apply all of this to the grounds of the SO Mania Regime and the tactics that went into establishing it.

But I think a first step is to open to wide public awareness and discussion the many questions and problems inherent in his Approach and Technique. This was not ever done in the past 40 years, and in fact there are now generations of Citizens and even cadres of Identities who do not realize the full history and implications of his influence decades ago.

If We don’t look more carefully at this still-operative layer of frakkery, We shall be condemned not so much to repeat History (although that will be bad enough) but also to keep repeating and applying Alinsky.

And I don’t think the American polity can take much more of THAT before it mutates beyond any effective deliberative democratic ethos and regresses into something from which, once upon a time, America had been raised up and – in the best sense of the word – saved.

I have added a lot of recent history into this Post. I do not do it in order to inject ‘politics’ into the discussion but rather to show just how the SO Mania Regime is not only grounded in but an outgrowth of many fraught strands in American society as things went along since the Sixties. The Regime is many things, but as I have said before, it is no accident.


*My copy is the paperback Vintage Books/Random House edition that reprints the original 1971 edition. The ISBN is 0-679-72113-4. All my quotations and page references will be taken from this edition.

**In a hellhot and hugely under-noted irony, the Sixties phase of the feminist programme was given its first entrée into federal law not – wait for it – through any process of extended and careful deliberative legislative (let along public) process, but rather as a shrewd legislative tactic by an elderly but powerful pol in the House, Chairman of the Rules Committee Howard W. Smith, D-VA, who would end his career in 1966.

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reflected the wide-spread public and national attention to the matter of Black (or, then, Negro) civil rights, and although the Bill received much attention in Committee, Smith waited until the Bill was on the floor (therefore before the entire House) where he suddenly introduced the insertion of the word “sex” as a category alongside “race” to which the Bill would apply. Additionally, the vote on the Bill was tallied by teller vote: each Member selected one of 3 colored cards (Yea, Nay, Present) and then the cards were put in separate piles and counted. No names were involved – thus shielding Members from responsibility.

While there is debate among students of these matters as to Smith’s intentions (to support feminism, to kill the bill, to embarrass Northern Democrats who feared (perhaps prophetically) that such an extension would endanger jobs and reduce productivity), there is no doubt whatsoever that Smith’s sly sleaze provided the launch vehicle by which Sixties-and-subsequent Feminism became a fait accompli in national policy and law with pretty much NO DEMOCRATIC DELIBERATIVE PROCESS WHATSOEVER.

In the Alinsky-ite Approach, although he never considered that high-ranking and powerful legislators would actually out-Alinsky the Alinsky-ite cadres and organizers themselves, the maxim that Nothing Is On The Level received stupendous justification.

In terms of democratic process one of the largest, most dubious or at least questionable, and most potentially consequential changes in national law and policy ever introduced into the polity, was effected by sidestepping substantial deliberative scrutiny by the public or its elected representatives.

At least on that score, Alinsky would be impressed.

From the point of view of the SO Mania Regime this bit of history – probably not forgotten inside the Beltway – is tremendously relevant. So many of the enabling laws have been ‘snuck into’ the public consciousness by legislative backers who sought to stifle legislative debate and legislators’ doubts and reservations and concerns. As well as by launching a well-coordinated campaign designed to manipulate public opinion with selective mis- and dis-information and by stoking public fear with the most luridly constructed images and spins.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I continue with an SO-specific look at Saul Alinsky’s 1971 book “Rules for Radicals”*. There is a corresponding Post on my other site here.

As I’d said, the Master Post for this 8th installment contains a discussion with all the page quotations, and you can access it here.

In this Post I will simply deal with the SO-relevant material.

His seventh chapter is entitled “Tactics”, a nice military approach.

The historical quotation that leads off the chapter is from Hannibal, referring not to some backwoods 19th century American politico but to the Carthaginian general who inflicted upon the Roman Republic its worst-ever defeat at Cannae: “We will either find a way or make one”.

It’s a tad ironic since in actual history, Hannibal did not go on to attack the City of Rome itself, after he had destroyed the legions that stood in his way and had an unopposed path.

Once again, the ‘war’ mentality is evident in Alinsky. And – even if he claims he’s only offering a ‘technique’ here – it’s a technique that will allow no bounds to what it will do to ‘win’. Truth or reality don’t constitute major obstacles; nor, as We saw in his previous chapter, does Respect, even for those who have been selected for the benefit of being ‘organized’. So if you are in a ‘war’ then – as everybody knows – truth becomes the first casualty because the primary objective is to ‘win’ (the American variant is: to righteously defeat your evil enemy who is soooooo bad that anything you need to do is OK).

No wonder neither truth nor the Constitution seem to have had an effect on the pols or on anybody else who has signed-on to this supporting this Regime.

I also wonder just how much you can construct your daily peace-time life on a war-mentality before you sort of get used to ‘war’ and think it’s just a thang.

And again I point out how much of ‘war’ there is in Alinsky, and his ‘war politics’ and now his ‘war tactics’. This entire thrust is hugely dangerous when applied not only to a deliberative democratic politics but to a Constitutionally-bound criminal law.

Yet the allure of being part of a ‘war’ is stunningly seductive. Thus not only Left and Right but the average person can find at least the appearances of some sense of ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in waging or supporting such a ‘war’. And this is especially true when you have manufactured the ‘sex offender’ as almost the perfect ‘enemy’ or even ‘enemy of the people’. In a way you combine the most powerful attractions and seductions of both the vampire movie and the war movie.

He defines ‘tactics’ as “doing what you can with what you have” although We have seen that you can also ‘create’ what you don’t have, and that what you don’t have may include some vitally substantial philosophical underpinnings. Which is precisely what was done in the manufacture of the SO Mania Regime.

All of his advice flows from his conviction that “power has always derived from two main sources: money and people”. And since the Haves are the only ones with money, then the Have-Nots have to rely on “people”.

Logical enough on its own terms. But then, since “people” are so important to what you want to accomplish (and the So Mania Regime’s various backers have a lot that they wanted to ‘accomplish’) then you have to manipulate your ‘people’ since they don’t always know what’s good for them.

He has some “rules of power tactics”.

His first rule of power tactics is to Consider the parts of your face, he instructs. Take the eyes: “if you have organized a vast, mass-based people’s organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power”.

On the other hand, consider the ears: if you don’t really have many folks, then use the example of Gideon: “conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does”.

Alinsky has worked on both ends of the Regime. First, the number of genuine supporters is probably far less than anyone realizes (although there are vast numbers who simply ‘agree’ with the Regime on the basis of those frakkulently inaccurate legislative Findings). Second, the numbers of ‘sex offenders’ have been hugely inflated by vague and elastic definitions, inaccurate registrations, and the ‘technical violations’ of the AWA system.

I can’t help but think that THIS has been the one more often deployed as if it were a form of democratic and deliberative consensus-based politics. And of course, in modern ‘advocacy’ such “din and clamor” consists of shrewdly selected or perhaps manufactured ‘incidents’ of ‘outrage’ and ‘oppression’ and ‘pain’. Rather than get whole bunches of people together demonstrating (since you usually don’t have that many) then you can focus politics instead on the full-face close-up camera shot of this or that (and alleged) ‘victim’.

Mark Rudd, the leader of the student demonstrators at the Columbia University building take-overs of 1968 and later founder of the Weathermen in 1969, some years later acknowledged that “we manufactured the issues”, which led him – logically, from his point of view – to assert that “the issue is not the issue”. What he meant was that the manufactured ‘issue’ was simply the pretext upon which you could whip up a ‘critical mass’ of demonstrators who would somehow apply ‘pressure’ that would somehow result in Year One of the Great New Age.

The media can (and did and do) help by providing the cameras. And in the event that you do scrape up some folks for a demonstration in the bright light of day, the media can (and do) help by not wishing to appear insensitive and actually showing any shots that would reveal the size of your whole (small) set-up. Instead if you have 20 people the camera will tight-focus on that 20 as if it were a shot of merely a fraction of the folks you’d like everybody in the viewing audience to think were really there.

Surely this advice was followed in the manufacture of the SO Mania Regime. Selected ‘victims’ and horror-stories about them were used to inflame public imagination about ‘sex offenders’, backed up by the speculations or downright untrue ‘Findings’ made by legislators.

After a couple-three decades of this sort of thing, the public isn’t going to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood, reality and illusion.

And finally Alinsky looks at the nose: “If your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place”. Which if you think about it must have been the operating principle (though not widely publicized to those who ‘just don’t get it’) for inciting the ‘emergency’ and the Stampede that lubricated the SO Mania Regime. Selective information, mis-information, dis-information, inflated numbers, truly inaccurate and perhaps dishonest science, and legislators misusing their authority and office … all in order to cobble together a monstrosity that in one way or another would serve each and all of their self-interested purposes.

Alinsky’s second rule of power tactics is “Never go outside the experience of your people”. Which is shrewd enough.

So you bring the ‘sex offender’ INTO their experience: he’s everywhere, he can assume the shape of a ‘normal’ person or revert to his basic monstrousness, he wants your children, he lives in your community or he’s going to move into it.

Alinsky’s third rule of power tactics: “Wherever possible go outside the experience of your enemy”. Again with the military and war imagery, where – granted – it is indeed a sage operational maxim.

And nicely, Alinsky uses an extended example from William Tecumseh Sherman’s March Through Georgia.

What attracts him about Sherman’s strategy – and it is an impressive point, from the viewpoint of military thinking – is that Sherman refused to let his force take a Shape: cutting himself off from the classic invading-army Shape that included (vulnerable) supply lines and telegraph lines back to some base camp in Union territory, Sherman simply cut loose and marched along, pursuing a line of march that offered no clue as to his next ‘objective’. The Southern defenders had no way of formulating a defensive response because they really couldn’t figure out what he was up to (his intention, marvelously, was not to fight IN Georgia but to march THROUGH Georgia).

Shapelessness works! IF, however, it is wielded by a tremendously gifted and competent military commander within the context of a much larger Plan and – not to put too fine a point on it – Shape. Temporary and purposeful Shapelessness is what Sherman wielded, and since this was the first time it had been tried in the American setting, it worked that much better. And throughout the whole campaign in Georgia, Sherman’s army itself maintained a superb Shape: as a coherent and cohesive military force and instrument it remained capable and instantly responsive to his commands.

So Alinsky’s insight here is hugely fraught.

He is not conducting – or shouldn’t be – a military operation of deliberate deception in the service of Assault. He is proposing a Method of conducting political activity, and within the context of a deliberative democratic politics (although, of course, he considered such a politics to be Not On The Level).

And you can’t expect to manipulate civilians – and indeed a Citizenry – like a military commander commands and manipulates his army. This is a matter of politics. But then, that’s precisely Lenin’s vision: that he needed an ‘army’ of dedicated vanguard cadres to take his orders and impose Shape on ‘the masses’, who in his vision of the Red Revolution are merely those benighted lumps who never functioned as more than the ‘necessary cattle’ witlessly munching the grass. (And then came Stalin …)

Alinsky adds another example from Patton’s Third Army sweeping around the increasingly decrepit German armies in France, but enough.

The point here is the danger of the ‘war-mentality’, especially the Righteous War Mentality, among the Regime’s supporters who have ‘organized’ this thing and sustain it.

But with that goes the reality that the Regime is not simply some bumbling – shockingly bumbling – that was put together higgledy-piggledy in well-intentioned haste. It bears the marks of much ‘strategic’ thinking: it is a tightly-knit and shrewdly constructed iron net, impervious to reason, truth, or the Constitutional ethos. It may have been a huge and lethal mistake, but it was no accident.

His fourth rule of power tactics is to “make them live up to their own rules”. (p.128) “You can kill them with this”, he gloats, “because they no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity”.

Oy and frak.

Who can ever completely live up to their own rules perfectly? What human or human organization? I am NOT here justifying government’s breaking their own laws, but simply pointing out that the unspoken assumption here is that Alinsky’s cadres, cut free from any morality or ethics since they are fighting the genuine Evil of the oppressive Haves, are bound by no rules at all (except his tactical advices).

And note that shrewd elision of a deliberate flouting of one’s own rules, on the one hand, and on the other hand the “Christian church” (he may mean ‘religion’ rather than ‘church’ here) being unable to ever fully fulfill its ideals.

There is, as I have said in previous Posts, that stubborn Incompleteness to all things human: humans are somehow not ‘complete’ in the sense that what they envision as their personal and societal Ideal can never fully be realized; there are failures-to- fulfill and they seem built into the human thing.

Some philosophies – the Eastern ones especially – and even some versions of Christianity – German pietism, for example – respond to this reality by advocating a complete withdrawal from ‘the world’ and from large human affairs.

Other philosophies suggest the imposition of ‘order’ by a government – Hobbes and his Leviathan, for example.

And others suggest that humans must make their best efforts, continuously and deliberately, to try to bring their personal and societal Ideal into actuality – the Framers and the Christian (certainly the Catholic) approach.

But Alinsky chooses the route that winds back at least to Machiavelli and up through the European revolutionary tradition: since nothing can ever be Ideal then there is no Ideal and anything goes. (He makes here the same mistake as the six blind men encountering the elephant in the ancient Eastern story: since there are so many differing and opposed ‘takes’ on the shape of the elephant, then the elephant clearly does not exist. Which is illogical and hugely inaccurate. Or perhaps you can go with the Postmodern Approach: the elephant is merely a ‘text’ for the reader to do with as s/he finds most useful.)

And I can’t ignore the bald and stunning statement “you can kill them with this”. The man is talking about a nation’s politics, for God’s sake.

In the SO Mania Regime, the ‘Sex Offender’ (not necessarily as an actual convictee but as a conceptual construct) is made to take full responsibility for failure or incompleteness, while everyone else (‘normal’ and ‘decent’ in the schematic) can escape from their own failures and incompleteness and take consolation from the fact that they are not ‘sex offenders’ and never will be (well … nobody can be sure of that last part; the ‘definition’ is elastic, after all).

His fifth rule of power tactics, which he claims is contained within the fourth, is: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon”. In a politics of Deconstruction – where the cadres of the assorted advocacies are deliberately seeking to ‘de-valorize’ the established truths, Ideals, structures and beliefs of an entire society and culture – this bit of advice takes its toxic place. Generations of Americans have now been raised within a Zeitgeist redolent with the assorted anti-Western, anti-Adult, anti-whatever ridicule of radical feminism (it’s all just patriarchy and sooo ‘male’), multiculturalism (it’s all just ‘white’ and that’s not worth your respect), it’s all just ‘old’ (and therefore must be ‘changed’), and you name it.

This rule wouldn’t work in the Stampede game. Ridicule has been replaced by Monstrousness. SOs are ‘monsters’ – thus you don’t weaken their ‘power’ by laughing at them but by ‘warring’ upon them through the criminal law (neatly masquerading as ‘regulatory and administrative’ measures and a form of public service).

His sixth rule of power tactics is that “a good tactic is one your people enjoy”. No reason why you can’t have fun while you’re doing all this. And what folks ‘enjoy’ they won’t bother to question, neatly. Assaultive deconstruction can be FUN! AND you get to be ‘cutting edge’ and very ‘with it’ and prove that you ‘get it’ by grabbing an axe and having a whack at it yourself. You can’t imagine this stuff – so widely characteristic of the decades of the 70s, 80s, and 90s without queasy recall of Nazi efforts to get the German people to join in the exhilaration of the Regime’s frakkulence, either by joining in or at least by standing by and cheering and Heil-ing as brownshirts and fellow (and sister) citizens descended into animality, barbarism, and Hitler’s nationalistic version of neo-paganism. Such progress.

There is a lethal allure, a seductiveness, to ‘being the Good guy’, and this is especially so when you can come up with a vivid and lurid ‘Bad guy’ who a) makes you look even more Good and b) is sooo Bad that you can do ANYTHING you want to him and still be Good … or even more Good than you are now.

The seduction of violence and mayhem simultaneously seduced and increased-the-numbers of many many ‘demonstrators’ and students back in the late Sixties. It was hard to tell how many were dedicated to some principle or goal, and how many were just there to enjoy the chance to wreck and wrack.

There is a profound violence inherent in the SO Mania Regime. It is a seductive trap that has already led authorities as well as (deliberately?) ill-informed citizens far down a dangerous road.

His seventh rule of power tactics is that “a tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag”. Hence the need to be constantly coming up with new tactics, new issues, new ‘outrages’. The frakkulent effects of a society’s being continuously and constantly bombarded with an unending stream of such ‘news’ is bound to become demoralized. And its politics will become demoralized. And folks will simply give up on the society and the culture, hope to make a few bucks, and pull up the drawbridge behind them.

The effects of this advice on the SO Mania Regime are clear. The ‘excitement’ of ‘escalating’ combines with the seductive allure of ‘being the Good guy’ while the incessant reports of ‘new’ variants of the Problem that require new and even more invasive laws … it’s a powerful Kool-Aid cocktail.

What you want to avoid, intones Alinsky, is your organizing and your cause turning into “a ritualistic commitment” (p.128) just like “going to Church on Sunday mornings”.

He’s onto something here. But mostly not. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and pastor who was executed by the Nazis for leading a theologically-based resistance to their regime, was also opposed to ‘the religious man’, by which he meant a person for whom ‘religion’ had merely become a set of social customs, uninformed and un-Shaped by the Gospel demands of Christ. It was for that reason that Bonhoeffer proposed a “religionless Christianity”, by which he meant only that Christianity must be based in an active faith that engaged the entire life of the believer – the Christian ‘Ideal’ you might say.

Bonhoeffer saw how the truly and genuinely ‘spiritual’ can be lost in the dust and noise of daily events – individually and societally – and thus be reduced to a shell of its true authority and redemptive power. But this has always been the challenge of any belief-system (Alinsky’s included): that its adherents lose their ‘edge’ and become dulled to routines of activity rather than living an active life grounded in belief.

Alinsky chooses – as really he must – to define Christianity (as so many other things as well) by its weakness rather than by its strength and the well-established potential of its approach. Which was a dynamic that dovetailed perfectly with the ‘politics of Deconstruction’ as one after another Identity after 1972 sought to do away with any abiding public sense of the value of Large Things and Unseen Things.

This was a recipe for human catastrophe, because humans need to believe and will raise up (as Moses found with Aaron’s Golden Calf) whatever is available as an object of belief. Hence the need – from Christianity’s point of view – to provide an abiding object of belief that would bring humans to a Larger and more Genuine Sense of itself. Otherwise, anybody enterprising and skilled enough would raise up a Golden Calf and offer it as a compelling object of belief.

Bonhoeffer saw the Nazi State as doing precisely this, as Hitler very much intended and as Mussolini pithily described: “nothing outside the State, nothing above the State, nothing against the State”. Given the government-and-State-dependent polity of the National Nanny State envisioned by the cadres of the assorted Identities here, you can see just how America would start heading down this road, in substance if not in ‘spin’.

Alinsky’s eighth rule of power tactics: “Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose”. And here you have the unending series of ‘crises’ and ‘outrages’ discussed above, and how – with the help of a shallow media ‘reporting’ – every element of national life is claimed to be either infected or complicit in the great disease of ‘oppression’ and must henceforth be ‘changed’ forthwith. The SO Mania Regime is clearly following the gameplan.

His ninth rule of power tactics: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself”. Curiously, he offers no discussion here and moves on directly to number 10. I think I can understand why. What he’s implying here, and doesn’t want to get into, is that a good organizer has to make any instance of his/her selected ‘oppression’ seem as awful and terrible and ominous as possible. Selectivity, exaggeration, illogic, and the indispensable help of a media that doesn’t get beneath the appearances you have cagily manufactured and the ‘scenario’ you have carefully assembled for the cameras … all of this is what he advises.

The consequences of a wide, deep, and unremitting stream of such ‘news’ cannot be good: the Citizenry and thus The People become not only misinformed but also, after a while, incompetent to distinguish reality from ‘spin’, substance from appearance. And on top of that fatal consequence, public policies are erected and imposed – on the authority of The People – that are most surely not in the interest of the common-weal and are indeed not in contact with truth or reality.

And can you say ‘Iraq War’? But as I have been saying, long before the Bush-Cheney neocon imperium deployed this bit of advice, the American people had already been drugged into incompetence by the heady media cocktails of a dozen busy Identities and their advocating cadres.

And in order to maintain the illusion that this or that Advocacy’s Emperor (or Empress) has no clothes on then politics must devolve from The People to this or that ‘base’, which is comprised only of those true believers – those who ‘get it’ – who are sure they can see the ‘clothes’. This is a recipe for a Balkanization and fracturing of American politics, so that now the Beltway finds itself in Marshall Tito’s position in the former Yugoslavia: given irreconcilable differences among the many ‘identities’ that comprised the polity, only force applied by the (increasingly-nominal) central government can hold the polity together. But in this country, with enough of the Constitutional Ethos still intact, the Beltway chose to ‘buy’ the loyalty of its irreconcilable fractals, using huge amounts of ‘wealth’ (a wealth that was itself increasingly illusory).

And in the SO Mania Regime you wind up with a ‘base’ that is an amalgam of Left and Right, victimology-types and law-and-order types, advocates and entrepreneurs, all of whom now have at least a triple-interlocked web of motivation for keeping the thing going: to do something Good, to keep the job going, and - as the Aura of Pure Goodness starts to wear thin – to prevent the Citizenry from starting to see what’s really been going on and what has been done on their authority.

It is also a recipe for an intensifying civic Incompetence on the part of the Citizenry and The People and of the national politics. Immature and cartoonish thinking, not at all incompatible with an emotion-based, ‘non-male’ mode of ‘sensitive intuition’ and reliance on ‘personal stories’ become the only basis of political action and national policy.

What will happen now that the central government’s supply of usable cash is dwindling and can’t be increased without destabilizing the currency itself (especially in the eyes of the international community of nations) … what will happen to the American polity as the cash dries up is anybody’s guess.

He quickly proceeds to his tenth rule of power tactics: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition”. Again, this is a politics of Assault – upon the very competence of the Citizenry to comprehend their own public affairs and to judge what then might be most workable for the common-weal.

The pressure of incessant streams of ‘reports’ and ‘studies’ – especially by those who think that you can be a ‘scientist’ and an ‘advocate-cadre’ at the same time – fueled the SO Mania Regime.

Alinsky’s eleventh rule of power tactics is that “if you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter-side”. Curiously for someone with pretensions to a military-type textbook approach, he offers as his commentary on this point only a bit of gobbledygook: “this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative”.

I think what he means is that if you push hard and deep enough, you will force a reaction that may appear negative to your interests in the beginning (as your ‘enemy’ succeeds in countering you) but that then that reaction may morph into something positive to your interests (as your enemy oversteps himself). Which is neither an inaccurate nor an unheard-of military thought, but hardly prime strategy.

And it’s curious that he doesn’t say what he means more clearly. Perhaps he’s trying to maintain some of the aura of mysticism or profundity. Although if you’re only writing up a ‘technique’, why would you bother with something like that?

And there’s no guarantee that a counter-reaction “will” perform as expected; that’s a best-case scenario.

But I wonder if something like this wasn’t pressed on Beltway pols once those worthies revealed themselves as receptive as the SO Mania Regime got started up: if you keep trying our plan, no matter how ill-advised or imprudent or whackulous it looks right now, then sooner or later you’re going to break through to the other side and it will all look very good and you pols will look like true visionary leaders and statesmen (or statespersons). It sounds ridiculous, I know – but given what We have seen of the Beltway-advocacies ballet, is it too ridiculous to be possible? I’d say it’s not only a possible explanation but a probable one.

“In a fight”, intones Alinsky, “almost anything goes”. Well, maybe so (although look what’s happened in the GWOT and in Iraq and Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib and Gitmo). And the SO Mania Regime.

But again, this country is a democratic deliberative polity, not a military operation.

His twelfth rule of power tactics is that “the price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative”. And to explain this Alinsky immediately and simply states that “you cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand” and saying to you that you were right and please tell us how to fix this.

And he moves on.

I can’t quite make this out as it is written. As best I can figure, he means that you should have a plan to fix the problem, but then wouldn’t your ‘demand’ have pretty much covered that? Or were you simply going to make a ‘demand’ that was really only a ‘complaint’ and hope that the ‘enemy’ would make a fool of himself trying to come up with a placating ‘solution’ that you could then make fun of or disregard or disparage? Or perhaps by simply complaining loudly enough, the ‘enemy’ (being the Beltway pols - in the very beginning anyway – or the public or some such entity theoretically also a part of the American commonwealth) will be so eager to give in to your ‘demand-complaint’ that he will give you more than you might have dared to ask for yourself.

This then would be a variant of the infantile manipulation whereby you scream long and loud enough and your parents – if they are of that nature – will give you whatever you want and more just for some peace and quiet. (Of course then - and the comparison with Hitler’s Modus Operandi in the mid-late 1930s comes to mind – you have no intention of allowing any such further peace and quiet and after a short interval start right up again in order to collect the next round’s tribute.)

In the SO Mania Regime it means. I think, that the advocates cannot permit a too-quick acceptance of initial demands, since Alinsky-ite doctrine requires a whole follow-on sequence of demands. A too-easy acceptance will undermine the fuel for a long-running programme. And the programme has run 20 years already. It has had such a long run because pols were actually threatened by the increasingly immature politics that they themselves were seeking to induce; by that I mean especially the cartoonish, immature thought-process of Either-Or: you’re either for the Regime or you’re for the sex-offenders.

Yet Alinsky is capable of an attention-getting candor when he feels like it. His thirteenth bit of advice is “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”. Imagine here that the cadres of Identity Politics and all the other follow-on excitements kept this maxim on a handy wallet-size card. What would ‘politics’ look like after a couple-three decades of THAT?

I can’t not-think of that all-purpose mantra ‘the personal is political’, which apparently would include ‘polarization’ – which, by amazing coincidence, is one of the profound problems that recent commentators are suddenly realizing now bethumps so lethally American politics. We are ‘polarized’.

Yes, and it was part of the plan all along. Except that none of the Lefty whiz-kids, those gimlet-eyed cadres of Progress, imagined that anything would go wrong between the conception of their dampdream and its Best-Case-Scenario fulfillment. Sorta like the imperial whiz-kids of the Bush-Cheney imperium as they planned to be “greeted as liberators” in the “cakewalk” that would be the invasion of Iraq.

To the extent that We have been told to greet the cadres of change as liberators, then all of Us are Iraqis and sex-offenders now. And have been for quite some time.

But Alinsky is ready to quote some Scripture at you. “He that is not with me is against me” said Jesus. True enough, but that was an observation, not the coded Go-Word for a concerted plan of assault. Indeed, the same Person also pointed out that God prefers to let the tares grow up with the wheat until the harvest – and if THAT Scriptural bit is accepted as Gospel (so to speak) then no revolution would ever get off the ground. Imagine the look on Alinsky’s face if you were to propose to him that the Haves must be allowed to grow in the field with the Have-Nots until the Master of the Harvest comes and conducts His own winnowing. Like the devil dropping in on a cogitating Luther, you might find an inkwell thrown at your head.

Alas, Alinsky has been doing some ciphering. A leader struggle with his/her assessment that a “situation” is 52 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable, “but once the decision is reached he must assume that his cause is 100 percent positive and the opposition 100 percent negative”.

I can only wonder what effect THIS has had on pols, advocate-cadres, and all the assorted elements of the Regime.

This type of math is NOT capable of sustaining a deliberative democratic politics. The whole idea with such a politics is that you try to reach a consensus and that you therefore are open to the complexities among various views and ideas which are built into the whole project of forging a plan that will attract a consensus. Once you have gone to ‘war-mode’ then, as is famously said, truth is going to be the first casualty. Or, as is also famously said, ‘facts don’t matter’. Or, in the old Central European maxim: once the war flag is unfurled, all truth is in the trumpet. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much the theory of ‘revolutionary truth’: once the revolution is on, then ‘the revolution’ is the only arbiter of what is true and what isn’t. As Goering said: “Truth is what the Party decides is good for the German Volk”.

And with truth goes any sense of reality. And the Shape and boundaries that reality-based thinking imposes.
And in a bit of advice that surely was not lost on the whiz-kids of the Bush-Cheney neocon imperium, Alinsky then goes on to quote the Bard: that bit of Hamlet’s about “the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”. Precisely what the neocons – and the cadres of the Left before them – wanted everybody to think. ‘Thinking’ is masculine, abstract, patriarchal and so ‘feeling’ is better. And only girly-men ‘think’; real men ‘act’ – from the gut (or thereabouts).

Phooey. Phooey and baloney.

Without the competence to deploy a serious and engaged capacity to assess and deliberate – which is the core of genuine ‘thinking’ – no genuine and robust deliberative politics can long survive. And, by amazing coincidence, it hasn’t.

It is “political idiocy”, Alinsky asserts, to come up with a problem and then grant that there is ‘another side’ to it. He’s wrong here: it is not political idiocy, it is idiocy in the eyes of any revolution. It is the essence of a revolution that the only reality and the only truth and the only good is that which furthers the objectives of the revolution. And if not, not.

Anyone who has tried to present a case for the dangerous potentials of this Regime may now understand part of the reason why it seems the most intelligent officials so intransigently continue to embrace and sustain it.

So while no revolutionary politics can ever truly accept that there is ever ‘another side’ to whatever it wants to get rid of, yet every democratic politics must accept that probability if it is to conduct a legitimate and accurate assessment as to what might be done.

But Alinsky is going to go with deliberate “polarization” – that there is not and cannot be any ‘other side’ once you have committed to your ‘war’.

But now no amount of Kool-Aid, no matter how artfully a batch is mixed up, can cushion or obscure the consequences of what has happened.

Sobriety is going to be a very painful thing indeed. But after a binge like Ours over the past 40 years, what else could you expect.

(There will be one more Post in this Alinsky mini-series, on his concluding chapter entitled “The Way Ahead”, wherein he shares his thoughts on what needs to be done starting in 1972.)


*My copy is the paperback Vintage Books/Random House edition that reprints the original 1971 edition. The ISBN is 0-679-72113-4. All my quotations and page references will be taken from this edition.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This piece caught my attention since it exemplifies how vague and elastic diagnoses can become the site of entrepreneurial activity by ‘therapists’ and ‘experts’.

As is my method, I’ll simply go through the article picking out SO-relevant elements.

The therapist apparently received her basic professional training in marriage and family therapy. In 1997 she began advertising herself as a ‘sex addiction’ therapist. It’s not clear if she came directly from her training in marriage-and-family and decided for whatever reasons to set up in sex-addiction instead, or whether she had practiced in her specialty (not to be taken in the far more extensive sense used in describing doctors’ specialties) before, for whatever reasons, she decided to expand into the sex-addiction work.”For-profit” , by the way.

But at this point she has expanded her operation into a full-blown corporate business.

“Celebrities have been the greatest evangelists for treatment” she says, and her practice wouldn’t exist without them. And THAT is a revealing comment. There’s something disturbing and dangerous about blending the ‘evangelistic’ (not to say the ‘religious’) and the professional therapeutic.

‘Evangelism’ as it is used here bears the weight of hucksterism, that type of Elmer-Gantry self-assured confidence-man ‘ministry’ that cockily led to a false paradise those who were weak and gullible enough to jump onto the bandwagon.

This for-profit type of enterprise is “booming” now, thanks to the well-publicized troubles of various celebrity figures. Americans, it seems to me, are becoming increasingly susceptible to all manner of these frenzies. In large part, I would say, because they are growing up now with no sense of Mastery of themselves, no knowledge, and no genuine sense of Meaning, Purpose, direction, or perhaps even of an abiding ‘Self’ beyond whatever vitality can be dissipated into consumer-addled and primal-instinct-driven skittering along the hard surfaces of life’s appearances like fat globules on the surface of a hot iron skillet.

Americans have always been predisposed to some amount of this sort of thing, but there had always been some level of cultural, societal, and religious organization that could provide a supportive exo-skeleton or Trellis to help the energetic but undirected human vine achieve some sort of Shape, as individuals and as a cohesive social group. But the past few decades of sustained targeted ‘deconstruction’ of culture, society, and religion has profoundly weakened all of those ‘old’ supports.

And all that exists before the crystallization of forces and ‘interests’ under the ‘pressure’ of which legislators, jurists, prosecutors and law enforcement, ‘therapists’ and assorted ‘experts’ have all been cut in for a share of the action in a Mania that yet reveals a diabolically shrewd distribution of the many dollars the Beltway has made available. In a way it reminds me of the Cold War Pentagon strategy of military production: spread it out over as many States and electoral districts as possible to create the widest possible ‘support’ and ‘interest’ in Congress .

And all this has provided a lot of folks – ‘challenged’ in such competencies as relationships, self-mastery, and dealing with complexity, unpleasantness, and unhappiness – with a whole new arena for creating some excitement, movement, even – however falsely – direction in their days. Because ‘sex addiction’ “has led a growing number of Americans to conclude that they – or in many cases their spouses – needed treatment”.

There was a time when ‘you need to get your head examined’ was just an everyday barb tossed out, jokingly or in the middle of an argument. Now it is a magic coin that will play the interlocked juke-boxes of Law, Media, and Medicine (well, ‘therapy’ anyway).

AND all this despite the fact that “sex addiction [is] a controversial diagnosis not recognized by the medical establishment”. Come to think of it, neither is “sex offender”.

But it’s all led to “an increasing demand for services and the potential money to be made”. Now here you have a dubious diagnosis, a whole lotta people who through ‘empowerment’ feel authorized to be making some significant charges, and a whole bunch of licensed persons who stand to make a great deal of money by taking whatever is pushed toward them verrrry seriously.

THAT sounds disturbingly familiar.

As a result of recent corporate maneuvering you will soon be able, if you wish, to get yourself signed into a deluxe residential program at a treatment center that may resemble nothing so much as a 4-star resort, or you can sign up for a two-week outpatient program if you can’t afford the 4-star route. And there will be a national network of these things, so anybody who cares to sign up – or get somebody else signed up – won’t have too far to drive.

According to the entrepreneur-in-chief, “you have a backlog of people who need this treatment”. Of course.

But the article’s author is respectably skeptical: she points out that “just how many people are seeking treatment is unclear”. Still, that’s not going to help if this becomes a craze and there are more than enough factors in place for that to happen.

Especially since all this “exponential” expansion is taking place “without the government regulation that exist in drug and alcohol treatment”.

Now this IS a little different from the experience of the SO community, but then again maybe not. In the SO Mania Regime there’s been an awful lot of government involvement – legislation, programs, prosecutions, registrations, and lotsa lotsa shrewdly distributed government cash*.

But then again, although there has been much government involvement, there has been little government ‘regulation’, at least in the sense that any ordinary Citizen might expect: the government will use its bucks to engage the services of competent folks to make sure that services are provided that are accurate, cost-effective, and basically honest. (Government has not been providing THAT kind of regulation very much at all, as the economic situation clearly indicates.) The Mania laws are based on grossly inaccurate Findings, the programs are based on hugely dubious ‘science’ and ‘therapy’, the prosecutions are achieved through hugely dubious legal chicanery, the registrations need no introduction to the SO community, and the only good news is that the cash is running out and the pols are getting kinda twitchy (sorta similar to, I like to think, Italian government functionaries after mid-1943).

This article respectably provides the insights of a Boston psychiatrist, versed in the research of “compulsive sexual behavior”, who notes that there is “serious disagreement in the scientific community over whether humans could be addicted to sex in the same way they could be to alcohol or drugs”.

We are in – who can be surprised? – the murky, swampy, shadowy precincts of Definitions, an area that has been having a hard time of it these past few decades. The formal medical (and ‘scientific’, if you wish) definition of addiction includes a rather serious bit about addiction requiring a clear and verifiable physiological tolerance, built up over time, the withdrawal from which causes serious and very clear physiological problems.

And you don’t get that with ‘sex’. Which is probably why – who can be surprised? – there is “a lack of data” demonstrating such difficulties among ‘sex addicts’.

But of course, this won’t make any more difference to the entrepreneurs that it has to the assorted principals who designed and still maintain the SO Mania Regime.

Without any regulation, it’s now been “left to the industry to define sex addiction”, and I can’t imagine you’re going to get any more careful a result from the ‘industry’ than the country’s gotten from the architects and stewards of the SO Mania Regime.

The net is cast wide: the definition at this point is “any sexually related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment”. You’ll note that the definition is itself defined in significant part by another poorly and widely defined thing called ‘stress’.

There is and has always been a tremendous difficulty with the entire concept of ‘stress’ as a reliable diagnostic term. When does ‘unpleasant’ or ‘undesired’ shade over into ‘stressful’? What objective symptoms, observable to trained others and not susceptible to mimicry or manipulation, conclusively establish the presence of ‘stress’? What distinguishes the experience of frustration or dissatisfaction from ‘stress’ and what reliable diagnostic indicators are there? How can one establish a case of legitimate ‘stress’ from something merely perceived as or asserted-to-be ‘stress’?

And the “stress on family, friends, and loved ones” means that pretty much anybody you know can suddenly declare ‘stress’ and YOU are the Problem. Imagine a football game where anybody on the field is a Deputy Ref and can throw a flag or blow a whistle. Imagine driving in a city where any driver can ‘say’ whether s/he thinks the light is red or green; or where any driver can give another driver a ticket. Or, to use an example from an acquaintance well-traveled in a certain large and recently-modernizing country, any driver on an 8-lane freeway can stop wherever and whenever s/he pleases and open up the brown-bag for lunch. You see where this type of thing can quickly go.
These are not bickering trivialities; until they can be answered there is serious if not profound difficulty accepting the conceptual validity of the term.

From a business point of view, of course, an elastic or vague definition simply means that more folks are going to be stopping by to pick up a brochure or submit to an ‘initial test’ (which probably is going to find ‘stress’). Insurers will have to pick up the tab, although as a ‘medical’ expense it might also be used as a tax deduction so taxpayers will fund it indirectly.

But the ‘business’ or ‘numbers’ aspect of the SO Mania Regime did – as it were – quite well, consistently posting ‘good numbers’. And THAT seems to be the only aspect of the Regime that has been performing well.

There is even a “group” that “certifies” sex therapists, called impressively enough the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). In addition to the highly-fraught ‘addiction’ you also see those old deceivers, the “trauma” professionals. As you may recall from a recent Post about Dr. Paul McHugh, the ‘recovered memory’ professionals have now largely backed off that cottage-industry, claiming that they were – wait for it – taken out of context, misinterpreted, and that it was all “metaphorical” and never intended to be taken seriously. (Who can forget Rosanne Rosannadanna’s superb Nevvvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrr Miiiiiiiiiind on ‘Saturday Night Live’?) And they have reinvented themselves as ‘trauma professionals’ (and, of course, ‘trauma’ can be whatever the therapist – or even the patient – wants it to be, and the whole thing becomes the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party held in and for the County of Through The Looking-Glass).

I recall that H.L. Mencken observed sometime in the early 1930s that even car-salesmen and realtors now had a ‘code of professional ethics’ but he still didn’t advise taking them at their word when you were making a big purchase.

Naturally, “some in the field say that 3-5% of Americans are sex addicts, while others say the proportion is probably greater”. Five percent of 300 million is 15 million; collect $7,500 bucks minimum (for the two-week outpatient option; 40K per month for the 4-star option) from each one and you can see how venture capital might be attracted. And the 7,500 is only going to get you in the door and doesn’t include further therapy and purchases in the gift shop (tee shirts, ball caps, relevant encouraging posters and bumper stickers, perhaps colored ribbons – if there’s still a color in the spectrum that hasn’t already been taken for this or that cause, besides some delicate shade of mauve or jade).

But you can be assured, the article drily reports, that someone who simply had one or two extramarital flings would never be diagnosed as a sex addict. Of course not. And Saddam had WMDs and we would be greeted as liberators and it would be a cakewalk and would only cost a couple-three billion max and sex-offenders are ravenous stranger-monsters with huge recidivism rates and – you could pray with Yul Brynner’s King of Siam – “et cetera et cetera and et cetera”.

I’m not so sure. Look at the bunches of folks classified as ‘sex offenders’ now. And the entrepreneurial therapy industry wouldn’t even have to adhere to such Constitutional requirements as are still, though holed like Swiss-cheese, standing like decayed speed-bumps against the road-rage of SO convictions and Registration.

What the entrepreneurial therapist types are looking for are the folks with “hundreds of sexual contacts and years and years of a double life”. Yes, that would be the more serious end of the spectrum, but there are a lot of less-serious cases.

And what if courts, even if in a well-intentioned effort to avoid imprisoning ‘sex offenders’, started mandating ‘therapy’ at one of these centers? Who’s going to pay for it? There seems to be a trend toward making the convicted SO literally ‘pay’ for his imprisonment or his Registration expenses, especially now that government agencies at all levels are running out of cash and nobody wants to admit that the SO Mania Regime should be dismantled.

Can your ‘medical records’ from these therapy sites be accessed for legal action and prosecutions? Do such ‘therapists’ (another verrrry broadly defined term) enjoy legal immunity like doctors do? Are possible sex-crimes still covered by ‘confidentiality’ in the first place? If one of these businesses is getting referrals from a court, will it protect your confidentiality if quietly threatened with a loss of official referrals?

Such are the complications in a time of Mania Law. Neatly, the effect is that everything said about ‘sex’ to anybody, and especially if notes are taken, must be considered from the point of view of turning up on a prosecutor’s desk for consideration as a possible ‘case’. This is the civilian version of the awful Catch-22 of prison ‘rehab’ programs: if you don’t participate, you won’t be considered for parole, and if you do participate anything you say can wind up on a desk for legal review with an eye to further charges and prosecution.

Indeed, “therapy often includes full disclosure of sexual encounters to spouses, including names, dates and locations, and a search for an underlying problem, such as childhood trauma or depression”. If your sex has caused a troubled marriage, and your spouse gets this information … give that some thought. Or if you name a partner, what are the chances that that partner will then claim s/he was ‘raped’ or ‘assaulted’ in order to save face?

Rent some videos of old World War 2 movies where Resistance agents are in the clutches of the Gestapo or the SS, or are trying to figure out what can be said in front of whom in a conversation (recall that in some cases your own kids can accidentally set the Gestapo in motion with chatter on a school playground).

Funny, too, is that the Boomers and cultural ‘liberationists’ were sure that once you could have sex whenever you wanted and however you wanted and as often as you wanted then you would truly be ‘free’ and no longer a boring, conformist stooge of (pick one or several: the system, the establishment, capitalism, imperialism, bourgeois phony morality).

Even more troubling is the fact that “more people think they have it”. Which is hardly surprising: since a) there are so many people who thought that ‘sex’ was somehow liberating and that they didn’t need to ‘mature’ because that was ‘oppressive’; and b) the definitions of symptoms are almost as broad and whacky as the old ‘self-tests’ to determine if your daddy abused you from 25 years ago (if you are nervous around hot coffee then you were abused by your daddy because daddies drink coffee – see, it’s science!). **

Even more worrying is the fact that although “sex addiction is not considered a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis [this fact] appears irrelevant to clients. They are finding rehab centers and outpatient programs through Google searches rather than referrals from their family doctors”.

Things have gotten so vague, fuzzy and mushy nowadays that everybody feels ‘empowered’ to decide when they 'have a diagnosis' and need therapy – which, of course, the for-profit therapy crowd will do little to prevent. I can’t help but think that folks have gotten this impression from watching the government declare that just about anybody can be a ‘sex offender’, and you shouldn’t let piffling matters like accuracy and objectivity get in the way of that.

“It is absolutely consumer-driven” says one of the entrepreneurs. Which was what the government said when it started the SO Mania Regime: it was simply providing a ‘service’ to folks who needed to know who and where were the SOs in their community (although anybody in the world could look up any State’s Registry or save time and trouble by conveniently browsing the one big central federal Registry comprised of all the States’ Registries).

You can take a computer-quiz online to see if you qualify. One of the questions is Has sex become the most important thing in my life? Without God, Meaning, Purpose, Family Responsibility, Maturity, or smoking … well, you can see how many folks might have fallen back on something more ‘basic’ and readily to hand (so to speak). And for that matter, does daily self-abuse make one a ‘sex addict’? If you want it to, I’m guessing the answer will be Yes.

“There are no independent studies on recidivism in sex addicts, but practitioners describe it as extremely high.” Well, what would you expect them to say? And since the government has been insisting on this for two decades now, in the face of all the evidence, then why would any entrepreneur burden a business with too much truth, accuracy, and reality? There are times, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken again, when businesspersons must “rise above principle”. Oy. (H.L. originally made the comment about politicians, which is also relevant here.)

The article decently points out a major conceptual problem: “For an alcoholic, sobriety is abstinence, but the goal for a sex addict is more amorphous: a healthy sex life. Part of therapy is reaching a personal definition of sobriety, and it is often a trial-and-error process”. What is ‘too much’ sex in a society where the individual is ‘totally autonomous’ in defining the quality of his/her life? If you have what once was quaintly called an ‘open marriage’ back in the Swinging Fifties and early Sixties, then on what grounds can X-amount of sex be labeled (or diagnosed) as too much by somebody else?

"It's really difficult in terms of people being able to get traction for recovery. Relapse is the norm" says a Marin County psychologist who treats sex addicts. Note that Marin County is that fabulously well-off enclave just north of San Francisco. Note also that since some amount of sex is natural – to say the least – then avoiding ‘relapse’ is going to be problematic. But it offers marvelous prospects for repeat-business.

Most of these operations get their business from the Web. You don’t have to bother with trained clinicians and face-to-face meetings; it’s like buying a car online, only this time you’re not going online to avoid a salesman but rather to open yourself up to one without any obstructive interference from actual trained professionals.

A shrewd marketing move.

“Although the overwhelming majority of those treated for sex addiction are men, the sites often seem geared toward their wives, with photos of couples engaged in deep conversation and women with pained expressions”. This is a shrewd reportorial observation. And a shrewd business move. And it reinforces a long-standing suspicion that somehow there’s a bit of the gender-war fueling this whole thing.

I wonder if they won’t soon be offering equally expensive ‘support’ programs for wives. Oops, they already do.

But it gets worse: “One Houston counselor promises follow-up polygraph tests so wives will know whether their husbands have changed”. The possibilities for mischief here are endless.

And what does it say about the relational competence and maturity of American adults that they require ‘therapists’ to administer lie-detector tests in order to somehow maintain the marital relationship?

The more reputable providers (as these things go) are concerned that the more whacky providers will give everybody in the business a bad name. Hence, they want government regulation (thus to assure the reliability of ‘the brand’ as the business schools like to say).

Otherwise "it sets up the potential for treatment to be delivered from a business milieu rather than what is in the best interest of the client", said one provider. And yet the SO Mania Regime’s safeguards and respect for the treatment of SO’s has been a nasty business from the start.

The same provider said that, in her experience, recovery took two or three years and that many people needed several types of treatment as well as regular attendance at 12-step meetings. I’m going to imagine that if you’ve got what is primarily a maturity problem (as opposed to a formal and genuine addiction problem) and a self-mastery problem is not going to be easy to resolve. And this will be as true for the younger generations who have grown up in a loosey-goosey culture of ‘total autonomy’ and profound Shapelessness as it ever was for the ‘macho’ generations of yore. A sex-therapist is going to need some serious competence in basic developmental psychology (and its repair) as in ‘sex’ (whatever that may mean in the therapeutic setting).

"We should be making it very clear upfront that a two-week program is not even scratching the surface," she said. I don’t think she realizes how very accurate she is.

All in all, this ‘sex addiction’ craze is surely a spin-off of the SO Mania Regime and all the shady stuff that underlies it.

I have the greatest respect for genuine therapy. I most certainly believe that every human being, male or female, is as responsible for the mastery of his/her sexual energies as a warship commander is responsible for the competent mastery of his vessel and its capabilities.

But I would be very judicious in how or even whether to make use of the type of entrepreneurial services being developed here. As is now clear from the misadventure in Iraq, good intentions and a trust in ‘business’ did not suffice to work well for the efforts in that wracked country.


*If you have a moment take a look at this excellent site put up by RSOL; one of the reports analyzes in a single page just how the SO Mania programs have been constructed to seduce States to maximize their ‘numbers’ – very much by hook or by crook, as used to be said – in order to maximize federal funding.

**Don’t laugh. Although the two female authors of that frakkulent book (“The Courage to Heal”, see here) later back-pedaled, they brought out a 20th Anniversary edition (on top of the 3rd edition).