Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Book Review: Rules for Radicals

 What I have to say in this book is not about the arrogance of unsolicited advice. It is about the experience and counsel that so many young people naturally show an inclination for.  "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away"
"We", says author, "are talking about revolution..there are no rules for revolution any more than there are rules for love or rules for happiness, but there are rules for radicals who want to change their world; there are certain central concepts of action"
Author then echoes Tocqueville's words. "Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience, which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however, important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity."
I think he is right. One can see citizens of many countries sinking further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization, to result in a populace deeply dependent on public authority. And there is a visible demand for strong, ruthless leaders, as well as a common sight of moderates getting ridiculed often.
The book then goes ahead with advising, how to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation, equal and full opportunities for education, full and useful employment, health, and the creation of those circumstances in which man can have the chance to live by values that give meaning to life.
In quantum mechanics, causality was largely replaced by probability: an electron or atom did not have to do anything specific in response to a particular force; there was just a set of probabilities that it would react in this or that way. This is fundamental in the observations and propositions which constitute the reigning theory of matter. One can take a similar view of human society. At no time in any discussion or analysis of mass movements, tactics, or any other phase of the problem, can it be said that if this is done then that will result. The most we can hope to achieve is an understanding of the probabilities consequent to certain actions.
Quoting the of United States, where in World War II fervently it allied with Russia against Germany, Japan, and Italy, and shortly after victory fervently allied with its former enemies—Germany, Japan, and Italy—against its former ally, the U.S.S.R, the book observes the primary force in societal transactions as nothing but self-interest.
I liked this book, especially the parallels the author drew on the quantum behaviour of material and men.