The Web and the Internet is powerful. It delivers access to wisdom and knowledge at one’s finger tips.

And a whole lot of idiocy and lunacy too. You have to work hard to sift through it all.

Prof. Rowley’s latest post stirred my search for an answer to his question.

Here’s one idea:


Saul Alinsky and his book, Rules For Radicals (1972), is so useful for an understanding of the principles of successful resistance.

His words are worth considering:

We will start with the system because there is no other place to start from except political lunacy.

It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be preceded by reformation.

To assume that a political revolution can survive without a supporting base of popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics.

Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way.

A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives — agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.

His conclusions concerning tactics:

Not bombs but protests and petitions.

Not guns but getting people involved in dragging their feet.

We need a positive program of changing people’s minds about  man, and law; about family, community, economy and Freedom.

We also need a negative program of successful resistance techniques that will get the State off our backs long enough for us to go about the work of positive reformation.

Meanwhile, we can gum up the works.

That literally happened under Alinsky. Some college was foolish enough to allow students to invite him to speak on campus.

A group of disgruntled students met with him after his speech. “How can we change this place? We can’t do anything. We can’t smoke, dance, go to movies, or drink beer. About all we can do is chew gum.”

Alinsky told them, “Then gum is your answer.”

He told them to get 200 or 300 students to buy two packs of gum each.

Chew both packs simultaneously every day, and then spit out the wads on campus walks.

As he said, ‘Why, with five hundred wads of gum I could paralyze Chicago, stop all the traffic in the Loop.” He told them to keep it up until the rules were loosened or abolished.

The tactic worked. Two weeks later all the rules were lifted. One new rule was substituted: no gum on campus.

That college administration was weak. Expelling the students would have been its only action.

But this would have made them look ridiculous to people on the outside.

Bureaucrats never ever want to look ridiculous. They capitulated. They were, in short, fearful bureaucrats.

We must learn how to gum up the works. We must create a new, hypothetical society, “Gummit,” which sounds a lot like “Guvmint.”

Here are Alinsky’s thirteen tactical rules:

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.

Never go outside the experience of your people.

Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy.

Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

A tactic that drags on too long is a drag.

Keep the pressure on.

The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.

If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter side.

The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize and polarize it.


7 Responses to “Gumitup”

  1. Kevin Wilmeth Says:

    I’m not terribly familiar with Alinsky’s actual work; most references I’ve come across to him are rather pejorative, but I should not make the mistake of conflating an original work with its use by others.

    What strikes me about the “tactical rules” is that it reads like Sun Tzu.

    I wonder if Alinsky might have been an influence for Edward Abbey? The “gummit” concept reminds me of “always pull up survey stakes”. 🙂

    And I just have to share this; I crack up every time I see it. (If you happen to be a database geek, please, for your own safety, put down your coffee first.)

  2. Black Flag Says:


    XKCD is a great strip!

  3. Black Flag Says:


    Alinsky trained a generation of activists who are the now the success of modern governance today.

    The friends of Liberty ignored him. The Socialists did not.

    Guess where we are now?

    As I alluded in my previous post, one must be wary of seizing the center.

    They succeeded for the most part because they were broad and dispersed – and like trying to crush ants, there were too many, too fast, too spread out.

    But now, they’ve centralized and have become the Establishment. They are not dispersed, they are few, and slow. A rich target.

    To reverse their own tactics on them will be sweet. However, if it is merely to replace another central power of force with its twin – the real war for Freedom will be lost.

  4. Kathy Says:

    You, BF, are advocating taking action against government? Huh?

  5. Freedom and Social Harmony « The Mutant Jedi Says:

    […] are lots of gaps in the controls, hence the feeling of freedom. In Black Flag’s Gumitup posting, the students were wanting to smoke, dance, go to movies, and drink beer. Well, in my town […]

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