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By: Mark Glennon*


Why on earth, you might ask, would the Chicago Teachers’ Union be so anxious to strike against a school district so clearly unable to meet their demands? And what sense is there in hurling extraordinary insults against the guy who would have to sign off on most of what they want  — Governor Rauner? Today, CTU President Karen Lewis said Rauner is “a new ISIS recruit.” She asked, “Has Homeland Security checked this man out yet? Because the things he’s doing look like acts of terror on poor and working class people.”


It’s all quite rational if you understand a few things. First, many CTU members aren’t just scraping for more money for themselves, though some are. Their demands go outside the CPS bargaining room and into fundamental matters of how government is funded and income redistributed. They are part of a far bigger movement, as they see it. Most importantly, their strategy and tactics are straight out of the playbook for modern, leftist agitators, Rules for Radicals, written by Saul Alinsky in 1971. It has been their go-to guide ever since.


Consider some of these segments from Rules for Radicals and think about CTU’s conduct:

In the beginning the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.

[Activists] must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

A sound analogy is to be found in the organization of trade unions… Enter the labor organizer or the agitator. He begins his ‘trouble making’ by stirring up these angers, frustrations, and resentments

Does it seem like the CTU isn’t really interested in a reasonable compromise? Here’s why:

Search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. The use of the adjective “controversial” to qualify the word “issue” is a meaningless redundancy. There can be no such thing as a “non-controversial” issue. When there is agreement there is no issue; issues only arise when there is disagreement or controversy. An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent. [Emphasis added.]

Why have Chicago Teachers been so silent for so many decades about corruption in CPS?

To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.

Rules_for_RadicalsDid some of CTU’s protests seem intended to provoke a violent reaction from police? Maybe this segment explains that:

Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

And here’s my favorite, which explains their indifference to numbers and financial reality — and Alinsky is absolutely right about this:

The moment one gets into the area of $25 million and above, let alone a billion, the listener is completely out of touch, no longer really interested because the figures have gone above his experience and almost are meaningless. Millions of Americans do not know how many million dollars make up a billion.

Karen Lewis and her Vice President, Jesse Sharkey, aren’t stupid, both being Ivy League grads who think strategically. They’re wrong not because they are stupid, but simply because they don’t believe in the system into which they are supposed to be teaching kids to function. They are radicals who despise that system.


Alinsky wasn’t stupid, either. In fact he had one other rule — a critical one — that the CTU has overlooked:

The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

The CTU has no constructive alternative, and that’s why they will lose.


*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.



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GR8 article Mark !! Yes, despicable characters……..all those who work to game the system to screw it up…… organizers, agitators, shake-down artists………and yes, govt unions who shake down the private sector to enrich the govt sector and union sector. Dr X: Yes, Hillary’s 90-page senior thesis in college was about her hero, Saul Alinsky. She interviewed him countless times and worked for him one summer, he begged her to work for him after college, but he told her he understood with her decision to go to law school and “work” within the system, to potentially be more effective. If she takes over after Obama’s 8 years, we… Read more »
Dr X

Mark read the book before the Marxist in Chief was sworn in. Great article by you as usual but you forgot to tell the readers who Alinsky dedicated his book to. Folks it was dedicated to Lucifer yes Satan folks your President and most Democrats follow this thinking. Including Hillary Clinton who wrote her college thesis on Alinsky.

Nice article. Yes their alternative remains the same as always… “put it on the credit card or just write a check”. But they see their credit card being revoked and their checking account being overdrawn. So they are tense about reality itself, all other redistribution ideologies and labeling tactics will come to bear upon simply being out of cash and credit. The ideology of thrift, value, right sizing, productivity, flexibility, cooperation, vouchers, competition, and fundamental reform of the cost side, will not be considered by this group. Yet this very group really runs the whole show, the CPS is impotent, the mayor is bought and sold, the… Read more »

Rick, great ideas, simplest, much more market-oriented and elegant. Let’s hope!!