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 Participant Ideology

Radical populist, small-d democrats. This point of view characterized the leadership of the organization for the period covered in this tale. For religious participants … their understanding of the Bible’s mandate for social and economic justice. … Alinsky considered powerlessness of large numbers of people, on the one hand, and concentration of power in the hands of a small corporate elite, on the other, the root evil and Achilles’ heel of American democracy.

Conservative Populists were taken into account because of the responsive chord they struck with older Anglo homeowners in the community. … They were against welfare, public housing, special minority programs in the schools, and especially affirmative action hiring. Federal programs like urban renewal and public housing were, to them, forms of socialism. (166)

Traditional pluralists, who thought the American political and economic system worked fairly well for those who were organized to negotiate within it, but failed for those who were unorganized. In this view, the task of community organizing was to bring the marginalized and excluded to the decision-making tables, where they would become another bloc whose interests would be counted.

Political centrists. … the Anglo liberals and centrists were generally antagonistic to the language of power, mass organization, self-interest, and conflict. … They thought problems were solved by reasonable people discussing them. (162)

The organized Anglo left. Generally Marxist, this group was disproportionately influential because its members were deeply committed and spend a lot of time on their commitment.

Nationalism. This view, pro-Latino but not separatist or anti-white, was widely present among activists, some radical, some liberal They shared the idea that it was ethnicity or nationality that should be the central theme and provide its guiding principles. … The slogan ‘Community Control’ appeared to untied centrist, liberal, and radical nationalists. But each gave it different meanings. (170)

A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER'S TALE by Mike Miller, Berkeley:Heyday Books, 2009. CSCO believes this is the best book on organizing. Miller has been with CSCO for many years.

Redefining Radicals



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