Ralph Benko
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As recounted in the previous column, the record is clear that Saul Alinsky, about whom the young Hillary Rodham wrote her Wellesley honor’s thesis, was neither communist nor conventional Big Government liberal. Hillary Rodham turned down a job offer from Alinsky. She turned aside from the path of anti-establishment populist.

Hillary Rodham took the road more traveled, that of conventional liberal. By word and deed she turned away from Alinsky’s optimistic participatory politics. She turned, instead, to central planning. What might that choice suggest?

Hillary’s honor’s thesis, THERE IS ONLY THE FIGHT, in full context, provides a clear picture of her decision-making. In Chapter IV, “PERSPECTIVES ON ALINSKY AND HIS MODEL” she writes:

One of the primary problems with the Alinsky model is that the removal of Alinsky drastically alters its composition.

Alinsky is a born organizer who is not easily duplicated, but, in addition to his skill, he is a man of exceptional charm.

[S]ome New Left strategists …, although, disenchanted with Alinsky-like faith in individuals, apply many of his tactics in confrontation politics.

The problems inherent in such an approach, including elitist arrogance and repressive intolerance, have become evident during recent university crises.

She then pivots to the main point: community organizing vs. central planning.

Accompanying the decline of the traditional neighborhood as a living unit [was] the massive centralization of power on the federal level…. Federal centralization reduced local and state power….

Thus, we find ourselves in the middle of an urban crisis which is really a crisis of community power.

One … element is the role of participation. The … model assumed that participation, as the root of the democratic process, was a necessary and good thing.

Today, nothing is so certain ….

Alinsky and Rodham both were for social transformation. She found Alinsky admirable but probably not replicable at a national scale. Hillary Rodham confronted the choice between “community vs. centralized national planning in social change.” She chose central planning as her way.

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Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world and an advisor to the American Principles Project.