For those that don’t know, I am a philosopher. In my studies, I have dedicated a huge portion of my time to reading about postmodernism, humanity, and ethics. Of those three, postmodernism has consumed most of my reading. Now, this isn’t because I’m postmodern, but instead because I see a threat and I want to know everything I can about postmodernism. I write all of that simply so I can point out that I am not opposed to reading books that oppose my viewpoint; instead, I think everyone should engage in such an activity.
At the same time, I am greatly concerned when the National Education Association (NEA) encourages teachers to read Saul Alinsky and to pass such knowledge onto their students. It is not a matter of, “Here is someone who influences a number of people today,” but instead, “Here is something you should read and put into practice.” Considering Alinsky was a liberal and hated conservatism, it is a blatant endorsement for liberalism. On top of all that, it’s a support for someone who proposes radical violence. As quoted from the NEA’s own website:
“The Radical may resort to the sword but when he does he is not filled with hatred against those individuals whom he attacks. He hates these individuals not as persons but as symbols representing ideas or interests which he believes to be inimical to the welfare of the people.”
Though there are certainly things worth fighting for and dying for, Alisnsky is calling for a war-like change that Lenin and Mao brought about. When the American colonists rose up against their oppressors, they did so for freedom. What Alinsky is supporting goes beyond an armed revolution in that it would requires the deaths of anyone who happens to be conservative. Not because of the person, but because of the ideology that the person represents. That is what the NEA wants teachers to read and to encourage students to read as well.
There is no denying the fact that this is extremely dangerous. Though I disagree with liberalism and Communism, so long as a person who is a liberal or communist didn’t threaten my life or the lives of those I love, I would see no need to engage in violence. This has typically been a conservative viewpoint (it should be noted that Bush and those who follow after him abandoned such a viewpoint). Alinsky, however, supports the idea that if his 13 Rules cannot beget change, then the sword is a viable option against all who disagree.
Certainly if the NEA was supporting other endeavors, this would be a different story. But I’m curious, why aren’t they supporting the reading of the classics, such as Aristotle, Cicero, Aurelius, Socrates, Seneca, or even the pre-Socratics? Why aren’t they advocating that teachers read Locke, Dafoe, Wilberforce, Paine, or Jefferson?
The reason is because the philosophies taught by all of these men, though various, still run counter to the philosophy of the NEA, which is liberalism. Every single one of the philosophers above taught in human significance and living a virtuous life in the hopes of obtaining the good life. The good life was not defined by material possessions either, but instead by living a life of justice (Christian philosophers believe the good life is the one that syncs up with God’s will for that individual). This was obtained generally through the Four Cardinal Virtues and by avoiding the Seven Vices.
The problem is this requires us to take responsibility for our actions and our lot in life. If we are poor and remain poor due to a lack of a work ethic, virtue ethics (which all the classical philosophers accepted) would teach that it is your own fault. If you won’t work, then you don’t eat (this is also a Biblical concept as well). Though it is possible to be a victim in reality, liberalism creates a victim out of people who have created their own mess. Mix this with Saul Alinksy, and you get people who want to save these self-created victims and kill any and all who are strongly opposed to such a sentiment.
The solution to this problem isn’t in voting Republican or voting for moderate Democrats. The solution is much more tenuous and difficult. It is in reaching out to our children ourselves and teaching them the virtues. It is teaching our children that hard work brings about what we want and that we can’t rely on other people. It is, sadly, countering much of what they learn in the classroom from teachers who buy into the NEA. Though going political can be a helpful solution, the ultimate solution is in reaching our own children and instilling values in them that simply cannot be overturned.