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The longest chapter looks at three case studies of Alinsky organizing projects and why they succeeded (in the first case) and failed (in the other two).
This might seem surprising at first blush, but if you understand Alinskyism, it makes perfect sense, because Alinsky was all about local control.
He was very suspicious of the feds butting in, and Clinton imbibed some of that from him.
Here’s a short but representative passage: This faith in democracy and in the people’s ability to “make it” is peculiarly American and many might doubt its radicalness.
Yet, Alinsky’s belief and devotion is radical; democracy is still a radical idea in a world where we often confuse images with realities, words with actions.
Clinton writes: There is about [the Woodlawn] fiasco…an incredible naïveté.
Nathan Glazer has explained it saying that it is as if “someone had been convinced by a sociologist that change and reform are spurred by conflict and decided that, since all good things can come from the American government, it ought to provide conflict, too.”There’s a fair amount of anti-government rhetoric in the paper—criticism of the War on Poverty, notably.
There’s a short, cheeky Acknowledgments paragraph (“Although I have no ‘loving wife’ to thank for keeping the children away while I wrote...”), and a specific date, rendered as “2 May, 1969,” three weeks after 300 Harvard students seized the administration building, which our coed would surely have been watching closely.
Basically, Clinton seems to have been interested in two questions, one concrete and one abstract.
Her musings on the abstract question go back and forth between endorsing a more confrontational posture here and one more rooted in consensus there.
There’s a long discussion of conflict theory, which was pretty au courant at the time, and which held that conflicts between groups that have unequal power are inevitable and necessary and can provide the necessary group cohesion to spur the less powerful group to action.