The Political Populism of Saul Alinsky and Broad Based Organizing luke br e thert o n Introduction This essay contends that broad-based community organizing is best framed as an extension and development of American populism. To make this link it is necessary to focus on how the ‘dean’ of community organising, Saul Alinsky, drew on and developed key aspects of American populism. The link between Alinsky and populism is conceptual, genealogical, and socio- logical and a taproot that community organizing shares with certain ele- ments of the civil rights movement and other forms of grassroots activism, both democratic and authoritar H ian. owever, there are good reasons for refusing such a linkage when it comes to Alinsky. Not least among these is the consistent failure and lack of relationship between the constituency that formed the Populist movement and the People’s Party of the 1890s (p - rimar ily ‘yeoman’ farmers in alliance with miners and railroad workers) and the urban and predominantly Catholic industrial workers of that era, a lack of relationship that is central to the failure of the People’s Party to break the duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats and establish itself as a third force in
The Good Society – Penn State University Press
Published: Jan 3, 2012
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