Saul Alinksy is the father of community organizing and a self-proclaimed radical.
Here are some of our favorite Saul Alinsky quotes.
Saul Alinksy was a political theorist and community activist.
He spent his life advocating for poor communities and influencing landlords, politicians, and business leaders to contribute to positive progress.
He was an activist who used both confrontation and compromise in his struggle for justice.
Alinsky saw that if one were to organize ordinary citizens, labor unions, churches, and small businesses who all had the same grievances, their revolution would be pretty much unstoppable.
He spent his life organizing “radicals” in an effort to promote positive change.
Don’t forget to also check out these protest and activism quotes to inspire you to action.
Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration.
Explore our complete collection of motivational quotes here.
Famous Saul Alinsky quotes on activism
1. “Never let a crisis go to waste.” — Saul Alinsky
2. “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” — Saul Alinsky
3. “The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displaced by new patterns… All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new.” — Saul Alinsky
4. “Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you’re free to live. You no longer care about your reputation. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in.” — Saul Alinsky
5. “If people don’t think they have the power to solve their problems, they won’t even think about how to solve them.” — Saul Alinsky
6. “The organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems, and organizations must be based on many issues. The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. . . . An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.” — Saul Alinsky
7. “Always remember the first rule of power tactics.” — Saul Alinsky
8. “Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.” — Saul Alinsky
9. “In the beginning, the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.” —Saul Alinsky
10. “The most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired results.” — Saul Alinsky
11. “Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.” — Saul Alinsky
12. “Organization for action will now and in the decade ahead center upon America’s white middle class. That is where the power is.” — Saul Alinsky
13. “The practical revolutionary will understand Goethe’s ‘conscience is the virtue of observers and not of agents of action’; in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind.” — Saul Alinsky
14. “In a fight, almost anything goes. It almost reaches the point where you stop to apologize if a chance blow lands above the belt.” — Saul Alinsky
15. “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” — Saul Alinsky
16. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.” — Saul Alinsky
17. “This is the world as it is. This is where you start.” – Saul Alinsky
Political Saul Alinsky quotes
18. “A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this, he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage – the political paradise of communism.” – Saul Alinsky
19. “Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, “Is this true?” “Just because this has always been the way, is the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?” To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search of ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest.” – Saul Alinsky
20. “I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism…The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.” – Saul Alinsky
21. “Organized business has assumed that greater profits would be pretty much of a cure-all, and it has to a major extent ignored the fact that the welfare of business rests upon the welfare of the consumers of a nation; that business or free enterprise will function in a democracy only so long as the democracy functions.” – Saul Alinsky
22. “Democracy is alive, and like any other living thing, it either flourishes and grows or withers and dies. There is no in-between. It is freedom and life or dictatorship and death.” – Saul Alinsky
Saul Alinsky quotes about radicals
23. “True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits, and infiltrate the system from within.” – Saul Alinsky
24. “Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” – Saul Alinsky
25. “Let the liberal turn to the course of action, the course of all radicals, and the amused look vanishes from the face of society as it snarls, “That’s radical!” Society has good reason to fear the radical. Every shaking advance of mankind toward equality and justice has come from the radical. He hits, he hurts, he is dangerous.” – Saul Alinsky
What did you learn from these Saul Alinsky quotes?
Alinsky wrote his first book, Reveille for Radicals while serving a term in jail in 1946, and Rules for Radicals in 1971 a year before his death.
Both books left behind Alinksy’s legacy as an organizer, inspiring future generations of “radicals” to gather the people and fight for social justice.
Alinsky died in 1972 from a heart attack.
He was still organizing activities up to the time of his death.
Alinsky was a believer in the power of the people.
He saw that American democracy could bring about justice as long as it was organized properly.
Which Saul Alinsky quotes and sayings are your favorite?
Let us know in the comments below.
August 10, 2022 5:00 AM EST