Saul ALinsky - Civil Disobedience

Essay by nickpappasCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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Saul Alinsky, a man of many virtues pioneered civil disobedience in the mid

Twentieth century by inspiring entire communities to act as a whole in order to effect a

specific cause. Historical figures such as Buddha, Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi,

Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King have also encouraged various forms of civil

disobedience to achieve their goals of peace and justice.

Alinsky's rationale for this system of non-violent protest was clear. It

stemmed from Gandhi's moral belief that violence was wrong and his strategic belief that

violence was ineffective. For Gandhi understood a simple human truth -- that violence

brought on more violence and caused deeper hatred to occur. This was exemplified by his

famous words, "An eye for an eye long enough and we will all go blind." Some believe

that maybe Alinsky's Rationale stemmed from those of , Jesus Christ, and St.

Francis of

Assisi as well.

More than three thousand years ago, the first widely recorded act of civil

disobedience occurred when Hebrew midwives stood up to the order of the Egyptian

pharaoh and refused to kill babies born to Hebrew mothers. Since that time the principles

of non-violence have been repeatedly advocated as a way to achieve positive social

change. The Greek playwright Aristophanes, in his classic play Lysistrata, invented a

witty plot by which the women of Athens and Sparta ended war between the rival city-

states by seducing their men with provocative actions and then denying them sex until a

treaty was signed. Most people can assimilate with these simple ideals that have been

presented in the past three thousand years.

The deeper I look into modern history of non-violence and civil disobedience, the

more I have come to respect their power. The techniques have played a key...