Alinsky’s Rules for Legit Non-Violent Rebels


Saul Alinsky, political activist in downtown Chicago for legitimate social causes, in the late 1960’s, formulated a number of guidelines to be successful for non-violent rebels in grass roots social movements. See

Here are the 4 most potent ones:

1. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. The opposition must be singled out as the target and “frozen.” (now called ‘framed’, JvT)

2. Ridicule is mankind’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. It also infuriates the opposition, who then reacts to your advantage.


3. Never go outside the experience of your people.When an action is outside the 
experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
4. Whenever possible go outside of the experience (=imagination, JvT)  of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat. (Audace!  Act much faster than they can respond, JvT)

 Source: prof. Rao, Hayagreeva, “Market Rebels: how activists make or break radical innovations” 2009 Princeton University Press

The crux of these rules for rebels is that your group employs the age old strategy of daring SUDDEN surprise actions. The French revolutionaries had a slogan for that: “AUDACE, AUDACE !!!”. Your group members must be FAST OF UNDERSTANDING and be able to have a shared short reaction time when unexpected situations appear. And your group memebrs must have an open mind for new things and be able to (continue to) learn fast together, while your ruling class opponents hold on to old prejudices and slow mental filters. They will be baffled and frozen.


Note 1. I understand that both Barak Obama and Mrs. Clinton as students studied Alinsky’s work. And later applied the rebel tactics to gain support.

Note 2. Violence is stupid and will only backfire on you and your cause. It works suicidal. Use your brains. Both Police and Media WANT you to be violent, so they can fight you and you get the wrong kind of media attention: wounded or even killed. To disobey is more powerful. Create other ways/ memes for the media to be interested to report your rebellious actions and your vision on the future.

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

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This entry was posted in rebellion, Rebels, Resistance, short reaction time, surprise and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Alinsky’s Rules for Legit Non-Violent Rebels

  1. Pingback: How to Organize a Nonviolent Revolt | The Connectivist

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