36+ Best Saul Alinsky Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Saul David Alinsky was an American community activist and political theorist. His work through the Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation helping poor communities organize to press demands upon landlords, politicians and business leaders won him national recognition and notoriety. Profoundly inspirational Saul Alinsky quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

Famous Saul Alinsky Quotes

All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new. — Saul Alinsky

The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community. — Saul Alinsky

The first step in community organization is community disorganization. — Saul Alinsky

Last guys don’t finish nice. — Saul Alinsky

My only fixed truth is a belief in people: a conviction that if people have the opportunity to act freely and the power to control their own destinies, they’ll generally reach the right decisions. — Saul Alinsky

If the ends don’t justify the means, what does? — Saul Alinsky

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. — Saul Alinsky

If the real radical finds that having long hair sets up psychological barriers to communication and organization, he cuts his hair. If I were organizing in an orthodox Jewish community, I would not walk in there eating a ham sandwich unless I wanted to be rejected so I could have an excuse to cop out. — Saul Alinsky

It does not matter what you know about anything if you cannot communicate to your people. In that event, you are not even a failure. You’re just not there. — Saul Alinsky

There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future. — Saul Alinsky

The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. — Saul Alinsky

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 chance the future. — Saul Alinsky

Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life. — Saul Alinsky

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

The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a ‘dangerous enemy.’ — Saul Alinsky

Mankind has been and is divided into three parts: the Haves, the Have-Nots, and the Have-a-Little, Want Mores. — Saul Alinsky

History is a relay of revolutions. — Saul Alinsky

No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough. — Saul Alinsky

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. — Saul Alinsky

Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have. — Saul Alinsky

The Capone gang was actually a public utility; it supplied what the people wanted and demanded. — Saul Alinsky

Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. — Saul Alinsky

First rule of change is controversy. You can’t get away from it for the simple reason all issues are controversial. Change means movement, and movement means friction, and friction means heat, and heat means controversy. — Saul Alinsky

As an organizer, I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system. — Saul Alinsky

A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. — Saul Alinsky

‘The Prince’ was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. ‘Rules for Radicals’ is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away. — Saul Alinsky

Radicals must be resilient, adaptable to shifting political circumstances, and sensitive enough to the process of action and reaction to avoid being trapped by their own tactics and forced to travel a road not of their choosing. In short, radicals must have a degree of control over the flow of events. — Saul Alinsky

To the organizer, compromise is a key and beautiful word. It is always present in the pragmatics of operation… If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead. — Saul Alinsky

The greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself. — Saul Alinsky

Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict. — Saul Alinsky

We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful new world. We will see it when we believe it. — Saul Alinsky

Always remember the first rule of power tactics; power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have. — Saul Alinsky

A racially integrated community is a chronological term timed from the entrance of the first black family to the exit of the last white family. — Saul Alinsky

People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people. — Saul Alinsky

Everybody owned stock in the Capone mob; in a way, he was a public benefactor. I remember one time when he arrived at his box seat in Dyche Stadium for a Northwestern football game on Boy Scout Day, and 8,000 scouts got up in the stands and screamed in cadence, ‘Yea, yea, Big Al. Yea, yea, Big Al.’ — Saul Alinsky

I’ve never joined any organization – not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. — Saul Alinsky

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