Revolutionary Ancestors : Sidney & Alinsky Part I

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Two little-known men had enormous influence during America’s runup to revolution. Algernon Sidney (1623-1683) and Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) were students of history and political science. Both advocated revolution when necessary, but toward opposing ends.

In his Discourses Concerning Government, Sidney set out lessons learned since Biblical times in the hope that future generations would recognize and reverse emerging threats to free government. He encouraged men to be skeptical of their magistrates and institutions in order to improve them, to prod them always back toward the first principles of the nation. When the admirer of Sidney saw corruption, his first impulse was to reform the institution.

In Rules for Radicals, Alinsky used his wisdom to provoke societal destruction, and along with it, the free government built upon a civil society. When the Alinsky disciple views corruption, he is overcome with an all-consuming rage which drives him to destroy the institution. Where Sidney helped justify the American Revolution, so too did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton find encouragement and a “how to” to revolution in Alinsky. He began his community organizing with noble intentions, but like Robespierre, fell victim to the dark side of human nature, doing evil in the name of good.

Sidney. Illustrative of Sidney’s keen insight into the nature of popular government in his Discourses is a short chapter on civil disorders.1

No society can avoid occasional disorders, but Sidney believed popular governments were the most capable of peacefully dealing with them. As for their source, “Seditions, wars, and tumults,” wrote Sidney, arise “from either mistakes or malice.”

Only free people can make mistakes. Unfree slaves have no will of their own, can make no decisions, and therefore cannot make mistakes. Once enslaved, they are subject to the malice of their masters. In America, growing swaths of the public are substantially unfree due to their dependence on government for food, housing, income, and medical care. Being relieved of much of the decision making in their personal lives, their public lives consist of keeping their masters and benefactors in power.

As for the realm of mistakes by free peoples, Sidney drew examples from the ancients. In early republican Rome, the public mistakenly thought Valerius Publicola intended to make himself king. Many Spartans were equally suspicious of Lycurgus. These developing societies were covetous of their freedoms. Once their fears were disproved, their suspicions turned into admiration of deserving fellow citizens. In these societies, man’s natural spring of reason soon determined the truth, that neither Publicola or Lycurgus threatened the common good. As long as society pursues the truth, it is capable of correcting misperceptions and mistakes. Freedom to pursue the truth doesn’t exist under slavish regimes; it is a characteristic of a free society.

As if looking ahead in time to 2017, Sidney simply wrote, “Democratical governments are most liable to these mistakes.” Today, many Americans erroneously attribute fascist intents to President Trump. Like the situations of Publicola and Lycurgus, there is perhaps reason to believe, that in time, society will correct this mistaken perception of President Trump and come to respect his pursuit of noble fame.

Seditions in republics rarely arise from the mass of the people; malicious men typically foment them. If discovered in time, they usually turn toward the destruction of the contriver, as in the cases of Manlius Capitolinus, and Spurius Melius. If left to fester, they often end in Tyranny, as in those of Agathocles, Dionysius, and Caesar. Similarly, the modern democrat party decades ago began the slow sedition of our institutions and societal foundations. Being unsatisfied with the pace of social justice change through their judiciary and administrative state, the democrat party increasingly turns to violence to silence opposition. In its view, we conservatives aren’t rational opponents; we are the enemy. Most Progressives are satisfied to simply silence conservatives. Other Progressives regard conservatives as worthy of death. The democrat party represents the sedition and subversion of our founding principles.

Where, as Sidney believed, that the society under popular government is the most capable of correcting mistakes and confronting malicious demagogues, the concept pre-supposes an informed and inquisitive public that values truths derived from observation and their God-given reason. While being capable of correcting, and thus improving their governing forms, history informs us that republics are also delicate, and that their institutions must be continually watched for signs of corruption, which, if left uncorrected, are certain to lead to ever-increasing “seditions, wars, and tumults.”

America 2017 is at a precipice. Our governing institutions are horribly corrupted from their lofty purposes set forth in our Constitution. A malicious faction, the democrat party, works toward the demise of a once-free people. Sidney and our Framers encouraged future generations to use their God-given reason, and work toward continual improvement. To that end, our Framers formalized the means, in what emerged in 1787 as Article V.

In Part II, we’ll examine why Alinsky’s disciples work to blow up free institutions.

We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.

1. Sidney, A. (2012). Discourses Concerning Government. Memphis: General Books LLC. Page 152.