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power. The daunting complexity of this kind of work comes across quite clearly from Horwitt’s detailed retelling. In the 1950s especially, the race question was almost insurmountable. Cross-religious animosities were almost as formidable. And as a backdrop to the rivalries and hatreds, a world of real estate manipulators and machine politicians were accustomed to going about their business as usual. Alinsky ‘s message in short form was simple enough: Power responds only to one thing power. For democracy to work as it was envisioned by early American thinkers, power needs to be distributed evenly. And to distribute it, the power that flows from organized money would have to be met by the power of organized people. Alinsky was a master at making use of America’s native political vocabulary to justify action that seemed radical to most of his contemporaries. His language was simply the language of democracy, applied to working people and poor people. His interest was in organizing, not ideology. “The Radical … will realize that in the initial stages of organization he must deal with the qualities of ambition and self-interest as realities,” he wrote. “Only a fool would step into a community dominated by materialistic standards and self-interest and begin to preach ideals.” Yet one notes in Horwitt’s book the inevitable back-and-forth between ideas and action. Says the author, “Ideas, and the language to express them, were important for another reason. Alinsky understood that the way in which political acts are explained the intellectual and rhetorical justification is as important as the action itself and, often, a prerequisite for action.” But later Horwitt writes: “Alinsky positioned himself above the familiar ideological battles …. [He] seemed to be saying that even if in theory there were a better set of economic arrangements, the first order of business was to arouse a democratically minded citizenry in, working-class areas. At least initially, the process of becoming a participant was more important than the content of any particular program.” On the other hand again, one of Alinsky’s organizers told Horwitt that Alinsky was, in fact, dedicated to the battle of ideas. “Saul was always talking about how we had to change people’s minds by rhetoric, by publishing things of some kind.” There is nothing necessarily inconsistent in these statements; participation and persuasion go along fine together. But there is perhaps a fuzziness on the question of how important it is to arrive at answers about what kind of society one is ultimately working for. Those with a taste for ideological com pass-setting would probably agree with a criticism made by Christopher Lasch in 1971, which Horwitt quotes. Lasch wrote that Alinsky, “having divested his movement of any suspicion of ‘ideology,’ having substituted `citizens’ for ‘workers’ and interests for classes, and having exalted process over objectives, was free to define ‘participation’ itself as the objective of community organization of politics in general.” Yet the weight of Horwitt’s book forces the reader to question whether it really matters that Alinsky’s overall political objectives were not coherently drawn up in advance. It’s a lifetime’s worth of work just to proinote the idea that the many need not be pushed around by the few. Saul Alinsky created a lot of necessary havoc by promoting that idea. And what’s more important, his shrewd and sensible methods live on today in the work of the surviving Industrial Areas Foundation groups, as Horwitt notes in his epilogue. He gives special mention to Texas IAF groups and their organizer, Ernesto Cortes Jr. It’s an unusual man or woman who departs this earth leaving an actual, living political legacy. Alinsky’s legacy is the existence of a battalion of vital organizations that continue to hold out the promise that democracy could be made to work. SOCIAL CAUSE CALENDAR WOMEN AND AIDS RALLY On the south steps of the Capitol, ACT-UP will hold a rally on women and AIDS on Monday, November 26, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. The event is part of a nationally coordinated week of activities related to December 1, World AIDS Day. The World Health Organization has chosen women and AIDS as the focus of the week to recognize the effects of the epidemic on women, who now represent an estimated two million of the eight to 10 million people in the world with the HIV infection.’ For more BENEFIT FOR UTILITY REGULATION GROUP Citizens for Fair Utility Regulation will have a benefit on Thursday, November 29 at Club Clearview in Dallas. Bands include Fever in the Funkhouse and Sleepy Heroes. ANIMAL RIGHTS BENEFIT The Rock Against Fur Concert, benefitting the Animal Connection of Texas, is scheduled for Friday, November 30 at Trees in Dallas. The concert will feature Brave Combo and others. For more information, OBSERVANCES November 24, 1947 House of Representatives cites Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. November 28, 1978 Gay activist Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone killed in San Francisco. December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, touching off Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. December 2, 1954 Senate censures Joseph R. McCarthy. December 3, 1985 Union Carbide accident in India. December 4, 1969 Chicago police kill Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. PARTY FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE Austin Peace and Justice Coalition is having its holiday party on Sunday, December 9, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The party will be held at Red Bluff Studio, 4907 Red Bluff Road and will feature live music. Admission is a $3 donation. For more inFUNDRAISER FOR AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE The Pueblo to People Holiday Crafts Festival, the fifth annual holiday sale and fundraiser for the American Friends Service Committee, will offer crafts and clothing from Latin America. The festival will be held in the AFSC’s Austin offices at the Saturday, December 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, December 2, from noon ANTI-WAR TEACH-IN The Campaign for Peace in the Middle East, a coalition of community and UT-Austin activist groups, is sponsoring a multi-media Teach-In to protest war in the Middle East. Speakers will analyze the myth of dependence on oil, distorted and racist media coverage of the Gulf Crisis, the history of U.S. interference in the region, and many other topics. Local activists and UT professors will talk about ways the community can respond to the threat of war. There will also be slide and video presentations. The event is scheduled for Monday, November 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Texas Union Theater on the UT campus. For more information, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27