Karl Rove, the IAF, and Protest Advice Everywhere We Turn

Little Rock   When Karl Rove, the George W. Bush hardcore Republican consigliere and now Fox News favorite and Wall Street Journal op-ed pundit approvingly quotes Michael Gecan, veteran community organizer and co-director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the Saul Alinsky legacy community organizing training and support outfit, it is hard to prevent a momentary shutter surging through your body. It’s like walking into your house and noticing things aren’t where they belong, and there’s been a burglar loose. Rove stealing lines from the IAF, are you kidding me?!?

Certainly it isn’t news that the IAF, back to the days of Alinsky, has had an uncomfortable relationship with mass social movements and their marches and protests. In Alinsky’s day, they employed the tactics of protest, perhaps threatening as much as delivering, but movement was not their model then as they advocated for the building of peoples’ organizations, community-wide representative of assemblages built on the framework of the labor federations. In his memoir, Nick Von Hoffman, Alinsky’s chief lieutenant in those early days, discounts their antipathy towards movements, but it is hard to take all of the many words out of Alinsky’s mouth. Arguably, it is even less their organizing model now, as they advocate a careful process of deep organization building which specializes in large assembly accountability sessions and developing almost symbiotic relationships to mayors and governors to deliver programs and results. One of the more troubling stories in Gecan’s own book about his experiences recounts a behind the scenes IAF transactional outreach to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani to offer him an alternative path while protests of vicious police brutality were in the streets, so it is not that the IAF don’t use protests at some level to leverage power.

Regardless of Rove’s appropriation, Gecan’s piece in the New York Daily News titled “How Democrats Are Getting Played” is mainly meant as a slap down of the Democrats, much of which is spot on, including their inability to stick to a persistent, long term strategy and listen to much of anything or anyone that doesn’t represent huge donations whether the rich or special interests. Unfortunately, the story he chose to tell is a pile-on about the union defeat in Wisconsin at the hands of Governor Scott Walker. He tells it by slamming the protests and protestors, which many in Wisconsin still feel were essential in the fight and created long term benefits, rather than simply firing his guns at the recall, which almost everyone agrees was a desperate move and a hopelessly futile tactical defeat.

The mass protests and protestors are not party-centric or Democratic Party organizing events. Everyone can rightly join in, as Gecan does, in criticizing the Democrats and their clueless strategy and tactics on an ongoing basis. But, in the same way Gecan correctly argues that people need to organize and engage the Trump-base in order to find the way forward, he misses the fact that we also have to organize and engage the people and deep-seated energy and anger behind these protests.

In the end Gecan was misused by Rove, even though he left the door open for such a theft, because he beats the same drum that we’ve been beating endlessly, that we have to “have an offense” and can’t win just through resistance and a defense. The problem is not the protests. They are invaluable, and let feet on the street never be stopped. The problem is the plan, and the absence of one. In the meantime with all of the freelance critics of protestors and, hopefully, a burgeoning movement for change, we need to keep our house unified and undivided, while we put the pieces together.


Realtors and Redlining Destroyed Neighborhoods – Was Alinsky a No-Show?

redliningNew Orleans   Looking into the rising return of the family crushing and neighborhood killing predation involved in contract-for-deed property transactions being revived by Wall Street veterans and facilitated by weak regulations and federal off-loading of foreclosure inventory from the real estate bubble of 2008, I stumbled onto an interesting book, Family Properties:  Race, Real Estate and the Exploitation of Black Urban America by Beryl Satter.  Published in 2009, Satter is not only a historian and chairperson of that department at Rutgers University, but has skin-in-the-game, since she was driven to the subject to understand the conflicting family story of her own father who died when she was a child and whether he was a crusading civil rights lawyer and advocate in Chicago or a slumlord himself.  

            Being only half through the book so far, I can’t definitively answer her question, nor have I arrived in my reading to the sections on the Contract Buyers’ League, which was central to my motivation in uploading the book to my Kindle.  On the other hand, I’m knee deep in an excellent, well-written, and researched history that puts race and real estate speculation squarely at the heart of urban neighborhood deterioration from the post-war decades until our current times.  In Little Rock, where I first ran into contract-for-deed exploitation, it was always clear that if there was a power structure anywhere in the city it was centered in the real estate interests, and from our 1972 campaign to “Save the City” forward, including forcibly confronting blockbusting in the Oak Forest neighborhood, they were our main opponents.  In that sense, Family Properties was a deep affirmation and an extension of the argument and those experiences across the urban battlefield of America.

            Somewhat unexpectedly though, I’ve found nothing subtle in Satter’s critique, and condemnation of Saul Alinsky and his community organizing in Chicago during those years.  She bells him repeatedly, beginning with his antipathy for organizing the poor, who were most exploited by all of these practices, and for his inability to strategically and tactically embrace the reality of race in his organizing and the practices of the organizations they built in Chicago.  She doesn’t argue so much that the problem was direct racism, as more fundamentally a weakness in the Alinsky organizing model itself, saying that

“…ineffectiveness of the OSC [Organization of the Southwest] and TWO [The Woodlawn Organization] highlighted the two major flaws of Alinsky’s model of organizing:  his insistence that organizing efforts be fully funded before they could be launched, which left him vulnerable to pressure by the wealthy donors, and perhaps more serious, his belief that they should tackle only issues that were ‘winnable.’”

Sharpening her point she argues that, “Unfortunately, Alinsky’s insistence on fighting only for winnable ends guaranteed that his organizations would never truly confront the powerful forces devastating racially changing and black neighborhoods.”  Ouch!

            She piles on evidence to the extent that her arguments are almost irresistible, include his scolding of his lieutenant, Nicholas von Hoffman and others, for getting too involved in real estate issues when he was in Europe, that he thought were jeopardizing organizational funding, his opposition to fighting black displacement in Hyde Park, and his view that fighting “racial discrimination that lay at the root of community decay…was ‘too complicated.’”  Satter adds that,

“Alinsky often cast urban renewal as an ‘unwinnable’ issue to be avoided.  TWO’s attitude toward housing was similarly confused.  The group apparently felt that the redlining policies that forced black Woodlawners to buy on contract were too complex for effective community mobilization.”

Satter even cites Alinsky’s own biographer in the claim that killing the Square Deal campaign was done on a totally transactional basis,

“According to Alinsky’s biographer, the Square Deal campaign was ‘intentionally terminated by Alinsky and von Hoffman’ because TWO wanted the financial support of merchants when it turned to ‘larger issues such as urban renewal.” 

Twisting the knife, she adds,

“The net result was that, instead of blazing a new path for community activism, TWO became yet another demonstration of the perils of reformers’ financial dependence on the very people they needed to challenge.”

            Adding insult to injury she argues that the creation of the West Side Organization and its achievements were “an overt challenge to Alinsky, who had warned him against organizing the very poor – an action that Alinsky believed would divide the larger community.”   During the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King effort to take the civil rights movement north, she includes an assessment from one of the movement’s legendary organizers that was equally devastating, quoting…

“…James Bevell, a charismatic Mississippi-born African American who had participated in virtually all of the major Southern civil rights crusades.  In Bevel’s view, too, Alinsky ‘simply taught how to, within the context of power, grab and struggle to get your share.’”

            None of this is definitive, but it’s a critique that has weight and can’t be ignored.  Having organized and fought redlining, realtors, and neighborhood deterioration for decades, as organizers we may have to confront whether or not Saul Alinsky, as a primary architect of community organization, was not only a no-show when it mattered in Chicago, but abetted the problem by skirting the battlefields that counted, by not using issues to build power for the bigger fights, but instead running from the fights themselves.  If that’s the case, the legacy of that shadow could still be crippling the work that needs to be done in addition to the way the work is done.


So-Called Correspondence between Hillary and Saul Alinsky

Sol Alinsky with protesters. African American woman holding sign " Kodak hire the poor" and white man holding sign "U. of Rochester S.D.S. supports FIGHT"

Saul Alinsky with protesters. African American woman holding sign ” Kodak hire the poor” and white man holding sign “U. of Rochester S.D.S. supports FIGHT”

Montreal   The rightwing blogosphere makes quite a bit of what they call “letters” between Hillary Clinton, then Hillary Rodham, and Saul Alinsky, the community organizing headliner of the time in summer of 1971. Closer inspection finds one letter sent from Hillary to Saul at his office in Chicago and no response from Saul, but a reply from his secretary, Georgia Harper.

Though many of the conservative websites refer to Hillary’s letter as “fan mail,” it is not. A more modern description would label it plain and simple “networking,” except there obviously was no “net” to work then, so she made do with what a bright, young woman had at hand and fashioned a lively, sharp, and clever piece of correspondence. The Hillary of her letter then would have clearly been fun to know. She was winning and open, and not the guarded and calculating politician that many paint her as today. At the time she was in the middle of her legal education at Yale Law School and a summer intern at a “movement” law firm of sorts in the San Francisco Bay Area, living in Berkeley.

Knowing and having written about Alinsky probably gave her a certain cache in the firm a notch above just being a law student, and the letter seems mainly about keeping the bridge at least minimally maintained between Alinsky and herself.  As young women from Wellesley were undoubtedly taught, she begins the letter with pure flattery asking whether his new book, Rules for Radicals, had been published and claiming to need “new material” after her “one-thousandth conversation about Reveille,” his book from 1949, Reveille for Radicals. The new book had been published several months before, so there’s no question she was gilding the lily, since she would have absolutely run into it in any bookstore in New Haven or Berkeley, if she had been really looking.

For all of the right’s mudslinging, she is catty and dismissive about the New Left, as she was in her thesis, saying that they are “rediscovering” Alinsky which is more flattery, but more tellingly arguing that “New Left-type politicos are finally beginning to think seriously about the hard work and mechanics of organizing….” This was neither an unfair nor an uncommon criticism at the time. She also assures Alinsky that her “belief in and zest for organizing” is “intact,” which only proves that she was whip smart about political realities, nothing more.

If anything, the letter establishes that she was in fact not really close to Alinsky. She makes the case by inference that they share “a commitment to a free and open society,” but that’s about as far as it goes, and that’s just liberal mouthwash, certainly not fire breathing radicalism. She speaks of their “biennial conversations.” She apologies for not responding to a note from him a year earlier during the “Yale-Cambodia madness.” Her “regards to Mrs. Harper,” Saul’s longtime secretary who later answers this letter, rather than Alinsky, invariably means that she has been long accustomed to making appointments through Harper in the past, rather than doing so directly, and for the same reason Mrs. Harper later does not hesitate to open the letter she sent to Alinsky marked “Personal” and respond.

Finally, she needles Alinsky and in a cute, clever way ribs him about rumors she has heard that he is traveling to the Philippines and whether or not it’s a “CIA-sponsored junket to exotica.” As we now know, his six-week trip to the Philippines and Korea, and Japanese scholars of organizing believe briefly to Tokyo, ended up planting deep seeds that inspired community organizing work in Manila and Seoul that flower and bear fruit to this day. She closes saying, “Hopefully we can have a good argument sometime in the near future.” Another pinprick, but telling. This was not a young devotee, but a smart young woman on the make trying to keep all channels wide open for the future, while she still tried to figure out her place in the world and where she could make change in some way compatible to her skills and interests.

I might wish it was more, and the right might wish it was more, but that’s all that’s there.

Al Green – A Change Is Gonna Come


Hillary Rodham on Saul Alinsky, Community Organizing, and Change

Hillary_lede.grid-6x2Montreal     I knew that Hillary Clinton, when still Hillary Rodham, had written her senior thesis at Wellesley College on Saul Alinsky and his work, and I had even talked to her about it briefly over lunch once in Little Rock in the early 1970’s, but I had never actually read it until the link was recently forwarded to me by Camilo Viveiros of the George Wiley Institute in Rhode Island.  It was different than I expected it to be.  First it was much better than I had imagined it might be as a senior thesis.  Secondly, it was different than the reports I had read years ago, when she last ran for President.  Yes, it was a something of a rejection of the Alinsky methods, though admiring of Alinsky, but her objection was largely that his methodology – and vision – did not go far enough, not that it was either too radical or not traditional enough.

She was a diligent student and reading the sources and footnotes, she was a fellow traveler well read in James Ridgeway and Andrew Kopkind, the dominant left journalists of that era and beyond, critical of Daniel Moynihan’s critique, and astutely embracing Warren Haggstrom, a major, though often unrecognized, intellectual influence on all of community organizing, then and now.She also understood deeply, but perhaps too uncritically, the critique of Alinsky and his work by Frank Reissman, the founder of our journal, Social Policy  that I still edit and publish.  She was spot-on in recognizing the Alinsky debt to union organizing and structural models in a way that contemporaries often miss.  On the whole, her thesis is a surprisingly solid piece of work and a good grasp of the issues, while being justly admiring of Alinsky and his belief and commitment to democracy and respectful of community organizing and its role in making change.

She was a left-critic of the War on Poverty, saying…

All too often the War on Poverty with confused intentions and armed with misinterpreted social theory fulfilled Moynihan’s concluding description of the community action programs: “…the soaring rhetoric, the minimum performance; the feigned constancy, the private betrayal; in the end…the sell-out.”

She was not a fan of student organizing in the late 1960’s or what she calls “New Left strategists,”

The problems inherent in such an approach, including elitist arrogance and repressive intolerance, have become evident during recent university crises.  The engineers of disruption, lacking Alinsky’s flexibility in dealing with their “enemy” (i.e. administrators, trustees, etc.), become hardened into non-negotiable situations.  Conflicts then run the possibility of escalating into zero sum games where nobody wins.

Her real critique of Alinsky is that he didn’t go far enough, and the evidence is plentiful in a number of her remarks in the thesis even as she walks a fine line to balance her academic objectives…

  • He realizes that radical goals have to be achieved often by non-radical, even “anti-radical” means.
  • Perhaps, the Alinsky model’s emphasis on local issues and goals determined locally diverts energies from wider or coalition organizations.
  • His belief that the poor can translate apathy into power and then use that power responsibly has, in some cases, proven true. In others, the transition has been dysfunctional either for the community or for the cause of radical change.

Tellingly, even the title of her thesis, “There is Only the Fight…” is a thinly veiled critique that she shares in part with Reissman that he lacked “vision” for a more radical, national change.  She is clearly heavily influenced by her own Wellesley professor, Annemarie Shimony, in putting her perspective together and Shimony’s view that Alinsky was “a showman rather than an activist.”

Undoubtedly, then Hillary Rodham was a “child of the 60’s” who believed it was a time and opportunity for comprehensive change:

Often the application of the Alinsky model in geographically-bound lower class areas assumes an almost bootstrap formula which is too conservative for our present situation.  A People’s Organization of local organizations can at best create new levels of harmony among its members and secure a few material gains.  It is not oriented toward harmonizing competing metropolitan interests in a concert of governmental restructuring.

Clearly, she liked Alinsky and much of the model, but didn’t like the “messy” of student organizing and the New Left, compared to the pragmatic, flexibility of Alinsky approach even while seeing it as lacking “vision” and “too conservative for our present situation.”  In 1969, she wasn’t ready for the barricades, but she wanted to figure out a way to make comprehensive change.   Her thesis is a helpful place to build a more nuanced understanding of Hillary and her quest perhaps, contrary to what many have argued, both pro and con.

ODETTA – This Little Light of Mine


Chavez, Alinsky, the UFW, and the Modern Labor Movement

ClickHandler.ashxNew Orleans   Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage:  Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers is a mountain of a book at 800 pages.   Reportedly, it took Bardacke fifteen years to write and was edited down from twice that length. A friend said to me recently that he believed it might be the “best book about organizing” he had ever read.  Another said he had read the book twice already.  Clearly, we have an emerging classic here, and a book that may stand out in the shelf of treatments of the UFW as authoritative.   Having just finished it, it’s worth the climb.

            Not long after I began the book, I wrote about the fascinating argument that Bardacke made in the early going about the impact of Chavez’s work with Saul Alinsky while he was a primary organizer for the legendary Community Service Organization (CSO) with Fred Ross in California.  His analysis of Alinsky, his theory, and work, particularly Alinsky’s view of the role of the organizer should be mandatory reading for all community and labor organizers.  Whether you agree or disagree, it is a cautionary tale that warrants midcourse corrections if you see dangerous tendencies that might distort your own work in building organizations and power. 

Miriam Pawel, the author of another excellent book on the UFW several years ago and another on Chavez coming out next year, shared with me a piece of a transcription of a debate in 2012 at the ILWU hall in San Francisco between Mike Miller and Bardacke about the role of Alinsky as a theoretical or practical factor in what later went wrong with Chavez and the UFW. My friend Mike’s case was really his case for Alinsky’s value and commitment to building power.  Bardacke’s argument in Trampling is really the classic one about the role of ends and means.  Both of them are talking past each other and looking for a hook to hang onto.  When it comes to Trampling itself, what Bardacke really writes on Alinsky’s impact on Chavez is a brief on the indictment without ever tying his argument to the evidence on the ground.  I kept waiting for a chapter before the book’s conclusion in this exhaustively researched volume where Bardacke might have some quotes from organizers or others where Chavez was referencing Alinsky or sharing a story of their interactions or whatever.  For Chavez it seems his time with Alinsky was “been there, done that” and “don’t look back.”

Bardacke is also not a big fan of Fred Ross, who I suspect had a much larger influence on Chavez and remained close to him as an organizer and go-to-guy throughout much of their history.  I wonder if there was more about Ross on the cutting room floor.  He slams Ross as a “red baiter” and anti-communist, not atypical of the time, and generally sees him as a hard ass, but pretty much leaves it at that.  I would have liked to have known much more about this, and certainly when Bardacke writes about the major funding source for Alinsky, Ross, and the CSO through the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation, the director CarlTjerandsen’s book, Education for Citizenship (1980) is still one of the definitive sources on the way their organizing model really worked, and even with the caveat that he was a funder, it does not fit with Bardacke’s argument given how close they were to the ground.

Bardacke’s real argument on the “two souls” of the UFW is not really about Chavez or Alinsky and their view of organizers as tricksters versus power builders, but essentially whether Chavez believed in workers or the artifice of organization, tactics, and strategy to achieve victory and power.  Bardacke concedes the “brilliance” of Chavez’s tactic in using the grape boycott when the UFW did not have the strength in the fields among the workers to beat the growers, but his heart is in his case on mistakes after the boycott victory and later in lost opportunities where workers were winning strikes in lettuce, lemons, and vegetables around Salinas.  And, then the deluge, as the organization was racked by purges, fad fixes, internal conflict and power struggles, and conflicted leadership challenges for Chavez in his role as leader, organizer, and administrator serving multiple constituencies.   Bardacke sees what was left as less a union than a “farmworker advocacy” organization after that.

            No question there was lost opportunities.   No question the internal staff and leadership dynamics sucked, but there really were few heroes in any of those stories no matter how the deck is stacked for or against Chavez.   I’m also conflicted because I know way too many of the people in the story including Marshall Ganz, Eliseo Medina, Chava Bustamente, Liza Hirsch, George Bailis, Jim Drake, and the list goes on and on.  I don’t have a horse in the blaming race.

            Stepping back, I think Bardacke is nostalgic for the old days of union building as he imagines them, when from time to time workers could face off against bosses, strike, and win.  The classic period of the UFW from 1965 to 1970, also marked the top of the hill for organized labor’s membership as well as a period where Chavez, his colleagues and members were working and fighting in the caldron and glow of great social change and movements throughout the country.   Chavez was brilliantly riding the wave at its crest.   Could the UFW have sustained their growth and membership if they had paid more attention to servicing, bargaining, and the nuts and bolts of day to day union work?   We certainly cannot know, but we do know that other unions that excelled at those functions have shrunk precipitously as well, and we do know that employers have enjoyed a generation of disproportionate strength over workers since the 1970’s.  The strikes later in the 1970s where workers won almost in spite of the union and Chavez, at least in Bardacke’s view, are situational rather than scalable.  Worker victories in the US and around the world still occur obviously, but they are too often situations where workers and their unions catch lightning in the bottle, and rarely replicable.  And, in the last generation they have more often occurred because of skilled utilization of exactly the things that Bardacke disdains.

            He criticizes the UFW’s increased reliance on being a political organization, which is also his critique of Fred Ross’ CSO strategy, but in many ways the UFW’s work in that area is also arguably what makes them a modern union, regardless of their current size.  The labor organizing success from 1970 forward almost always include huge political leverage, certainly in the growth of public employee unions, teachers’ unions, and the ability of unions to organize huge numbers of home health and home day care workers using political leverage to define employers and extract wage and benefit increases. 

            Bardacke is also a romantic if he believes that organizing can be separated from resources.   No amount of dues alone would have made the UFW secure, certainly there was a limit to the subsidies that were going to come from the AFL-CIO and other friendly unions like the UAW.   There is still something brilliant in Chavez’s commitment to trying to build a movement in addition to a union and his ability to create resources within the family of UFW organizations that could support the organizing, the farmworkes, and their families.  Contrary to Bardacke’s critique, a farmworkers union should be a farmworker advocacy organization, just as other unions should also be worker advocacy organizations and are failing their members when they are not.   In fact looking at current strategies around fast food workers and Walmart workers, it seems that a dominant current organizing tendency in the 21st Century at the nadir of organized labor’s strength is to reconnect with our historic tendencies to advocate for better conditions for workers whether the 8 hour day then or a higher minimum wage now

            As an example of what one reviewer saw as the evolution of the union into “non-profit portfolio management” quoting Marshall Ganz in 2009, the farmworkers movement:

…the UFW by 2009 had declined from its peak of 60–70,000 to 5,000 members. It has fourteen non-profits with $42 million in assets, run by the Chavez family. These assets developed out of the capitalization of funds from 1970s and 1980s labor contracts, direct mail marketing, and an investment portfolio. The related National Farm Work Service Center Inc. has assets of $24.6 million and nine radio stations, and builds affordable housing in four states. The Juan de la Cruz Pension Fund in 2004 held $102.7 million in assets, and makes pension payments to only 2,411 retirees. The RFK Medical Plan has $7.9 million in assets, and insures less than 3,000 workers. The UFW has an annual income of $6 million, of which 60 percent comes from fundraising. Union dues in 1992, just before Chavez’s death, were only 27 percent of total income.

Perhaps it is controversial to say so, but in organizing the maxim continues to be that the “organization, not the issue, comes first.”   Unfortunately, these days there are many unions that have more assets in various directions than they have members, what a friend wrote of some years ago as the “edifice complex.”  Part of an organizing strategy has to be a survival strategy as well in order for the organization to be able to continue to fight. 

Farm work and farm workers are a diminishing part of the entire workforce.  Regardless of his various aberrations and errors, it is hard not to wonder if Chavez in his own idiosyncratic way didn’t always understand that their fight always had to be bigger than the fields and all of them to have a chance of winning coupled with a sober analysis that a union was only one of many vehicles in that struggle and possibly the hardest one to keep alive.

As organizers we have to be careful of even great books with great biases like Barnacke’s Trampling, especially when the UFW may have been the last of the old unions and the first of the modern unions, and we’re still stuck with a hundred million workers who are unorganized and declining resources to do the job. 


Alinsky in Japan? Mystery Solved!

 Houston  We wondered if we couldn’t definitively solve the mystery intriguing our friend and colleague, Ken Yamazaki, the other day about whether or not, Saul Alinsky, the legendary community organizer from Chicago, had ever visited Japan.  Ken was certain that was the case, but others, it turned out including Mike Miller of the Organize Training Center in San Francisco was skeptical, and Mike is something of an Alinsky scholar in his own right.  I had thought the answer would come from Denis Murphy of Manila, the dean of Asian community organizers, and someone we all knew was present with Alinsky for a debriefing trip there in 1971 after Alinsky’s only visit to Asia, not long before he died.

            Before Denis could respond, “crowd sourcing” the question on the Chief Organizer Blog, turned up the definitive answer.  First, Aaron Schutz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, posted a comment on the blog indicating from documents he had seen there seemed little doubt:

“A quote from the first paragraph of _Conversations on Community Organization in Asia: Saul Alinsky Meets with the Asian Committee on Community Organization in Manila, June 1971_ (Chicago: Institute on the Church in Industrial Society, 1972) from Mike Miller’s archives:

“A year before his death in June 1972, Saul Alinsky, the U.S. community organizer, made a trip to Asia. This was to be his first, and only time, to be in the Asian region. His purpose was to survey the work being done by the churches in community organization. His itinerary took him to Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

Later Alinsky notes, “They were not as terrified of my presence in Japan as those in Hong Kong.” 🙂

The editor notes that Alinsky “he gives priority to Japan and the Philippines.” And he actually talks a lot about Japan in this dialogue. I’ve never taken the time to read it carefully.  So Alinsky did visit Japan. ACCO actually brought in Tom Gaudette first in 1970. There are a range of documents about organizing in Asia in the Gaudette archives at Loyola Marymount. I have copies of some of them, but haven’t really looked at them in any detail.

And, if there was even a shadow of doubt left in any one’s minds, and in fairness, there ever was in Ken’s, David Alinsky, Saul’s son, posted the following comment on my blog:

“Shortly after my father married his third wife, Irene, in 1971, they took a trip and traveled around the world. They did stop in Japan. My memory of this is very thin but they were “in country” for several days.”

Meanwhile, Ken Yamazaki is still on the case in Tokyo.   His real interest is less whether Alinsky visited, than why community organizing never found the roots in Japan that it did in Korea and the Philippines.   He’s still looking, so we will have more on this in the future:

So fascinating conversations!

Yes, I’ve known it.

As I wrote to Wade, I found the digital book about Alinsky’ visit to Japan by a prof. of Doshisya Univ. in Kyoto.

The big question is why most Japanese forgot about Alinsky and Community Organizing.

My hypothesis is the first organizations in Japan didn’t have any relation with labor but only in Christianity or Univ.

Then the dispute occurred in the church like other countries between conservative and progressive.

I guess the ancestors or the first movement is still alive somewhere in Japan. 

But main stream gone.

But I don’t have any proof yet.


Thanks all.