Hull-House

The University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Add...

The University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams Hull-House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams. Jane Addams founded Hull-House in 1892 as a settlement house to help the poor on Chicago’s near west-side between the Chicago river and the stockyards in an area populated by mostly poor, recent immigrants. A settlement house was an effort by private charity to provide services to the poor that were not furnished by government. Community organizers like Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama are a more recent development, not associated with settlement house-like buildings, although with similar goals.

“One of the first lessons we learned at Hull-House was that private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city’s disinherited.”

“Perhaps even in those first days we made a beginning toward that object which was afterward stated in our charter: ‘To provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.'”

Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On a personal note, I commuted daily to work near the Stockyards from my home in Elmhurst via the Eisenhower and Dan Ryan Expressways. Hull-House at 800 South Halstead Street is a short distance from the interchange where those two expressways join. If I had known how close I was, I would have stopped and visited the Hull-House Museum on the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois.

 

Radical

Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Radical, A Portrait of Saul Alinsky by Nicholas von Hoffman who worked with and for Alinsky as a community organizer in Chicago. Alinsky was a self-proclaimed radical because he believed that liberals were too willing to compromise or give up. This is how Alinsky saw himself:

“For him a radical was not a devotee of an ideology. For him a radical was someone who was mentally tough, who could keep his fears to himself, who did not panic, who did not dither, who did not use the finer points of morality to evade action, who did not come down with the blues or misgivings or a sudden need to split hairs and think up reasons for delay.”

Like de Tocqueville, Alinsky believed that Americans could and should form associations to solve problems. Alinsky believed that government should provide solutions only as a last resort. In that, he was a true conservative. Alinsky never met Barack Obama because he died in 1972 when Barack was only 11 years old. Alinsky did meet Barry Goldwater at least once in 1964 when Goldwater was preparing to run for president. The two men discussed civil rights and the pending civil rights legislation. Alinsky supported the law reluctantly while Goldwater was opposed.

Community organizer

Saul_Alinsky

Saul_Alinsky (Photo credit: Floyd Brown)

Rules for Radicals, A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky. This is Alinsky’s second book and I recommend it highly. Only 196 pages, I have just finished reading it for the first time. Now I plan to re-read it at a slower pace to more fully absorb what he had to say. I can think of no other profession that better trains a future president. Being an executive at a firm like Bain is probably one of the worst ways to prepare a person to be president of the US. Mitt does have his four years as governor of a liberal state as preparation, but he refuses to talk about it.

Sarah Palin criticized Barack Obama in 2008 as a community organizer. After reading Alinsky’s book, I would say that the title of community organizer should be worn proudly, not as a badge of shame as Palin intended. Good community organizers are hated by conservatives, those who defend the status quo, because community organizers bring change by helping those in our society who most need help. They help those who are not heard to find a voice and those who are forgotten to become visible.

Saul Alinsky died in 1972 when Barack was 11; they never met.

These are some notable quotations from the book:

“A free and open society is an on-going conflict, interrupted periodically by compromises–which then become the start for the continuation of conflict, compromise, and on ad infinitum. Control of power is based on compromise in our Congress and among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A society devoid of compromise is totalitarian. If I had to define a free and open society in one word, the word would be ‘compromise.'”

“As Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley put it, Don’t ask f’r rights. Take thim. An’ don’t let anny wan give thim to ye. A right that is handed to ye fer nawthin has somethin the matter with it. It’s more thin likely it’s only a wrrong turned inside out.”

Means and ends

Cover of "Rules for Radicals"

Cover of Rules for Radicals

From Rules for Radicals, A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul Alinsky.

“Democracy is not an end; it is the best political means available toward the achievement of these values.
“Means and ends are so qualitatively interrelated that the true question has never been the proverbial one, ‘Does the End justify the Means?’ but always has been “Does this particular end justify this particular means?'”

Making a mark

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am earning my stripes and making a mark; I was just called a liberal socialist by a blogger on the right. I will wear those names proudly and refer others on the right to my poem:

I am not a Marxist

I am not a Marxist.
Barack is not one too.
Call us socialists if you will
Labels do not matter
To those who care
Or to those who care to think.
To a good Christian or Muslim
Charity is a necessity.
Fairness, not charity, is what we seek
Putting the needy before the greedy
Is our program and our creed
Doing right for the many
Not right for the Right few
It is time to put our differences
To the side and be done
The Founding Fathers gave us more than they received
Let us emulate their vision and their wisdom
We can/must advance the cause of freedom and equality
Both here and abroad
Let us lead by example
Not by force and bluster
We can make the US number one again
In the hearts of all mankind.

George Lakoff contends that statements have more power if worded positively rather using a negative to refute a charge. However, I like my poem as written.

I will soon begin a chore that I have been postponing for some time, reading The Portable Karl Marx and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The two books total 1741 pages and weigh between 4 and 5 pounds, a chore to carry. However, I must. I doubt that many or any who berate Barack and the Democrats have read either book. I find that I learn more if I read two or more books on a subject at a time. I am reading Saul Alinsky at this time with comments to follow soon. Fortunately his two books are slim.