By Dinesh D’Souza
As a penniless student at the University of Chicago, Saul Alinsky hit upon a clever way to eat meals without having to pay for them. Alinsky – viewed by many progressives as the father of the social justice movement – described this technique in an interview given to Playboy magazine just before his death in 1972.
In those days customers in the university cafeteria system didn’t pay the waitress; rather, they went up to the cashier and paid. Alinsky first went to the cashier and ordered a cup of coffee; at that time it cost a nickel. The cashier would write him a ticket listing that price. Then he would go to another cafeteria and order a full meal. The waitress would give him the check for the meal. Alinsky would then pocket the bill for his meal and submit his nickel ticket to the cashier. By switching checks, he was eating full meals and paying just for his cup of coffee.
This is the kind of scam one can see a clever, impoverished slum kid like Alinsky pulling off. What made Alinsky original is that he shared this knowledge with his fellow students and turned it into an organized scam. Alinsky put up signs on the university bulletin board and invited students to attend a presentation, complete with maps of the cafeteria system. Pretty soon he had a large horde of students signed up for his scam. “We got the system down to a science, and for six months all of us were eating free.”
Asked by Playboy if he had any qualms about ripping of the university, Alinsky said, “Are you kidding? The right to eat takes precedence over the right to make a profit.”
Saul Alinsky is viewed by progressives as a champion of social justice. He fought for unions, he fought for racial minorities, and he inspired the social justice crusades of Obama and Hillary. In fact he is the author of the “social justice scam” that is at the heart of the Obama presidency and the Hillary presidential campaign.
Here we see in retrospect the founding moment of today’s progressive movement. The young thief displays all the organizational zeal that would later characterize a whole generation of progressives. We also see in him a familiar sense of entitlement. Alinsky has a “right” to steal because stealing is, from his perverse point of view, a form of social justice. Alinsky and his freeloading buddies were just getting their “fair share.”
From petty scams, Alinsky wanted to move up into bigger ones. Once again they were framed in terms of social justice. He changed his academic focus to criminology and managed to work his way into the confidence of various Chicago gangs like the 42 Mob and the Sholto Street Gang. Eventually, he penetrated the Capone mob itself and got to know the top brass personally.
In particular, he became good friends with Frank Nitti, Capone’s “enforcer” and No. 2 man. “Nitti took me under his wing,” Alinsky told Playboy. “I called him the Professor, and I became his student. Nitti’s boys took me everywhere, showed me all the mob’s operations, from gin mills to whorehouses and bookie joints. I got to know the workings of the Capone mob inside out.”
Alinsky plainly admired how the Capone gang could shake down various merchants and commercial establishments and extort money from them at will. “They had Chicago tied up tight as a drum,” he recalled. “They owned the city, from the cop on the beat right up to the mayor.”
Then he had a crucial insight. Perhaps there was a legal way to organize a shakedown. “Here I am, a smart son of a b–ch. I graduated cum laude and all that s–t.” He knew he could figure a way. “And then,” he says, “it came to me, that little light bulb lit over my head.”
Basically, Alinsky realized that the answer was politics. In politics, you can steal from people without violence or the risk of getting knocked off yourself. In politics, there is such a thing as legal theft. So Alinsky moved to politics, yet he patterned his political operations on what he learned from crime. Even the term “community organizer,” which Alinsky invited, is derived from the term “organized crime.”
Alinsky recognized, however, that ripoffs to avoid detection must be camouflaged in the language of morality and social justice. Long before Obama and Hillary, their mentor Alinsky mastered the art of the “fair share” pitch.
“I learned a hell of a lot about the uses and abuses of power from the mob,” Alinsky said, “lessons that stood me in good stead later on, when I was organizing.” But never did it occur to the mob that their shakedown operations could somehow be portrayed as just or good for society. Despite the rhetorical flimflam, Alinsky always recognized that he was extracting money and power from those who had it in just the way criminal gangs did.
The mob taught Alinsky, and Alinsky founded a school that taught his methods to scores of disciples, most prominently including a current president, Barack Obama, and an aspiring one, Hillary Clinton.
Hillary got to know Alinsky in high school, invited him to speak at Wellesley College and wrote her thesis on him. He offered her a job, but Hillary figured out how to do the master one better. Rather than be an outside agitator, she would find a way to use government power to pull off her heists. In the book “Clinton Cash,” Peter Schweizer shows how Hillary used her positions as U.S. senator and then secretary of state to lubricate a continuing flow of cash both to the Clinton Foundation and to the personal coffers of the Clintons themselves.
Obama studied under Alinsky’s team and became a trainer in Alinsky shakedown methods. Obamacare is a classic Alinsky caper. Obama conned the American people into thinking he was conspiring with them against the insurance companies, whereas in fact he conspired with the insurance companies against the American people. Obama got the insurance industry to support Obamacare by agreeing to force millions of Americans to buy insurance they did not want, thus increasing industry profits. In this way Obama extended government control – his control – over one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Alinsky would have been impressed to see this scam pulled off at the highest levels of government.
Alinsky died rich in the well-heeled beachside town of Carmel, California. (He literally dropped dead of a heart attack on his way home from the bank.) Likewise his most prominent disciples, Obama and Hillary, started out modestly but are both on their way to amassing huge personal fortunes. These fortunes, however, are not earned by producing anything but rather through shaking down productive businesses and hardworking citizens. We are the ones paying for the lordly lifestyles of these ripoff artists.
It has always been the mobster’s dream to control a bigger empire, even to run a country. Capone was like Don Corleone. He didn’t get there himself – but if he knew that his operations have indirectly inspired the current and aspiring leadership of the United States, surely he would be smiling.
Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, “Stealing America,” is published by Broadside, an imprint of HarperCollins.