From: "Mark R. Warren" <>

Dear Peter,

I read your comm-org paper with great interest. It's a perceptive and refreshing piece. I liked it because I think you show how Alinsky combined, or connected, or interrelated, the moral, political and scientific worlds into action. I think so much of our contemporary problem is the disconnection between these fields of action. Politics is the world of naked self-interest and power only; social scientists abandon any moral standpoint - any critique of injustice, prising a dispasssionate, so-called objective science; and religion too often retreats into the private world. I'm not advocating that social scientists become moralists. But our work (I'm a sociologist) needs to be guided by a moral vision and should seek to impact politics and social policy, the world of practice. There are perhaps many ways to interconnect science, morality and politics. Alinsky, and your interpretation of his work, offers much to learn from, as we all seek our own authentic path.


Mark R. Warren

Graduate School of Education

Harvard University


From: "Mark R. Warren" <>

13. Januar 2003

Dear Peter,

After I wrote you last week, I continued to think about your paper. I'm not sure it makes sense to give equal weight to "3 Alinskys." Yes, all of these things influenced and interested Alinsky, but he was primarily a "man of action", of politics.

Best of luck,



From: Peter Szynka <>

13.Januar 2003

Dear Mark,

I think you are right, Alinsky was a "man of action". But what I´m trying to do is to give the other two Alinsky´s more weight, because I think, that his integral approach could be an important contribution to politics as well as to science and to religion or morals. Alinsky "as a politician" has been utilized by parts of a somehow socialist movement during the 70th in West-Germany. This perception was selective and does not help for actual problems. Alinsky could be too easily discredited.

The movement of the 70th neglected the early "scientific" and the later "moral" Alinsky. I hope that the emphasis on this "scientific" and "moral" Alinsky would give him more stand (for instance like a schemel, a three-legged-chair) in Germany. Also my emphasis on science and morals should help to mobilize two important "forces" over here: (social-) science and organized religion.



From: Helene Slessarev-Jamir <> 21. Januar 2003

Hello Peter,

I noticed your article on the comm-org web page as well as Mark Warren's response. It’s good to see the contribution that I know comes from your own dissertation research. I agree with the points you make about Alinsky. I think one has to reassess the principles of organizing from a faith perspective, recognizing that Alinksy himself has not done that. Based on recent interviews that I have done with pastors whose congregations are doing organizing, I believe that in some cases Christians who become involved in organizing are not as strongly motivated by self-interest as Alinksy would have thought. At least self-interest is not the sole motivator. In practice they do not draw as sharp a distinction between the services their congregations offer, which organizers often call charity, and the organizing they do. Furthermore, the pastors often see justice tied to love and therefore they are more uncomfortable with the use of confrontative tactics in organizing. Finally, I have found examples of urban parishes with large numbers of poor members that have become deeply involved in organizing. Pastors emphasized the importance of gaining hope through tangible victories, but there is also an intangible element of hope that comes from faith which people draw on to sustain themselves.

From: Peter Szynka <> 21 Januar 2003


Dear Helene,

I'm not sure about it. I think it is reassessed from many faith-based people including the IAF. I don´t see any danger in loosing the connection to religion. I think that Alinsky too is always holding religious connection and aware on the religious roots of what he does. I think, that he is thinking the other way round, saying for instance that he is a "founding member of the Religious Anonymous". I think we have to care, that faith will not overlap secular and scientific thinking and that believing will not subsidize knowing. What we need is a good balance, as German philosopher Karl Jaspers would call a “reasonable faith” (= “vernünftiger Glaube”). (I guess, that my English is very bad today.)


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