The “Tea Party” book

Liberals and socialist have “Rules for Radical” by Saul Alinsky as their guide.  Tea Party groups have a guide as well.

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations,” has a thesis with understandable attraction for tea partiers — that poorly funded groups and companies loosely organized around basic shared ideas can change society, often by outmaneuvering governments or mega-corporations.

The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given part is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia.

The book was first published in 2006 — three years before the tea party movement burst onto the scene with mass protests against what it regarded as President Barack Obama’s unchecked expansion of government. But the idea that scrappy starfish groups can beat imposing spider institutions resonates deeply with tea partiers, who have vigilantly enforced their occasionally chaotic structure against would-be leaders, an eager GOP, and conventional Washington wisdom questioning whether an infrastructureless group can succeed in Big Money electoral politics.

“This book is about what happens when there’s no one in charge,” write the book’s authors, Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. “It’s about what happens when there’s no hierarchy. You’d think there would be disorder, even chaos. But in many arenas, a lack of traditional leadership is giving rise to powerful groups that are turning industry and society upside down.”

The book has become something of a secret password for tea party activists seeking to weed out ‘wannabe’ tea party leaders or establishment types seeking to install a top-down structure on the movement, according to Jenny Beth Martin, a tea party patriots founder.

the book also seems to encapsulate some of the central dilemmas facing tea party activists as they struggle to transition from a protest movement to one that flexes its muscles through lobbying and electing representatives who share their small-government principles.

A faithful application of the starfish theory would seem to hold that, in order to perpetuate the tea party’s grass-roots momentum, tea partiers should reject the compromises often necessary to unite behind candidates and resist the temptation to raise the money and build the centralized infrastructure traditionally used to elect them.

“The tea party is encountering a very spidery political system where it is about power and it is about money and it is about getting someone into office,” Brafman told POLITICO. “It can be easier to unite around shared values if you’re not trying to elect people into office.”

“If the tea party starts bringing money and power into the equation, that makes some people more equal than others, and they will start losing the advantages of being adaptable and starfish-like,” Brafman said. “That’s the biggest challenge the tea party movement is facing.”

And while the book celebrates the splintering of starfish-like groups, those splits can translate into the kind of bitter internal disputes that have sometimes beset tea party groups. (Source: Politico)

Interesting to say the least.  But part of the reason for the Tea Party success is the fact their isn’t one leader, but many.

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