The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Have you ever heard of the Cloward-Piven strategy?

“The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis…. …the ‘Cloward-Piven Strategy’ seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.”

The strategy is the brainchild of two radical Columbia University sociologists, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who introduced the idea in a 1966 article titled A Strategy to End Poverty. Much like German blitzkrieg tactics that overran Eastern Europe and France at the beginning World War II, the Cloward-Piven strategy relied on shock, surprise and speed to provoke a crisis that would collapse the welfare system, thus depriving the poor of their only safety net. The rationale for inflicting calculated misery on les miserables pauvres was to foment rioting, violence and economic collapse, creating the classical Marxian pre-conditions for radical change.

Of course this terrible idea isn’t terribly new. The Cloward-Piven strategy is straight out of the Marxist-Leninist playbook for bringing about a communist dictatorship. Vladimir Lenin formulated the theory while in exile in Zurich and put it into practice in 1917, with deadly consequences — literally — for 100 million people. Cloward and Piven’s only innovation was applying Lenin’s blueprint to unique characteristics and weaknesses of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

I just finished reading a three-part series of articles on the Cloward-Piven strategy. These articles are must reading for anyone who wants to understand the method behind the Left’s seeming madness, and provide the ideological context for the radical changes Obama and his progressive allies in Congress have in store for America.

Part one: Manufactured Crisis


Why does virtually every liberal scheme result in ever-increasing public spending while conditions seem to get continually worse? There are a number of reasons:

1. The programs usually create adverse incentives. This is especially true in so-called “anti-poverty” programs. The beneficiaries find government subsidies a replacement for, rather than a supplement to, gainful employment and eventually become incapable of supporting themselves. This in turn creates a dependent culture with its attendant toxic behaviors which demand still more government “remedies.”

2. The programs create their own industry, complete with scads of “think tanks” and “experts” who survive on government research grants. These are the aptly named “Beltway Bandits.”

3. They create their own bureaucracies, whose managers conspire with interested members of Congress to continually increase program funding, regardless of merit.

4. Members of Congress secure votes and campaign donations by extorting them from beneficiaries of such programs, either through veiled threats — “vote for me or those mean Republicans will wipe out your benefits” — or promises of still more bennies.

In short, all develop a vested interest in the program’s survival. But if the result is always more and more government, of government, by government, and for government, with no solution in sight, then why do liberals always see government as the solution rather than the problem?

Similarly, liberals use government to promote legislation that imposes mandates on the private sector to provide further benefits for selected groups. But the results are even more disastrous. For example, weighing the laws or stacking the courts to favor unions may provide short term security or higher pay for unionized labor, but has ultimately resulted in the collapse of entire domestic industries.

Another example is health care. The Dems are always trying to impose backdoor socialized medicine with incremental legislation. Why do you suppose American healthcare is in such crisis? Answer: the government has already become too deeply involved. For example, many hospitals are closing their doors because they are overwhelmed with the burden of caring for indigent patients, illegal immigrants and vagrants who must, by law, be admitted like everyone else, despite the fact that they cannot pay for services. Read about it here — Destroying Our Health Care. The net result is reduced availability of care for everyone, exactly the opposite of what liberals claim to want.

Part two: Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis


In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when “the rest of society is afraid of them,” Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would “the rest of society” accept their demands.

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven’s early promoters cited radical organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. “Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules,” Alinsky wrote in his 1972 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system’s failure to “live up” to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist “rule book” with a socialist one.

The authors noted that the number of Americans subsisting on welfare — about 8 million, at the time — probably represented less than half the number who were technically eligible for full benefits. They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.” Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level (emphasis added).”

Among other problems, implementing such utopian schemes inevitably inflict much suffering and hardship on the very victims the social engineers purport to want to help. Such avoiding tragedies are of no concern to Leftist revolutionaries, for whom the lives of the poor are as expendable as eggs used to make omeletes (for the “greater good” of course). But the immense human costs of radical Socialist experiments is immensely troubling to the bourgeoise majority (i.e., normal people). That is why such programs cannot pass without the full cooperation of a sympatico media.

Part three: Conspiracy of the Lemmings


The Left’s strategies could not survive the light of day. Our mass media is mostly to blame for this. Radicals require a sympathetic media to deliver their message in an acceptable fashion and actively suppress inconvenient facts that reveal these organizations’ true character and agenda. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is perhaps the most poignant current example of this. Without mass media’s shamelessly biased support, he would still be community organizing, or perhaps in jail.

It is a tangled web of radical interconnections with the ultimate goal being an end to our Constitutional framework, the fall of our Republic and its replacement with a radical vision of socialist utopia — finally removing the last major roadblock to world socialism.

These radical individuals are highly motivated, in many cases intelligent and talented, and sometimes even driven by what they would describe as altruistic motives. Yet the impacts of socialist central planning are inarguably destructive.

Marx may have had some interesting insights on history, but despite his ponderous three volume Das Kapital he was no economist. Instead, Kapital provided the intellectual excuse for Marx’s anarchistic Communist Manifesto.

And the severe verdict of history on his perverted vision is without equal: over 100 million people murdered by their own governments in times of peace, more than all the wars of history combined. The rest face abject poverty, mass starvation, economic and environmental ruin, all overseen by smothering, indescribably brutal governments — a grey, barren existence for all but the apparatchiks.

So why are so many Westerners infatuated with this demented vision?

This demented vision is precisely what Obama, Pelosi, and the other Democrats have planned for the rest of us. The only silver lining in the upcoming dystopia is that the fools who voted in 2008 for empty slogans from an empty vessel will be the least prepared to endure the coming whirlwind. The last shall indeed be first.


One Response to The Cloward-Piven Strategy

  1. ‘Folks…this lays out what is going on in America in a simple, easy to understand ‘Essay’….it will explain the ‘plan’ that Obama and his revolutionary minded Socialist crowd are following….the media’s role in deceiving us….and it will clearly help you to understand the ultimate goal of these people.’ Expand your mind while you can.’

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