The Cloward-Piven Strategy

The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Tap News | Ian

Martin Armstrong |

Overburden the bureaucracy to break the system, create controlled chaos, usurp power as civil unrest peaks, and offer government aid as the only solution.

This was the basis behind the Cloward-Piven strategy created by sociologists Frances Fox Piven and her husband, Richard Cloward.

The four steps of the Cloward-Piven Strategy:

1. Overload and Break the Welfare System

2. Have Chaos Ensue

3. Take Control in the Chaos

4. Implement Socialism and Communism through Government Force

The couple published their theory in The Nation Magazine on May 2, 1966, entitled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.”

This was a decade of political activism in America. The war in Vietnam was raging on and the alternative hippie lifestyle became prominent as people protested the violence. The Black Freedom Movement and the push for equal civil rights had peaked and helped to end the Jim Crow laws in the South by 1965. The LA race riots, also known as the Watts Rebellion, occurred in 1965 as well after the police beat a black man who was arrested for a DUI. That particular riot lasted for six days and led to 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, and over 3,000 arrests. This began a string of riots in America where black Americans and supporters clashed with police, similar to the events that occurred after the death of George Floyd that started the Black Lives Matter movement.

We had major political activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. making real change in America. The intelligence agencies had a close eye on him, and his death in 1968 is a topic for another post. On the other side were the likes of Malcom X, who originally did not advocate for peace as King did. The cohesive movement fell apart with mass unrest and no one at the helm. The movement began with African Americans asking for basic human rights and understandable anger. The purpose of the movement, again similar to BLM, became lost, and the government aimed to use the civil unrest to its advantage.

“[T]he strategy we propose, is a massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls,” the sociologists wrote in their theory. This theory aimed to overburden social programs at the state level to give the federal government the power to control the people.

“Widespread campaigns to register the eligible poor for welfare aid, and to help existing recipients obtain their full benefits, would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments. These disruptions would generate severe political strains, and deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the white working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor.”

Cloward and Piven noted that civil unrest was necessary to create change and encouraged the government to antagonize the masses. “The poor are most visible and proximate in the local community; antagonism toward them (and toward the agencies which are implicated with them) has always, therefore, been more intense locally than at the federal level.” As the anger brews and protests erupt, the government will lasso in the masses, acted as both the hero and the villain.

“In order to generate a crisis, the poor must obtain benefits, which they have forfeited. Until now, they have been inhibited from asserting claims by self-protective devices within the welfare system: its capacity to limit information, to intimidate applicants, to demoralize recipients, and arbitrarily to deny lawful claims.”

Tell the people that they are victims and instill a sense of entitlement for their neighbor’s assets. Remind the people consistently that they are oppressed and only an equal distribution of wealth can save them from the confines of poverty. Cloward and Piven insisted that hard work could not “elevate the poor en-mass from poverty.”

“The ultimate objective of this strategy–to wipe out poverty by establishing a guaranteed annual income,” the theory clearly stated. The theory stated that the creation of unions was a good start to bargain collectively, but still not enough to solve poverty. “Union leaders have understood that their strength derives almost entirely from their capacity to provide economic rewards to members,” the theory noted. “A federal program of income redistribution has become necessary to elevate the poor en masse from poverty,” meaning a shift away from capitalism entirely.

Cloward and Piven stated that a minimum standard of living must be provided to the people through federal welfare. That right must be guaranteed to end oppression, thereby ensuring Guaranteed Basic Income. Furthermore, there could be no conditions for benefits as it “results in violations of civil liberties.” Therefore, expecting able-bodied people to work would be an attack on the welfare system. The sociologists insisted that most people were in fact eligible for welfare and encouraged the government to advertise in brochures, schools, stores, churches, civic centers, and public housing projects. They even advised the government to send people door-to-door to explain to people that they are oppressed and deserving of GBI as a “civil education drive will lend it legitimacy.”

“As the crisis develops, it will be important to use the mass media to inform the broader liberal community about the inefficiencies and injustices of welfare.” To succeed, the shift away from capitalism required “mass influence” and “publicly visible disruption.” “Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest, which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognizable eruption to public attention.”

The bigger the crisis, the more power the government could usurp.

They noted that politicians paid attention to massive uprisings, and they had been used to “reinforce the allegiance of growing ghetto constituencies to the national Democratic Administration.” The sociologists noted that the Conservative Republicans would decry a public welfare system and that the Democrats needed to appeal to the emotions of the people over logic. They also urged for “a coalition between poor whites and poor Negroes” to turn the race war into class warfare.

“Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the drain on local resources persists indefinitely.” Cloward and Piven wanted to overburden the welfare system at the state level to eliminate state rights.

Therefore, under this theory, government is encouraged to market a crisis, antagonize the people, and offer a solution. The only solution being to replace capitalism with socialism or communism by which the people would be entirely dependent on government. You will own nothing and be happy.


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