Posted by Warren Beatty on 30 July, 2011 at 10:59 am. 32 comments already!

The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Nan G mentioned the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” in a comment the other day. Hers was a very astute observation, so I thought I would expand upon it. And, it’s quite timely right now!

The Cloward-Piven Strategy was published in The Nation in 1966. The strategy was developed by Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, professors at Columbia University in NYC. Piven was married to Cloward. They wrote an article titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” advocating increased enrollment in social welfare programs in order to collapse that system and force reforms, leading to a guaranteed annual income. This political strategy has been referred to as the “Cloward-Piven strategy.”

The Cloward-Piven Strategy was inspired by the August 1965 riots in the black district of Watts in Los Angeles (which erupted after police had used batons to subdue a black man suspected of drunk driving). In their 1966 article, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty,” 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 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.

From Kurt Nimmo at, we learn: It is a mistake to believe the Cloward-Piven Strategy is scheme cooked up by academic Marxists of “New Left.” In fact, “the destruction of capitalism in America is a meticulous plan on the part of the global elite to consolidate power and destroy all opposition.” It has nothing to do with liberating the proletariat, but rather subjecting them to “world-socialism, scientifically planned and directed” and devised to transform the planet into a high-tech prison gulag.”

Saul Alinsky and his Book

Saul Alinsky is probably the best-known “community organizer” in the country today. Even though he died in 1972, he is still remembered for his book, Rules For Radicals,” published in 1971. In it he wrote, “What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. ‘The Prince’ was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. ‘Rules for Radicals’ is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

From Noam Cohen at The New York Times, we learn, “The disruption of the town hall meetings has many Alinsky trademarks: using spectacle to make up for lack of numbers; targeting an individual to make a large point; and trying to use ridicule to persuade the undecided.”

Here are some excerpts from “Rules for Radicals.”

  • Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical: One of our greatest revolutionary heroes was Francis Marion of South Carolina, who became immortalized in American history as “the Swamp Fox.” Marion was a revolutionary guerrilla. British General Cornwallis and the regular British Army found their plans and operations harried and disorganized by Marion’s guerrilla tactics. Cornwallis was very critical of Marion’s tactics.
  • Don’t worry if they call you names: The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a “dangerous enemy.”
  • The first step: The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.
  • Being on TV can be empowering: A man, in a demonstration at City Hall, might find himself confronting the mayor and saying, “Mr. Mayor, we have had it up to here and we are not going to take it any more.” Television cameramen put their microphones in front of him and ask, “What is your name, sir?”
  • Find a single person to focus your energies on: It should be borne in mind that the target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target. There is a constant squirming and moving and strategy – purposeful, and malicious at times.
  • Do not ignore the lower-middle class: They are a fearful people, who feel threatened from all sides: the nightmare of pending retirement and old age with a Social Security decimated by inflation; the shadow of unemployment from a slumping economy, with blacks, already fearsome because the cultures conflict, threatening job competition; the high cost of long-term illness; and finally with mortgages outstanding, they dread the possibility of property devaluation from non-whites moving into the neighborhood.

It should also be noted that Mr. Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer.

Influence on Obama

Alinsky is considered to be the founder of modern community organizing in America. Alinsky’s teachings influenced Obama early in his career as a community organizer on the far South Side of Chicago. Obama worked for Gerald Kellman‘s Developing Communities Project where he learned and taught Alinsky’s methods for community organizing.

By following this link, you will see a chart that puts Obama at the epicenter of an incestuous stew of American radical leftism. Not only are his connections significant, they practically define who he is. Taken together, they constitute a who’s who of the American radical left, and guiding all is the Cloward-Piven strategy.

In Breaking the System, David Horowitz and Liz Blane explain how Obama is using the Cloward-Piven Strategy to continuously manufacture crises of which he can take advantage, and to advance his agenda. Obama’s plan, “…is the product of a calculated strategy by the radical Left to subvert America’s free-enterprise system and to turn the country’s citizens into wards of an always-growing state whose ultimate objective is to engineer American lives. Specifically, Obama’s policies reflect the strategy developed by two leftist professors, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, in the mid-1960s to manufacture crises that will fracture our social and cultural institutions and pave the way for a socialist redistribution of wealth and control over every aspect of individual endeavor.

From Greene Opinion, we learn, “In an August 31, 2008 letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe, Saul Alinsky’s son, David, said “Obama learned his lesson well” and that David was proud “to see my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully.” “No doubt Obama was a fan of the Alinsky model and method. He said so himself in his book Dreams from my Father.” “In a New York Post article published September 8, 2008 is says: Obama adopted the big government ethos that prevails among neighborhood organizers, who view attempts to reform poverty programs as attacks on the poor…He also derided the “old individualistic boot strap myth” of achievement that conservatives were touting and called self-help strategies for the poor “thinly veiled excuses for cutting back on social programs.”


From James Simpson at American Thinker, we learn: “For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent – the failure is deliberate. Don’t laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.” [IMHO this article is excellent – a “must read”]

From Conservative Daily News, we learn, “The Main Stream Media and Liberal defense of Obama’s Economic Policy has been that he is using “Keynesian Economics” to stabilize our economy and to give him time.” Regarding the Cloward-Piven Strategy, “Are we seeing this in play? I believe we are – this has been Obama’s plan from the beginning.”

From Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, we get this quote: “Either Barack Obama is the worst economic president in American history or he is working an intentional Cloward-Piven strategy to bring this great nation to its knees. There really is no other explanation.”

From Nancy Coppock at American Thinker, we learn: “Using borrowed money for a band-aid bailout of the economy should seem backwards to most people. However, it likely is a planned strategy to promote radical change. Obama adheres to the Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals method of politics, which teaches the dark art of destroying political adversaries. However, that text reveals only one front in the radical left’s war against America. The Cloward/Piven Strategy is another method employed by the radical Left to create and manage crisis. This strategy explains Rahm Emanuel’s ominous statement, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” As the flow of money from the top of the economy dries up, job losses and mortgage busts will mount exponentially. The Democrat stimulus plan provides for welfare expansion but not for a robust economy that creates high paying jobs. Is this what Obama means when he warns, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better?”

But that’s just my opinion.