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The Many Tentacles Of ‘Cloward-Piven’

As we mentioned in our previous article, the left is seeking to blame the current economic crisis on a conspiracy that is an inversion of the actual facts.

Indeed, the fantasy presented by Mr. Cook and his cohorts is the mirror image of very real “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” which has played a secret but undeniably pivotal role in the financial meltdown.

There is probably no better introduction to the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” than that found at the indispensible Discover The Networks website:


First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, 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.

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), Cloward and Piven published an article titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, The Nation sold an unprecedented 30,000 reprints. Activists were abuzz over the so-called "crisis strategy" or "Cloward-Piven Strategy," as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

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."

Their article called for "cadres of aggressive organizers" to use "demonstrations to create a climate of militancy." Intimidated by threats of black violence, politicians would appeal to the federal government for help. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution," in the form of a guaranteed living income for all — working and non-working people alike. Local officials would clutch at this idea like drowning men to a lifeline. They would apply pressure on Washington to implement it. With every major city erupting into chaos, Washington would have to act.

This was an example of what are commonly called Trojan Horse movements — mass movements whose outward purpose seems to be providing material help to the downtrodden, but whose real objective is to draft poor people into service as revolutionary foot soldiers; to mobilize poor people en masse to overwhelm government agencies with a flood of demands beyond the capacity of those agencies to meet. The flood of demands was calculated to break the budget, jam the bureaucratic gears into gridlock, and bring the system crashing down. Fear, turmoil, violence and economic collapse would accompany such a breakdown — providing perfect conditions for fostering radical change. That was the theory.

Cloward and Piven recruited a militant black organizer named George Wiley to lead their new movement. In the summer of 1967, Wiley founded the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). His tactics closely followed the recommendations set out in Cloward and Piven’s article. His followers invaded welfare offices across the United States — often violently — bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. By 1969, NWRO claimed a dues-paying membership of 22,500 families, with 523 chapters across the nation.

Regarding Wiley’s tactics, The New York Times commented on September 27, 1970, "There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests – and, on occasion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones."These methods proved effective. "The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley’s wildest dreams," writes Sol Stern in the City Journal.  "From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city’s private economy." As a direct result of its massive welfare spending, New York City was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. The entire state of New York nearly went down with it. The Cloward-Piven strategy had proved its effectiveness.

The Cloward-Piven strategy depended on surprise. Once society recovered from the initial shock, the backlash began. New York’s welfare crisis horrified America, giving rise to a reform movement which culminated in "the end of welfare as we know it" — the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which imposed time limits on federal welfare, along with strict eligibility and work requirements. Both Cloward and Piven attended the White House signing of the bill as guests of President Clinton.

Most Americans to this day have never heard of Cloward and Piven. But New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attempted to expose them in the late 1990s. As his drive for welfare reform gained momentum, Giuliani accused the militant scholars by name, citing their 1966 manifesto as evidence that they had engaged in deliberate economic sabotage. "This wasn’t an accident," Giuliani charged in a 1997 speech. "It wasn’t an atmospheric thing, it wasn’t supernatural. This is the result of policies and programs designed to have the maximum number of people get on welfare."

Cloward and Piven never again revealed their intentions as candidly as they had in their 1966 article. Even so, their activism in subsequent years continued to rely on the tactic of overloading the system. When the public caught on to their welfare scheme, Cloward and Piven simply moved on, applying pressure to other sectors of the bureaucracy, wherever they detected weakness.

In 1982, partisans of the Cloward-Piven strategy founded a new "voting rights movement," which purported to take up the unfinished work of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Like ACORN, the organization that spear-headed this campaign, the new "voting rights" movement was led by veterans of George Wiley’s welfare rights crusade. Its flagship organizations were Project Vote and Human SERVE, both founded in 1982. Project Vote is an ACORN front group, launched by former NWRO organizer and ACORN co-founder Zach Polett. Human SERVE was founded by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, along with a former NWRO organizer named Hulbert James.

All three of these organizations — ACORN, Project Vote and Human SERVE — set to work lobbying energetically for the so-called Motor-Voter law, which Bill Clinton ultimately signed in 1993. The Motor-Voter bill is largely responsible for swamping the voter rolls with "dead  wood" — invalid registrations signed in the name of deceased, ineligible or non-existent people — thus opening the door to the unprecedented  levels of voter fraud and "voter disenfranchisement" claims that followed in subsequent elections.

The new "voting rights" coalition combines mass voter registration drives — typically featuring high levels of fraud — with systematic intimidation of election officials in the form of frivolous lawsuits, unfounded charges of "racism" and "disenfranchisement," and "direct action" (street protests, violent or otherwise). Just as they swamped America’s welfare offices in the 1960s, Cloward-Piven devotees now seek to overwhelm the nation’s understaffed and poorly policed electoral system. Their tactics set the stage for the Florida recount crisis of 2000, and have introduced a level of fear, tension and foreboding to U.S. elections heretofore encountered mainly in Third World countries.

Both the Living Wage and Voting Rights movements depend heavily on financial support from George Soros’s Open Society Institute and his "Shadow Party," through whose support the Cloward-Piven strategy continues to provide a blueprint for some of the Left’s most ambitious campaigns.

Notice how the people who espouse the ‘Cloward-Piven Strategy’ run like a scarlet thread through the organizations that figure so largely in the housing and banking – and voting – scandals.

Note too how President Obama, a confessed Alinsky acolyte, worked for the Cloward-Piven inspired “Project Vote” project. In fact, it is one of his proudest achievements:

Moreover, as we were the first to uncover, Mr. Obama continued to work for “Project Vote/ACORN” and the Cloward-Piven people for many years later – as an instructor in their “power training” classes– despite his many claims to the contrary.

Indeed, as the DTN article notes, Project Vote and its umbrella group ACORN were both spun out of George Wiley’s Cloward-Piven project, the “National Welfare Rights Organization.”

The details of which we will address in our next article.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, March 21st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

21 Responses to “The Many Tentacles Of ‘Cloward-Piven’”

  1. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Pretty scary stuff. Too bad for them that their are lots of people like me who will tell them to go to hell with their radical, subversive schemes. Their calculated actions are nothing short of outright sedition. Anyway we can get these guys under the RICO laws?

    • pagar says:

      Does anyone believe Obama is going to let his Dept of Justice work on a RICO case against this group??????????I don’t think so.

  2. proreason says:

    The “overloading” theme is playing out since jan 21 in a different form……so many initiatives have been thrown in the air at the same time that the political system is incapable of handling them and chaos is arising.

    It could be a long list, but just as STARTERS, consider:
    – The Depression Stimulus Bill (note the forced sense of urgency….had to happen immediately)
    – The $X Trillion Deficit Budget (and counting)
    – TARP II
    – Aftermath of TARP I (AIG demagoguery) with the totally unnecessary but fever-pitched forced anger
    – Cranking up Universal Health Care while all these other balls are in the air
    – multiple frightening and even contradictory tax proposals
    – non-sensical actions in foreign policy (outreach to Iran via YouTube)
    – lunatic proposal to get veterans to pay for their own health care
    – attacks on conservative spokemen

    So what do we get…..Stimulus Bill with idiotic errors because adults didn’t have time to read it……retro-active illegal Bills of Attainder to tax people with contractual compensation….Brown Shirts created and nobody notices because of so many other aberations in the system…..etc., etc., etc.

    This is DELIBERATE created chaos designed to dull the ability of The Moron’s political opponents to respond in a rational manner.

    • jobeth says:

      “This is DELIBERATE created chaos designed to dull the ability of The Moron’s political opponents to respond in a rational manner.”

      Pro, you have nailed it.

      This is exactly why I said Obama is only a front man for an entire machine of socialist/communists.

      This is too big for one man’s “ideas” or ideology.

      Obama is intelligent but not smart enough to plan all this by himself.

      We have been in the crosshairs of this plan for years.

      What really frightens me is so many starry eyed dupes who just can’t see the truth and who see people who call a spade a spade as “radical”.

      I think the reason there has been no effort to fill all the vacant Treasury slots is that it’s easier for the machine to manage one dufus than 15.

    • Right of the People says:


      Barry’s not as smart as you think. Look what happens anytime someone takes his teleprompter away. He stutters and mumbles, eh, uh, ah, uh, uh like a moron. His handlers have a script for him, we just need to find a way to snatch it away from him and expose him for the fraud that he is. He’s the ultimate empty suit and has never lived in the real world like all of us have. I’m terrified that something bad on the scale of another terrorist attack is going to expose him and he’s going to make some fatal mistakes for the country. I pray every night that if something happens, it is minor but big enough to let people see what an incompetent buffoon he truly is.

      Keep the faith.


  3. EvilConservo says:

    Well, the lunatics are getting their wish big time now. Why aren’t the Republicans and other conservatives with some power rising up in big numbers against all this? Because they are wimps and pretty much contributors to what is happening.

  4. russ51 says:

    Now this bit blows my mind: National Welfare Rights Organization!

    These parasites think they have rights to our money?!?!

    From Dr. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation : “Little-noted provisions in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate stimulus bills actually abolish this historic reform. In addition, the stimulus bills will add nearly $800 billion in new means-tested welfare spending over the next decade. This new spending amounts to around $22,500 for every poor person in the U.S. The cost of the new welfare spending amounts, on average, to over $10,000 for each family paying income tax”…

    Now this dog & pony show regarding AIG is the smoke screen to hide the real hosing the productive in this country will be getting in order to makes sure the parasites get a better deal with OUR money?!?!

  5. Grzegorz says:

    This expose about the Left’s nefarious machinations is all fine and well. But, comrades, what are we gonna do about it? Is ACORN being held accountable? For anything? Oh, yeah; it’s “under investigation. Yeah, right! Remember how easy it was to make fraudulent donations via the Internet to the Annoited One’s campaign? Please excuse me if I say “So what? Nothing will be done. Just business as usual. Republicans/conservatives won’t do diddly squat about these issues.”

    • Steve says:

      Did you miss this part of the article:

      The Cloward-Piven strategy depended on surprise. Once society recovered from the initial shock, the backlash began. New York’s welfare crisis horrified America, giving rise to a reform movement which culminated in “the end of welfare as we know it” — the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which imposed time limits on federal welfare, along with strict eligibility and work requirements.

      The other side are not supermen. There aren’t even that many of them.

      They are the same tired corp in various guises.

      And making them known is an important first step.

      If they can be defeated (however temporarily) in New York City, they can be defeated anywhere.

    • Grzegorz says:

      No, Mr. Steve, I didn’t miss the part you refered to. That’s part of my point. What the Left has done/is doing is recognized and once in a while there is a backlash. Sort of related to this: remember how we were going to start drilling for oil due to the public’s demand that we do so? Whatever happened to that issue? In other words, sure, the public will kick up a fuss, the Democrats say basically “Never mind. This’ll blow over. Just ride it out a bit. Stand your ground. We will not be held accountable. And if we are, well, we have connections with sympathizers in the judiciary to overturn any adverse adjudications.” And… it’ll be back to business as usual.

  6. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    My late father told me that within a generation of his passing, there would be a terrible race war in our country. He was partially wrong but also part right. The handwriting is on the wall. There will be a conflict but between the classes. Those who have worked hard and gotten ahead will be preyed upon by the non-working, resentful, envious class who feel they have a rightful share to someone elses wealth. The only problem now is that we have a cabal of lefties in power who see nothing wrong with robbing those of means to give to those who have not. All in the name of fairness. It’s nothing but Stalinism under another name.

  7. VMAN says:

    So it seems to me that they have been using our own system and laws against us for decades. I guess we need to start using their laws or tactics against them. If they want to cap salaries for bailed out companies lets start with GE who I believe owns NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. Lat’s cap all the anchors salaries and let start with Kieth Blabberman. I’m sure if we get creative we can make their system collapse. It’s like this, no matter how socialist they try to make a country it still needs money to exist. Dry up their funds. There are allot of you out there a whole lot smarter the me so let’s get those minds to work and find ways to make their own tactics work against them. Hey all you Christians how about this instead of listening to a sermon, whether it’s uplifting or boring, this Sunday, Wednesday or whenever get out and feed the poor take care of the widows and orphans and the stranger in the land. Instead of calling yourselves a Christian be one. I know I know you all say we give to the orphanage and the needy well I think it’s time to wear out some shoe leather instead. The numbers are there (in the churches I mean) and they dwarf (my apologies to little people) anything that acorn and their ilk have. If any of you want to get pissed off at me so be it. As the Bible say “have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

  8. canary says:

    1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    2 This I declare about the Lord:
    He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
    3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
    4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
    5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
    6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
    7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
    8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

    9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
    10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
    11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
    12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
    13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

    14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
    15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
    16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”
    Psalm 91

  9. VMAN says:

    I’ll tell you something trying to organize conservatives is like herding cats. I know conservatives are having tea parties all over the country. Yea for a couple of hours and then they go their separate ways. The one in Orlando was, I believe 2 hours. These left wing lug nuts have been doing this for decades. If there are some substantive organization out there that the average guy can hook up with to combat these idiots will someone please let me know? I mentioned churches in my last post and got no response. One thing churches need to do is toss their 501C3 status and start speaking out politically. The reason I pick on churches is because they have ceded their responsibility to the state little by little over the decades. Well enough about that. Again is their any organized group fighting what is in the above article?

  10. canary says:

    VMAN, I’m not sure what your original post on church meant. I agree that know one is doing anything, cause I wasted a few days calling politicans and organizations and people don’t care. As far as the churches the 501C3 status does not prevent them from informing church members, of anything going on in the world. For instance it does not preven the church from handing out showing how politians voted on an issue. The probelm with churches today, is they have become money changers, and most care about getting members for money. They twist the scriptures that people are to give 10% to the church, when it does not say to do this. I recall a church, that the Preacher didn’t like doing 3 services on Sunday, so he wanted a bigger church to one service. The bigger churces are luring youth, with gameboxes, and stuff. If a pastor started preaching about politics they will sure to offend someone, and they don’t want to lose members. Nothing stops church members from donating money where you think it will help, your cause. There are churches with skating rinks, swimming pools, etc. It’s all about money.

    You might donate to the NRA. I’ve been checking the news reports that Mexico drug cartel, get’s 90 plus of their guns and ammo from the U.S. So, I’m thinking what happens to the guns confiscated. Then you hear the anti-gun people screaming for more gun control. Course Obama has been for no manufacturing of guns, not just more laws. Well, the NRA is saying it’s all a lie, that Mexico won’t provide any evidence, not even ceareal numbers off the guns. The NRA are experts, and basically the key players in that we still have guns.
    Christmas depresses me. It’s just not simple like it used to be. Soooo much money on decorations, wrapping paper, and that kind of stuff. Sick of seeing it in the stores for 3 monthes. Dont’ know if one year without decorations would bankrupt the country, but that’s just me. Years ago, I bought decorations and told my oldest son, I can’t do this. We took them back, got stuff and gave to for a poor minority family. Course my son got presents.

  11. brad says:

    I personally COULD CARE A LESS! If the leftists destroy our country. Alinsky et. al forget to write the next chapter: Once wealth and government are destroyed, there is nothing left for the welfare people to do but continue to rob and steal like the tribes in Africa. Eventually they will die off in greater numbers as they have no skill or ability to feed themselves—what with the hand-out gov’t that once kept them alive is now dead. Win-Win for sure.

    The police and lawyer state will die as well. Nothing could be more perfect than the destruction of the lawyer state! To have the opportunity to rid the world of these blood-sucking weeds is worth it, even at the expense of the richest country in the world. Once these people are rounded up and face the guillotine (like in France) the country can begin again, this time with rules and laws that will be lawyer-proof.

    Without a gov’t the leftists would surely lose the street fights for the grab of power. No question, conservatives would be more willing to fight than let the leftists rebuild the country again in their image that they fought so hard to destroy. Conservatives could possibly enlist the favors of even more conservative forces (Arabs) to crush the heathen liberals that they so much hate, and even convert them if they can. —Bonus!

    As I said before, there is nothing sweeter than to let America fall, and rid ourselves of the nanny/police state we, and the world, has had to live under. It was a good run, time to let it die a proper death, and take it to the streets. . . .

  12. Yarddog1 says:

    I, too heard the predictions of a “race war” as a young man. I am 58-years old and I have seen it come to pass. It is here today – the first shots haven’t been fired from a gun yet but, IT IS HERE. Instead of race it is class (although the two are almost synonomous). And, what is scary is that His Smug Arrogance is promoting it. The apthetic among us should wake up before it is too late. I remember a Spanish teacher from junior high school who had escaped from Cuba. Her family were once wealthy farmers with a nice big house. Ole’ Castro just took the house and moved in several families and allocated a room to my teacher’s fmaily. Don’t think it can’t happen here.

    • proreason says:

      I’ve expressed my share of racial animosity here and elsewhere, but when I step away from it, I can’t say that my relationships with minorities are as bad as the political climate in this country. Mostly, I’m disappointed that people are so easily persuaded to do stupid things.

      99% of the problems in this country are created by politicians inciting hatred for political gain. Nowadays the hatred is mostly directed by criminal politicians toward earners, rather than specifically toward white people.

      For that reason, my anger is directed at elected officials much more than any other group of people.

      99% of politicians should be thrown in jail immediately. That would improve race relationship immediately.

  13. RedDot says:

    We can take this group down. I explain in an article on my blog http://www.reddotinaredstate.com We need a few volunteers who have some time on their hands. But I know ACORN can be destroyed.

    Please help.

  14. Travis says:

    Anyone who denies that Obama is not a Socialist has their blinkers on. he also has a penchant for radical friends and advisers.

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