Many commentators on the U.S. left have tried to minimize the significance and importance of the Cloward-Piven Strategy, made famous by writer James Simpson and TV personality Glenn Beck.
According to Simpson and Beck, Columbia University sociologists, husband and wife team Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, devised a strategy in the early 1960s, to crash the U.S. economy and bring on socialist revolution by deliberately overloading state welfare rolls to the point of bankruptcy.
Many on the left regard this hypotheses as gross exaggeration at best, deliberate misrepresentation at worst.
Dr. Cloward’s paper for the Socialist Scholars opened with a call for a systematic strategy of “irregular and disruptive tactics” among the poor, urging them to overburden city and state governments with their “demand,,” as a means of forcing these governments to turn to the federal government for more and more funds.
Prof. Cloward said, “We need, to devote more attention to disrupting corporate power.” He described the poor as mere “supplicants” in the welfare state, and said they have most to gain “from a major upheaval in our society.” He said our welfare system is “lawless” and violates human and civil rights. He called for welfare recipients’ forcing city welfare departments to impose the labor union “check-off system” for welfare clients, by withholding 50 cents to a dollar for each client as dues to a fund for unionization of welfare clients to impose their demands for special benefits.
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