From the Pen of David Horowitz: October 30, 2009


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In the Sixties, Cloward and Piven had practically invented the strategy of exploiting black rage to advance the cause of “social justice.” Their formula even bore their names: the Cloward-Piven strategy.On August 11, 1965, the black district of Watts in Los Angeles exploded in violence when police used batons to subdue a man suspected of drunk driving. Riots raged for six days, spilling over into other parts of the city, and leaving 34 dead. Democrats used the tragedy to promote an expansion of the welfare state, promising new government programs to address the problem of the inner city poor. Cloward and Piven turned the tragedy into a strategy for the left.

Barely three months after the fires of Watts had subsided, they began privately circulating copies of an article they had written called “Mobilizing the Poor: How it Could Be Done.”  In their view destruction could be a creative force, particularly if the destructive effort was focused on the vulnerable underbelly of the welfare state. While liberals sought to expand welfare services, Cloward and Piven proposed to overload the welfare system and destroy it.

When the strategy paper was published six months later as an article in The Nation, it electrified the Left. Activists were abuzz over the new strategy, which was variously dubbed the “crisis strategy,” the “flood-the-rolls, bankrupt-the-cities” strategy or just simply the “Cloward-Piven  strategy.” It would become the play book for Shadow Party radicals working for “regime change.”

The Shadow Party

For more on the Cloward-Piven strategy see Matthew Vadum’s post from October 28.

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