Cloward-Piven-Rand?

If, as the old saw goes, politics makes strange bedfellows, what kind of bedfellows does the endeavor to restructure our entire society create?

Very
strange bedfellows -- very strange bedfellows, indeed.

Regular visitors to American Thinker are well familiar with the names Cloward (Richard Andrew) and Piven (Frances Fox), along with their so-called Cloward-Piven Strategy. Sundry are the articles on Cloward-Piven adorning the august pages of American Thinker. Zero are the favorable ones.

...Until now.

Having examined the Cloward-Piven Strategy, just to assure myself (if not the reader) that I haven't taken leave of my senses, I am moved to ask: Have we conservatives been too hard on Cloward-Piven? Are we right to oppose the two sociologists and their eponymous strategy? Or is our visceral opposition to their beliefs and goals causing us to miss a "strange bedfellow" hiding in plain sight?

First, let's briefly review the strategy, just to make sure we're all on the same page. The Cloward-Piven Strategy is often -- and inaccurately -- described as a strategy "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." Though that might be the ultimate result, the strategy's actual, immediate goal is much more modest: to overload all welfare programs, at all levels of government, and thereby force the federal government to guarantee every American a minimum annual income.

However much it may seem so at first blush, this is not socialism. There is neither a call nor a need for "the people to own the means of production." Nor does the strategy seek to equalize incomes; it merely seeks to redistribute wealth -- which, as astute readers may have noticed, Democrats have managed to do very well under capitalism. And frankly, who is to say that eliminating all of the current welfare programs -- their redundancy, their multiple levels of bureaucracy, their inefficiency -- and simply handing our, shall we say, less productive citizens a wad of cash and sending them on their way might not be better? Or at least cheaper?

I'm just sayin'. But what concerns us here today is not Cloward-Piven's goal, but the means of achieving it, which indeed is to bring down the current system by urging as many qualified recipients as possible to sign up for federal poverty-assistance programs in order to broaden the eligibility requirements. This will make additional people eligible, and these people will then lobby Congress to create new programs.

So, irrespective of the Cloward-Piven Strategy's ultimate goal, its intermediate goal is undeniably to bring down the current system. And needless to say, "Treason!" "Hang 'em!" or some polite-society equivalent is the instinctive reaction from conservatives. But if they could restrain themselves and think for a moment, conservatives might realize that Cloward and Piven have some interesting company.

Cloward and Piven, meet Ayn Rand.

I have no idea whether Richard Cloward or Frances Piven has read Atlas Shrugged. But if they didn't, they should, because though no one could differ more than Cloward-Piven and Rand on ends, they are astonishingly in total agreement on means. Recall the basic plot of Atlas Shrugged: John Galt, a disgruntled inventor whose work is appropriated for "the common good," decides to "stop the motor of the world" by convincing the world's innovators, inventors, and producers to stop innovating, inventing, and producing. Galt's theory is that, deprived of these people's intellect and industry, the state would be forced to supply the wealth that Galt and his ilk do not. As the state has no means to do this, the system would break down, force government to "get out of the way," and herald the advent of pure capitalism.

Of course, Atlas Shrugged holds a place of honor on most conservatives' must-read lists. So let's be honest: A lot of us would like to bring down the current system, too. So if we do in fact share, at least temporarily, Cloward-Piven's intermediate goal, should we not at least consider working with, rather than against, them? Why not a Cloward-Piven-Rand Strategy whereby, simultaneously, we convince the innovators, inventors, and producers to stop innovating, inventing, and producing -- and they convince every eligible American to apply for every available social program and lobby for government at all levels to create even more? Would our combined efforts not bring down the current system -- a goal we both share -- even faster?

Ultimately, the Cloward-Piven crowd's path and ours would necessarily diverge, to put it mildly. But for the present, while we share a common goal, why not work together, just as America and the Soviet Union fought together in World War II? Later, when the war is the war won, when the common enemy -- the current system -- is defeated, we can go back to fighting each other.

And then may the better system prevail.

Gene Schwimmer is the author of The Christian State.
If, as the old saw goes, politics makes strange bedfellows, what kind of bedfellows does the endeavor to restructure our entire society create?

Very
strange bedfellows -- very strange bedfellows, indeed.

Regular visitors to American Thinker are well familiar with the names Cloward (Richard Andrew) and Piven (Frances Fox), along with their so-called Cloward-Piven Strategy. Sundry are the articles on Cloward-Piven adorning the august pages of American Thinker. Zero are the favorable ones.

...Until now.

Having examined the Cloward-Piven Strategy, just to assure myself (if not the reader) that I haven't taken leave of my senses, I am moved to ask: Have we conservatives been too hard on Cloward-Piven? Are we right to oppose the two sociologists and their eponymous strategy? Or is our visceral opposition to their beliefs and goals causing us to miss a "strange bedfellow" hiding in plain sight?

First, let's briefly review the strategy, just to make sure we're all on the same page. The Cloward-Piven Strategy is often -- and inaccurately -- described as a strategy "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." Though that might be the ultimate result, the strategy's actual, immediate goal is much more modest: to overload all welfare programs, at all levels of government, and thereby force the federal government to guarantee every American a minimum annual income.

However much it may seem so at first blush, this is not socialism. There is neither a call nor a need for "the people to own the means of production." Nor does the strategy seek to equalize incomes; it merely seeks to redistribute wealth -- which, as astute readers may have noticed, Democrats have managed to do very well under capitalism. And frankly, who is to say that eliminating all of the current welfare programs -- their redundancy, their multiple levels of bureaucracy, their inefficiency -- and simply handing our, shall we say, less productive citizens a wad of cash and sending them on their way might not be better? Or at least cheaper?

I'm just sayin'. But what concerns us here today is not Cloward-Piven's goal, but the means of achieving it, which indeed is to bring down the current system by urging as many qualified recipients as possible to sign up for federal poverty-assistance programs in order to broaden the eligibility requirements. This will make additional people eligible, and these people will then lobby Congress to create new programs.

So, irrespective of the Cloward-Piven Strategy's ultimate goal, its intermediate goal is undeniably to bring down the current system. And needless to say, "Treason!" "Hang 'em!" or some polite-society equivalent is the instinctive reaction from conservatives. But if they could restrain themselves and think for a moment, conservatives might realize that Cloward and Piven have some interesting company.

Cloward and Piven, meet Ayn Rand.

I have no idea whether Richard Cloward or Frances Piven has read Atlas Shrugged. But if they didn't, they should, because though no one could differ more than Cloward-Piven and Rand on ends, they are astonishingly in total agreement on means. Recall the basic plot of Atlas Shrugged: John Galt, a disgruntled inventor whose work is appropriated for "the common good," decides to "stop the motor of the world" by convincing the world's innovators, inventors, and producers to stop innovating, inventing, and producing. Galt's theory is that, deprived of these people's intellect and industry, the state would be forced to supply the wealth that Galt and his ilk do not. As the state has no means to do this, the system would break down, force government to "get out of the way," and herald the advent of pure capitalism.

Of course, Atlas Shrugged holds a place of honor on most conservatives' must-read lists. So let's be honest: A lot of us would like to bring down the current system, too. So if we do in fact share, at least temporarily, Cloward-Piven's intermediate goal, should we not at least consider working with, rather than against, them? Why not a Cloward-Piven-Rand Strategy whereby, simultaneously, we convince the innovators, inventors, and producers to stop innovating, inventing, and producing -- and they convince every eligible American to apply for every available social program and lobby for government at all levels to create even more? Would our combined efforts not bring down the current system -- a goal we both share -- even faster?

Ultimately, the Cloward-Piven crowd's path and ours would necessarily diverge, to put it mildly. But for the present, while we share a common goal, why not work together, just as America and the Soviet Union fought together in World War II? Later, when the war is the war won, when the common enemy -- the current system -- is defeated, we can go back to fighting each other.

And then may the better system prevail.

Gene Schwimmer is the author of The Christian State.

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