Reposted: March 14, 2014
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.