How the Cloward-Piven Strategy is Destroying America and the World #398

Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven wrote about disruptive militant protests in 1966. Movements like Occupy, Woke protests were its offsprings. Even in India, anti-Modi government protests bear its imprint. An analysis.

How the Cloward-Piven Strategy is Destroying America and the World #398
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grayscale photo of woman in tank top
Photo by Edrece Stansberry / Unsplash
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

There is an interesting story from the Indian itihaas (history) epic Mahabharat. It is about the five Golden Arrows.

During the Mahabharata war, as the Kaurawas were losing, Duryodhana accused Bhishm of not fighting to his full strength because of his affection for the Pandavas. Bhishm, greatly angered, immediately picked up five golden arrows and declared that he would use them to kill five Pandavas the next day. Duryodhan, not having faith in Bhisma's words, asked to keep the arrows himself and return them the next morning.

That night, Krishna reminded Arjun of a promise offered by Duryodhana to him long back. Krishna asked Arjun to ask Duryodhan for the five golden arrows.

When went to Duryodhan and made the request, Duryodhan was shocked, but as a Kshatriya and bound by his promise, he had to honor his words.

He asked who had told Arjun about the arrows, to which Arjuna replied "who else other than Lord Krishna."

Duryodhan then went back to Bhishm to request another five golden arrows, but Bhishm laughed and replied that it was no longer possible.

Prosperity, security, and growth are born from capabilities within. Outside machinations cannot bring equity to society. Only human transformation can.

Disruption, chaos, militancy, and hate beget only one thing - social collapse.

That is when the powerful take full control. Very rarely have the five golden arrows ended up with Arjun!

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The Cloward Piven Doctrine of Social Collapse via Disruptive Power

Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven wrote a seminal article in the liberal American magazine "The Nation". It was titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty". Here is the pdf version of that article for your perusal.

According to the theory developed by Cloward and Piven, there existed a significant number of eligible Americans who were not receiving welfare benefits. To address this, they proposed a welfare enrollment drive that would create pressure on local budgets and result in a crisis at the state and local levels. This crisis would then serve as a catalyst for the federal government, particularly the Democratic Party, to take action. Cloward and Piven also believed that this strategy would have additional ripple effects.

Although the ultimate objective was the seed social discord and anarchy such that things go out of control, the first tool was to be an action of uncivil obedience. Quite different from the Civil Disobedience that Gandhi had perfected. Here the activists would not break laws. Rather, they would obey laws but on a scale that would bring the entire system down!

Per Cloward and Piven, the act of full enrollment of those eligible for welfare "would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments".

These disruptions would further "...deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be constrained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts,override and local revenue dilemmas."

To create a crisis - "educational campaigns" would be unleashed along with literature and brochures with clear instructions on what needed to be done and why. A step in the subversive strategies that has come to be known as "Toolkits" in India.

The "civic education drive" (or the toolkits, as are known in India for the many "movements" unleashed in the last few years) was to create legitimacy for the coming anarchy. That was the explicit intention of Cloward and Piven.

Source: "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" / first published in The Nation

As the strategy unfolded and the actions moved from simple education to political unrest and large-scale "protests" (that incidentally would include riots), aggressive militant organizers and their adherents were the essential components.

Civil Obedience would be followed by militant tactics.

To generate an expressly political movement, cadres of aggressive organizers would have to come from the civil rights movement and the churches, from militant low-income organizations like those formed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (that is, by Saul Alinsky), and from other groups on the Left. (Source: "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" / first published in The Nation)

Crisis was the goal. Interestingly Cloward and Piven kept calling the various crises like riots as spontaneously occurring when they did understand that they were the intended results of the tactics the protesters would undertake.

An institutional disruption in the society was the goal!

But why was institutional disruption such a prized goal? Because the politicians who are equipped in institutional shenanigans and jugglery have little capability to handle situations that threaten the very institutions that they have been gaming all along!

The conflict that comes along will take the political class out to an unfamiliar zone.

By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognized disruption to public attention. Public trouble is a political liability, it calls for action by political leaders to stabilize the situation. Because crisis usually creates or exposes conflict, it threatens to produce cleavages in a political consensus which politicians will ordinarily act to avert.

When such a political crisis is unleashed, the local machinery - both bureaucratic and political - will collapse!

And that was the aim.

Local social collapse.

Why was a local social collapse so important?? Because then, per Cloward and Piven, a federal solution will become imperative to address the local/regional collapse. That federal and central "top-down" change of laws/norms/policies to subvert local consensus was the ultimate aim of this whole exercise.

Their entire calculations were based on one assertion - the dramatic social collapse and anarchy due to militant actions (including riots) would overwhelm the political structure leading to a new structure dictated by the militant protesters.

Source: "Can Frances Fox Piven’s theory of disruptive power create the next Occupy?" / Waging Nonviolence

Of course, all these actions and disruptions, indeed anarchic collapse was with the noble aspiration of "eliminating poverty".

As if moralistic ideals have ever been the harbingers of good in human society. Quite the opposite has been the truth.

Every revolution has brought in even more terrible dictators. Bringing down of Czars brought the Leninists. The bringing down of the Shah of Iran led to one of the most brutal religious regimes in human history.

Revolutions do not change human societies. Human transformations do.

But keeping the obvious rubbish of moral constructs of Cloward-Piven strategy aside, what is the central control of the society that overrides the local aspirations and vote, does not lead to new laws but totalitarianism?

What if the result is a centralized command center with the ability and technology to override every institution and the democratic norm is unfettered control of the society while keeping it in abject poverty?

That would be a totalitarianist's dream come true.

But it could get worse.

Cloward-Piven style Takeover of India

We have talked about how using existing institutions, local disruptions could break the system leading to a central takeover of the society to bring in laws and policies that could override local policies.

That it is a totalitarian direction is obvious. But if the central government is a legitimately elected democratic government, it may still have some mandate from the people in a republic.

But what if the policymakers and the rulers at the helm have no accountability and no mandate?

Outlandish? Think again!

During the 2004 UPA rule, Sonia Gandhi was not even a minister. She had no post in the government! And yet she presided over the National Advisory Council which comprised of "policy entrepreneurs" unabashedly bringing policy changes that were in fact overriding the state policy framework!

And the Supreme Court legitimized that usurpation of power and subversion of the Indian republic structure.

Source: Social Protection in India: A Welfare State Sans Public Goods / Devesh Kapur and Prakriti Nangia, University of Pennsylvania

Think of it again.

An illegitimate power center heads a group of career activists with socially disruptive agendas busy in undermining state rights while they unleash policy level changes across the nation! Backed by the highest court in the land.

India's situation was unique. It did not have a government that was being subverted by activists, but a government that was subverting the nation itself!

IN 2014 however, this cabal was voted out completely. And that was followed by another electoral victory of Mr Narendra Modi which put a lid on such activities to bring the nation down from within the government itself.

Now, the battleground shifted outside of the government. We will go into the experiments and the attempts at using the different versions of the original Cloward-Piven strategy to derail the current government, but first let us look at the politics of the so-called social movements that are used as a political tool.

Occupy 'Movement' and Collapse from Outside the Government

First, let us get some history of this movement out of the way.

The Occupy movement was a global socio-political movement that aimed to combat social and economic inequality and promote "true democracy". The movement's primary objectives were to advance social and economic justice, as well as explore new models of democracy.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, one of the most significant social movements of the 21st century, began on September 17, 2011, in the heart of New York City, at Zuccotti Park. Hundreds of passionate activists gathered to express their frustration with income inequality and corporate corruption, calling for more accountability from those in power. As the days went by, the movement gained momentum, attracting more supporters from all over the country. The protesters camped out in the park for weeks, holding rallies, discussions, and demonstrations, all in an effort to raise awareness about the issues they believed in. However, on November 15, 2011, the movement suffered a setback when the New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ordered the police to raid the encampment, which resulted in many of the protesters being arrested and the park being cleared. Despite this, the Occupy movement continued to have an impact, inspiring people to take action and demand change. In fact, it was one of the key factors that led to the establishment of the "Fight for $15" movement, which aimed to raise the minimum wage and improve the living standards of low-wage workers across the United States.

The Occupy movement may have ended, but its impact carried on and changed the very face of American politics and possibly the world.

The Woke Industrial Complex born from Occupy Movement

Many other movements were "inspired" by the Occupy movement. Including the one to oust Trump.

Source: Some Say Occupy Wall Street Did Nothing. It Changed Us More Than We Think / Time magazine

One thing was clear though. The work of Frances Piven behind the Occupy movement. Piven was personally rooting for the Occupy movement and defining, and inspiring its formation and propagation.

For Frances Piven Occupy was the structural crisis that was required for an outbreak of mass defiance.

Source: "Frances Fox Piven: Occupy’s ‘Mass Defiance’ Reflects ‘Structural Crisis’" / In these Times

The legacy of Occupy does not stop with just the anti-Trump campaign. It has delivered the murkiest of offspring.

The most lasting impact of the Occupy movement in recent times was the unleashing of the Woke juggernaut. A tool to instigate a global structural crisis that aims to control the world.

The link may be difficult to understand at first. But the current Republican candidate for the US Presidential race, Vivek Ramaswamy, puts it the best.

Just as Cloward-Piven doctrine had suggested internal fissures and competitions within the protest movement took a life of their own.

Soon, the focus shifted from social class poverty and corporate power as villains to the need to establish gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation as the main pillars of modern society.

This was a godsend for the Wall Street honchos who could now use these factors as the central piece of their corporate moral tapestry while rendering corporate greed and power completely kosher. They could unabashedly continue with what the Occupy activists started off to protest against while using the outcomes of the changes in the movement to further establish their power!

Source: "Why the corporate world went woke" / Spiked

If social change was what Piven and her fans were looking at, they got one. Just not the type they had started out to protest for. Rather they shut their fate spectacularly because the new world, while fashioned in their idiom, would be far less egalitarian and ruthlessly unforgiving in its greed.

You see, interestingly, David Graeber had shared his mistrust of the political institutions and he, along with many others, has argued for bringing change not through the state but from outside the political establishment.

In 2002, in the midst of a wave of global resistance to corporate globalization that would produce major protests at trade meetings from Seattle to Genoa to Hong Kong, a book appeared that captured much of the spirit of the period’s activism. Written by John Holloway, an Irish-born political theorist who had long made his home in Mexico, it was entitled “Change the World Without Taking Power.” The volume, which argued that “the radical change that is so urgent cannot be brought about through the state,” made Holloway a prominent voice on the international left. A decade later, U.S.-born anthropologist David Graeber gained a wide hearing while championing the anarchist elements of Occupy Wall Street and defending the movement’s suspicion of engaging with established political institutions. “[T]he refusal to make demands,” he would write, “was, quite self-consciously, a refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the existing political order of which such demands would have to be made.”  (Source: "What's the problem with taking state power?" / Mark Engler & Paul Engler in The Forge

Instead, what ended up happening was that political agendas of the political parties - specifically the Democrats - were thrust on people by the corporations in complete contravention of citizens' rights, democratic norms, and legal imperatives of American life!

Companies - even top Fortune 50 ones - were pushing for political agendas and making it clear that their employees or customers should be voting in a certain way. Any different manner of political conduct was illegitimate in the eyes of the company's leadership.

Source: "Why the corporate world went woke" / Spiked

If protesters were dreaming of taking on the political establishment and getting a fair deal, they ended up facilitating the complete takeover of the corporate world by the political establishment. And I mean a complete takeover!

Vivek Ramaswamy shares some amazing insights into what Woke Capitalism, an oxymoron if there was any, has unleashed in terms of the complete erosion of basic human rights within the United States. Make no mistake - what is happening in the US, will be extended to other countries via these multinational corporates and multi-trillion dollar holding companies pushing the Woke agenda.

What should have provided the poor with guaranteed fundamental rights and life, is now destined to take them away from the poor in the most ruthless way possible. And they won't be able to even talk about that at all.

Cloward-Piven in India - Anti-Modi-ism cloaked as Civil Right

What was presented as a civil right in the US - the dismantling of Donald Trump's presidency - was also used in India by the powers that feared India's rise to target India's PM Narendra Modi.

Protests and violent social unrest movements became the most potent tools that the anti-Modi-ists were using.

Here is a list of government actions that were met with mass "protests" from the same cabal every time showcasing career activists who changed the subject while employing the same tools.

  • Land Acquisition Reforms (2015)
  • Occupy UGC Movement (2015-16)
  • Demonetisation (2016)
  • GST Reforms (2017)
  • Abrogation of Article 370 (2019)
  • Anti-CAA-NRC Protests (2019-2020)
  • Lockdown (2020)
  • Farm Laws protests (2020-2021)

That is why words like Andolanjeevis found their way in the modern Indian lexicon. In February 2021, during a speech in the Parliament, PM Modi talked about the new "breed" of agitators called "andolanjeevi". These people, he warned, could not live without an agitation.

Most of the Indians did not realize that they were being subjected to the Cloward-Piven strategy and theory of disruptive power. The idea was not to look at the legitimacy of an issue but to cause mass and large-scale disruption.

To Piven fans that is the way to bring change in the world that they want and can control. Just that in the US, they did end up bringing change but only to further enslave themselves in the tentacles of the very villains they started out to fight against!

You see the Andolanjeevis - or career disruptive protesters - are the direct descendants of the Cloward-Piven world of disruptive power politics.

But that is not the only use of the Cloward-Piven strategy in India.

Freebies to bring down the Economic System

Freebies have been offered to the electorate as an incentive to get their votes.

But no other party perfected the art of freebies politics as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in India.

Everything was offered for free to Delhi voters.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government provides free bus rides for women, free electricity for up to 200 units consumed and subsidies for up to 400 units, free water for up to 20,000 litres a month, full school fee waiver for children of very poor families, free Wi-Fi, free pilgrimage for senior citizens and waiver of development charges for new water and sewer connections. It offers free treatment, medicines and test facilities in mohalla clinics and free surgeries at empanelled hospitals. The government also bears the expenditure for the treatment of victims of road accidents and fire mishaps. (Source: "Freebies work in the short term & aren’t really free" / Live Mint)

Everything had an impact.

They had inherited a Delhi which had a surplus. The government gave away most of the money to the electorate in order to get political power while dismantling the local economy threadbare. The revenue surplus in the state fell 88% between 2010-11 and 2021-22 despite an increase in the Center's grants-in-aid of 122%!

Source: AAP’s ‘freebies’ politics shrunk Delhi revenue surplus by 88% in 10 years, says report / News9Live

PM Modi calls this electoral strategy - the "revadi culture". Revadi is a local Indian sweet that is given away to everyone during festivals.

The impact on electricity distribution companies (or Discoms) from the free electricity schemes - primarily non-merit subsidies - is huge.

By 2022, the states had a whopping INR 1.37 lakh crores as outstanding dues to the discoms. And when they cleared some of them off, they took loans from Power Finance Corporation Ltd. From the State's financial standpoint, it was nothing more than a sleight of hand where the debt was moved from one hand to another. But check the headline below of one of the mainstream news media on this!

Source: Discoms' Outstanding Dues To Generation Companies Nearly Halved In January / BQ Prime

Quite simply, the media was working overtime to shore up the disastrous policies of the Freebie doling AAP government.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) however, came out with a report warning that such policies were extremely dangerous and pointed to the state of Sri Lanka because the government there followed a similar strategy.

Source: Explained: What are 'freebies' and how they may burden state finances / Times of India

Not just the RBI, but most economists say the same thing.

Source: Sri Lankan crisis puts spotlight on debt, freebie culture in India / India Today

So let us look at this whole Freebie politics as it really is.

A Cloward-Piven strategy of social and state disruption on steroids!

A 360-degree Disruptive Attack on India

The Cloward-Piven strategy had three main components:

  1. Use of militant protests and aggression
  2. Burdening the local economy to the point of collapse
  3. Central takeover of the state policy-making

Now, let us take stock of things that have happened in the Indian context:

  1. Takeover of overall policy-making, including state subjects, by Central body (illegitimate at that)
  2. A relentless barrage of aggressive and disruptive protests accompanied by riots
  3. States' use of seemingly welfare schemes to collapse the local economies

What do you see?

That India has been facing an onslaught of disruptive politics with a view to taking over the control of the nation by a cabal of totalitarian freaks!

Contrary to the Cloward-Piven expectation, the political leadership in India was not panicky. Instead, it was patient to a fault. It let the disruptive drama play out with the complete discrediting of the protesting anarchists in the end.

The US was not that lucky.

The American disruptive masters and their corporate honchos have created a state in the US where complete social control is being unleashed as we speak. The silencing and the humiliation will most likely bring the Cloward-Piven pendulum back to the other side. Even more strongly. With far disastrous consequences.

But this may not be the only set of applications of the Cloward-Piven strategy. It is our feeling at Drishtikone that the ongoing bigotry in India with respect to the humiliation of the Hindus and the call for the end of Sanatana Dharma will also lead to large-scale disruptions in the coming months.

The calls for hatred against the Hindus are as outrageously obnoxious as the calls during Occupy and anti-CAA movements were. Of course, couched in leftist semantic jugglery.

The idea is to rile the masses and create a social disruption.

Riots maybe?

The objective is unmistakably one - takeover and control.

Video Corner: Baring the Hate campaign against the Sanatana Dharma

No other commentator in our generation is as gifted as J Sai Deepak is in India. He is sharp, articulate, and deeply incisive.

He shares his thoughts on not just the hate campaign against the Sanatana Dharma but also how the local anti-Hindu politics is playing out in South India, specifically Tamil Nadu.

Please listen to this podcast if you have to listen to anything this week!

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