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Cloward and Piven were from Manchuria?

Alinsky and Cloward and Piven. Oh My!

One of the curious things that I have found in my brushes with birthers and their friends, is an interest in old liberal writings that I had never heard of. Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals is one. Another is the “Cloward–Piven strategy.”

The Cloward–Piven strategy was presented by sociologists and activists Robert Cloward and Frances Fox Piven in 1966 in an article in The Nation, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.” Their strategy was aimed at creating a “guaranteed national income” to replace the welfare system, and this goal was to be attained by overwhelming the existing welfare system through enrollment of everyone who was eligible (they claimed the number of recipients would double). The strategy envisioned the creation of a crisis, particularly in the Democratic Party which was in control of Congress and the presidency at that time by shaking up the coalitions that presently constituted the Party. The action they advocated to make it happen was: “…a massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.”

imageSo from time to time I have seen right-wingers mention Cloward-Piven, and I think I looked it up once and shrugged my shoulders. It’s back again at a little higher level, this time from politician Wayne Allyn Root. Root was been campaigning in Mississippi on behalf of Tea Party Senate candidate Chris McDaniel (who lost in a runoff with Thad Cochran – possible challenge being explored). Mother Jones magazine had extensive coverage of Root’s stump speech. In it, Root says that he and every student at Columbia in 1983 studied Cloward-Piven. Root said he knows this because:

Because I’m Barack Obama’s college classmate, Columbia University class of ’83. And when I was there at Columbia, we all studied a plan called Cloward–Piven

This point is somewhat blunted by Root’s later suggestion that Obama didn’t actually attend Columbia since no one remembers him (not actually true).

Returning to Cloward-Piven, Root characterizes the plan as one to “wipe out America” and to:

… get someone elected president, who looks fantastic, who has a beautiful wife, a beautiful children. A family man. Get him to cut his afro or his long hair, his ponytail. Put on a suit, and then lie to everybody.

There’s nothing like that in Cloward and Piven’s article.

This article inaugurates a new conspiracy category on the blog, “Manchurian Candidate.”

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