Breaking Government with the Cloward-Piven Strategy

in #politicslast month


The above image was made by @amberjyang with Midjourney using the prompt 'colorful line drawing people standing in line in a city wasteland.'

Recently on Cryptogon I ran across a Twitter video about something called the Cloward-Piven Strategy. According to the video, this is a strategy for breaking the government in order to force it to provide a universal basic income. The video suggests that political demonstrators, woke politicians, homeless encampments, and immigration are all evidence that some unnamed villain is employing the Cloward-Piven Strategy to destroy our capitalist system and replace it with socialism.

From my perspective, there has been a visible and rapid deterioration of our urban centers since 2020. Vacant storefronts and crime are everywhere in Minneapolis, where I live. The cost of living has skyrocketed due to endless corporate price gouging and everyone is getting squeezed. At the same time, a mass migration of people from all over the world into this country is underway.

These and other crises are putting great strain on society. They may eventually force the government to provide a basic income. But if that happens, it won't be the result of some grand conspiracy employing the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It will instead appear as the only way forward for policymakers trying to mitigate disaster.

Sociologists Richard Cloward and Frances Piven published their strategy in 1966. Their article, The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty, first appeared in The Nation. In 2015, Piven wrote a new intro for this article. Here's a quote from that:

Our objective was not, as later critics of the Glenn Beck variety later charged, to propose a strategy to bring down American capitalism. We were not so ambitious. But we did think that the minority poor and their allies might create sufficient disturbance to force reforms in the American income support programs. And we were not entirely wrong.

In the decades following the publication of the Cloward-Piven Strategy, society underwent profound changes. Average worker earning power plummeted, swelling the ranks of the working poor. In many ways, poverty itself was criminalized, fueling mass incarceration. And the government proved it could run hilariously large deficits, which has implications for the Cloward-Piven Strategy's potential.

One of the Strategy's central ideas is that government bureaucracies can be financially pressured to begin providing a basic income. This pressure is applied by forcing the government to pay all of the entitlements it owes. One example given in the article was data suggesting that only about half of the poor in New York City were collecting the government benefits they were legally entitled to. If all poor New Yorkers suddenly demanded benefits, the system would suddenly have to pay out twice as much as it was used to. This, according to the Strategy, would compel the system to radically change.

Because our government can print infinite money, it's immune to this kind of thing. So the Cloward-Piven Strategy may not be relevant to our current situation at all. It would be a convenient explanation for everything that's going wrong in society, but it doesn't quite fit. The sinister forces behind society's deterioration may have a strategy, but it's not Cloward-Piven.

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But do you think forcing the government to pay all what it is owing will work?
Can they even be forced to do something?

No I don't think forcing the government to pay would work.

Really interesting. Why does the Cloward-Piven strategy perspective think that a universal basic income would be problematic or not help society?

Many people have an almost religious hatred of any scheme that would improve the lower classes.

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To an extent, I strongly believe that the government is really trying to make all things to work also actually

I feel like most of the people in government are genuinely trying to help, while the system they're working within is plagued with problems.

Sometimes government actually think they are doing a job in helping people or the citizen but at times I see it as no