Frances Fox Piven, one of the co-authors of the Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm the state with millions of additional welfare claimants, has published an article in the Nation calling for the Occupy Wall Street movement to re-invigorate itself by recruiting the poor.
In a telling admission that Occupy does not, in fact, represent the poor, Piven criticizes both liberals and unions for their repeated use of the term “middle class” in their political campaigns. Instead, she said, Occupy must appeal to issues that poor Americans care about:
To fully realize an ethic of inclusion, the poorest and most benighted Americans should become part of our protest movement. We need to increase their numbers at our demonstrations, and we need to undertake the protest actions that deal with their most urgent needs–including the attacks on the social safety net that hit them hardest.
While remnants of the ACORN organization did, apparently, pay poor people to attend Occupy Wall Street, Piven envisions a strategy that has a clearer ideological component. Instead of overwhelming the welfare system, as she once advocated, Piven now believes poor people should be mobilized to defend it–ironically, perhaps, since the long hoped-for possibility of financial insolvency is no longer distant.
Piven believes that an Occupy movement that succeeds in recruiting “a proud and angry” poor could bring about the kind of radical change that the American left had long sought (and which, perhaps, it had hoped to achieve in the Obama presidency):
This could be one of those big turns in American political history, set in motion by indignant people who take to the streets or occupy the factories or the schools. And it will take an upheaval of historic dimensions to force the reigning financial and business interests and the politicians who kowtow to them to move in new directions, to cede a measure of democratic regulation of finance and business, to give in to policies that empower workers and their unions, to go along with policies that limit the corruption of electoral politics by big money and its propaganda and, not least, to restore and expand the safety net.
For this to happen, the movement has to grow, and it has to include in its ranks the people who have been scorned and abused by corporate domination of our politics. Not only would OWS gain strength from the participation of the poor; participation in a great movement dedicated to reducing extreme inequality would also transform the poor. Our society would benefit from that transformation. A proud and angry poor could help to remake America.
Were it put to a vote, Piven’s proposal for dramatic economic upheaval would probably lose by a margin of… say, 99 percent to 1.
Yet her views are influential within the radical American left–and familiar to its graduates in government, who are less a minority in the Obama administration than they have been in any other.