Friday, March 26, 2010

"The Mad Tea Party and the Cloward-Piven Conspiracy Theory"

Here's a good overview of an issue that's just broke in the progressive press, that of Francis Fox-Piven, a poor people's advocate and sociologist, being targeted by the right as the originator of a vast conspiracy that now includes the White House, includes Barack Obama specifically.

"Leftists like to say that another world is possible, but I was never quite sure of that until I started reading tea party websites. There, a government of leftists is not only possible, it's on the cusp of seizing permanent power, having broken American capitalism and replaced it with a socialist state. Down that rabbit hole, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel are communists, and "The Left"--which encompasses everyone from the Democratic Leadership Council to Maoist sectarians--is a disciplined and near omnipotent army marching in lockstep to a decades-old master plan for domination called the "Cloward-Piven strategy" or, as of January 20, 2009, "Cloward-Piven government."

1 comment:

Dorothee Benz said...

This is a great piece, and much needed! Thanks for posting. The Tea Party assault is about much more than an attack on two people or an article they wrote. When they attack the “Cloward-Piven strategy” – the idea that an organized and outraged public can and ought to demand change – they are really attacking our most basic democratic tradition. Piven is a target precisely because her work has always supported democratic politics from below. She has devoted a lifetime of scholarship to studying how ordinary people, particularly poor people, can and do fight for social change to improve their lot in life. Case studies she has researched over several decades on the Revolutionary era, the abolitionist movement, the labor movement, the unemployed workers’ movement in the 30s, the welfare rights movement and the civil rights movement all underscore a basic truth: people can redress the imbalance of power and wealth in our society when they organize and disrupt business as usual. That’s the last thing that Glenn Beck et al. want Americans to realize and it helps explain why they are working overtime to offer a counter-narrative.

The right is using scare tactics, scapegoating, distortions, deception, lies and intimidation to immobilize or demobilize or better yet misdirect people to attack the right’s perennial targets – like progressive taxation, social safety net programs or a widened franchise – rather than the real causes of our social and economic ills. These tactics undermine democratic politics. And as last summer’s instructions to go shout down Congress people at town hall meetings turn to this spring’s instructions to “break their windows” and legislators are subject to death threats and mob taunts, it is imperative that all small-d democrats respond. Insofar as Tea Party undemocratic tactics go unchallenged and insofar as they help them achieve their politic objectives, our democratic political institutions are weakened.

So please:

(1) If you are a journalist, columnist or blogger, please write about this. If you have journalist, columnist or blogger friends, ask them to write about it.

(2) If you are a teacher, please teach your students about our history of protest politics and the essential role that the democratic mobilization of people to demand change has played in our nation’s progress towards social justice and equality. Consider doing a teach-in using Piven’s Challenging Authority. How Ordinary People Change America.

(3) If you are a member of a professional organization, consider passing a resolution condemning the scapegoating, fearmongering, intimidation tactics of the Tea Party right and their attack not just on Piven and Cloward but on democratic politics.

(4) No matter who you are, go out and organize for the change we need in this country. Defend democratic politics by living it.

(5) Become a fan of the Piven and Cloward page on Facebook and urge your friends to do the same.

(6) Spread the word. Let folks know about whatever you do to respond (and let me know, too, so I can post it on the Facebook page).