Tuesday, March 9, 2010

John Galt versus Cloward-Piven

The political scene today is a clash between two views of politics and morality. Some say it is a clash between left and right but I disagree; it is a clash between right and wrong. One view holds that political action is agitation for the sake of social/collective goals while the other views it as a struggle for freedom.

These views are represented by two visions of man; one is collectivism, the other individualism. One vision is praised, elevated and practiced all over the world and the other is virtually silent with one representation in a fiction novel. Both of them have a strategy intended to bring their vision into reality.

It has been said that both the Cloward-Piven strategy and John Galt’s strike in the novel Atlas Shrugged sought to bring society to a halt. One sought to eliminate poverty; the other to liberate the individual. They both can’t be right.

Cloward-Piven Strategy

The Cloward-Piven Strategy was put forward in an article written by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, two professors at Columbia University of Social Work. It was published in 1966 and has been an inspiration for progressives ever since. They recommended that social workers in New York City engage in a campaign to register as many people as possible for welfare benefits. Their goal was to overwhelm the welfare system.

The universe of “social work” is one with a long past. It stems primarily from a belief that man is imperfect. From Hume, who claimed that man could not connect his perceptions to knowledge; to Kant who claimed that duty represented man’s highest moral calling; to Hegel who advanced a historical battle between thesis and anti-thesis; to Marx who used this idea to advance an inevitable historical process (where communism would emerge victorious); and then to Dewey who wanted society to adjust to the child, and the child to adjust to the collective.

Starting with the invalid view of Hume, philosophers have built an edifice of falsehoods that can best be summed up by the words, “coercive sacrifice” or altruism. The final result historically has been totalitarianism where the government makes all decisions for the people who must work selflessly to advance collective solidarity.

Today, we see the spectacle of social workers charged by “society” with the task of identifying the poor and compensating them, through re-distribution, for the damage supposedly done to them by capitalism.

Why would anyone want to create a crisis over welfare? The goal, according to Cloward-Piven is to bring about legislative reform that would establish income re-distribution. Although some have said their goal is to establish a communist or socialist society, I don’t think this is quite accurate. They want to enslave productive people and force them to provide the incomes for the non-productive. Whether this society takes the form of fascism, socialism, welfare-statism or the war on poverty did not seem to matter to them.

Of course, you never hear progressives discuss things in terms of “isms” unless they are together behind closed doors. These people believe that the end justifies the means yet they have no rational argument that makes their approach to politics correct. The progressive philosophy spawns the worst kind of people and draws a cadre of thieves who want to use the power of government to accomplish their own aggrandizement and riches; fully aware that their propaganda for the poor is nothing but a cynical attempt to gain power.


“In order to generate a crisis, the poor must obtain benefits which they have forfeited. Until now, they have been inhibited from asserting claims by self-protective devices within the welfare system: its capacity to limit information, to intimidate applicants, to demoralize recipients, and arbitrarily to deny lawful claims.

Ignorance of welfare rights can be attacked through a massive educational campaign Brochures (sic) describing benefits in simple, clear language, and urging people to seek their full entitlements, should be distributed door to door in tenements and public housing projects, and deposited in stores, schools, churches and civic centers. Advertisements should be placed in newspapers; spot announcements should be made on radio. Leaders of social, religious, fraternal and political groups in the slums should also be enlisted to recruit the eligible to the rolls. In fact that the campaign is intended to inform people of their legal rights under a government program, that it is a civic education drive, will lend it legitimacy.”

In these two paragraphs you have the genesis of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Starting from the premise that the poor have rights to government-provided income; that the poor are deliberately being kept from asserting these rights; you have a business plan dedicated to helping the poor get the most from government. Establish a set of services to help the poor file their taxes, file for unemployment, food stamps, public housing, home loans, voter registration; take them to the voting booth and help them join a union and you create a huge international corporation dedicated to re-distribution; except that now the goal is not to stress the system but to see how much you can game the system. Enter the community organizer; the professional parasite.

This organizer, specially trained to wedge his way into the lives of poor people in neighborhoods all around America, can attain a high position of leadership wherever he goes. Not only does he help the poor negotiate with government, he can use these poor in organized protests and shakedown initiatives that extort donations from corporations (and harm the competitors of paying “partners”).

Today, we have a community organizer for President. He is more comfortable going to the people (those that ACORN has organized for him), denigrating and shaking down huge corporations, working on behalf of corrupt unions and gangsters, nationalizing whole industries, steering huge grants and other tax dollars toward community organizations and favored (crooked) real estate developers, creating a government/business partnership that works with oligarchs who not only benefit from government “investments” but also pay huge dollars to political campaigns. If this is not a scandal, a sham, a corrupt money laundering scheme at the highest levels, I don’t know what is.

Where are the investigations? Where is the honest journalism that exposes these scandals? Put simply, why should anyone investigate these scandals when the majority of people agree with the “social goals” of the Cloward-Piven strategy? If most people had not had self-sacrifice drummed into them since they were children, you would not have gangsters taking advantage of their moral disarmament.

The real problem with the ACORN (Cloward-Piven) strategy is that success only comes to the organization if poor people stay poor. Just like the union agitators with whom they partner, professional parasites need people to believe the following lies:

1. Capitalism steals from the poor and owes a living to the poor
2. Self-interest is evil
3. Collectivism works and the poor have to fight against capitalism as a collective
4. Altruism is the best philosophy
5. Socialism (or other coercive forms of government) are inevitable
6. We need higher taxes on the rich

Unfortunately, these lies are a prescription for individual failure. The Cloward-Piven strategy cannot work - no matter how many people believe in it. A society, based on the sacrifice of each to all, winds up with all sacrificing to one (the dictator). The prospective dictator, the community organizer, in order to continue the facade of his "moral" mission, must ensure that people don’t question his authority. Especially, they must not become aware that there is another better way to live that does not include mooching off of others.

In fact, ACORN is an obstacle for the poor. Community organizers, like union organizers, must teach their members that their enemies are capitalists - yet most of them would give an eye tooth to be in the middle class. To please the collective, they must, as a matter of principle, be perennially unemployable. Once they realize that their enemy, the business owner, is really their ally, the game for the ACORN organizer is up. Salvation comes when they realize that hard work, not welfare, will give them a better life.

Yet, we must acknowledge that in order for the Cloward-Piven strategy to bring about income re-distribution, the entire society must conclude that more sacrifice is the solution to problems caused by sacrifice. What would happen if this is not the logical conclusion; if instead people decided that we need less re-distribution after the system breaks? What if they asserted their right to keep their income?

In fact, this is John Galt’s point. His fictional strike in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, which was published in 1957, was based on a different philosophy. Derived from Rand’s view of man as a rational being who survives by means of reason, Galt held that any sacrifice of the able to the unable is immoral. He saw that the philosophy behind the Cloward-Piven strategy was evil because it represented hatred for man and his mind. His oath, "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine" is the essence of his philosophy and the opposite of that embodied in the Cloward-Piven document.

He vowed, through his strike, to clear the way for people who aspired to a better life, not by actively working to defeat altruism, but by letting the altruist morality run its course. He saw that the way to defeat the exploitation of his ability was to refuse to work for the “exploited” masses. He convinced the producers of the nation to go on strike – so the government had no one to loot; and would then collapse of its own weight.

Where John Galt wanted men of ability to go on strike in protest over their exploitation by society, Cloward-Piven wanted the poor to demand more exploitation of people like John Galt. Where Galt celebrated individual rights, property rights and the pursuit of happiness, the Cloward-Piven strategy held that no one is allowed to be happy unless everyone is taken care of – and they set up a barbarous system against which any person of self-esteem would rebel. Galt would say, your happiness is yours to achieve; Cloward-Piven say that John Galt is a criminal.

Ayn Rand did not intend for John Galt’s strike to take place in real life. She did not want her novel to be prophetic. As long as men were free to speak out, she thought, they could build a better world by appealing to reason and free will. She had hope for the future and she offered that hope through a new morality that held life as the standard - with success, pleasure and enjoyment as the goals.

Cloward-Piven, on the other hand, had every intention of bringing their protest to the streets; and the result is more poverty, the decline of neighborhoods, immorality and the elevation of need over ability. Cloward-Piven unleashed professional parasites who have no problem destroying everything good about our society; they think it is the right thing to do. By creating more parasites, they create division, hatred of accomplishment, conflict, dis-trust and theft.

About this point (among many) Ayn Rand was right: a strategy like that of Cloward-Piven cannot succeed. To stop it, productive people need only say “No more sacrificing”.

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