Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tactics & Strategy - Alinsky & Cloward-Piven

In late March I received an invitation to speak to a meeting of the Burke Society at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My first instinct was to tell them about labor unions, since that is my area of expertise. I soon realized that I could be of much more value to them if I were to tell them about Saul Alinsky and the "Rules for Radicals." After all, labor unions are on the way out and Alinsky's influence endures through modern day disciples like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In preparing my remarks I realized that the information would be of a great deal of interest to those involved in what it loosely referred to as the "Tea Party." I say "loosely referred to" because unlike a party in the traditional sense, the Tea Party is a wide array of groups that have little or nothing in the way of central leadership or direction. Therein lays one of its greatest strengths.

At any rate, I mentioned this to a few contacts that are Tea Party activists and the idea was very warmly received. So much so that in the last couple weeks I've made presentation to three Tea Party groups in my immediate vicinity and have invitations for several more.

At the second of those meetings I was asked about the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" and I confess had never heard of it before so I did a little research. On May 2, 1966 The Nation magazine published an article by two wacko leftist Columbia University Sociology Professors named Richard Cloward and Frances Piven. The name of the article was "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty." Cloward and Piven, who were by the way husband and wife, proposed that if every person eligible for any form of welfare could be recruited to apply for all the benefits for which they were qualified, it would break the back of the government system and that a socialist regime would result from the ensuing crisis.

In the article Cloward and Piven pay homage to organizations spawned by Saul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation as the type of organization needed to mobilize the poor for this task.

There is now speculation that the recently enacted health care insurance reform monstrosity is the keystone of a Cloward-Piven strategy to bankrupt America and forge a socialist nation from the resulting chaos. There is no doubt that several actions of the Obama Administration fit this pattern. But then so does George Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug giveaway and many of the actions of the Republican majority in Congress when they became addicted to the narcotic of earmarks and big government spending as a pain killer for the fear of losing elections.

Bankrupting the nation as a prelude to socialism is a strategy. Saul Alinsky's "Rules" are for "power tactics." They can cut both ways. When I make presentations about them to Tea Party meetings I am training a new generation of radical conservatives, or is it conservative radicals.

In his book Alinsky also explains why the elitist liberal establishment is so paranoid about the Tea Party. I'll save that for another blog.

By the way, here's a link to a complete list of Alinsky's "Rules."


  1. David, it is important to at least keep on one's radar the concept of "controlled opposition." In several former communist countries there was a fake opposition infiltrated into the government for the socialists to play off of. This gave them more time to subjugate the nation, as people held out hope that things could be rectified by the opposition. Yet all the opposition did was talk and talk to death, while the socialists used salami tactics to slice off their true opponents. One such example is post-World War II Hungary, and one can even find elements of it in single-party dominated Russia. (Parties such as Zhirinovsky's LDP is used to both attract ultra-nationalists and to keep them under control; the same could be said of the communist party under Gennady Zyuganov).

  2. See also this post: http://www.pointvcounterpoint.com/2010/04/communism-and-controlled-opposition.html

  3. For more information on Saul Alinsky's strategies and tactics, and how conservatives and Tea Partiers can leverage them against the Left, check out this new book (link embedded).