This section of Discover The Networks focuses on the strategies and tactics employed by the left in pursuit of its political and social objectives. A few examples are briefly outlined below.
A) Particularly noteworthy is the Cloward-Piven Strategy, which was first proposed in a 1966 article by Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and his wife Frances Fox Piven. This strategy seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.
In their article, Cloward and Piven focused specifically on the American welfare system, charging that by providing a social safety net, the government was dousing the fires of rebellion. The authors advised the poor to avoid the temptation of being placated by government hand-outs, and to work, instead, toward the goal of sabotaging and destroying the welfare system entirely. Toward that end, Cloward and Piven proposed a "massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls." The authors calculated that by persuading even a small fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their full entitlements, they could bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level."
The Cloward-Piven strategy was an example of what are commonly called Trojan Horse movements -- initiatives whose outward purpose is to provide material help to the downtrodden, but whose real objective is to draft poor people into service as revolutionary foot soldiers.
B) A legendary figure in the playbook of leftist tactics is the late Saul Alinsky, a Communist/Marxist fellow-traveler who identified a set of very specific rules that ordinary citizens could follow as a means of gaining public power. "[W]e are concerned," Alinsky said, "with how to create mass organizations to seize power and give it to the people … We are talking about a mass power organization which will change the world … This means revolution."
But Alinsky's brand of revolution was not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, overnight transformations of social institutions. As Richard Poe puts it, "Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties." Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, subtly gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to introduce changes from those platforms.
C) In his book The Vision of the Anointed, sociologist Thomas Sowell identifies a four-stage strategy that the left has used repeatedly in order to promote its agendas:
Stage 1, The “Crisis”: Some situation exists, whose negative aspects the anointed [leftists] propose to eliminate. Such a situation is routinely characterized as a “crisis” … even though evidence is seldom asked or given to show how the situation at hand is either uniquely bad or threatening to get worse. Sometimes the situation described as a “crisis” has in fact already been getting better for years.
Stage 2, The “Solution”: Policies to end the “crisis” are advocated by the anointed, who say that these policies will lead to beneficial result A. Critics say that these policies will lead to detrimental result Z. The anointed dismiss these latter claims as absurd and “simplistic,” if not dishonest.
Stage 3, The Results: The policies are instituted and lead to detrimental result Z.
Stage 4, The Response: Those who attribute detrimental result Z to the policies instituted are dismissed as “simplistic” for ignoring the “complexities” involved, as “many factors” went into determining the outcome. The burden of proof is on the critics to demonstrate to a certainty that these policies alone were the only possible cause of the worsening that occurred. No burden of proof whatever is put on those who had so confidently predicted improvement. Indeed it is often asserted that things would have been even worse, were it not for the wonderful programs that mitigated the inevitable damage from other factors.
D) After World War I, two leading Marxist intellectuals, Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, both concluded, independently of one another, that Western culture and the Christian religion had so blinded the working class to its true, Marxist class interests, that a Communist revolution would be impossible to carry out in the West without first destroying both of those institutions. Gramsci laid out a strategy for destroying Christianity and Western culture by conducting, in an orderly fashion, a "long march through the institutions" – where Marxists would infiltrate the schools, the media, the churches, the labor unions, the major political parties – i.e., every institution that could influence the culture. This process would sabotage American society from the inside, and would require decades to fully unfold. Lukacs, for his part, proposed the use of "cultural terrorism" to destroy his own country's traditional sexual morals – and thereby contribute mightily to the downfall of its traditional culture and Christian faith.
In the 1920s, a wealthy young Marxist named Felix Weil was influenced by Lukacs' ideas. Weil responded by establishing a new think tank at Frankfurt University in Germany. Originally it was to be called the Institute for Marxism, but its founders convinced Weil to give it a more neutral-sounding name, so as to conceal its true objectives and thereby increase its effectiveness. Thus was born the Institute for Social Research, also known simply as the Frankfurt School.
In 1934 the Institute for Social Research relocated to the U.S., where it was instrumental in the development of “Critical Theory” as a means of "negating" Western culture. Critical Theory was a method that called for subjecting every traditional institution -- the family, the schools, the churches, the criminal-justice system, the media, the economy, the political system -- to a bombardment of unremitting, scathing criticism. The ultimate aim was to cause those institutions to collapse under the weight of this criticism, rendering them vulnerable to exploitation and transformation by the Marxists. In recent decades, Critical Theory has become the basis for the various "Studies" departments -- Women's Studies, Black Studies, Whiteness Studies, Chicano Studies -- that now inhabit American colleges and universities.