Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

‘Enemy of the Constitution’?

In 2006, I had the privilege of reading Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward’s classic study of poverty, welfare and the means by which the poor historically must eke concessions sufficient for their sustenance in a mammonolatry whose every institution is explicitly designed or implicitly perverted to deny them power of any kind. In this work, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, the authors argue persuasively, from centuries of historical evidence, that only by combining for mass protests and civil disobedience, or by threatening to erupt in civil disorder, can the impoverished compel change on their behalf.

Glenn Beck maligns Frances Piven

Glenn Beck maligns Frances Piven, exposing her to death threats from Fox News viewers.
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From at least the 15th century, in Europe, various kinds of welfare and related relief programs have been adopted by virtually every government at different times, then allowed to melt away under the glare of public disapproval (largely because they are funded from public monies supplied by taxes), and then later revived. These prosperity-austerity cycles endured by the impecunious, however, were not the products of munificence on the part of those in power, nor were they obtained by acquiescence and quiet appeals to the better nature of governments or the more affluent; in each case, they came only when the poor organized themselves, campaigned aggressively and uncompromisingly, and created a furor sufficient to constitute a dangerous political liability that the governments could no longer ignore.

Such methods, of course, are often technically illegal under various statutes, but they are very much in keeping with the Constitution’s designation of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Thus, to advocate them is plainly constitutional, and to call for their punishment is the act of a genuine “enemy of the Constitution.”

Nothing has fundamentally changed, Piven has continued to argue. If the poor are not to be crushed quietly underfoot for the greater prosperity of the ruling elite, they must make use of their numbers, heal the divisions among them, and struggle for justice. But such prescriptions are bitter medicine to such mouthpieces of the pathocratic elite as Glenn Beck, who has spun them as calls for violent revolution — and in the process spurred threats of violence against Piven.

As with the recent Tucson shootings, there is no irrefragable proof that Beck’s utterances are directly responsible for the threats; but as with those shootings, such assertions constitute part of the caustic climate of rage from which the threats emerge. As such, these assertions must be regarded as incitements to crime (in fact, as stochastic terrorism), and should be punished accordingly.

One simple suggestion: If any act of political violence does occur, those public figures — pundits, priests or politicians — who by maligning the victims seem to have made them targets ought to be stripped of their impunity and charged as if they had committed the crime themselves.

If some such idea is not adopted — and soon — I can predict the “unpredictable”: Some other lunatic, perhaps similar in profile and motivation to Jared Lee Loughner, will “unpredictably” appear on news footage, being handcuffed before a backdrop of several newly dead bodies. And again, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the rest of this gaggle of media-powered sociopaths will claim to have nothing to do with it and whimper that once again they are the victims of a conspiracy that exists only in the fantasies they peddle. Meanwhile, the actual victims will be no less dead.

Originally published as a review of a Huffington Post article on Glenn Beck’s slanders against Frances Piven.

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