According to Frances Fox Piven:
- The Occupy Wall Street movement is entering the phase where it “makes trouble.”
- “We’ll see action against the banks, against the corporations.”
- Different forms of protests that will engage many people.
- Occupy was helped by “sympathetic” press coverage.
Leftist professor and activist Frances Fox Piven last week predicted the Occupy Wall Street movement is entering the phase where it “makes trouble” and will soon be taking action against banks and other institutions.
“It may well be that the Occupy movement is now in its second phase, in the phase where it makes trouble, in the phase where it threatens to shut down institutions,” Piven said. “The Occupy movement has moved into the neighborhoods of our cities, it has moved into the schools….This spring, we’ll see action against the banks, against the corporations.”
She added, “It is going to be a spring with lots of protests that take different forms and engage lots of people.”
Piven made her comments during a lecture to a group of students at the University of Connecticut last Friday. She touched on the genesis of the Occupy movement, which she said was particularly a result of the financial crisis, which “exposed those in charge of the economy as illegitimate.”
“The people who were sitting on top of the world, the top-tenth of the top 1 percent, were guilty. They were guilty of thievery, of chicanery,” Piven said.
Calling Occupy Wall Street “a brilliant tactical innovation,” Piven dismissed the notion that local authorities actually worried about the sanitary conditions of the encampments, saying their major concern was how easily the “99 percent” theme caught on — helped by sympathetic press coverage.
“The press began to cover them, and as the press began to cover them, the press became more sympathetic. The slogan, ‘we are the 99 percent, they are the 1 percent,’ is so clear, how can you say they have no demands?” she said. “Then the polls started to show that the message was resonating with a lot of Americans. And as that happened, the local authorities became worried. All of a sudden, it was very dangerous to have people sleeping overnight.”
Taking questions from students, Piven was asked how lawmakers can pass laws for “the 99 percent” without being viewed as socialist.
“Well, we’ll call them democratic, or maybe we’ll call them anarchists,” Piven replied before adding to audience laughter: “No, you can’t call a law an anarchist law.”
She continued, “I know one poll that shows something like half of the youngest age group polled, probably 15 to 25, saw no problems with socialism. I myself am not a socialist, but, you know, who knows what that is? I want to try to reform American capitalism to the extent that it can be reformed, and then we’ll see.”
Questioned about the Tea Party, Piven resurrected one of her old refrains that the movement is racist.
“The Tea Party has a chant at its rallies. The chant is ‘Take it back! Take it back! Take it back!’ And you know who they want to take it back from? They want to take it back from African Americans, immigrants. They can’t stand the idea, they’ve popularized the idea that our African American president is a Muslim,” she said.
Piven also espoused her views on the charter school versus public school debate, saying in charter schools, “poorer children…don’t get the same kind of educational services.”
“If we take the funds that are designated to public education and we give them to for-profit entrepreneurs they’re going to behave in an entrepreneurial way,” she said, meaning teachers will “select out the kids who will do best.”
Asked about the “hostile” business environment in the U.S., another student questioned what is stopping businesses from picking up and relocating due to over-regulation.
“You know, these businesses need government, they rely on government,” Piven replied. “There may come a time when this new super structure of international agencies like the IMF, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the European Union is so highly developed they can actually function to provide the safeguards, the credibility, the infrastructure, the legal framework that business requires. They haven’t yet so I would say let’s tame business, fence them in, while it can be tamed.”
Piven gave her talk as part of a University of Connecticut political science forum. Joseph Gasser, president of the University of Connecticut College Republicans, told The Blaze that while Piven has “every right to voice her collectivist opinions,” he believes it was “a mistake” to give a platform to someone with “a demonstrable misunderstanding of economics and a vicious contempt for those who have made themselves successful.
Student members from both the College Republicans and the University of Connecticut Young Americans for Liberty attended the event.
“Hosting her sends the message to students, faculty and donors to the university that this is an environment where covetousness, envy and ill will are encouraged at the expense of industriousness, hard work and ingenuity,” Gasser said.