What she is calling for is nothing less than the chaos and violence engulfing Europe. Disgruntled leftist unionists, students who expect an education without cost, and citizens of social-democratic states cannot accept that the old terms of the social contract they thought would last forever have worn out their welcome. The European welfare-state governments can no longer function with the kind of social programs that now far exceed their nation’s budgets and hence are moving their countries to the precipice of total collapse.
So Piven hopes that in our own country, “a loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge,” spurred on, no doubt, by ideologues like Piven and the encouragement of the New York City leftists who run The Nation magazine. Perhaps on their next Carribbean cruise they can talk about it some more. Hence Piven hopes that young workers and students, “who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington.”
Will it happen here? There is no exact science of protest movements, she notes. But who, she asks, “expected the angry street mobs in Athens or the protests by British students?” Living in the past, she looks hopefully at the strikes in 1934, and the civil rights movement of the1960s. Clearly no student of history, Piven fails to comprehend the very different circumstances that made these social movements have legs. All she can do is issue her hope that another “American social movement from the bottom” will emerge, and then the organized Nation left can “join it.”