SLU professor Frances Fox Piven has been no stranger to press in her 86 years — many of which have been spent as a rabble-rousing leftist activist and respected leftist intellectual. Last week, Prof. Piven got yet one more feature to add to the list: a NYTimes profile by Alex Traub that describes her role in an evolving left, and the leadership she’s providing to a new generation of activists:
“She’s someone whose body of work shows that you don’t have to drift off into this La-La Land of intellectualism,” [Jacobin editor Micah] Uetricht said. “People should be going on strike. People should be withdrawing their labor power or causing chaos in society. That’s where their power comes from.”
Probably the most influential vector for Ms. Piven’s ideas is the social-justice incubator Momentum, a training program for progressives that formed in 2014.
Trainees include members of the Sunrise Movement, whose occupation of Ms. Pelosi’s office with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparked conversation about the Green New Deal. It was just the sort of disruption Ms. Piven advocates.
“What tactics we use is exactly the question that Piven is addressing,” said Lissy Romanow, 35, Momentum’s executive director. Part of Ms. Piven’s appeal, she said, came from her view that social movements are required for big left-wing victories — a perspective suited to a generation disillusioned with liberal business as usual.
The Times article focuses on Dr. Piven’s reverential status among labor organizers and activists, and how she has influenced the current progressive movement — which it says is “full of Pivenites.” In July, she will be headlining the Socialism2019 Conference “No Borders, No Bosses, No Binaries”, to be held in Chicago.