lumpenproletariat


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lumpenproletariat

literally, the ‘proletariat of rags’, from the German Lumpen meaning ‘rag’. MARX and ENGELS were two of the first 19th-century writers to recognize the existence of a class drawn from all classes, living on the margins of society, not in regular employment and gaining their subsistence mainly from crime. According to Marx, the composition of the Parisian lumpenproletariat in the mid-19th century included vagabonds, discharged soldiers and jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, pimps, brothel-keepers, ragpickers and beggars. These groups were sharply differentiated from the industrial working class by both politics and by being outside the normal social relations of wage labour. Marx and Engels distrusted the lumpenproletariat because it did not make an obvious contribution in the struggle of the working class for socialism. They therefore considered the lumpenproletariat were ‘the dangerous class’, ‘the social scum’ whose parasitic ways of life prepared them for becoming bribed agents of reactionary elements in the ruling class. They threatened to lead workers into arbitrary violence and their highest forms of political activity were mob agitation and street fighting. These were primitive forms of political action, according to Marx and Engels, who maintained that where large scale capitalist production exists, modern revolution demands the mass seizure and control of the means of production by the working class.

Dissenting from the Marxist view, the African socialist, Fanon, in The Wretched of the Earth (1967), stressed that the lumpenproletariat or ‘classless idlers’ living in the shanty towns of Third World societies could play an important role in revolutionary struggles.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
As underemployed Blacks were thrown in prison en masse, leaders like George Jackson organized prisoners as part of the Black Panthers' general strategy of turning the lumpenproletariat into a revolutionary force.
We could treat Marx's assessment of the structural position of the lumpenproletariat as a historical invariant, as some have, meaning that Fanon must cleave from Marx's understanding of class.
The migratory crisis is presented by interested political parts as the triggering factor of the destruction of the social standards of Western European employees in favor of a new global (even) lower class proletariat (Lumpenproletariat).
Eugenic logic inspired the first minimum wage laws--the idea being that employers would invariably prefer the genetically superior to the lumpenproletariat. Being well compensated, the former would have an added incentive to breed, while the latter would presumably end up in some dismal social swamp--abandoned, forgotten, and, more likely than not, childless.
The havenots versus the haves, or as one contributor puts it, 'the proletariat (that's Villa) against the lumpenproletariat.'.
(47) It is no coincidence that the principal social base for anarchism in Russia consisted of a mix of factory workers, members of the Lumpenproletariat, vagrants, the unemployed, and underage youth.
The marginal people, the lumpenproletariat! [...] What do we care about someone who is already a hero, someone who already has class-consciousness?
Marx saw exploitation as the process by which capitalists profit from their workers, largely ignoring the people on the margins of work whom he called the "lumpenproletariat." Two new books take us beyond the labor market, revealing the extent to which the deep poor are subject to exploitation in other institutions--by landlords in private housing, and by state and local governments in the criminal justice system.
<i>Ragged Revolutionaries: The Lumpenproletariat and African American Marxism in Depression-Era Literature.</i> Nathaniel Mills.
Otro dato del caso de la produccion fruticola que abona la existencia de una definicion cultural de clase del trabajador migrante estacional es que en la sociedad receptora los productores, pero tambien los asalariados permanentes, registran la llegada del lumpenproletariat de los migrantes como una amenaza y reclaman control social de posibles ilegalidades (Trpin y Rau, 2011).