lumpenproletariat


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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.

References in periodicals archive ?
This book argues that the lumpenproletariat was central to an overlooked yet vibrant mode of African American Marxism formulated during the Great Depression by Black writers on the Communist left.
Paul Dave en Visions of England da una definicion mas detallada de lo lumpen: "For Marx, the lumpenproletariat represented those bohemian social elements who had become detached from their class backgrounds--an amorphoss of floatsam and jetsam including, amongst others, bourgeois wastrels, aristocratic bankrupts, as well as vagabonds, pimps, and pickpockets (104).
The Derg used the category of the lumpenproletariat in its periodic attempts to either mobilize or repress streetlife.
Three decades ago, it was already clear that Aboriginal individuals (Indian, Metis, and Inuit) were distributed throughout the occupational and income hierarchy (Gerber 1990)--from lumpenproletariat to bourgeoisie (Satzewich and Wotherspoon 1993).
With organizations like the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense taking up Frantz Fanon's call to organize the lumpenproletariat, it makes sense that Rusche's attention to the punishment of those rendered surplus labor would be an important intellectual touchstone for radical criminologists and activists of the period.
Condemned as a "recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds," the lumpenproletariat was analyzed by Karl Marx as a "social scum" unable to develop a political struggle on its own, a "passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of society" that could only become, on occasion, "the bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.
And since technology will destroy jobs and create a massive new lumpenproletariat sitting at home with nothing to do, they advocate for a slew of redistributionist, rather than growth, solutions, including a negative income tax, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and a national mutual fund that provides dividends for everyone.
In the nineteenth century, the Marxist movement gave currency to the (preexisting) German term Lumpenproletariat, usually translated into English as "sub-proletariat": a correct rendering, but one which loses sight of the graphically effective vision of rags (Lumpen) built into the original idea.
Essentially, Cowen expects members of the lumpenproletariat to peacefully while away their time with bread and circuses cheaply provided by a fabulously productive economy run by an elite class and their smart machines.
Having condemned both the unthinking lumpenproletariat and the unfeeling intellectual, Gold suggests that the communist must combine both thinking and feeling.
Au niveau national, a-t-il rappele, la situation sociale est marquee par l'existence de plusieurs classes et couches sociales dont le lumpenproletariat (chomeurs surtout), le proletariat (ensemble des travailleurs industriels, miniers, agricoles, ), la petite bourgeoisie, ( artisans-apprentis, travailleurs agricoles, etc.
Back then, Gam Islamiya's popularity as a rebellious movement and the sympathy it enjoyed promoted it as an alternative to the authoritarian state and encouraged many youths from the lumpenproletariat to join it.