1.(Marxism) the unorganized lower levels of the proletariat who are not interested in revolutionary advancement
definition of Wikipedia
employees; personnel; staff[Classe]
labor; labour; working class; proletariat[ClasseHyper.]
ensemble des gens du peuple (fr)[Classe]
classe sociale salariée (fr)[Classe]
doctrine communiste (fr)[Classe]
(trade union)[termes liés]
Karl Marx, Marx[Thème]
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Lumpenproletariat, a collective term from Lumpenproletarier (a German word literally meaning "rogue proletarian"), was first defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The German Ideology (1845) and later elaborated on in other works by Marx. The term was originally coined by Marx to describe that layer of the working class, unlikely to ever achieve class consciousness, lost to socially useful production, and therefore of no use in revolutionary struggle or an actual impediment to the realization of a classless society.
In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852), Marx refers to the lumpenproletariat as the "refuse of all classes", including "swindlers, confidence tricksters, brothel-keepers, rag-and-bone merchants, beggars, and other flotsam of society". In the Eighteenth Brumaire, Marx rhetorically describes the lumpenproletariat as a "class fraction" that constituted the political power base for Louis Bonaparte of France in 1848. In this sense, Marx argued that Bonaparte was able to place himself above the two main classes, the proletariat and bourgeoisie, by resorting to the 'lumpenproletariat' as an apparently independent base of power, while in fact advancing the material interests of the 'finance aristocracy'.
For rhetorical purposes, Marx identifies Louis Napoleon himself as being like a member of the lumpenproletariat, insofar as being a member of the finance aristocracy, he has no direct interest in productive enterprises. This is a rhetorical flourish, however, which equates the lumpenproletariat, the rentier class, and the apex of class society as equivalent members of the class of those with no role in useful production.
The influential 19th century anarchist activist and theorist Mikhail Bakunin had a view almost opposite of Marx's on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat vs. the proletariat Bakunin, according to Nicholas Thoburn, "considers workers' integration in capital as destructive of more primary revolutionary forces. For Bakunin, the revolutionary archetype is found in a peasant milieu (which is presented as having longstanding insurrectionary traditions, as well as a communist archetype in its current social form – the peasant commune) and amongst educated unemployed youth, assorted marginals from all classes, brigands, robbers, the impoverished masses, and those on the margins of society who have escaped, been excluded from, or not yet subsumed in the discipline of emerging industrial work ... in short, all those whom Marx sought to include in the category of the lumpenproletariat."
However in some societies, individual members of this class of people without formal employment have, on occasion, taken the lead in issuing a progressive challenge to society. One example is Abahlali baseMjondolo in the KwaZulu region of contemporary South Africa.
In the late 1960s, Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party came to believe that the lumpenproletariat could have a progressive role. Newton argued that the economic and social system of his time was fundamentally different from that which Marx based his analysis on, saying, "As the ruling circle continue to build their technocracy, more and more of the proletariat will become unemployable, become lumpen, until they have become the popular class, the revolutionary class." This is the class the Black Panther Party sought to organize, he said. Some disregard Newton's interpretation, saying he applied the term to, and sought to organize, the temporarily unemployed, rather than the true lumpen. However, a careful reading of his writings reveals repeated references to the "unemployed" and "unemployable" as those with revolutionary potential.
Frantz Fanon also argued in The Wretched of the Earth (1961) that revolutionary movements in colonized countries could not exclude the lumpenproletariat, as it constitutes both a counterrevolutionary and a revolutionary potential. He described the lumpenproletariat as "one of the most spontaneous and the most radically revolutionary forces of a colonized people." However, it is an ignorant and desperate class, particularly susceptible to being co-opted by counterrevolutionary forces. Therefore, he claimed, education of the dispossessed masses should be central to revolutionary strategy.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) included the participation of Calcutta's criminal elements in the early 1970s. The Party saw this segment of Calcutta, largely consisting of people from marginalized upbringings, as capable of revolutionary violence. Members of this social stratum would then ideally reform themselves and become conventional revolutionaries, leaving behind anti-social activities.
Engels wrote about the Neapolitan lumpenproletariat during the repression of the 1848 Revolution in Naples: "This action of the Neapolitan lumpenproletariat decided the defeat of the revolution. Swiss guardsmen, Neapolitan soldiers and lazzaroni combined pounced upon the defenders of the barricades."
In other writings, Marx also saw little potential in these sections of society. About rebellious mercenaries, he wrote: "A motley crew of mutineering soldiers who have murdered their officers, torn asunder the ties of discipline, and not succeeded in discovering a man on whom to bestow supreme command are certainly the body least likely to organise a serious and protracted resistance."
Marx's description of mutineers as being unreliable could be argued upon at length. Russian Army mutineers and their soldiers committees were critical to the overturning of the Tsarist regime during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Yet, there is a difference in that the Russian Revolution was a general uprising of most of Russia's popular classes, not just a military mutiny. Also, the Russian Imperial Army was a regular army of conscripts, not an army of mercenaries; as such, its social extraction was quite different, and much closer to the peasantry than to the lumpenproletariat.
According to Marx, the lumpenproletariat had no special motive for participating in revolution, and might in fact have an interest in preserving the current class structure, because the members of the lumpenproletariat usually depend on the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy for their day-to-day existence. In that sense, Marx saw the lumpenproletariat as a counter-revolutionary force.
Leon Trotsky elaborated this view, perceiving the lumpenproletariat as especially vulnerable to reactionary thought. In his collection of essays Fascism: What it is and how to fight it, he describes Benito Mussolini's capture of power: "Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat – all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy."
Marx's definition has influenced contemporary sociologists, who are concerned with many of the marginalized elements of society characterized by Marx under this label. Marxian and even some non-Marxist sociologists now use the term to refer to those they see as the "victims" of modern society, who exist outside the wage-labor system, such as beggars, or people who make their living through disreputable means: prostitutes and pimps, swindlers, carnies, drug dealers, bootleggers, and bookmakers, but depend on the formal economy for their day-to-day existence.
In modern Russian, Turkish, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Estonian, lumpen, the shortened form of lumpenproletariat, is sometimes used to refer to lower classes of society. The meaning of the term is roughly analogous to scrounger, riff raff, hoi polloi, white trash, bogan, or yobbo. In Slovene language, the word 'lump' means 'rascal' or 'scamp', while in Serbian language the word usually used is 'fukara'.
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