As usual when it comes to class analysis, the question of the lumpenproletariat (the element which has been pushed to the economic periphery) in the United States has a dual nature. Because the lumpen are a class that’s at the same time especially susceptible to becoming forces for reactionary intrigue, and that’s gaining increasing amounts of revolutionary potential. As Marx and Engels warned about the lumpen—which in their time specifically meant the criminal class—there are counterrevolutionary tendencies within it which the bourgeoisie can exploit. Gangs are military governments that seek access to the black market under capitalism, making them unreliable entities as far as proletarian revolution is concerned. And the social conditioning of individualism, patriarchy, and violence under capitalism can make many within this criminal element enamored with backwards habits, which they aren’t all willing to unlearn.

Using lumpen-proletariat is absolutely dangerous and has harmed the movement multiple times; learn from history.


What is a lumpen-proletariat?

Unemployed people, people with disabilities and sex workers. Basically the class below the working class.


Walt, I have disabilities and no job…

Oh no, I’m a lumpen-proletariat!

So anyway… what’s so bad about the lumpen-proletariat?

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Think criminals and Mafioso-types.

On the cuban revolution, lots of the fighter where “lumpen ploretariat” most where in the fight for money, or for personal interests, but they where on it. Mao and Che Guevara have warned that on times of need, students and intellectuals are not able to work on an army, their jobs are intellectual, not phisical. An revoluctionary army is composed either by workers and defected military, or, in case of need, the lumpen ploretariat. It might be risky, and they are very able to backstabb the movement at certain points for their lack of class councioness, but they are able to fight and are probably the most radicalised class of all. You need to use what you can, to you want to use people not able to fight that cant face the life on the guerrila? Or do you want strong persons, able to use weapons and face actual danger? On most third world countries, the lumpen ploretariat can be found at the millions, my country is filled to death by them, most are people that where born without an chance on life, people that are born miserable, live on misery and die on it. They are the ones who need the most help from an socialist state. Do you want to refuse any help they can give just because they are “criminals”? All of those people ruined by capitalism are more then willing to fight for an better life, they just dont have any chances. And they are the ones with the most access to weapons, during the cuban revolution, they got most of their stuff (weapons, The Granna, equipment, fighters) from certain peoples that worked on the black market of it, they might be dangerous, but they can be dangerous for the burgeoise too.

The actuall biggest assholes on existance here on my country that i agree we should never even think on allying would be the “milicianos”, corrupt cops and playboys from rich districts that work with drugs, weapons, extortion of the poor classes, and even genocide of people on the favelas, they are the death squads of the burgeoisse, that work on they way they do for the sake of proffit, they get the wall.

They were not lumpen. Being employed is not lumpen.

In what way is it dangerous?

Already tried. Lumpen-proletariat are the ones being hired to assassinate and kill proletarians. Stop repeating the same mistakes. They infiltrate the proletarian movements at the behest of the bourgeoisie.

Seems like the term is used to mean very different things by different people (e.g. @ksdhf’s comment). If it’s just violent criminals (unless they specifically target the bourgeoisie), yeah, it makes sense to exclude them from revolutionary movements.

If I’m wrong, please let me know why/how

I suppose.

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