On the lumpenproletariat

An historical reconstruction
and a conceptual critique

The concept of the “lumpenproletariat” sits uneasily within Marxian class analysis. It is an unstable, even incoherent category, not only in terms of its theorization but at the level of social reality itself. Nowhere did Marx or Engels or their successors provide a rigorous or exhaustive account of lumpens as a group or lumpenization as a process. Rather, there are snippets of text which can be compiled regarding the lumpenproletariat’s role in modern life.

Politically, most Marxists would agree this role is negative — or rather has been at crucial junctures in the past. From the lazzaroni of Naples in 17991 through the garde mobile of Paris in 1848,2 up to the tsarist черносотенцы in Russia after 19053 and the fascist Sturmabteilung in Germany during the interwar period,4 members of the lumpenproletariat have often served counterrevolutionary ends. At best, they are considered unreliable; at worst, predisposed to corruption. Either way, lumpens are not to be counted on when push comes to shove.

Yet these are merely scattered instances, not an overarching framework of society. While perhaps of anecdotal significance, they cannot be used to predict how this segment of the populace would act in any given situation. Historic tendencies may of course be noted, but it is important not to make the present just an index of the moments that led up to it. Otherwise one risks lapsing into vulgar empiricism,5 always a temptation for historians.

Moreover, communists must be extra careful when the concept is deployed against a backdrop like the migrant crisis. Condemnations of lumpen criminality all too easily echo rightwing rhetoric about “law and order.” Such talking-points are already pervasive in the media, with horror stories reported nightly on the news. Xenophobic and racist attitudes are fueled by middle-class fears of gang violence, which is but the flipside of police violence. Ultimately, crime itself is determined by whatever the bourgeois state deems to be legal or illegal at the time.6

A pair of recent articles have been published advancing a left communist approach to this question. Nuevo Curso examines the brutal effects of lumpenization in Spain alongside heightened xenophobia,7 while Workers’ Offensive looks back on the glorification of the lumpenproletariat by the Black Panther Party in the US.8 Both articles raise a number of salient points, some of which bear repeating, but do so in a rather ham-fisted manner. Greater precision is required for their message to come across, if they want to avoid maudlin moralistic postures.

What the present essay aims to accomplish is thus an historical reconstruction of the category, as well as a critique of its contemporary uses. It will be divided into three primary sections, each subdivided into two subsections:

  • First, it will highlight some ambiguities in the Marxist definition of the lumpenproletariat to show how vague it is. These are not simply the result of confused thinking, either, but reflect the real messiness of life at the fringes of capitalism.
  • Having clarified the core concept and furnished a material basis, its ideological function can now be laid bare from left to right. On both poles of the political spectrum, the figure of the lumpenproletariat is by turns glorified and vilified.
  • Characteristically “lumpen” practices such as looting and rioting may then be interrogated to see whether they impede working-class militancy. Put otherwise, must revolution be on the table for counterrevolution to even be possible?

Just to be clear, the goal here is not to place lumpenproletarians at the forefront of proletarian struggle or make them into the vanguard of the class. Still less does this essay want to replace the proletariat as the identical subject/object of history, as workers remain uniquely positioned to overthrow the capitalist system. Least of all does it seek to rehabilitate the lumpenproletariat as a group or deny how awful the process of lumpenization can be.


Reconstructing the category

By far the most thorough treatment of the concept of the lumpenproletariat was that of the American Trotskyist Hal Draper. In it he traces its derivation from the Latin proletarii, which itself was undergoing a profound transformation during the first few decades of the nineteenth century.9 The proletariat had not yet come to be fully identified with the emerging class of wage-laborers, and retained some of its earlier connotations as a parasitic rabble [Pöbel].10

Marx and Engels gestured toward this in their jointly-written German Ideology, where they asserted that “the plebeians [of Rome], midway between freemen and slaves, never succeeded in becoming more than a lumpenproletariat.”11 Quoting the prominent left Ricardian economist Sismondi, Marx explained many years later: “Whereas the Roman proletariat lived at the expense of society, modern society lives at the expense of the proletariat.”12 For Marx and Engels, this reversal was constitutive of the difference between antiquity and capitalist modernity.

Subsequent Marxists such as Nikolai Bukharin would sometimes express frustration at sociologists, who continued to confuse the proletariat with the lumpenproletariat well into the twentieth century.13 Engels did suggest at one point, however, that an historic link existed between the two. Although “the lumpenproletariat is a phenomenon which occurs in every phase of society known so far,”14 it acquired a special status when feudalism began to decay. Near the end of his life, Engels held that these déclassé elements comprised a sort of “preproletariat.”15

Perhaps the most famous line on the lumpenproletariat appears in the Manifesto, where Marx and Engels warn of “the ‘dangerous class,’ or the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society.” They concede that “it may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution,” but add that “its conditions of life prepare it far more for the part of bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”16 Commentators have noted that their prediction came much too true during the revolutions of 1848 and after.17

Following the collapse of the short-lived Orléanist dynasty in March 1848, proletarian unrest started to make itself felt in the French capital. By June it had boiled over into full-blown insurrection, prompting a ruthless response from the government. Reporting on the situation, Engels wrote “the mobile guard, which was recruited from the Paris lumpenproletariat, has already during its brief existence, thanks to good pay, been transformed into the praetorians of power; the organized lumpenproletariat has given battle to the unorganized working proletariat.”18

Vienna and Antwerp were the next European cities where the revolution was suppressed. “In Paris the mobile guard, in Vienna the ‘Croats’ — in both cases lazzaroni, or the lumpenproletariat hired and armed — were used against the working and thinking proletarians,” Marx recorded in the pages of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.19 Meanwhile, Engels commented on the court proceedings against republicans in Belgium to the effect that workers could not have been among the ranks of the monarchists; instead, he reasoned, it must have been les misérables.20

Who were the lumpenproletarians, though? Of all the descriptions Marx wrote of this group, two stand out for their vividness. The first came midway through his polemical 1850 pamphlet Class Struggles in France, referring to

the lumpenproletariat, which in big towns forms a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat, a recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds, living on the crumbs of society, people without a definite trade, vagabonds, gens sans feu et sans aveu [those without hearth or home], varying according to the degree of civilization of the nation to which they belong… but never renouncing their lazzaroni character; at the tender age the Provisional Government recruited them, thoroughly malleable, as capable of performing the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices as of the basest banditry and the foulest corruption.21

And in The Eighteenth Brumaire,

the lumpenproletariat of Paris was organized into secret sections; alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, rogues, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux, brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ-grinders, ragpickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither, which the French famously term la bohème.22

Literary critics have dismissed this passage as a rhetorical flourish, an exercise in mid-nineteenth-century list-making and little else.23 But academic explanations of this sort no more suffice than efforts to ascribe these views to prejudices stemming from their social origins, to “Marx’s bourgeois outlook”24 or his and Engels’ “middle-class Biedermeier mentality.”25 Such facile dismissals explain nothing, assured as they are of the belief that today people know better.

One of the more serious challenges to Marx and Engels’ interpretation of 1848 has been mounted by historians of a sociological bent. Demographic data about the average age, occupation, and residence of the mobile guardsmen casts doubt upon the official Marxist narrative.26 Quantitative research would seem to indicate that the class background was similar for combatants on either side of the barricade,27 with the main difference being generational.

However, this objection — though grounded in painstaking archival work — is made in retrospect, and runs up against the preponderant perception of contemporary observers. These include many who actually participated in the uprising. Marx and Engels reviewed several memoirs written by professional conspirators, recalling firsthand their involvement in the events of 1848.28 Add to that the great wealth of artistic evidence left by Parisian witnesses, from Daumier’s lumpenproletarian caricature “Ratapoil”29 to the ragmen of Baudelaire’s intoxicated strolls.30

Furthermore, this focus on the lowest layer of the class leaves out a major aspect of Marx’s original formulation. Namely, “the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society,” within the Bonapartist state and the finance aristocracy.31 What he meant by this was not the ordinary crowd of lobbyists and speculators, who despite their lack of scruples normally operate inside the bounds of the law. Rather the schemers and scammers, the Charles Ponzis and Bernie Madoffs of the world, with longstanding connections to organized crime.32

Indeed, Louis Bonaparte himself was seen by Marx as some kind of “princely lumpenproletarian,”33 a petty crook who through guile and blind luck had risen to become head of state. Just as the lumpenproletariat would be enlisted against the workers as strikebreakers or scabs, cheap stand-ins, so too was Bonaparte “a remplaçant, the substitute for Napoleon.”34 Unquestionably Marx made generous use of metaphor and clever turns of phrase, but there was a very literal dimension to his belief that Bonaparte was nothing more than a lumpen writ large.35

Definitional problems

Nevertheless, questions remain about the precise character of the lumpenproletariat. Above all, in terms of its class character: Where does it fit into the Marxist theory of social classes? Properly speaking, is it even a class at all? How does it relate to other classic termes d’art like “surplus population” and “reserve army of labor,” or neologisms like the “precariat”? Finally, what separates modern lumpens from premodern antecedents in more agrarian societies?

Starting with the last question and then working backwards, a few words can be spared about the specificity of the phenomenon. Of course, as Marx and Engels pointed out, the lumpenproletariat was  present in all recorded social configurations. But since this segment of society has always been concentrated primarily in cities, it follows that its presence would only increase with the shift to a more urban civilization like capitalism. Rising crime rates go hand-in-hand with the rapid growth of industrial centers and the societal upheaval that trails in its wake.36

“Urban agglomerations have produced illnesses and epidemics, physical and criminal degeneration, the formation of the lumpenproletariat and of an underworld worse than the highwaymen of previous centuries, and the terrifying rise of all statistics relating to crime,” remarked Amadeo Bordiga in 1952.37 It is fitting that a native Neapolitan would weigh in on the issue, given Marx’s view of his hometown as the capital of Lazzaronitum. (Ermanno Rea, the late Italian essayist, claimed Naples was haunted by the ghosts of Bakunin, Bordiga, and the lumpens.)38

Contrasting the Sicilian mafia with the Neapolitan camorra, as Eric Hobsbawm for example did in Primitive Rebels, helps to underscore the difference between the lumpenproletariat and its precursors. The mafia in Sicily held sway outside Palermo, in the villas and villages beyond the reach of Bourbon or Piedmontese rule. Only in American cities like New York and Chicago did it adjust to an urban setting. Hobsbawm’s study makes clear its stark contrast with the camorra in Naples, which took shape in the jails,39 later forming “the quintessential ‘mob’.”40

Paris over the first half of the nineteenth century became virtually synonymous with metropolitan crime. Louis Chevalier, a skillful bourgeois historian, chronicled the pervasive theme of the “dangerous classes” in serial fiction by novelists like Jules Jardin, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, and Eugène Sue (all of whom Marx and Engels read avidly).41 For Chevalier, the very fact that detailed information was now being kept about the incidence and severity of crime, culminating in the modern science of criminology, attested to a social dynamic without precedent.42

Although he was wrong to insist on the singularity of Paris — other cities exhibited similar proclivities — Chevalier was right that the issue here was “not crime itself so much as the pathological nature of urban living.”43 Urbanization everywhere resulted in the creation of a permanent “underclass” which was quite distinct from the brigands and banditos of precapitalist times or the lawless frontier. Now its place in the social structure must be ascertained.

Endnotes, voice of the Anglophone communization milieu, asks in the centerpiece to its fourth issue: “What is the relationship between the surplus population and the lumpenproletariat? Are they one and the same? Marx expounds on the surplus population at length in Capital, but does not refer at all to the lumpenproletariat in that work. He uses the phrase only in his political writings.”44 Strictly speaking, this last claim is inaccurate. Déclassé elements show up in the twenty-fifth chapter of that work, where they are put beneath the relative surplus population.45

Various Marxian theorists have schematized the relationship between the total workforce and the different levels of the relative surplus population, which includes the lumpenproletariat. In recent years, Teinosuke Otani has offered a serviceable breakdown of the latter.46 Bordiga provided a neat overview back in the fifties:

  1. The active industrial army, or workers who have a job.
  2. Floating surplus population, workers entering or leaving the factories in accordance with technical evolution and the changes it entails to the division of labor.
  3. Latent surplus population, workers leaving the countryside for the factories because of the difficulty of life at the margins of agrarian economy.
  4. Stagnant surplus population, which is only rarely called upon by big industry: domestic workers [travailleurs à domicile], workers employed in marginal activities for a very low salary.
  5. Paupers:
    Chronically unemployed, though able to work.
    Orphans and children of the poor.
    Disabled or unemployable persons, widows, etc.
  6. Apart from the working class, in what is known as the “lumpenproletariat”: delinquents, prostitutes, the underworld [pègre].47

No doubt this is a much more finely-grained presentation of the lumpenproletariat and its place within Marx’s network of categories. Yet the matter is by no means exhausted by this schematic, as it conflicts with some of the other definitions cited above. Is the lumpenproletariat part of the proletariat proper? Or is it made up of precapitalist survivals? This last question is connected with the unresolved issue of lumpenization, whether it was a one-off or is an ongoing process. Further confusion attaches to recent buzzwords like casualization and precarization.

Guy Standing’s newly-minted notion of the “precariat” is a case in point. Although he states that this term is not identical to the Marxist concept of the lumpenproletariat,48 Standing complicates things by referring to it as another classe dangereuse in the subtitle to his book. Moreover, “precarity” is a feature of both proletarian and lumpenproletarian life.49 While it is important to distinguish precarization from lumpenization, as Nuevo Curso suggests,50 it is not enough to state this fact without elaborating on it. Each of these processes has to be spelled out.

Sooner or later one wonders if the lumpenproletariat is a class in its own right, or simply a subclass of a larger class. Here and there Marx and Engels referred to it as a Klasse,51 but for the most part they saw it as utterly declassed — as “the scum, offal, and refuse of all classes”52 or “[the] depraved elements from all classes.”53 Later Engels would get more specific about the class origins of those thus declassed, writing in 1874:

In French the déclassés are people of the propertied classes who were ousted or who broke away from that class without thereby becoming proletarians, such as business adventurers, rogues, and gamblers… most of them professional literati or politicians, etc. The proletariat, too, has its déclassé elements, making up the lumpenproletariat.54

Beforehand the literati had been listed by Marx under the rubric of the lumpenproletariat, but it would appear Engels reclassified them as lumpenbourgeois. Regardless, another ambiguity arises insofar as the degree of differentiation between lumpens and regular proles is left unclear. Marx at one point wrote the two were already “sharply differentiated,” but later in the same paragraph said this was only due to the uniforms given them by the bourgeois authorities.55 However, the government clearly had “to play off one part of the proletariat against the other.”

Depending on how one chooses to count, there are only two or three “pure” classes in capitalism. “Society as a whole is more and more split between two great hostile camps, two great classes directly facing each other,” Marx and Engels contended in the Manifesto, “proletariat and bourgeoisie.”56 Georg Lukács later added:

Proletariat and bourgeoisie are the only pure classes in bourgeois society, the only classes whose entire existence and development are dependent on the course charted by modern production. It is only from the vantage point of these classes that a plan for the total organization of society can even be imagined. The outlook of the other classes is ambiguous or sterile, because their existence is not based exclusively on a role in the capitalist system.57

A third relatively “pure” class could be added to this dichotomy, following Marx’s argument in the final volume of Capital put out by Engels: “Workers, capitalists, and landowners form the three great classes of modern society based on the capitalist mode of production.”58 Of course, these classes line up with the three constituent parts of the “trinity formula” that Marx had just finished discussing a few chapters prior — i.e. wages, profits, and ground-rent.59

Even the petite bourgeoisie is not a “pure” class according to Lukács, stricto sensu, belonging in the final analysis to the bourgeoisie (as its name suggests). Like the grande bourgeoisie, it has access to the means of production necessary to reproduce its own existence. Unlike the grande bourgeoisie, it lacks the capital to employ others to work these same means. For the most part it is divided into upwardly- and downwardly-mobile portions, which are either impoverished or enriched until they merge with the mass of workers or join with the capitalists.60

Given that it tends to be absorbed into these purer classes, why does the petite bourgeoisie prove such a resilient feature of capitalism? To begin with, the ranks of the petite bourgeoisie are replenished through periodic crises. Capitalists will buy up bankrupt mom-and-pop shops, smalltime businesses that have gone under, but workers who have scrimped and scrounged will also often have a go at being an independent proprietor. It is somewhat analogous in the case of lumpens, though this is decidedly less of an aspirational status than petit-bourgeois.

With the lumpenproletariat, however, its position vis-à-vis the social structure of capitalism is more paradoxical than with the petite bourgeoisie. Lumpens in a quite tangible sense find themselves outside of capitalist society, or at least beyond its legal bounds. Yet at the same time, their plight is a byproduct of the very system from which they are excluded. Border cases abound as well: How does one classify those who work nine-to-five jobs but sling dope on the side to supplement their shitty wages? Perhaps this is what makes them so difficult to define.


Leftists and the lumpenproletariat

Debates over the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat have raged from the foundation of the First Workingmen’s International onward. Since the 1860s, then, many have diverged from Marx’s deprecatory view of the lumpenproletariat, with some even going so far as to assert that this miserable stratum is more predisposed to anticapitalism than its industrial counterpart. Mikhail Bakunin, the voice of anarchist politics during this period, was the earliest to articulate this view.61 Even Marxists, however, above all Maoists, subsequently followed suit.

A quick note on terminology, regarding leftism and the Left: In recent decades the left/right distinction has been attacked at times as obsolete. Other times it has been defended as still relevant.62 Whole books have been written that recast the history of the Left as a struggle to forge democracy,63 or else a critique of everyday life.64 Communist dissidents have tried to conceptualize the Left as “a movement of negation toward the existent world,” which tends toward total emancipation.65 Though occasionally interesting, these efforts prove to be inadequate.

Right and left might retain relative validity in the sense that one thing can be “to the left” of another thing, or that something can be criticized “from the left.” German, Dutch, and Italian communists could thus be said to represent the left wing of the early Comintern. Kantianism was similarly susceptible to materialist criticism.66 Later on the Left (with a capital letter) acquired quasi-metaphysical properties as an entity unto itself, a catchall encompassing everything from mass social-democratic parties to Leninist sects to tiny anarchist cells and much else besides.

Usually this is further broken up into an Old Left (1923-1956), New Left (1956-1989), and “post-political” Left (1989-present), commonly disparaged by communists as “the left wing of capital.”67 Prior to 1923, it is somewhat anachronistic to refer to anarchists, social-democrats, and revolutionary Marxists under this generic rubric. But since the controversy between Bakunin and Marx over the lumpenproletariat — carried on by their followers over the next fifty years — was so decisive for the debates that ensued, it is worth reviewing their polemics.

Marx and Engels only grew more intransigent, some scholars noticed, on the subject of lumpens as time went on.68 Quarreling with Bakunin had made matters worse. “All the depravities in which the life of declassed individuals ejected from society inevitably become involved are proclaimed to be so many ultrarevolutionary virtues,” Marx and Engels sarcastically sniped, without mentioning Bakunin by name. They continued:

Economic and political struggle on the part the workers for own their emancipation is replaced by the pan-destructive acts of heroes of the underworld — this latest incarnation of revolution. In a word, one must let loose the street hooligans suppressed by the workers themselves in revolutions on the Western classical model, and thus place gratuitously at the disposal of the reactionaries a well-disciplined gang of agents provocateurs.69

Bakunin replied:

Nowhere are there more favorable conditions for the social revolution than in Italy. For there does not exist in Italy, as in most other European nations, a special category of relatively affluent workers, earning higher wages, boasting of their literary capacities, and impregnated by a variety of bourgeois prejudices such that excepting income they differ in no way from the bourgeoisie. In Italy, it is the extremely poor proletariat that predominates (of whom Marx speaks disdainfully, quite unjustly, as a Lumpenproletariat). Only in them, and not in the bourgeois strata of workers, is there crystallized the intelligence and power of the coming revolution.70

Here what ought to jump out at readers is how closely Bakunin’s description of workers approximates the category of the “labor aristocracy” developed by Marx and Engels in the Anglo-Saxon context just a few years down the road.71 More will be said about this in the conclusion, but for now it is enough to point out the similarity. The Bakuninist lumpenproletariat was far more capacious than that of Marx or Engels, including the romantic figure of the Cossack.72 Although outlaws, these adventurers were often conscripted into tsarist regiments to restore order.

Victor Serge went over this disagreement in a 1938 reflection on anarchist thought. “Bakunin, who seems to have never truly understood Marx, in certain regards was unable to shake specifically Russian ideas concerning the role of the underworld in the coming revolution,” commented Serge, “attributing a useful and important function to the déclassés, outlaws, and bandits. Learning from the experience of the industrial countries, Marx knew that the lumpenproletariat, the subproletariat or the ‘rabble’ of the big cities, was inclined to serve counterrevolution.”73

Karl Kautsky featured a salutary reference to lumpens in his popular textbook on The Class Struggle, one half of the epochal Erfurt Program (1890).74 In this work, as well as his disquisition on The Agrarian Question (1900), they are described as prone to drunkenness and debauchery owing to their miserable situation.75 Politically the lumpenproletarian ideal is a communism of consumption, not of production.76 Among the many Marxists who read and appreciated this treatise by Kautsky was Vladimir Lenin, who defended it from the self-styled “critics of Marx.”77

During and immediately after the 1905 revolution in Russia, Marxists sought to make sense of the violent antisemitic riots that broke out following the brief revolutionary efflorescence. The social composition of the pogromists had yet to be ascertained.78 Lenin saw in this reactionary backlash the hand of the lumpenproletariat, which bore the ideological imprint of anarchism.79 Rosa Luxemburg echoed this sentiment:

What is the actual role of anarchism in the Russian Revolution? It has become the sign of the common thief and plunderer; a large proportion of the innumerable thefts and acts of plunder of private persons are carried out under the name of “anarcho-communism” — acts rising up like a troubled wave against the revolution in every period of depression and temporary defensive. Anarchism has become not the theory of the struggling proletariat, but the ideological signboard of the counterrevolutionary lumpenproletariat, which swarms like a school of sharks in the slipstream of the battleship of revolution, ending its whole historical career.80

Her scorn for this protean social element did not stop there, however. She further derided the various “demonstrations of the patriotic lumpenproletariat carried out under police patronage.”81 Most of her views on the matter were secondhand, cribbed from Russian Marxist dispatches. By Luxemburg’s own admission, “the idea that anarchism is the ideology of the lumpenproletariat was already expressed by [Georgii] Plekhanov in his German brochures.”82

Justified though it may once have been as a reproach to the likes of Bakunin or Nechaev, the charge that lumpens somehow formed the “natural constituency” of anarchists was already outdated by 1905. Not only in Western Europe, either, where an ascendant labor movement had given rise to syndicalism. In Russia as well, anarcho-syndicalists “denounced the ‘Nechaevist tactics’ of conspiratorial societies and derided their faith in the revolutionary capacity of thieves, tramps, the lumpenproletariat, and other dark factors.”83 Paul Avrich has documented this well.

These debates all lurked in the background when the issue was again taken up by segments of the New Left, especially those involved in anticolonial and antiracist struggles. Frantz Fanon saw in lumpens “the most spontaneously and radically revolutionary forces of a colonized people,”84 even though their presence in urban centers along the capitalist periphery was a sign of “the irreversible rot and gangrene eating into the heart of colonial domination.” Despite signaling this decay, Fanon nevertheless held out hope that

the pimps, hooligans, unemployed, and petty criminals when approached will give the liberation struggle all they’ve got, devoting themselves to the cause like valiant workers… Vagrants will find their way back to the nation thanks to decisive militant action. Unchanged in the eyes of colonial society or vis-à-vis the moral standards of the colonizer, this jobless species of subhumans believe the gun or the hand grenade is the only way to reenter the cities, and thus redeem itself before history. Likewise with the prostitutes, the domestics at two thousand francs a month, the hopeless cases, the men and women who fluctuate between madness and suicide… Restored to sanity, they return to action amidst the great march of a nation on the move.85

Yet elsewhere Fanon vacillated, fearing that lumpens could easily be conscripted as irregulars and used to crush rebellion. “If the insurrection thinks it can afford to ignore the lumpenproletariat, this famished underclass will pitch itself into armed struggle on the side of the oppressor,” he worried, paraphrasing the Manifesto.86 Many authors sympathetic to Fanon, for example his biographer David Macey, saw him as incredibly naïve on this score: “Any Marxist knew well that the lumpenproletariat would not play a progressive role in the event of a revolution.”87

Just a few years later in the US, the Black Panther Party also adopted a more optimistic stance with regard to these social outcasts. Partly inspired by Fanon,88 Huey Newton and Bobby Seale went against settled orthodoxy on this issue.89 “We’d argue with our Marxist friends,” the latter later recalled, “who felt lumpens never did anything but pillage and ignore the revolutionary cause altogether.”90 Seale once quipped that “Marx and Lenin would probably turn over in their graves if they saw lumpenproletarians and their role within the ideology of the BPP.”91

Newton’s gloss on the category was quite idiosyncratic, defined as “the left wing of the proletariat.” He felt that the lumpenproletariat alone possessed “the potential to act as the vanguard,” carrying the people toward the final climax of the transformation of society.92 For Newton, automation was leading to structural unemployment on an expanded scale. “Lumpenproletarians in the near future will be the popular majority,” he predicted.93 This then led him to assert in 1971 that “the lumpenproletariat is the majority, and hoists the revolutionary banner.”94

Eldridge Cleaver, one of this doctrine’s original authors, argued that productive technologies would eventually bring about “the lumpenization of humanity.”95 Upon his expulsion from the BPP, a year or so after Newton’s speech at Boston College, Cleaver took this argument further. “Marxism has had a disastrous effect upon the revolutionary movement,” he maintained late in 1972, “misunderstanding the basic nature of oppression. It wrongly identified the proletariat or the working class as the most radical element of society, when it is in fact the lumpen.”96

Workers’ Offensive was thus right to assert: “Glorifying the lumpenproletariat, as the BPP did, has more in common with Bakunin than with Marx.”97 As the Marxist historian Manning Marable observed, this was an equal but opposite mistake to more milquetoast New Left groups such as the SDS. “Social-democrats tend to substitute white students and professionals for the traditional working class,” wrote Marable. “Neo-Bakuninists make the same error, in the other direction, by exalting the black lumpenproletariat as the main force of social revolution.”98

Criticizing the BPP is a tricky matter in the US, where the memory of its martyrdom is still present. Very few organizations have been so enduringly mythologized. Regardless, it is important that the BPP be susceptible to criticism like any leftwing political party. The International Communist Party provided an evenhanded appraisal in 1971, one which took stock of the persecution it suffered at the hands of the police:

Here is an attempt to adjust theory and practice to this social category, searching for fresh strength, a unique path to revolution via the very reasons that the lumpenproletariat has been historically impotent. So the lumpenproletariat, having no opportunity to boycott production by means of a strike and forced to clash in the streets, is seen as more revolutionary… Yet the BPP seems unaware that this also entails inevitable defeat.99

Black Panther ideology was straitjacketed from the start by an ill-fitting patchwork of Maoist, Juche, and adjacent notions. (Maoism came to Newton and Seale courtesy of the FBI snitch Richard Aoki, it ought to be added parenthetically.)100 Of course, none of this is meant to denigrate the legacy of the BPP or belittle its accomplishments. Fervent admirers of the group have even cited the effort to recruit among the lumpenproletariat as a crucial misstep, one which invited violence into its internal culture and gave federal authorities another excuse to monitor it.101

Attitudes of reactionaries toward the lumpen

Various post-Left — i.e., post-anarchist and post-Marxist — musings about the lumpenproletariat may be bracketed for now and dealt with in the final section. Reactionary attitudes toward this marginalized segment of society will instead be examined here, to see how it figured into the historical narrative and cultural tropes of rightwing ideology. Conservatives rarely thought of lumpens in explicitly social terms, though, preferring to look for explanations elsewhere.

Specifically, they tended to displace the class stratification that results from capitalist production onto a preexisting racial hierarchy. In other words, the uneven outcomes of universalized competition can be chalked up to congenital laziness/industriousness or other heritable traits. Jews for example are seen as preternaturally thrifty and cunning, stereotyped as shopkeepers or well-to-do professionals (as lawyers, doctors, or whatnot). Latinos and blacks are by contrast depicted as shiftless ne’er-do-wells, associated with chronic unemployment and urban crime-waves.

Whenever a dominant racial or ethnic group experiences economic insecurity, or feels threatened by impoverishment, its worst fears and resentments are channeled by rightwing ideologues into hatred of immigrants and minorities. Xenophobia and racism flow from real premises, but are distorted through an ideological prism. Either way, these prejudices substitute Rassenkampf for Klassenkampf. Marxists do not seek to defend the petite bourgeoisie or lumpenproletariat as such, but attack campaigns specifically targeting Jewish proprietors or black and Latino gangs.

Psychology offers a convenient dyad that captures the reactionary position on lumpenproletarians: attraction/repulsion. Attracted by their brutality, the ease with which they resort to force. Repulsed by their degenerate behavior, how soon they succumb to vices like whoring, gambling, and drink. Beyond any of this, however, reactionaries view lumpens either as a pool of available enforcers there to uphold the existing order or as a readymade scapegoat on which all sorts of chaos can be blamed. This duality will be evident in the survey of reaction that follows.

1905 once again serves as a benchmark, helping gauge the role of different groups in moments of upheaval. Luxemburg vividly described the patriotism exhibited by “lumpen elements, police informers, plainclothesmen, and other hangers-on holding aloft a portrait of the tsar.”102 She continued in another weekly column:

From all the cities, all the regions, from every corner of the empire come news reports of murder and looting, anti-Jewish rampages, and other bestial excesses by the police, the Cossacks, and the soldiers… Yet again tsarism has resorted to its “tried-and-true,” favorite method of fighting the revolutionary movement. It stirs up the dregs of society, or lumpenproletariat, trying to drown the vanguard of the working class in a sea of blood.103

According to the tsarist administrator of Kiev, the mob that ransacked the city in October of that year was made up of such unsavory characters: “Urchins, vagabonds, and assorted riff-raff; it was mostly they who did the plundering.”104 Demographic inferences gathered from eyewitness testimony corroborate this account.105 “Hooliganism” [хулиганство] came to refer almost exclusively to the pogromist lifestyle in the Pale of Settlement, where Jews were confined.106

Whether or not the ragged Black Hundred hordes constituted a fascist or protofascist force is an open question, though some have already answered in the affirmative.107 Less controversial is the claim that the paramilitary Freikorps, unleashed against the unruly Spartakusbund in January 1919, prefigured Nazism in Germany. Recent studies confirm that a large portion of the Freikorps’ membership was seen by contemporaries as “lumpen and work-shy [Arbeitsscheuen].”108 Even the officers in command of such units regarded the rank-and-file as difficult to control.109

Other historians, mostly during the Soviet period, diagnosed the class composition of the Freikorps as lumpenproletarian and petit-bourgeois — two groups ripe for fascism, in the classic Marxian view.110 (German communists at the time referred to the murderers of Luxemburg and Liebknecht as “lumpen scoundrels.”)111 As Gilles Dauvé points out, however, this appellation cut both ways: Friedrich Ebert and the ruling social democrats sought to discredit the Spartacists as the party of the lumpenproletariat, as if any opposition to parliamentarism sowed disorder.112

The right wing of the workers’ movement, the MSPD, falsely accused the Spartacists of lumpenism while employing actual lumpens to stamp out their uprising. Here the double motion of repulsion and attraction is laid bare. World War I trained an entire generation of able-bodied men to fight, and now a huge swathe of unemployed ex-servicemen with deadly skillsets returned to ruined economies bitter at their fate. Rightwing veterans such as the avant-garde novelist Ernst Jünger speculated about the role they might play:

Bakunin was right in regarding the lumpenproletariat as a much more effective revolutionary force [than the working masses]. Seen from another side, one can say it’s enough to disperse the masses, while the lumpenproletariat must be sought out in its hiding places. Its greater effectiveness furthermore suggests that it owns a real battle plan, the age-old formation of the pack… The lumpenproletariat’s relation to pain is also more substantial, if no doubt negative. For while the masses kill with machines, tearing apart and trampling underfoot, the lumpenproletariat is directly familiar with the joys of torture. Whereas the masses are moved morally (united in indignation at injustice and evil), the lumpenproletariat is beyond all moral valuations and thus always and everywhere ready to seize the opportunity (with any disturbance of the social order). One must regard the lumpenproletariat as a kind of underground army reserve the social order keeps on alert.

It is to be noted parenthetically here that the word “lumpenproletariat,” as the attentive reader will have not failed to notice, belongs to the outdated vocabulary of class struggle. Yet we are dealing here with an elementary force, which is always present and naturally concealed behind a mask of established economic thought. Today, this elementary force appears in new forms associated with other such forces active in political movements and military actions. Above all, we refer to the appearance of the partisan, who to a great extent has already lost all social hue. Partisans are assigned missions carried out beneath the legal order, surfacing at the rear of invading armies (where operations involve espionage, sabotage, and subversion). During a civil war, the operations left to partisans include missions beyond the bounds of law, which are especially ruthless.113

Clearly, the revolution this passage had in mind was not a communist one. Jünger was the exemplar of “reactionary modernism” and an advocate of conservative revolution.114 Ex-soldiers supplied the bulk of fascism’s street-fighting squadrons, the blackshirts in Italy and brownshirts in Germany. Of all the varied walks of life Marx categorized as lumpenproletarian, the “discharged soldier” is perhaps the most easily forgotten. However, one need only think of groups like the Three Percenters in the US today to get a sense of their potential counterrevolutionary use.

August Thalheimer, one of the first Marxists to theorize fascism, ventured that it was a kind of redux Bonapartism as early as 1923. Fascism, like Bonapartism before it, pretends to act on behalf of the whole nation, incorporating a range of influences. “Its social composition consists of ejected elements from all classes,” wrote Thalheimer, “the nobility, the bourgeoisie, the petite bourgeoisie, the peasantry, and the working class. With the working class, two opposite yet related déclassé poles are present: below, the lumpenproletariat; above, the labor aristocracy.”115

Trotsky concurred with this diagnosis in his account of “How Mussolini Triumphed” (1932), where he asserted: “No longer able to hold society in a state of equilibrium through its ‘usual’ police resources and parliamentary screens, fascism rushes to the defense of bourgeois dictatorship… By means of the fascist agency, capitalism sets into motion the masses of the crazed petite bourgeoisie along with bands of the declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat… all of the countless human beings finance capital itself has brought to the precipice of despair.”116

Likewise, the Italian communist Angelo Tasca maintained that while the petite bourgeoisie “formed the backbone of fascism in Italy,” this had to be granted a wider ambit “to include the son of the family waiting for a job or for his inheritance to déclassé of all kinds, temporary or permanent, from the half-pay officer to the Lumpenproletarier.”117 However, it fell to the German left communist Arthur Rosenberg to connect the dots between the Black Hundreds in Russia, blackshirts in Italy, and brownshirts in Germany:

In the autumn of 1905 the Black Hundreds committed some four thousand murders through hundreds of Russian towns, to say nothing of all their other crimes. As far as its scale is concerned, this movement of the “true Russian peoples” can certainly be compared with the more recent actions of the blackshirts and brownshirts. At a time of enormous revolutionary tension, when millions of workers were on strike in Russia, when in innumerable villages there were peasant rebellions, and the soldiers and sailors were starting to mutiny, it was still possible for the ruling class to enlist hundreds of thousands of impoverished elements as stormtroopers of the counterrevolution. Hatred of Jews, a stupid and fanatical nationalism, bribery, and alcohol all combined to pull together petit-bourgeois, lumpenproletarians, and occasionally even rightwing workers… The possibility of stealing and plundering with total impunity drove hordes of professional criminals into fascism’s ranks.118

Many Marxists saw the rise of fascism in terms directly analogous to mob violence. Bertolt Brecht, for example, likened Hitler’s ascension to that of a Chicago mobster in his 1941 play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.119 Ui, a kind of Al Capone figure, rose from local boss of the outskirts of Cicero to take over the big city — “the world was almost ruled by such a crook!”120 Statistics bear out the idea that fascists recruited heavily from lumpenized segments of the population, especially their SA units, which engaged in quasi-gangland street warfare with communists.121

In terms of the recipients of fascist aggression, the enemy was often portrayed in mass propaganda as lumpenproletarian. Particularly the Roma minority, both in urban centers and wandering along their periphery. Guenther Lewy explains in The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies that this was the rationale given for clearing away squats and caravans outside Düsseldorf in 1936.122 Robert Ritter, an “expert” on the Gypsy problem (as it was known), for the most part saw them as social parasites and habitual criminals, representing “a highly inferior lumpenproletariat.”123

Jews were less automatically associated with the “underclass” than their fellow Untermenschen, but the fascists aimed to fix this. “The National Socialist plan to force what remains of the Jews down into the lumpenproletariat shows how well its authors know the environment,” recorded Max Horkheimer in 1939. “Once Jews have become shabby, they will no longer even benefit from the fleeting sentiment of bourgeois class solidarity: the outrage that even rich people are not safe.”124 Horkheimer viewed this as an essential step in the Jews’ dehumanization.

No doubt there were genuine Jewish lumpens, from the characters in Isaak Babel’s Odessa Tales to real-life gangsters like Benny Siegel and Meyer Lansky. But the point here is that the Nazis felt the need to relegate Jews to this lowly status, while at the same time drawing upon the dregs of German society for foot-soldiers.125 Lumpenization took its toll on the Jews of Europe, breaking their spirit of resistance and insubordination. “Even outside of the camps, struggles are rarely waged by the lumpenproletariat,” noted Primo Levi. “People in rags do not revolt.”126

Around the same time and for some decades prior, white lynch mobs perpetrated numerous acts of terror across the United States. Race riots often featured lumpen participants. For instance, in 1863 draft riots broke out in NYC that saw hundreds killed and thousands injured. Dozens of black residents were hanged from lampposts or murdered in the streets. Herbert Asbury wrote in Gangs of New York (1928) that “the riots were an insurrection of the criminal element against the established order,”127 an almost perfect description of political lumpenism.

The original postbellum Ku Klux Klan was largely composed of Confederate veterans, and so might be seen in the same light as later fascist paramilitaries. Petit-bourgeois notables were often attracted to the Klan as well, despite its reputation for rowdiness,128 and together they led a grim insurgency against Reconstruction in the South. Fifty years after it was founded, the Klan was reborn in 1915 from a wide array of social forces. Most were local businessmen, or else middling professionals.129 Very few could be called lumpens, their reactionary populism aside.130

Only after the KKK’s decline circa 1928 did its membership begin to depend on more disreputable types. “Con men and thugs”: this was how the SPLC described the leadership and the rank-and-file of the 1970s Klan, respectively.131 White supremacist prison outfits like the Aryan Brotherhood also quite obviously fall under the lumpenproletarian heading. Yet in spite of their own overtly criminal character, racists in such organizations continued to decry black and Hispanic youths as dangerous born criminals, prone to all sorts of so-called “thuggish” behavior.

Here again one sees the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of reactionaries toward the lumpen: attraction to anyone down on his luck who belongs to an ethnic or racial majority; repulsion to anyone down on his luck who belongs to an ethnic or racial minority. Nuevo Curso observes their tendency to “[blame] lumpenization on some of its imminent victims.”132 A prime example of this would seem to be the rightwing representation of migrants from Central America as potential MS-13 members, when a number of them are in fact fleeing cartel violence.

* * *

Further exploration of the “lumpenproletariat” concept will have to appear in a second installment, which will cover its use in contemporary post-Marxist and communization literature. Riots, looting, and popular fronts remain to be investigated. Special thanks to Jon Locks and Red Hughs for conversations that helped parse this whole fraught subject.


1 “The people would’ve won despite the numerical superiority of the soldiery had the miserable conduct of the French admiral Baudin not induced the lazzaroni to join the royal side… The Neapolitan lumpenproletariat decided the defeat of the 1799 revolution.” Friedrich Engels. “The Last Heroic Deed of the House of Bourbon.” Translated by Kai Schoenhals. Collected Works, Volume 7. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1977). Pgs. 24-26.
2 “The Paris proletariat replied [to the Constituent Assembly of 1848] with the June insurrection, but the bourgeois republic triumphed. On its side stood the finance aristocracy, industrial bourgeoisie, middle class, petit-bourgeois, army, the lumpenproletariat organized as the mobile guard, intellectuals, clergy, and rural population. On the side of the Paris proletariat stood none but itself.” Karl Marx. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Translated by Clemens Dutt. Collected Works, Volume 11. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1979). Pg. 110.
3 “Craftsmen, under pressure from large-scale industry and the working-class movement… represent an ignorant, hungry, embittered class which, together with the Lumpenproletariat, provides the fighting legions for the Black Hundreds demonstrations and pogroms.” Leon Trotsky. 1905. Translated by Anna Bostock. (Haymarket Books. Chicago, IL: 2016). Pg. 36.
4 “[National Bolshevism] was never spontaneously accepted by the communist masses… It was accepted by the uprooted proletariat, the Lumpenproletariat, especially by many groups belonging to the Red Fighting League, which, to a considerable extent, became absorbed by the brownshirts and the blackshirts.” Franz Neumann. Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933-1944. (Harper & Row. New York, NY: 1963). Pgs. 216-217.
5 “A characteristic of vulgar empiricism (or creeping empiricism, as Engels called it), and of people who treat dialectics with scorn, is that… accompanied by the drums of antimetaphysical battle, they fall into genuine metaphysics.” Nikolai Bukharin. Philosophical Arabesques. Translated by Renfrey Clarke. (Monthly Review Press. New York, NY: 2005). Pg. 43. Compare with Trotsky’s similar scorn for “attempts to translate Marxian dialectics into the language of vulgar empiricism.” Leon Trotsky. “Marxism and Eastman.” Writings, 1932-1933. (Pathfinder Press. New York, NY: 1972). Pg. 68.
6 “The concepts of crime and punishment are… necessary determinants of the legal form, from which people will be able to liberate themselves only after this superstructure itself has begun to wither away.” Evgenii Pashukanis. The General Theory of Law and Marxism. Translated by Barbara Einhorn. (Transaction Publishers. New Brunswick, NY: 2002). Pg. 188.
7 Nuevo Curso. “Xenophobia, Lumpenization, and the Proletariat.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 1, 2018). Pgs. 25-26.
8 Workers’ Offensive. “The Black Panther Party and Glorification of the Lumpenproletariat.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 1, 2018). Pgs. 27-32.
9 Hal Draper. Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Volume 2: The Politics of Social Classes. (Monthly Review Press. New York, NY: 1978). Pgs. 453-457.
10 Werner Conze. “From Pöbel to Proletariat: Sociohistorical Preconditions of Socialism in Germany.” Translated by Georg Iggers. The Social History of Politics: Critical Perspectives since 1945. (Berg Publishers. Dover, NH: 1985). Pgs. 49.
11 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The German Ideology: Critique of Modern German Philosophy. Translated by Clemens Dutt. Collected Works, Volume 5. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1975). Pg. 84. Translation modified.
12 Karl Marx. “Preface to the Second Edition of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.” Translated by Joan and Trevor Walmsley. Collected Works, Volume 21. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1985). Pg. 57.
13 “Bourgeois historians are inclined to confuse… the parasitic lumpenproletariat of Greece and Rome with the proletariat of the present day… And yet Roman ‘proletarians’ had nothing in common with present-day workers.” Nikolai Bukharin. Historical Materialism: A System of Sociology. Translator unlisted. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1925). Pg. 69.
14 “The plebeian opposition consisted of ruined burghers and the mass of townsmen without civic rights: journeymen, day laborers, and the numerous precursors of the lumpenproletariat, who existed even in the lowest stages of urban development. The number of people without a definite occupation and permanent domicile increased greatly at that time due to the decay of feudalism in a society in which every occupation, every sphere of life, was still fenced in by countless privileges. In all the developed countries vagabonds had never been so numerous as in the first half of the sixteenth century. In wartime some of these tramps joined the armies. Others begged their way across the countryside, and still others eked out a meager living in the towns as day laborers or from whatever other occupation that was not under guild jurisdiction. All three groups played a part in the Peasant War — the first in the armies of princes which overpowered the peasants, the second in the peasant conspiracies and in peasant gangs where its demoralizing influence was felt at all times, and the third in the clashes of the urban parties. It will be recalled, however, that a great many, namely those living in the towns, still had a substantial share of sound peasant nature and had not as yet been possessed by the depravity of the present ‘civilized’ lumpenproletariat.” Friedrich Engels. The Peasant War in Germany. Translated by Hugh Rodwell. Collected Works, Volume 10. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1978). Pgs. 407-408.
15 Engels thus scolded Karl Kautsky for his “very inadequate research into the development and role of the déclassé, almost pariah-like elements who had no place whatever in the feudal system and were the inevitable outcome of urban development. It is they who in all cases formed the lowest stratum of urban population in the Middle Ages: devoid of rights and set apart from village communities, craft guilds, and feudal dependence. Though difficult, this should serve as your main basis, for by degrees, with the dissolution of the feudal bonds, these elements became the preproletariat which, in 1789, was responsible for the revolution in the faubourgs of Paris and absorbed all the outcasts of feudal and guild society.” Friedrich Engels. “Letter to Karl Kautsky, 21 May 1895.” Translated by Peter and Betty Ross. Collected Works, Volume 50. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 2004). Pg. 512.
16 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party. Translated by Samuel Moore. Collected Works, Volume 6. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1976). Pg. 494.
17 “The prediction was realized all too well in the course of the revolutions of 1848 to 1849.” Draper, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Volume 2. Pg. 458.
18 Friedrich Engels. “The Twenty-Fifth of June.” Translated by Kai Schoenhals. Collected Works, Volume 7. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1977). Pg. 142.
19 Karl Marx. “Victory of the Counterrevolution in Vienna.” Translated by Salo Ryazanskaya. Collected Works, Volume 7. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1977). Pg. 505.
20 Friedrich Engels. “The Antwerp Death Sentences.” Translated by Salo Ryazanskaya. Collected Works, Volume 7. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1977). Pg. 406.
21 Karl Marx. The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850. Translated by Gregor Benton. Collected Works, Volume 10. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1978). Pgs. 62-63.
22 Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire. Pgs. 148-149.
23 “These lists were characterized by their ambivalent celebration of the exotic, their striking juxtapositions of the homely and the grotesque: porters and organ-grinders; rag-and-bone men and acrobats; umbrella sellers and prostitutes; dog-washers and charlatans; jugglers and chimney-sweeps; flower girls and somnambulists… Like Marx, the journalists ransacked other languages and other cultures to construct a spectacle of multiplicity.” Peter Stallybrass. “Marx and Heterogeneity: Thinking the Lumpenproletariat.” Representations. (№ 31: Summer 1990). Pg. 72.
24 Frank Bovenkerk. “Rehabilitation of the Rabble: Why Marx and Engels Wrongly Depicted the Lumpenproletariat as a Reactionary Force.” Netherlands Journal of Sociology. (Volume 20, № 1: April 1984). Pg. 36.
25 Robert L. Bussard. “The ‘Dangerous Class’ of Marx and Engels: The Rise of the Idea of the Lumpenproletariat.” History of European Ideas. (Volume 8, № 6: 1987). Pg. 688.
26 Mark Traugott. Armies of the Poor: Determinants of Working-Class Participation in the Parisian Insurrection of 1848. (Transaction Publishers. New Brunswick, NJ: 2002). Pgs. 34-114.
27 See the consideration of Traugott’s “organizational hypothesis” in William Sewell. Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation. (University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL: 2005). Pgs. 103-107.
28 “The social situation of this class [of conspirators] determines its whole character from the outset. Proletarian conspiracy naturally affords them only very limited, uncertain means of subsistence. Their precarious livelihood, dependent in individual cases more on chance than on their activity, their irregular lives whose only fixed ports-of-call are taverns of the marchands de vin — places of rendezvous of the conspirators — their inevitable acquaintance with all manner of dubious people, put them in that social category known as la bohème. Democratic bohemians of proletarian origin are therefore either workers who have given up their work and have as a consequence become dissolute, or characters who have emerged from the lumpenproletariat and bring the old habits of that class with them into their new way of life.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. “Review of Adolphe Chenu, Les Conspirateurs and Lucien de la Hodde, La naissance de la République en février 1848.” Translated by Christopher Upward. Pgs. 316-317.
29 “[Honoré] Daumier, the creator of Ratapoil — the Bonapartist lumpenproletarian.” Walter Benjamin. The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. (Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA: 1999). Pg. 740.
30 From 1851: “One of those mysterious beings, living so to speak off the excrement of great cities… Here is a man whose task is to pick up all the rubbish produced on one day in the capital. All that the great city has thrown out, all it has lost, all it has disdained, all it has broken, he catalogues and collects, consulting the archives of debauchery, working through the lumber-room of rubbish… [The ragpicker] makes a selection, chooses astutely; he picks up, as a miser seizes on treasure, the refuse which, when chewed over by the divinity of Industry, will become objects of use or of enjoyment. Look at him, in the dark glow of the street lamps whose light flickers fitfully in the night wind.” Charles Baudelaire. On Wine and Hashish. Translated by Andrew Brown. (Hesperus Press. London: 2002). Pgs. 7-8.
31 “Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the state, had command of all the organized public authorities, and dominated public opinion… through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Café Borgne, to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others. Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society — lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes crapuleux, where money, filth, and blood commingle.” Marx, Class Struggles in France. Pg. 50.
32 “Money as a gift and money on tick, it was with prospects such as these that he hoped to allure the masses. Donations and loans — the financial science of the lumpenproletariat, whether of high degree or low, is restricted to this. Such were the only springs which Bonaparte knew how to set in motion.” Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire. Pg. 143.
33 “Bonaparte… was a Bohemian, a princely lumpenproletarian.” Ibid., pg. 157.
34 Ibid., pgs. 192-193.
35 “Above all, Bonaparte looks on himself as the chief of the Society of December 10, as the representative of the lumpenproletariat, to which he himself, his entourage, his government, and his army belong, and whose prime consideration is to benefit itself and draw California lottery prizes from the state treasury.” Ibid., pg. 194.
36 See the chapter “The Lumpenproletariat as the Criminal Class?”, but ignore the dubious comparison made by the author of Marx’s notion with the “underclass” of Charles Murray. Mark Cowling. Marxism and Criminological Theory: A Critique and a Toolkit. (Palgrave Macmillan. New York, NY: 2008). Pgs. 149-162.
37 Amadeo Bordiga. “The Human Species and the Earth’s Crust.” Translated by Dan Radnika. People and Nature. (April 15, 2012).
38 “Naples possessed a specific abjection… [It was] imagined as prey to at least three specters. These specters were Mikhail Bakunin, Amadeo Bordiga, and the lumpenproletariat; that is to say, the naturally infected world of the alleys and the ragged people who inhabited them.” Ermanno Rea. A Mystery in Naples. Translated by Thomas Simpson. (Guernica Editions. Buffalo, NY: 2003). Pg. 220.
39 “When [the camorra] emerged from the jails is uncertain. Sometime between 1790 and 1830 is the safest guess, perhaps as a result of the various revolutions and reactions in Naples. Once in the open, its power and influence grew rapidly, due to the goodwill of the Bourbons, who after 1799 regarded the lumpenproletariat there as their safest allies against liberalism. Since it came to control almost every aspect of the Neapolitan poor’s life — making most of its money by various gambling rackets — it became increasingly indispensable to the local administration.” Eric Hobsbawm. Primitive Rebels. (Abacus Books. London: 2017). Pg. 72.
40 “The lazzaroni of Naples, the quintessential ‘mob,’ were passionate defenders of Church and King, and even more savage anti-Jacobins in 1799. Yet they sang songs against the upper classes who in their view had ‘betrayed the king,’ notably ‘knights and monks,’ sacked the houses of royalists impartially, and defined as Jacobins and enemies of the king all owners of property, or more simply, anyone with a carriage. This proclivity has time and again tempted unsympathetic observers — and almost every observer, whatever his politics, have been far from complete sympathy with the classical ‘mob’ — to present it as a collection of lumpenproletarians and criminals out for loot. And indeed there can be no doubt that the demoralized and the criminal, who abounded in great cities, seized their opportunities which, as anyone who has ever spent even a few hours in Naples or Palermo knows, these destitute populations need only too sorely.” Ibid., pgs. 148-149.
41 Louis Chevalier. Laboring Classes and Dangerous Classes in Paris during the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Translated by Frank Jellinek. (Routledge & Kegan Paul. London: 1973). Pgs. 59-141.
42 Ibid., pgs. 147-255.
43 Ibid., pg. 10.
44 Endnotes. “A History of Separation.” Endnotes № 4: Unity in Separation. (October 2015). Pgs. 103-104.
45 “The lowest sediment of relative surplus population dwells in the sphere of ‘pauperism.’ Apart from vagabonds, criminals, prostitutes, in short the actual lumpenproletariat, this social stratum consists of three categories: First, those able to work. One needs only glance superficially at the statistics of English pauperism to find that the quantity of paupers increases with every crisis of trade, and diminishes with every revival. Second, orphans and pauper children. These are candidates for the industrial reserve army, and in times of great prosperity, such as the year 1860, for instance, they are enrolled in the army of active workers both speedily and in large numbers. Third, the demoralized, the ragged, and those unable to work, chiefly people who succumb to their incapacity for adaptation, an incapacity which results from the division of labor; people who have lived beyond the worker’s average lifespan; and the victims of industry, whose number increases with the growth of dangerous machinery, of mines, chemical works, etc., the mutilated, the sickly, the widows, etc.” Karl Marx. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1. Translated by Ben Fowkes. (Penguin Books. New York, NY: 1976). Pg. 797.
46 Teinosuke Otani. A Guide to Marxian Political Economy: What Kind of Social System is Capitalism? Translated by Michael Schauerte. (Springer International Publishing. Tokyo: 2018). Pgs. 249-250.
47 Amadeo Bordiga. «Précisions à propos de ‹Marxisme et Misère› et ‹lutte de classes et offensives patronales›». Le prolétaire. (№ 505: Novembre-Décembre 2012).
48 “In Germany, the term [precariat] has been used to describe not only temporary workers but also the jobless who have no hope of social integration. This is close to the Marxian idea of a lumpenproletariat and is not what will be meant in this book.” Guy Standing. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. (Bloomsbury Academic. New York, NY: 2011). Pg. 9.
49 “For all the talk of a disappearing working class within postindustrial capitalism, a substantial part of the modern ‘precariat’ are proving that they too are part of that class, albeit a class with a substantially different profile.” ER. “The Situation of the Working Class Today.” Revolutionary Perspectives. (February 13, 2017).
50 “[Some] confuse precarization with lumpenization, without being able to understand either. But the fact is most workers already live under precarious conditions.” Nuevo Curso, “Xenophobia, Lumpenization, and the Proletariat.” Pg. 25.
51 E.g., “the class of the lumpenproletariat [der Klasse des Lumpenproletariats].” Karl Marx. Herr Vogt. Translated by Rodney Livingstone. Collected Works, Volume 17. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1981). Pg. 155.
52 Marx and Engels, “Review of Chenu and Hodde.” Pg. 317.
53 Friedrich Engels. “Preface to the Second Edition of The Peasant War.” Translated by Kate Cook. Collected Works, Volume 21. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1985). Pg. 98.
54 Friedrich Engels. “Note to the ‘The Alliance of Social Democracy and the IWMA’.” Translated by Barrie Selman. Collected Works, Volume 23. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1988). Pg. 454.
55 “[The Provisional Government] gave [the lumpens] their own uniform. It made them outwardly distinct from the blouse-wearing workers.” Marx, Class Struggles in France. Pg. 62.
56 Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party. Pg. 485.
57 Georg Lukács. “Class Consciousness.” Translated by Rodney Livingstone. History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. (MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 1971). Pg. 59.
58 Karl Marx. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 3. Translated by David Fernbach. (Penguin Books. New York, NY: 1991). Pg. 1025.
59 “Capital (profit), land (ground-rent), labor (wages): this trinity form holds in itself all the mysteries of the social production process.” Ibid., pg. 953.
60 “In countries where modern civilization has fully developed, a class of petit-bourgeois fluctuates between proletariat and bourgeoisie, ever-renewing itself as a supplementary part of bourgeois society. The individual members of this class, however, are being constantly hurled down into the proletariat through competition. As industry develops they can even see the moment approaching when they will completely disappear.” Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party. Pg. 509.
61 Edward Hallett Carr. Mikhail Bakunin. (Macmillan Press. New York, NY: 1937/1975). Pg. 177.
62 Summarized in an influential book by Norberto Bobbio. Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. Translated by Albert Cameron. (University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL: 1996).
63 Geoff Eley. Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000. (Oxford University Press. New York, NY: 2002).
64 Darrow Schecter. The History of the Left from Marx to the Present: Theoretical Perspectives. (Continuum Books. New York, NY: 2007).
65 Leszek Kołakowski. “The Concept of the Left.” Translated by Jane Zielonko Peel. Toward a Marxist Humanism: Essays on the Left Today. (Grove Press. New York, NY: 1968). Pg. 68.
66 “Avenarius fought Kant not from the left, as materialists fought Kant… but from the right, as skeptics and idealists fought Kant.” Vladimir Lenin. Materialism and Empiriocriticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy. Translated by Abraham Fineberg. Collected Works, Volume 14. (Progress Publishers. Moscow: 1977). Pg. 197.
67 For more on this, see the informative report on the CPGB conference by Amos. “Left-Wing Communism and the Left-Wing of Capital.” ICC Online. (September 2014).
68 “Marx’s and Engels’ views on the role of the lumpen-class only hardened as time went on.” Draper, op. cit. Pg. 466.
69 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. “The Alliance of Social Democracy and the IWMA.” Translated by Barrie Selman. Collected Works, Volume 23. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1988). Pg. 555.
70 From 1873. Mikhail Bakunin. “Some Preconditions for Social Revolution.” Translated by Sam Dolgoff. On Anarchy: Selected Works. (Vintage Books. New York, NY: 1972). Pg. 334.
71 Draper traces the phrase’s origin to the Chartist Ernest Jones. See op. cit., pgs. 105-108.
72 “The Cossacks and the world of brigands and thieves includes a protest against oppression by the state and by patriarchal society… Frequent riots, though provoked by accidental circumstances, nevertheless stem from general causes and express the deep and general dissatisfaction of the people. In a way, they constitute a customary phenomenon of Russian life. And so it follows that the first duty, purpose, and aim of any secret organization in Russia is to awaken in peasant communities a realization of their inevitable solidarity with one another and thus arouse them to consciousness of their power. We must merge the multitude of private peasant revolts into one general all-people’s revolt. One of the main means for the achieving of this aim [is] our free Cossacks, our innumerable saintly and not so saintly tramps [бродяги], pilgrims, members of бегуны sects, thieves, and brigands… this whole wide underground world which from time immemorial has protested against the state and statism, and against the Teutonic civilization of the whip… Cossacks, thieves, brigands, and tramps played the role of a catalyst and unifier of separate revolts under Stenka Razin and under Pugachev. Such a tramping fraternity is the best and truest conductor of people’s revolution.” Mikhail Bakunin. “Letter to Sergei Nechaev, 2 June 1870.” Translated by Hilary Sternberg and Lydia Bott. From Natalie Herzen: Daughter of a Revolutionary. (Library Press. LaSalle, IL: 1974). Pgs. 252-253.
73 Victor Serge. “Anarchist Thought.” Translated by Mitchell Abidor. Anarchists Never Surrender: Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence, 1908-1938. (PM Press. Oakland, CA: 2015). Pgs. 207-208.
74 See Kautsky’s aside on „das Lumpenproletariat“, clumsily rendered into English by William Bohn as the “slum-proletariat.”
75 “Anyone interested in understanding the shamelessness and brutalization that prevails in slum districts might find it more instructive to examine where lumpenproletarians live rather than the shape of their skulls.” Karl Kautsky. The Agrarian Question. Translated by Pete Burgess. (Zwan Publications. Winchester, MA: 1988). Pg. 385.
76 “Modern proletarians are… by no means as utterly lacking in means as lumpenproletarians. The latter lack everything, but this is most acutely felt in the shortage of food and other means of consumption (as they are not overbothered by the lack of means of production). Lumpenproletarians are excluded from the sphere of production anyway, and often exhibit little enthusiasm to be admitted to it. What social aspirations lumpenproletarians have tend towards an ideal of communism as ownership over the means of consumption, not the means of production — an aim which leads to plunder wherever social circumstances facilitate acts of violence, and to beggary wherever this is impossible.” Ibid., pgs. 313-314.
77 “When Voroshilov abuses Kautsky for ‘driving from the ranks of the proletariat genuine working people’ like the lumpenproletariat, domestic servants, and handicraftsmen, he is muddling things together.” Vladimir Lenin. The Agrarian Question and “Critics of Marx.” Translated by Joe Fineberg. Collected Works, Volume 5. (Progress Publishers. Moscow: 1977). Pg. 157.
78 “Not much can be said with certainty about the social composition of the Union of the Russian People, except that it… attracted the support of the lumpenproletariat, ‘backward provincials,’ disgruntled members of the middle class, and at least briefly some peasants and industrial workers… However, the leaders of the movement regarded themselves as spokesmen for a particular middle-class stratum whose position in society was especially precarious, if not threatened altogether by the revolutionaries.” Abraham Ascher. The Revolution of 1905, Volume 1: Russia in Disarray. (Stanford University Press. Stanford, CA: 1994). Pg. 239.
79 “In the present [1905] Revolution the task of rallying and organizing the forces of the proletariat, of politically educating and training the working class, is more crucial than ever. The more outrageous the conduct of the Black Hundred government, the more zealously agents-provocateurs strive to fan base passions among the ignorant masses and the more desperately defenders of the autocracy, which is rotting alive, clutch at every opportunity to discredit the revolution by orchestrating hold-ups, pogroms, and assassinations, and by plying lumpenproletarians with drink, the more important is the task of organization that falls primarily to the party of the socialist proletariat. And we therefore resort to all means of ideological struggle to keep the influence of the anarchists over the Russian workers as negligible as it has been so far.” Vladimir Lenin. “Socialism and Anarchism.” Translated by Andrew W. Rothstein. Collected Works, Volume 10. (Progress Publishers. Moscow: 1978). Pgs. 73-74.
80 Rosa Luxemburg. The Mass Strike. Translated by Integer. Essential Writings. (Haymarket Books. Chicago, IL: 2008). Pg. 114.
81 Ibid., pg. 126.
82 Rosa Luxemburg. “Letter to Leo Jogiches, early August 1909.” Translated by Stephen Eric Bronner. Letters. (Westview Press. Boulder, CO: 1978). Pg. 125.
83 “It was high time, [syndicalists like Daniil Novomirskii and Maksim] Raevskii declared, to recognize that a successful social revolution required an organized army of combatants, an army that only the labor movement could provide..” Paul Avrich. The Russian Anarchists. (Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ: 1967). Pgs. 62-63.
84 “It is among the people of the shanty towns and in the lumpenproletariat, this cohort of starving men divorced from tribe and clan, that the insurrection will find its urban spearhead.” Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Richard Philcox. (Grove Press. New York, NY: 2004). Pgs. 80-81.
85 Ibid., pgs. 81-82.
86 “Colonialism finds ample material in the lumpenproletariat for its machinations. In fact, any national liberation movement should give this lumpenproletariat maximum attention. It will always respond to the call to revolt, but the oppressor, never missing an opportunity to let the blacks tear at each other’s throats, is only too willing to exploit those characteristic flaws, namely its lack of political consciousness and ignorance. If this readily available human reserve is not immediately organized by the insurrection, it will join the colonialist troops as mercenaries.” Ibid., pg. 87.
87 David Macey. Frantz Fanon: A Biography. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 2012). Pg. xiv.
88 “Huey understood what Fanon was saying about organizing the lumpenproletariat first. Because if you didn’t organize the lumpenproletariat — the brother who’s pimping or hustling or robbing banks, the unemployed or downtrodden who are not politically conscious — if you didn’t relate to these cats, the power structure would set them against you.” Bobby Seale. Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey Newton. (Black Classic Press. Baltimore, MD: 1991). Pg. 30.
89 “Fanon delivered a devastating attack on Marxism-Leninism for its narrow preoccupation with Europe and the affairs and salvation of white folks, while lumping all third world peoples into the category of the lumpenproletariat and then forgetting them there… After studying Fanon, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale began to apply his analysis to the conditions faced by black people in the United States, giving it a uniquely Afro-American content.” Eldridge Cleaver. On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party. (Oakland, CA: 1969). Pgs. 5-6.
90 Bobby Seale. A Lonely Rage: Autobiographical Reflections. (Bantam Books. New York, NY: 1979). Pg. 153.
91 Seale, Seize the Time. Pg. ix.
92 Huey Newton. “Speech at Boston College.” A Reader. (Seven Stories Press. New York, NY: 2002). Pg. 165.
93 Ibid., pg. 167.
94 Huey Newton. “Intercommunalism.” A Reader. (Seven Stories Press. New York, NY: 2002). Pg. 193.
95 “Separation and alienation from technology is the basic problem of our era. Concentration and centralization of technical knowledge has engendered this lumpenization of humanity. This has created an utterly dependent population at the mercy of those who control technology. Enslavement by technology is the lumpen condition.” Eldridge Cleaver. “On Lumpen Ideology.” Black Scholar. (Volume 4, № 3: November-December 1972). Pgs. 5-6.
96 Ibid., pg. 9.
97 “One of the major contentions between Marx and Bakunin had to do with the role of the lumpenproletariat… Bakunin considered lumpens ‘the flower of the proletariat’ because of their supposedly more rebellious nature.” Workers’ Offensive. “The Black Panther Party and Glorification of the Lumpenproletariat.” Pg. 32. Elsewhere in the same article, Workers’ Offensive takes Angela Davis to task for misattributing a quote from Marx’s Class Struggles in France (1850) to his Civil War in France (1871): “What Davis extrapolated from that quote on the lumpenproletariat… is a projection of her own politics and not an accurate assessment of Marx’s views… She claims he was discussing the Paris Commune, when he was in fact talking about the 1848 Revolution.” Ibid., pg. 28. In his article on “lumpen ideology,” Cleaver makes similarly glaring mistakes. First, he dates Marx and Engels’ Manifesto to 1849, two years after it was published, then refers to Capital (1867) as having been written “thirty years later.” Cleaver, “On Lumpen Ideology.” Pg. 3.
98 Manning Marable. How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society. (Haymarket Books. Chicago, IL: 2015). Pg. 274.
99 Anonymous. “The ‘Black Panther’ Movement.” Translator unlisted. Il programma comunista. (№ 5: 1971).
100 “The Maoist twist, I kind of threw that one in. I said so far the most advanced Marxists I have run across are the Maoists in China.” Quoted in Aaron J. Leonard and Conor A. Gallagher. “The Case of Richard Aoki: Berkeley Radical, Black Panther, FBI Informant.” Jacobin. (August 26, 2018).
101 “Lumpen behavior left the organization vulnerable to government repression.” Chris Booker. “Lumpenization: A Critical Error of the BPP.” The Black Panther Party Reconsidered. (Black Classic Press. Baltimore, MD: 1998). Pg. 354.
102 Rosa Luxemburg. “The Truth About Kronstadt.” Translated by George Shriver. Complete Works, Volume 3: Political Writings on Revolution, 1897-1905. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 2019). Pg. 335.
103 Rosa Luxemburg. “The Tsar’s ‘Constitution,’ Modified by Mass Murder.” Translated by George Shriver. Complete Works, Volume 3: Political Writings on Revolution, 1897-1905. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 2019). Pg. 263.
104 Quoted in Viktoriya Khiterer. “The October 1905 Pogrom in Kiev.” East European Jewish Affairs. (Volume 22, № 2: Fall 1992). Pg. 31.
105 “The mob included many youths of 15-18 years of age, lumpenproletarians and hooligans with very few blue- or white-collar workers. Most of the pogromists were drunk.” Ibid., pg. 32.
106 “In southern and southwestern cities of the Pale of Settlement where Jews were legally required to live, the word hooligan came to be used almost exclusively with reference to pogromists — young Slavic men who engaged in mass violence against Jews and their property or occasionally against students and intellectuals they associated with Jews. In such regions hooligans resembled Marx’s original ‘lumpenproletariat,’ street rabble that sided with the police in repressing radical demonstrations.” Joan Neuberger. Hooliganism: Crime, Culture, and Power. (University of California. Los Angeles, CA: 1993). Pg. 44.
107 “The social composition of [the Union of Russian People’s] membership is difficult to determine from available evidence, but even its enemies agreed that besides the lumpenproletariat and disgruntled petit-bourgeois, it was, in its early years, able to attract genuine peasant and proletarian elements.” Hans Rogger. “Was There a Russian Fascism? The Union of Russian People.” The Journal of Modern History. (Volume 36, № 4: December 1964). Pg. 402.
108 Ingo Korzetz. Die Freikorps in der Weimarer Republik: Freiheitskämpfer oder Landsknechthaufen? Aufstellung, Einsatz, und Wesen bayerischer Freikorps 1918-1920. (Tectum Verlag. Bavaria: 2009). Pg. 122.
109 „Lumpen und Unzuverlässige“. Ibid., pg. 140.
110 „Im Verlauf seiner Forschungen hat der Autor festgestellt, daß den nach 1918 massenhaft gegründeten völkischen Gruppierungen und Freikorps von allem solche Elemente des Kleinbürgertums und des Lumpenproletariats beitraten“. Marek Maciejewski. Ruch i ideologia narodowych socjalistów w Republice Weimarskiej: O źródłach i początkach nazizmu, 1919-1924. (Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. Berlin: 1985). Pg. 511.
111 „Und für die Offiziere der Freikorps, die mit der Säuberungsaktion befasst sind, sind sie ‚Lumpen‘ und ‚Halunken‘.” Max Gallo. Rosa Luxemburg: Eine Biographie. (Econ und List Verlag. Berlin: 1993). Pg. 358.
112 “After taking power [in November 1918], the SPD declared the revolution was over, at least in its phase of violence and mass action. Having seized the state, the revolutionary transformation of social relations (what was called ‘socialization’) was only a matter of time, and would be a progressive and peaceful process… The development of capital still had to continue, since only capital that had arrived at the ultimate stage of its development could be ‘socialized.’ For this reason, order must reign and the ‘Spartacists’ must be crushed, ‘Spartacists’ being another way of saying ‘reactionary lumpenproletariat.” Gilles Dauvé and Denis Authier. The Communist Left in Germany, 1918-1921. Translated by M. DeSocio. (2006). Pg. 74.
113 Ernst Jünger. On Pain. Translated by David C. Durst. (Telos Press. New York, NY: 2008). Pgs. 26-27.
114 “Ernst Jünger was the most important and prolific contributor to reactionary modernism in the conservative revolution.” Jeffrey Herf. Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich. (Cambridge University Press. New York, NY: 1984). Pg. 42.
115 “Both fascism and Bonapartism aim to be the general benefactor of all classes; for that reason one class is always played off another, constant reshuffling internal contradictions as a result. Even the apparatus of domination bears the same characteristics… The fascist militia is a social counterpart of the Bonapartist army, providing a living for the déclassé elements…” August Thalheimer. “On Fascism.” Translated by Judy Joseph. Telos. (№ 40: July 1979). Pgs. 117-118.
116 Leon Trotsky. “How Mussolini Triumphed.” Translation modified. Fascism: What It Is, and How to Fight It. (Aarkar Books. Delhi: 2005). Pgs. 18-19.
117 Angelo Tasca. The Rise of Italian Fascism, 1919-1922. Translated by Peter Wait and Dorothy Wait. (Howard Fertig. New York, NY: 1966). Pg. 340.
118 Arthur Rosenberg. “Fascism as a Mass Movement.” Historical Materialism. (Volume 20, № 1: January 2012). Pg. 155.
119 Adorno praised Brecht for throwing “a harsh and accurate light on what is subjectively empty and illusory in the fascist leader,” but found “the substitution of the lumpenproletariat for those behind fascism” too reductive. Theodor Adorno. “Commitment.” Translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen. Notes to Literature, Volume 2. (Columbia University Press. New York, NY: 1992). Pgs. 83-85.
120 Bertolt Brecht. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Translated by Jennifer Wise. (Methuen Drama. New York, NY: 2013). Pg. 88.
121 “The SA provided a haven for adventurous and romantic adolescents but also to undisciplined irregulars and the semi-criminal dregs of the urban slums. During the disastrous economic crisis of 1929-1932, the social background of the SA men underwent a significant change. The aging war veterans and ex-Freikorps men were gradually replaced with younger people of the declining lower and middle classes. SA men were not recruited from the soft or timid section of society. Many ruined shopkeepers, unemployed white-collar workers, impoverished farmers, jobless lumpenproletarians, poor students, and malcontent déclassés joined the SA. A number were young, attracted by the dynamism of the movement, by its fanaticism and rejection of any compromise, the untold opportunities for ‘heroic’ deeds, and the constant clashes with political enemies. To these must be added many opportunists, sexual deviants, juvenile delinquents and criminals, the dregs of society, who often rise to the surface in times of profound dislocation or collapse. Alongside the unemployed, criminal elements indeed infiltrated the SA and, as a result, the perennial underground struggle between the SA and their opponents took on a gang warfare aspect reminiscent of Al Capone’s Chicago.” Jean-Denis Lepage. Hitler’s Stormtroopers: The Nazi Brownshirts, 1922-1945. (Frontline Books. South Yorkshire: 2016). Pg. 104.
122 “Düsseldorf set up a Gypsy camp in July 1936. Fourteen of the families moved there hailed from a large squatter camp known as the ‘wild settlement Heinefeld,’ which had been closed down; twenty-eight families came from similar locations. The primary motive here appears to have been a desire to rid the city of elements regarded as belonging to the Lumpenproletariat. On a large lot at the edge of town near the Höherweg four barracks were set up for families, with each married couple having one room. A fifth barrack was built for single persons. Eventually Gypsies living in caravans were also brought there.” Guenther Lewy. The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies. (Oxford University Press. New York, NY: 2000). Pgs. 21-22.
123 Ibid., pg. 47.
124 Max Horkheimer. “The Jews and Europe.” Translated by Stephen Eric Bronner. Critical Theory and Society. (Routledge. New York, NY: 1989). Pg. 91.
125 “Let this society suffer any severe shock, such as it is bound to suffer; let there be again millions of unemployed, and we will see the same lower middle class alliance with the Lumpenproletariat, from whom Hitler recruited his following, running amok with antisemitism.” Isaac Deutscher. “Who is a Jew?” The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 2017). Pg. 58.
126 Primo Levi. “Self-Interview: Postscript to If This is a Man.” Translated by Robert Gordon. The Voice of Memory: Interviews, 1961-1987. (The New Press. New York, NY: 2001). Pg. 191.
127 Herbert Asbury. Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld. (Vintage Books. New York, NY: 2008). Pg. 108.
128 “The Klan had many former Confederate officers, including a number of generals, and drew from among the best citizens in areas in which it rode. Nevertheless, as Klansmen themselves boasted, they were a ‘rough bunch of boys’… The method of the Klan was violence.” David Mark Chalmers. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. (Duke University Press. Durham, NC: 1987). Pgs. 9-10.
129 See the chapter on “The Class Composition of the Klan,” where it is revealed that “the single most common occupation among local Klansmen was owner or manager of a small business.” Nancy MacLean. Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan. (Oxford University Press. New York, NY: 1995). Pgs. 54-55.
130 See the chapter “Reactionary Populism: The Politics of Class,” where Maclean specifies “the [Klan’s] critique of economic concentration aimed not to promote radical democratic change, but to avert it.” Ibid., pgs. 77-78.
131 Sara Bullard. The Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism and Violence. (Southern Poverty Law Center. Montgomery, AL: 1997). Pgs. 32-36.
132 Nuevo Curso, “Xenophobia, Lumpenization, and the Proletariat.” Pg. 26.