Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Jan 4 11:46:18 PST 2000

Sam Pawlett wrote:

> A bit harsh on the lumpen. Sure, the lumpen by definition play no role
> in Marxist theory, other than as the reserve army of labor

One can debate the usefulness of "lumpen" as a category, but to see it as in *any way* related to the reserve army is to leave marxism behind entirely. I think the closest to a lumpen today has as its core police departments and prison guards. As Marx/Engels used the term the lumpen were not necessarily unemployed -- they were *declassed*, the refuse of society who enjoyed their position as refuse. That describes cops perfectly. But just because it gets confused with the racist concept of an "underclass" or with the Marxian concept of a reserve army, Yoshie is probably correct -- the term and concept should be dropped.

The reserve army of labor is a totally different concept.


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