The Automaton’s Revolution and the Lumpen Proletariat
Criminals by definition oppose the system in their own way through their actions. Their actions may not always be correct and certainly we should not look towards the prisoner’s example for revolutionary example, but the idea that they oppose the system is concrete. After all, they do not fit into society, and therefore they are thrown into jail. A place outside of society. Any class can become a traitorous, and can fight against their class. There were plenty of industrial proletariat and peasantry that turned traitorious. Every class has reactionary potential. The anarchists looked at the positives of the lumpen prol, while the marxists simply looked at the negatives.
Their economic basis totally falls within the logic of the system — we can say that of every political class. If you have an organized crime faction under petit bourgeois rule, than that’s what would be considered reactionary lumpen prol behavior, on the other hand, the homeless person who is trying to survive day by day by stealing bread, that I cannot put under the category of ‘’illegal wing of the petit-bourgeois’’. If he’s serving himself, not to literally starve to death, then his actions are justified. It might not be justified to other class members, but every class needs to preserve it’s own people, the working class people try to preserve their own, the bourgeois also preserve their own, so must the lumpen prol if he must stave away hunger and acquire other means of survival.
Much later Marxists like Fanon describe lumpen-centered theory of anti-colonial praxis and The Black Panther militant Eldridge Cleaver predicted a coming “lumpenization of humanity” as he witnessed the rise of mid-1970s automation and financialization. Some Marxists have realized and corrected their mistake in their lumpen proletariat analysis, however many marxists still oppose Cleaver’s analysis of the lumpen proletariat and stick with Marx’s idea of the lumpen proletariat. Some marxists recognized this mistake and corrected it, however if they were wiser they would have joined the anarchists instead, an ideology that was correct from the beginning regarding the true nature of the lumpen proletariat and their capabilities for revolutionary potential. These modern marxists are attempting to fix an ideology that is flawed, but why even attempt to fix that which is broken, rather than join a coherent ideology like anarchism that has always made sense when it comes to theory and answering the lumpen proletariat question.
These Marxists are attempting to extend the life, in a way they are trying to save it from becoming irrelevant in a lumpen proletarian future. It is clear that Marxism bases itself on the industrial proletariat, and their unity with the peasantry. Without the industrial proletariat, marxism cannot exist and cannot be implemented into action. To apply marxism out of the industrial proletariat and peasantry context, and futhermore to apply marxism to a post-industrial society, and to a lumpen proletariat context, is to change the most basic fundamentals of marxist doctrine, in such a way that it will cease to be marxism in the first place, but rather a cheap imitation of the old ideology in an attempt to save the old ideology, in new times. Anarchism as an ideology will not be altered by the political and economic changes undergone in the automated age, because the anarchists have always have faith in the revolutionary nature of the lumpen proletariat. Meanwhile, marxism has to alter it’s core beliefs, if it has to survive the automation age.
A cheapened and altered marxism to fit the lumpen proletariat world view is merely a reactionary attempt at preserving a dead ideology in a future where marxism is no longer recquired. Marxism becomes another ‘‘past’’ like medieval society and like the industrial revolution. Anarchism and by extension true free communism become the future.
The Marxist quickly judges these Lumpen proletariat as a reactionary force not capable of revolution. Its not a matter of moralistically judging lumpen-proles for the decisions they make (not that they don’t deserve it at times), clearly they are a product of capitalism’s reserve army of labour. Its a matter of understanding which class, through its political struggle, can constitute a universal and revolutionary class, which can challenge the institution of private property and class exploitation. The lumpen proletariat do not pass this test, if anything they (at least they wealthier amongst them) have an interest in defending the institution of private property. This is how the marxist have analyzed the lumpen proletariat question among the decades and still adhere to this antiquated idea that the lumpen proletariat do not pass the test to act as a universal and revolutionary class that can challenge the institution of private property and class exploitation despite being the class that is most repressed under capitalism. We shall discuss the lumpen proletariat in light of recent capitalist developments that are leading us towards a new revolution, not the industrial revolution, but the automated revolution.
Full-scale automation still hasn’t happened, however the signs of automation are all around us, and numerous studies have predicted that in a few decades, automation will spread like wild fire, — it is interesting to note, that I do not base my argument on something that is ‘‘yet to happen’’ — I do not base my argument on a hypothethical future that will happen, rather I am basing my argument, through a study of contemporary current society, something that is ‘‘happening right now’’ at the moment of writing this. Automation is already a present reality and it will keep on developing its automation forces. Like the industrial revolution, the automated revolution will bring about turbulent and will most likely change the entire socio-economic and political structure of the world, including a change in social classess themselves. In this future, the unemployed are the mainstream class, and the industrial proletariat like the artisans in the 19th century who were overtaken by the industrial proletariat will likewise be overtaken by the lumpen proletariat.
It is through this analysis, that I must to put an end to this silly argument on the lumpen proletariat question,
So let us suppose then, that we are reaching the age of automation, where unemployment will be rampant, and every industrial proletariat today will quickly find themselves unemployed and therefore by definition, lumpen proletariat. Does this mean that ‘‘Marxism dies’’ because the lumpen proletariat are not a revolutionary class? So, the way I see it, there are two ways to answer this question, either lumpen proletariat constitute a revolutionary class and therefore even after much labour has been automated, the lumpen proletariat are still capable of revolutionary potential or otherwise, the second option would be to adhere to the marxist opinion that the lumpen proletariat are not capable of revolutionary potential, and therefore automation spells the end for Marxism itself. Could Marx possibly have foreseen that his own argument could spell the doom for his entire ideology? Could he have ever dreamed that after the industrial revolution, there would be another revolution of automation that will transform all of the industrial proletariat into lumpen proletariat?
Using either arguments, marxism is both incorrect on the question of lumpen proletariat. If we take the first proposition, then Marx and later on marxists are incorrect on their position regarding the lumpen proletariat, if we take the second argument, then the Marxists were incorrect when they said the revolution was ineviatable. If automation replaces all labour, and everyone becomes a lumpen prol, then according to Marx’s definition, since the lumpen prol are not a revolutionary class, therefore revolution in an automated age is impossible. Automation is getting closer and closer, and it must be analyzed under a new light, just as the industrial revolution was analyzed by Marx.
Two things are possible in the automation age. We must analyze this question from an automation point of view, since Marx’s industrial analysis does not apply to an automation analysis.
- If the Lumpen proletariat manage to organize themselves as a revolutionary class to oppose the automation machine, then Marxist ideas regarding the lumpen proletariat as a class not capable of revolutionary action is incorrect, and marx was incorrect.
- If the Lumpen proletariat do not manage to organize themselves as a revolutionary class to oppose the automation machine, then Marx was correct on the nature of the lumpen proletariat, but incorrect about everything else. The idea that the revolution is ineviatable and that it can only be done through the industrial proletariat becomes incorrect, since the industrial proletariat in this future scenerio would have all been replaced by lumpen proletariat. Therefore if there is no class capable of revolutionary action, therefore the revolution in accordance to marxists principles cannot be achieved.
The anarchists of course believe that the lumpen proletariat have revolutionary potential, and even in an automated age the anarchists believe that lumpen proletariat can lead the struggle and even lead a revolution. While the future of anarchist theory in an automated age is accounted for, we cannot say the same of the marxist theory. Marxism alongside it’s industrial analysis is collected in antique shops where it will belong in the age of automation. Clearly, if the lumpen proletariat indeed have revolutionary potential, even in an automated age, it stands to reason that the better social analysis belong to the anarchists, rather than that of the marxists. In either way, marxism is still flawed on these two propositions one way or another. A flaw which they cannot escape.
Later Marxists such as Rosa Luxemburg, condemened anarchism for being the ideology of the lumpen proletariat,
‘‘Anarchism has become in the Russian Revolution, not the theory of the struggling proletariat, but the ideological signboard of the counter-revolutionary lumpenproletariat, who, like a school of sharks, swarm in the wake of the battleship of the revolution. And therewith the historical career of anarchism is well-nigh ended.’’ -Rosa Luxemburg The Mass Strike
This quotation puts anarchism on the forefrunt. If Rosa Luxemburg is correct, then ironically and unintentionally she has just placed anarchism at the highest point of revolutionary potential in the age of automation. This means that since, automation will commence the ‘‘lumpenization of humanity’’ — therefore the only hope for humanity is not an ideology of the industrial proletariat, that of ‘‘Marxism’’ — but rather an ideology of the lumpen proletariat, that of anarchism. Of course, I am always using Rosa’s argument against her, I am not assuming in anyway that anarchism is solely a lumpen proletariat ideology, however the anarchists have always considered anarchism to be an ideology for all oppressed classes, whether industrial, peasantry or automized lumpen proletariat. As a result, anarchism will survive throughout the ages through the revolutionary spirit of the lumpen proletariat, while marxism will die alongside the ashes of the industrial proletariat’s revolutionary spirit. When Rosa says, ‘‘And therewith the historical career of anarchism is well-nigh ended.’’ — she actually means the opposite because Marxism basing itself only on the industrial proletariat and the peasantry has ironically ended itself, while anarchism that has based itself on the lumpen proletariat will survive through them.
It is not only Rosa who upholds this opinion of anarchism, but even Lenin, Mao zedong and Marx himself upholded anarchism as the ideology of the lumpen proletariat. Little did they know, that that which they thought was going to end anarchism, was precisely the thing recquired for anarchism’s survival and precisely the thing which will end Marxism.
The automation revolution is the glorification and the rise of the lumpen proletariat, and the decay of the industrial proletariat. The rise of the lumpen proletariat is the last nail in Marxism’s coffin.