Transformations: Ragamuffin, Idler and Egoist
According to Marx and Engels, in their book, ‘‘The Holy Family’’ specifically in the following chapter, ‘‘Chapter IV “Critical Criticism” As the Tranquillity of Knowledge, Or “Critical Criticism” As Herr Edgar’’ — the following remarks are made by Marx in regards to the victory of the proletariat and their own self-abolishment. ‘‘Indeed, private property drives itself in its economic movement towards its own dissolution, but only through a development which does not depend on it, which is unconscious and which takes place against the will of private property by the very nature of things, only inasmuch as it produces the proletariat as proletariat, poverty which is conscious of its spiritual and physical poverty, dehumanization which is conscious of its dehumanization, and therefore self-abolishing. The proletariat executes the sentence that private property pronounces on itself by producing the proletariat, just as it executes the sentence that wage-labour pronounces on itself by producing wealth for others and poverty for itself. When the proletariat is victorious, it by no means becomes the absolute side of society, for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite. Then the proletariat disappears as well as the opposite which determines it, private property.’’ ‘‘Marx in the Holy Family’’— Marx fails to explain what exactly happens when the proletariat ends up abolishing themselves and their opposite.
Do the people simply remain people? Max Stirner of course predicts what would happen when the proletariat abolish themselves, he argues that the proletariat, do not actually abolish themselves outright, but rather transform themselves into ‘‘ragamuffins’’ after which the proletariat are abolished through themselves via this transformative process that happens because of quantitative changes which gives a rise to a qualitative change to the proletariat themselves. Let me now invert, Marx’s quotation in the egoist way and opposite way,
‘‘Indeed, Public property drives itself in its economic movement towards its own dissolution, but only through a development which does not depend on it, which is unconscious and which takes place against the will of public property, by the very nature of things, only inasmuch as it produces the idlers as idlers, ragamuffiness which is conscious of its spiritual and physical poverty, humanization which is conscious of its humanization, and therefore self-abolishing. The ragamuffin now transformed idler executes the sentence that public property pronounced on itself by producing idlers, just as it executes the sentence that labor pronounced on itself by producing wealth for itself but poverty for others. When the Idler is victorious, it by no means becomes the absolute side of society, for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite (The laborers). Then the idler disappears as well as the opposite which determines it, public property.’’ — Alexander Hope.
When both idler and laborer disappear, what remains is the ‘‘Egoist, The Master, the one who has achieved ownness’’. The only unclear process here is that between the ragamuffin and the idler, what are the differences between the two? — The ‘‘ragamuffin’’ is the communist goal. The ragamuffin is a propertyless individual who has yielded his labor to society at large, that he might get a piece from it in communist society. The ragamuffin is indeed a laborer, but a laborer in communist society. While the laborer in capitalist society is allowed to own property, through transforming himself into a capitalist through capital, the laborer in communist society is propertyless until communist society persists to exist.
The ragamuffin is a propertyless laborer. However, the ragamuffin is soon transformed into an ‘‘Idler’’ through quantitative changes. When communist society experiences decades of abundance and growth of surplus wealth, the need for laborers will decrease at an alarming rate. Therefore, the masses will be transformed from ‘‘propertyless laborers’’ into ‘‘Propertyless idlers’’ — while a minority will remain as laborers to maintain the most important functions of the laborer to keep society functioning. The ragamuffins (Propertyless workers) or ‘‘Communist workers’’ will find themselves as a minority class in opposition to the majority class comprised of ‘‘Propertyless Idlers’’. Why is there an antagonist between these two classes? Quite simply the same reason why proletarians today are in opposition to the bourgeoisie. The Bourgeoisie as a class of the minority extracts surplus value from the labor done by the class of the majority, proletarians.
In communist society, we experience the same thing, but rather than the minority oppressing the majority, we have the majority oppressing the minority. The Idlers do not input their labor into society at large, meanwhile the minority laborers input all their labor into society. Those who do ‘‘no labor at all’’ extract the surplus value produced by those ‘‘who actually do the labor’’. The workers will form up armies of their own in order to combat the idlers, they will attempt to coerce them back into the laboring force, but in so doing, they will attempt to recreate the dictatorship of the proletariat, the socialist state, therefore the destiny of the workers is to become a reactionary against communism itself, by its attempt to regress backwards into socialism. The idlers will critique the laborers on this attempt, and they will free themselves from their impositions and coercion. The more the laborers coerce the idlers; the more the idler awakens his consciousness and is on his way to becoming an egoist. The idlers enjoy their ‘‘class privilege’’ of being able to extract surplus value from the working minority, and it would be foolish not to assume, that the idlers will fact against the workers in order to maintain this privilege, and this ability. If some form of automated technology exists or an ‘‘Automation Revolution’’ has taken place that is the result of this ‘‘abundance’’ in a future communist society, the laborers will also rise against this technology and become not only reactionary and counter-revolutionary but also Luddites who rise against the automatons. They will destroy these automatons, in order to decrease abundance, and therefore reintegrate the idlers back into the work force. The smaller the class of laborers becomes, the more violent they become, since less laborers imply increases in their working hours. Thus communism has not produced a society of ‘‘equality’’ but once again we find ourselves in a position of ‘‘inequality’’ under new material conditions.
 Marx, Engels, ‘‘Chapter IV “Critical Criticism” As the Tranquillity of Knowledge, Or “Critical Criticism” As Herr Edgar’’ in ‘’The Holy Family’’, 1844.