|Karl Marx (portrait by John Jabez Edwin Mayall)|
Lumpenproletariat used to be a word that was bandied about when people took the Communist Party more seriously. It’s one of those terms that has almost nostalgic connotations referring as it does to a striation of class that one would have thought no longer existed, in our world of unionized skilled workers. Nevertheless it’s one of those interesting words which needs to get an injection of Geritol, the magical liquid advertised by Ted Mack on his amateur hour, during the same 50’s period when committed Marxists were still using the expression. Lumpen for instance connotes things with lumps in it like goulash and soup and you also think of the lumpen as people who have or have taken their lumps. In Marxist terminology the lumpenprolertariat are actually the dregs of humanity, those who have no interest in attaining class consciousness and hence aiding and abetting the struggle. Doesn’t this sound a little bit like Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables" and wasn't Clinton totally on the mark for terming Trump's constituency that? The only difference seems to be that instead of being the lowest rung, of freeloaders and petty thieves, the lumpenproletariat, now composed of aimless unemployed workers from defunct industries like coal and steel, seems to have grown. Actually it was the Marxist lumpenproletariat, now swelled like the liver of a goose that’s about to made into fois gras, that was responsible for electing a billionaire capitalist, a reborn l9th century robber baron, president.The real question seems to be not whether "deplorables" elected Trump, but what accounted for the expansion of this demographic.