Study Group on the Lumpenproletariat Today

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Our study groups will continue with a timely public seminar with scholar and author Clyde Barrow on the class composition of Trumpism and understanding Marx’s concept of the lumpenproletariat. Barrow’s latest book, The Dangerous Class: The Concept of the Lumpenproletariat brings analytical coherence to the concept of the lumpenproletariat, revealing it to be an inherent component of Marx and Engels’ analysis of the historical origins of capitalism. However, a proletariat that is destined to decay into an underclass may pose insurmountable obstacles to a theory of revolutionary agency in post-industrial capitalism. Barrow thus updates historical discussions of the lumpenproletariat in the context of contemporary American politics and suggests that all post-industrial capitalist societies now confront the choice between communism and dystopia.

This lecture will be followed by a group discussion with presentations from members of Study Groups in Psychoanalysis and Politics and members from Cosmonaut Magazine, the partner of this working group. This study group will entail an overview of the book and elaboration of Barrow’s argument that Trump’s rise to power mirrors Louis Bonaparte’s rise as presented in The Eighteenth Brumaire. It will also entail an analytical discussion of what constitutes the lumpenproletariat, and how the lumpenproletariat functions in the contemporary development of capitalism; finally, we will turn to Trump’s mobilization of the lumpen and the definition of a lumpen-state.

Register here for $10

Hosted by Study Groups on Psychoanalysis and Politics and Cosmonaut Magazine

Readings (available upon registration)

  • Marx, Capital Vol. I, Chap. 25, sections 1-4.
  • Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire
  • Clyde Barrow, The Rise of a Lumpen State?

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