By Soso of MIM(Prisons)

MIM(Prisons) is working on a book about the lumpen in the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates. The first chapter, which we are circulating in draft form for peer review, focuses on identifying the lumpen and calculating the size of this group within U.$. borders. Part of this identification first requires that we understand the definition of the lumpen as distinct from other classes.

The proletariat is the class exploited by the bourgeoisie, receiving less than the value of their labor, and basically with nothing to lose but their chains. Marxists include in the proletariat many unemployed people who constitute a reserve army of workers, available to replace proletarian workers if they become too slow, get sick, organize strikes, or otherwise displease the bourgeoisie. These unemployed help to keep wages low, and while temporarily unemployed are still a part of the working class in the long term. The lumpenproletariat is the class of people that is permanently unemployed

In a recent article, Nikolai Brown got into the calculation of how we define the proletariat in the United $tates. Brown calculated the total value of labor by dividing the number of working hours by the total value produced:

“In 2011, the global GDP was $69,110,000,000,000. The total population was estimated mid-year to be 7,021,836,029. Let us assume that half of people regularly work. In this case, each worker produces about $20,000 per year. This would be the value of labor. Furthermore, if we assume each worker works 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, the value of labor is $10 an hour.”(1)

This is very relevant at a time when President Obama is promoting a raise in the federal minimum wage to $10/hour. Brown went on to emphasize the position of the majority of workers in the world: “As it stands, estimates of the global median income float between $1,250 and $1,700/year, $8,750- $8,300/year less than the estimated value of labor.”

In a response to this article from ServethePeople, we find an important addition to these calculations:

“Bear in mind that not all of production can be distributed as personal income: much of it goes to the means of production, infrastructure, public works, waste, and other ends. If even half of production (probably a considerable overestimate) is available for distribution as personal income, then the value of labor, by the above calculation, is only $5 per hour. Even the minimum ‘wage’ in the imperialist countries is greater than that, so every last First World ‘worker’ is a parasite.”

The point about distributing value produced is true whether we are talking about capitalism or socialism. The difference is not that the worker gets all the value they produce in their pocket, but that all the value they produce goes to serve the collective interest and not private profit.

MIM(Prisons) agrees with this calculation, and it informs our determination of who falls into the First World lumpen. We can see from this calculation that there is virtually no proletariat in the United $tates. Our goal is to separate out the very small proletariat and the large group of petty bourgeoisie people from the lumpen class.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Well you have to calculate the distribution of wealth as well. That means comparing someone who makes $10/hour with the fact that they don’t own a house and have to pay rent with someone who might make $5/hour and own a small farm. And also take into account that the current production under capitalism might be much greater than the world can ecologically support, or perhaps much less than a socialist world would. And there are many people in society to support who can’t work, who should still have the money distributed to them. It’s all terribly complex


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Political Economy, Prisons, Theory


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