shoulda looked deeper marx, couldnt break outta man history
from Mary Ellen Waithe's History of Women Philosophers books, i understand ancient women philosophers you never hear about also had fuckin sick names like Arete and Axiothea and Mechtild and Hadewych and Roswitha
The newest development on this question for me is when I researched the history of slavery, particularly landowning classes and their waxing/waning role in the state. It introduced me to the idea of competing methods of organizing production, namely the historical dynamics between slavery, serfdom and tenant farming, compared to a system of wage labor (the pinnacle of 'free' labor). Co-class rule was very common in the days where this was inciting revolutions and violence, and in places like Brazil the settler-colonial landowners won out but accepted the Republican reforms, going onto become the first proper monopolist bourgeois in Brazil instead of the petty-bourgeois urban guys who started off the Republican movement in the first place. That was in this essay: https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.jstor.org/stable/2162955 "Hahn, S. (1990). Class and State in Postemancipation Societies: Southern Planters in Comparative Perspective"
So this got me thinking. What if we could make a materialist analysis that the "lumpen" category can fall under people involved in production or distribution at odds with the legality of the state, but similar to political-economic fractures in the ruling-class, open to constant flux? We see this in the organized cartels of South America where they exert state influence over several local areas but also over the government in league with the pigs. There's constant assassinations, conspiracies, crises, etc over this stuff, an obvious solidification of lumpen cartel power, just as what happened in Brazil or the American South with export-reliant landowners. But what I think applies a lot to Sakai's analysis that the stick-up guy isn't going to give much of a shit about anyone else is that the lumpen is comprised of multiple ways of production and sustaining someone's life (what's a good word for the doppelganger of employment?): outright slavery in places like Libya, prostitution (which we all agree isn't parasitic), small-time drug harvesting that people sell to the cartels for processing, robbers that need commodities or money, etc. It's a myriad of different things. I think if you look at it this way, it gets passed the pejorative overtones of the word that aren't useful and looks at the lumpen realm as reflections of production, surplus value extraction, primitive accumulation even, etc. With this I would disagree that pigs and etc are lumpen but very often when lumpen organizations are useful they can fuse together like narcostates or the Blackstone Rangers. They both make their money differently and fuse with the state on completely different levels, but they're dominant enough in their conditions for self-assertion.
If any of you have ideas or criticisms of this I wanna hear them.
Edited by serafiym ()
About para-state violence in Colombia and Brazil and thought of similar things. The essay itself is pretty basic so you won't get much from it but the question of lumpen-state collaboration and settler violence in general has me thinking about how useless the Weberian definition of the state is, something basically all anarchists and many Marxists take as given. This also gets into unsatisfaction with the Benjaminian concept of the law as state-making and state-preserving violence (obviously an expansion of Weber).
In Weber's case, the definition is pointless and very misleading, since the only way it can describe how the state actually functions in a colonial context is if the core of the definition is on legitimacy and not violence, but then the point is to explain legitimacy which is a question of class hegemony rather than a monopoly of violence, a more productive starting point. How can we talk about a monopoly of violence in Colombia when the state not only relies on paramilitaries for its very survival but even gives them an economic function in a whole international network of semi-legal drug trade which is nevertheless indispensable for functioning of imperialism (to the point where the president of the leader of the core state sets himself up against the law)?
Legitimacy/hegemony allows us to speak about a constellation of forces which are rooted in the interests of the capitalist mode of production but are not directly involved in production itself (the state). The function of violence only comes back on partial form, since while it is ultimately the foundation of these forces, we can't abstract away the ideological state apparatuses so easily. I'm wary of theories that minimize the violence at the foundation of the state and think western bourgeois republics are somehow not applicable to Leninism but the reverse idea, that only legal violence constitutes the state, is easily outflanked by fascists who can forward their own violence as the essence of the nation against the state while the left is forced to defend the state's monopoly as is happened in India and the left's impotent attempts to beat back the RSS. A lot of this is simply the refusal to imagine a mass base of reaction by socialists and imagine the violence of the law as some ideological structure that can be broken through propaganda rather than something eagerly applied without ideological coercion by a whole class alliance of lumpen/settlers/labor aristocracy/petty-bourgeois.
As for Benjamin, it's not that he's wrong, but needs to be complemented. Settlers are not an extension of the law, in fact they are often opposed to the law because it gets in the way of the state's justice. Hence lynching, cowboy revenge fantasies, or even settler rebellions/coup d'etats. But they are am extension of the justice of the law, or the originary violence of the law as a permanent state of exception. I'm not comfortable with those terms yet since I'm thinking of an essay by Derrida where he makes the law/justice separation and the erasure of the latter by the former and then defends justice against law. Any black man subject to the white man's "justice" after a court trial came to the "wrong" conclusion knows there's nothing inherently liberatory about justice as long as capitalist imperialism remains, Marx's critique of Kant applies just as well to today's idealists. And of course Agamben, babyfinland's favorite philosopher, is just a copy of Heidegger's fascism without the courage of political commitment, I don't care for any theory of law which unifies the rupture of capitalism and all other historical forms which in appearance have law and the state.
For a while people thought about this with Hezbollah and some future where non-state actors hollow out the state and exceed it along with leftover naivete about the Zapatistas. That utopian dream is gone and I doubt anyone would argue that given the centrality of the nation state in Syria and the cynical usage of such ideas by American imperialism and the YPG. But the problem of violence simultaneously against the law and necessary to consitute its reproduction remains, at least in situations where the clear terms of the nation state against international imperialism are not in the table.
The entirety of "western Marxism" was a reaction against the idea of the state as the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, expressed through violence and repression. Western Marxism failed, easily outflanked by neoliberalism abandoning the hegemonic functions of the state and the right presenting itself as the only force opposed to neoliberalism, and today's politics call for a return to a crude emphasis on repressive violence. I think the lumpen and settlers are good starting points to overcome the Western Marxist impasse and bring violence, legitimacy, and law back into an economic class which act as the shock troops of the law's justice, a fair way to describe how police have become the legal lynchers of the post-civil rights era.
As for Benjamin, it's not that he's wrong, but needs to be complemented. Settlers are not an extension of the law, in fact they are often opposed to the law because it gets in the way of the state's justice. Hence lynching, cowboy revenge fantasies, or even settler rebellions/coup d'etats. But they are am extension of the justice of the law, or the originary violence of the law as a permanent state of exception.
i think you're misunderstanding benjamin here by conflating him with weberian notions of state-making/state-preserving violence rather than benjamin's law-making/law-preserving. you're missing that benjamin already clearly accounts for what you're talking about, "law-making" violence is specifically identified as contrary to state-preserving violence and defined by criminal activity, strikes & rebellions, the extra-legal norms of warfare etc. & presents these forms are an extension of the originary violence of law in contradiction to the judicial-legal norms of the state. benjamin very clearly makes this distinction already that you're alleging is absent, which is why he's careful to talk about law rather than concerning himself strictly with the considerations of statecraft like weber
I've been coming back to this book every few weeks for the past few months now, and I still can't wrap my head around the idea that the lumpen can be defined just by theft. If that was the case what differentiates any position that extracts surplus value from the definition of lumpen? If it's illegal theft we're talking about, then why are we including pigs and death merchants in all of their state-backed decadence in the list?
i've been trying to think thru this too, and can talk about the angles i'm trying to look at it with. one angle is that the bourgeoisie gather their stuff of life, the food housing water, thru the mechanism of wage exploitation and M -> C -> M'. they own capital and the products of the labor engaging with that capital, which they turn into a commodity, and sell on the market. that's the really high level description of the labor process. like look at the labor of linens in a little more detail than marx did: the linen is made into a coat by a sequence of hand motions. at the tailor the yard of linen fabric is cut to shape, it's sewed into a coat pattern, then a worker sews the pockets and buttons, a worker folds it and packages it for market, and then, the product is commodified, given a price by the property owner, and sold at profit. M -> C -> M' -> (food water medicine, for property owner), filling in some of the labor steps between M and C. but the bourgeoisie can actually 'commodify' their product at any step of the process. so for instance K&M Tailors does the linen selection and cutting, and F&E Tailors applies details like pockets and buttons, through a contracted agreement, maybe because they've specialized in it or because F&E is in the city closer to market and K&M is nearer to the cotton plantation. the point is that the labor process can be commodified at any point before final sale on the market. unfinished coats can be made into commodities and the class enemy will collect their share of profit from final sale, even for work done far upstream of the sale of the coat.
the bourgeoisie's parasitism is more flexible than the lumpen's, which is 0 -> C -> M, and from the other party, C -> 0. where C is some commodity. the lumpen starts with no commodity and gains it. the other party starts with a commodity and loses 100% of it. the lumpen range is limited by its inability to parasitize at any step of the manufacturing process. it is constrained to take money or finished commodities. like if a lumpen robs a truck full of unfinished coats: what happens. the lumpen needs food water rent medicine, not a truck of unfinished coats. so the lumpen must somehow turn the stolen goods into the money commodity, to buy food water rent medicine. one option for the lumpen, is for him to throw up his hands that he got the wrong truck, then put them to work poorly sewing pockets and buttons on the unfinished coats, and then selling them himself. another is to form a partnership with a class-betraying coat factory owner, to sell the stolen coats. this is risky because the bourgeoisie all know each other and are very class conscious and might sik the law on em. not sustainable for an independent lumpen to keep robbing the same truck, or keep robbing unfinished goods that are on the way to getting more labor, and constantly having to scope specialized fence markets. i hope it's clear -- it can be observed in society -- that the lumpen steal finished goods and preferably the money commodity itself, macbooks gold cash jewels cameras cars. unlike the bourgeoisie parasite it gets 100% and not just a cut, but its mode of parasitism is constrained by the same thing the class enemy's is, it must not steal so much that it kills its hosts (in fact it's the sum of parasitisms that must stay above iron law levels, so there is competition for the surplus between these classes -- they've known about each other for a while now and have built a big legal apparatus to communicate). the exception is in imperialism, where the uniformed lumpen are in tight partnership with the bourgeoisie to rob whole nations or manage trade of a raw material to market (i always remember swampman's snark about ISIS-- what, do you think they were DRINKING the oil?). for the same reason an independent lumpen will have trouble selling half-made coats, imperial robberies must be (and you can observe your world, they are) made in partnership with factory owners to process that loot into something which can circulate back as money, and get fuckin PAID. but that analysis that imperialism is co-class rule to expand lumpen range further 'upstream' of final commodification-- i dunno i don't have it but maybe it's out there somewhere, on another message board in some language... maybe somebody here can figure it out... getfiscal sure is smart, i wonder what he's cookin up
you asked why these two classes are two distinct classes. i think this is part way to an answer, that one lives by M -> C -> M' or (bankers/speculators) M -> M', and the other by 0 -> C -> M or 0 -> M if stealing money directly. just as a peasantry is distinct from proletarian fruit-pickers here in central valley CA, it is different relationships to production and property that defines a parasitic class as distinct from other parasitic classes. i think there are only these two, hopefully nobody thinks of a novel means of social parasitism.
one means of life that 0 -> C -> M includes, that could be controversial, is collection of "virgin" material from nature to sell on the world market. gold in rivers and timber from untouched forests and ore from mines. you don't leave coins by the tree stump after you fell it, it is made into a commodity at its total expense. i said previously in this thread, that in this era, we're all lumpen with respect to nature. but maybe people disagree.