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Lumpenbourgeoisie is a term used primarily in the context of colonial and neocolonial elites in Latin America, which became heavily dependent and supportive of the (neo) colonial powers. It is a hybrid compound of the German word Lumpen (rags) and the French word bourgeoisie.



Lumpenbourgeoisie is a term most often attributed to Andre Gunder Frank in 1972[1][2] [a] to describe a type of a middle class[1] and upper class[3] (merchants, lawyers, industrialists, etc.)[4]; one that has little collective self-awareness or economic base[1] and who supports the colonial masters.[1][3] The term is most often used in the context of Latin America.[2][4]

As Frank wrote,[2] he decided to create the neologism[1] lumpenbourgeoisie from lumpenproletariat and bourgeoisie because while the Latin America's colonial and neocolonial elites were similar to European bourgeoisie on many levels, but with one major difference. They had the mentality of the marxist lumpenproletariat, the "refuse of all classes" (as described in Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon) which can easily be manipulated to support the capitalist system, often turning to crime.[2] Similarly, the colonial elites would—while not involved in crime activities—contribute negatively to the local economy by aiding the foreign exploiters.[2][5] The colonial powers desired resources and goods found in the colonies, and to achieve that they incorporated the local elites into the system, making them intermediaries between the rich colonial buyers and the poor local producers.[5] Thus the wellbeing of the local elites would become increasingly tied to this trade and exploitation, taking the surplus production from the colonies, siphoning off their profit and transferring the goods to the colonial buyers abroad.[5] Frank has termed this economic system lumpendevelopment[5] and the countries affected by it, lumpenstates.[4]

The term Lumpenbourgeoisie was used in Austria already about 1926. The Author was an Austrian social democratic journalist and he used the term in at least one article in a Viennese periodical.
Another example of the use of the term gives Czech philosopher Karel Kosík [2] in 1997. In his article Lumpenburžoazie a vyšší duchovní pravda [3] /Lumpenbourgeoisie and the higher spiritual truth/ he defines Lumpenbourgeoisie as "a militant, openly anti-democratic enclave within a functioning, however half-hearted and thus helpless democracy".

See also


^  a Joseph L. Love wrote that the term is misatributted to Frank and was in fact coined by C. Wright Mills in White Collar (1956).[6] Nonetheless, the term was popularized by Frank's book Lumpenbourgeoisie and Lumpendevelopment: Dependency, Class and Politics in Latin America (1972) which used it in its title.

Further reading

  • Andre Gunther Frank, Lumpenbourgeoisie and Lumpendevelopment: Dependency, Class and Politics in Latin America, 1972


  1. ^ a b c d e Kapcia Antoni, Antoni Kapcia, Havana: The Making of Cuban Culture, Berg Publishers, 2005, ISBN 1859738370, Google Print, p.15
  2. ^ a b c d e Hosam Aboul-Ela, Other South: Faulkner, Coloniality, and the Mariategui Tradition, Univ of Pittsburgh Press, 2007, ISBN 082294314X, Google Print, p.73
  3. ^ a b William Edwin Segall, School Reform in a Global Society', Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, ISBN 0742524612, Google Print p.146
  4. ^ a b c David Harrison, The Sociology of Modernization and Development, Routledge, 1988, ISBN 0415078709, Google Print, p.83
  5. ^ a b c d David Seth Preston, Contemporary Issues in Education, Rodopi, 2005, ISBN 9042016841, Google Print, p.58
  6. ^ Joseph L. Love, Third World' a response to professor Worsley, Third World Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 2 April 1980 , pages 315 - 317, [1]


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