MIM and the proletariat

Maoist Internationalist Movement mim3 at nyxfer.blythe.org
Thu Oct 12 20:52:26 MDT 1995

Also see my last post on Marx on the "labor aristocracy."

Lenin, Zinoviev and Stalin pretty much constantly distinguish
between proletarians and workers, especially when they
are bashing social-democrats. One interesting thing you can
see in the COMINTERN in dealing with Hitler is that when
British, French and German social dems are the problem, they
talk about this distinction. When they unite against fascism
temporarily, this distinction is downplayed.

On Thu, 12 Oct 1995, Walter Daum wrote:

> I'm pretty sure I asked MIM (and others) some time ago, but I'll try again:
> Where does Marx make a distinction between "working class" and "proletariat"?
> Walter Daum
"Where is there, then, a real possibility of emancipation in Germany?

This is our reply. A class must be formed which has radical chains, a 
class in civil society which is not a class of civil society, a class 
which is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere of society which has a 
universal character because its sufferings are universal, and which does 
not claim a particular redress because the wrong  which is done to it is 
not a particular wrong but wrong in general. There must be formed a 
sphere of society which claims no traditional status but only a human 
status, a sphere which is not opposed to particular consequences but is 
totally  opposed to the assumptions of the German political system; a 
sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating 
itself from all the other spheres of society, without, therefore, 
emancipating all these other spheres, which is, in short, a total loss of 
humanity and which can only redeem itself by a total redemption of 
humantiy. This dissolution of society, as a particular class, is the 

[Pat for MIM interjects: Thus far what Marx has said is not
much different than what others from the Enlightenment on might
have said. You can see if the above is the definition of proletariat
how it can be distinguished from workers except in certain 
contexts, the main context being the one Marx wrote about the most.]

The proletariat is only beginning to form itself in Germany, as a result 
of the industrial movement. For what constitutes the proletariat is not 
naturally existing poverty, but poverty artifically produced, is not the 
mass of people mechanically oppressed by the weight of society, but the 
mass resulting from the disintegration of society and above all from te e
disintegration of the middle class. Needless to say, however, the numbers 
of the proletariat are also increased by the victims of natural poverty 
and of Christian-Germanic serfdom."

(Karl Marx, italics removed, "Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's 
Philosophy of Right" (at the end, six paragraphs back)

Seeing "proletariat" outside an industrial context in Ancient Rome

"With the development of private property, we find here
the first time the same conditions which we shall find again,
only on a more extensive scale, with modern private
property. On the one hand, the concentration of private
property, whih began very early in Rome (as the Licinian
agrarian law proves) and proceeded very rapidly from
the time of the civil wars and especially under
the Emperors; on the other hand, coupled with this,
the transformation of the plebeian small
peasantry into a proletariat, which, however, owing to its
intermediate position between propertied citizens and slaves,
never achieved an independent development."

(Karl Marx, "The German Ideology.")

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