Characteristics of slums - urban poor?

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at
Thu May 9 12:51:15 MDT 1996

Dear Zeynep,

You write:

>Our position up till now is;
>In Turkey, there is no "urban poor" as a distint entity from the working
>class. (There may be different experiences otherplaces, I'm interested). The
>slum population consists of regular working class, and unemployed, and
>irregularly employed. The urban poor is not a Marxist category, even a
>sociological category in this country.
>Also, the anger of the youth serves as a means of discharge, not charge for
>further action. The proletariat, with all its strata, should make the leap
>from reacting against oppression to the organised social class struggle.

I think this is a good position to start from. The best way to keep things
in perspective is to use the class category 'proletariat' in the sense of
those who only have their labour power to sell - regardless of whether they
get to sell it or not, or on a regular basis or not. This avoids a lot of
crap about 'underclass' unemployed and 'middle class' people with factory

Marx does distinguish between different strata within the working
class/proletariat - some more 'core' economically and politically than
others. Rakesh's reading suggestions will be helpful here, I should think.

The most significant and useful distinction concerns the
'lumpenproletariat' -- those members of the proletariat who act against
their class interests by running criminal errands for the bourgeoisie or
robbing and terrorizing their class brothers and sisters. One of the best
embodiments of this crowd I've seen was in Costas-Gavras's film 'Z - he
lives' about the Lambrakis affair in the run-up to the Greek dictatorship.

>The "urban poor" debate is pretty new here, I guess the Latin American
>countries like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Columbia have had a
>different experience. Peruvian comrades might also be familiar with the debate.

Given the right lead by those organized in an effective revolutionary
workers' party (including of course members of the urban poor), the urban
poor will provide high-octane fuel for the revolution.

Maybe the agitation will centre on something like:

Food, Flats, and Freedom from Crime.



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