[Marxism] Planet of Slums

Paddy Apling e.c.apling at btinternet.com
Fri Mar 26 02:42:46 MST 2004

Louis Proyect25 March 2004 20:31 brought to our attention on
 Subject: [Marxism] Planet of Slums
> (This appears to be the presentation that Mike Davis gave to the
> Columbia University conference on imperialism that I reported on a while
> back. It is extremely good stuff.)
> New Left Review 26, March-April 2004
> Future history of the Third World’s post-industrial megacities. A
> billion-strong global proletariat ejected from the formal economy, with
> Islam and Pentecostalism as songs of the dispossessed.

This well-argued article raises questions about the two world-significant
theses that have emerged for discussion on this list in the past month or

Firstly the thesis of Melvyn P. regarding what he terms the "communist
class" - the vast, an increasing number of people in the world, mostly
displaced peasants, but also working-class permanently unemployed who have
no place in the capitalist economy and subsist either by "illegal"
activities on the fringe of that society or on the handouts of a "welfare
state", and

Secondly the (standard Marxist) thesis in the article by Michael D Yates in
the Monthly Review, so helpfully brought to our attention by Charles Brown,
that "The world will not be changed permanently for the better unless the
mass of workers do the changing. Wage workers are necessary for capitalism
to reproduce itself, so it is clear that only labor can stop this
reproduction and reorganize society mode of production and distribution." -
and again, quoting Ralph Milliband - "if, as one is constantly told is the
case, the organized working class will refuse to do the job, then the job
will not be done.(New Left Review, I (15), 1985)."
[actually, NLR, I (151), 1985, p.13]

The article by Mike David in NLR raises the question for Melvin P's thesis
as to whether this "class" in the planet slums is possibly the revolutionary
comminist class, or whether it has more the characteristics described in the
Communist Manifesto as
 "The 'dangerous class' the social scum, that passively rotting mass
thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be
swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of
life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of

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