Difference in Marx: The lumpenproletariat and the proletarian unnamable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

509 Downloads (Pure)


This article considers the place of difference in Marx's politics through an exploration of his categories of the lumpenproletariat and the proletariat. Far from a simple set of class subjects or empirical peoples, these two categories are argued to describe particular modes of political composition. Despite the frisson of difference and excess which is usually associated with Marx's lumpenproletariat, it is argued to describe a mode of composition - and, in relation to anarchism, a politics - oriented not towards difference and becoming, but towards present identity. The proletariat, on the other hand, is shown to be not a People, historical Subject or identity, but a 'minor' political mode of composition immanent to the manifolds of capitalism, and premised on the condition that, as Deleuzc puts it, 'the people are missing'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-460
Number of pages26
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002


  • Anarchism
  • Deleuze
  • Lumpenproletariat
  • Marx
  • Minor politics
  • Proletariat


Dive into the research topics of 'Difference in Marx: The lumpenproletariat and the proletarian unnamable'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this