From Hull AWE
Revision as of 23:15, 23 March 2016 by PeterWilson (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

The collective noun proletariat (pronounced 'proh-let-AIR-y-ut', IPA: /ˌprəʊl ət ˈeɪr ɪ æ (or ə)t/) is the usual term in Marxist analysis for the working class - those people that effectively have nothing to sell but their labour, whether by hand or brain. An individual member of the class is a proletarian (until the twentieth century, sometimes proletary), pronounced in the same way apart from the final phoneme (letter). The proletariat is necessarily opposed to the bourgeoisie, the owners of the great enterprises of capitalism and thus the employers of the proletariat, over whom they exploit their (greater) power. The adjective meaning 'to do with the proletariat' is 'proletarian'.

Etymological note: the original Latin proletarius "Roman citizen of the lowest class, person who served the state not with his property but only with his offspring" (OED), derives 'probably from' the noun prōlēs (pronounced with two syllables, 'PROH-leeze' IPA: /ˈprəʊl iːz/ 'offspring', 'child[ren]'). It is an oddity that a modern word meaning 'worker' (usually with the clear connotation 'manual worker', 'sweaty labourer') should be derived from a classical word meaning 'supplier of man-power to the state through children', 'breeder'.
    • The Marxist term for the class lower than the proletariat is lumpenproletariat - the under-class, those with no relationship with the means of production, the "refuse of all classes", including "vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux [pimps], brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars" (Marx, K. (1852) The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.
Etymological note:Lumpenproletariat adds lumpen from the German Lump (plural Lumpe(n)), 'ragamuffin, rascal, scoundrel' or Lumpen, 'rag'.