On the Lumpen-Precariat-To-Come

  • Joff P.N. Bradley Teikyo University, Tokyo
  • Alex Taek-Gwang Lee Kyung Hee University
Keywords: lumpenproletariat, Japan, Korea, Marx, Deleuze, Guattari


As a prolegomena to writing a critique of contemporary capitalism which takes into account its semiotic, affective dimensions and which emphasises the notion of hyper-capitalism with Asian characteristics, and in considering the nature of the floating, heterogeneous population of the lumpenproletariat in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century, the authors believe they remain faithful to Marx and the 11th thesis on Feuerbach. Bringing a unique perspective to the debate and raising pressing issues regarding the exploitation of the lumpenproletariat, we are not content to merely revisit the concept of the lumpenproletariat in Marx’s writings such as The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) but to apply this concept to the contemporary conditions of capitalism and especially to the loci of the precariat in Asia. Our goal is to begin to account for the changing demographic of labour flows, the precarity of life, the modern day slavery which takes place in our time. In examining the passage from the lumpenproletariat, hitherto defined as “non-class” or “people without a definite trace”, to lumpen-precariat, defined as people not seen in Asian economies (refugees, the illegally employed, illegal migrants, nationless foreign labour, the withdrawn clan, sex industry workers, night workers; those behind walls, gated communities, and other entrance-exit barriers), this paper discloses not only the subsistence of those in the non-places of the world – in the technocratic-commercial archipelago of urban technopoles – but also and, arguably more importantly, on the Outside, namely the rest of the planet, the other six-sevenths of humanity. This paper looks for “a” missing people, “a” singular, people yet to come, those exiled, excluded and unseen – sited on the edges of respectable society.

Author Biographies

Joff P.N. Bradley, Teikyo University, Tokyo

Joff P.N. Bradley teaches at Teikyo University in Tokyo, Japan. He is a member of the New Tokyo Group in Japan, a committed group of scholars working on critical pedagogy projects in the nation’s capital and beyond.

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, Kyung Hee University

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee works in the Department of British and American Cultural Studies School of Global Communication, Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea. He is the author of The Idea of Communism and numerous journal articles.

Karl Marx @ 200: Debating Capitalism & Perspectives for the Future of Radical Theory