Saturday, August 10, 2013

Defining The American Lumpenproletariat

Every civilization is ultimately defined by the goals and cohesion of its ruling class.  Their lives and deeds become the stuff of legend and their visages are fit for monuments.  Let's not forget the lower orders, who get no monuments.  The term "lumpenproletariat" has a bad reputation.  Forget its Marxist origins.  Karl Marx was wrong about collectivism replacing capitalism but his class definitions are still convenient descriptions of society.  George Orwell's proles actually existed in his day.  America has its own prole class.

The low-information voter is a prole.  These are the folks who vote for politicians based on charm, dress, hobbies, and family image.  They don't have time to read position papers or party platforms because some ball game or reality show is on TV.  They don't read news commentary because they're too busy clicking "like" on some Photoshopped meme going around.  Political operatives generate memes that supplant critical thinking and the best memes win elections by swaying the low-information voter.

The welfare queen is a prole.  This part of the American caste system has grown by several orders of magnitude in my lifetime thanks to SNAP/EBT, SSI, and other forms of the dole.  Their planning horizon extends precisely to the collection date of their next benefit, no farther.  They may be goaded into performing marginally useful labor from time to time if benefit collection is conditioned on said performance.  Some of their number are habitual criminals and must always be monitored.  The rest are a source of amusement.

Unsophisticated country folk are proles.  I won't repeat their more derogatory synonyms here.  They escape the attention of the bi-coastal ruling elite because they inhabit the farms, woods, and mountains of this great country of ours.  Most of them grow our food and fix our machines.  The best of them have given us American roots music and other styles of entertainment.

I for one am grateful that the proles exist.  Someone has to do the hard work and mindless consumption in society and it might as well be the unfortunate folks at the low IQ end of the bell curve.  Automation may change that within a generation.  Elites need to start thinking up something for all these proles to do to keep them occupied.  Social safety nets are insurance against the proles' revolt but their lack of class consciousness is their primary inhibiting factor, as George Orwell correctly assessed.