However, its vagueness and its history as a term of abuse has led to some criticism.Some radical groups, most notably the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, have sought to mobilize the lumpenproletariat.
However, its vagueness and its history as a term of abuse has led to some criticism.
He argued that the lumpenproletariat had a dual nature.
Simultaneously, they were "victimized members of the laboring masses and untrustworthy elements with 'parasitic inclinations'", which made them waver between revolution and counterrevolution.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was one of the first to use lumpenproletariat in their rhetoric, particularly to indicate the scope of their view of a "desirable" working class and exclude the non-respectable poor.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rioting and violence was often attributed by the SPD and its newspaper Vorwärts to the lumpenproletariat working in collusion with the secret police. Evans argued that the SPD, thus, lost touch with the "militancy of the classes which it claimed to represent, a militancy which found expression in frequent outbursts of spontaneous collective protest, both political and industrial, at moments of high social and political tension." For many German socialists in the imperial period the lumpenproletariat—especially prostitutes and pimps—was not only a "political-moral problem, but also an objective, biological danger to the health of society." Karl Kautsky argued in 1890 that it is the lumpenproletariat and not the "militant industrial proletariat" that mostly suffer from alcoholism.
Instead, he described the lumpenproletariat as part of the what he called an "industrial reserve army", which capitalists used as times required.
Thus, "vagabonds, criminals, prostitutes" and other lumpenproletariat formed an element within the "surplus population" in a capitalist system.
It is recruited from various classes and is incapable of organized political struggle.
It constitutes, along with the petit bourgeois strata, the social basis of anarchism.
Lenin and Trotsky followed Marx's arguments and dismissed its revolutionary potential, while Mao argued it can be utilized by a proper leadership.
The term was popularized in the West by Frantz Fanon in the 1960s and has been adopted as a sociological term.