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Lumpenbourgeoisie is a term used primarily in the context of colonial and neocolonial elites in Latin America, which became heavily dependent on and supportive of the neocolonial powers. It is a hybrid compound of the German word Lumpen ("rags") and the French word bourgeoisie.[clarification needed]

In Latin America in the 1970s[edit]

Lumpenbourgeoisie is a term often attributed to Andre Gunder Frank in 1972[1][2][a] (although the term is already present in Paul Baran's The Political Economy of Growth from 1957) to describe a type of a middle class[1] and upper class[3] (merchants, lawyers, industrialists, etc.);[4] one who has little collective self-awareness or economic base[1] and who supports the colonial masters.[1][3] The term is most often used in the context of Latin America.[2][4]

Frank writing on the origins of the term[2] noted that he created this neologism[1] lumpenbourgeoisie from lumpenproletariat and bourgeoisie because, although the colonial and neocolonial elites in Latin America were similar to European bourgeoisie on many levels, they had one major difference. This difference was their mentality of the Marxist lumpenproletariat, the "refuse of all classes" (as described in Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon) easy to manipulate to support the capitalist system, often turning to crime.[2] Similarly, the colonial elites would—although not involved in crime activities—hurt the local economy by aiding the foreign exploiters.[2][5] Foreign colonial powers want to acquire resources and goods found in the colonies, and they find this facilitated with incorporation of the local elites into the system, as they become intermediaries between the rich colonial buyers and the poor local producers.[5] The local elites become increasingly reliant on the system in which they supervise gathering of the surplus production from the colonies, taking their cut and before the remaining goods are sold abroad.[5] Frank termed this economic system lumpendevelopment[5] and the countries affected by it, lumpenstates.[4]

Prior usage[edit]

The term Lumpenbourgeoisie was already used in Austria by about 1926. The author was an Austrian social democratic journalist and he used the term in at least one article in a Viennese periodical. Another example of the use of the term was given by Czech philosopher Karel Kosík in 1997. In his article, Lumpenburžoazie a vyšší duchovní pravda ("Lumpenbourgeoisie and the higher spiritual truth") he defines Lumpenbourgeoisie as "a militant, openly anti-democratic enclave within a functioning, however half-hearted and thus helpless democracy".

"Lumpen-bourgeoisie" also occurs in E. Franklin Frazier's The Black Bourgoisie (1957), which was translated from the original French text that was published in 1955. He uses it to describe African American businessmen who cling to what he terms the "myth of Negro business" to affect meaningful change in racial politics (173).[6] He was especially focused on the development of black-owned business that developed and expanded in both the U.S. South and North during the first decades of the 20th century.

See also[edit]


^ a Joseph L. Love wrote that the term is misattributed to Frank and was in fact coined by C. Wright Mills in White Collar (1956).[7] Nonetheless, the term was popularized by Frank's book Lumpenbourgeoisie and Lumpendevelopment: Dependency, Class and Politics in Latin America (1972) which used it in its title.


  1. ^ a b c d e Kapcia Antoni, Antoni Kapcia, Havana: The Making of Cuban Culture, Berg Publishers, 2005, ISBN 1-85973-837-0, Google Print, p.15
  2. ^ a b c d e Hosam Aboul-Ela, Other South: Faulkner, Coloniality, and the Mariategui Tradition, Univ of Pittsburgh Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8229-4314-X, Google Print, p.73
  3. ^ a b William Edwin Segall, School Reform in a Global Society', Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, ISBN 0-7425-2461-2, Google Print p.146
  4. ^ a b c David Harrison, The Sociology of Modernization and Development, Routledge, 1988, ISBN 0-415-07870-9, Google Print, p.83
  5. ^ a b c d David Seth Preston, Contemporary Issues in Education, Rodopi, 2005, ISBN 90-420-1684-1, Google Print, p.58
  6. ^ Frazier, E. Franklin (1957). Black Bourgeoisie. New York: The Free Press. p. 173.
  7. ^ Joseph L. Love, Third World' a response to professor Worsley, Third World Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 2 April 1980 , pages 315 – 317

Further reading[edit]

  • Andre Gunther Frank, Lumpenbourgeoisie and Lumpendevelopment: Dependency, Class and Politics in Latin America, 1972