Karl Marx Despised Society’s Poorest People. Here Are the Quotes that Prove It

karl marx lumpenproletariat

Ever since his death, Karl Marx has been hailed as the hero of the downtrodden, but this could not be further from the truth. In reality, Marx and his socialist partner-in-crime, Friedrich Engels, a co-author of the Communist Manifesto, held those most in need in society in near-total contempt.

In fact, the communist duo coined a special phrase to refer to those on the lowest rung of the economic and social ladder: lumpenproletariat. For those unfamiliar with nineteenth century German political lingo, “lumpenproletariat” can be loosely translated to: “social scum,” “dangerous class,” “underclass,” “ragamuffin,” “riff-raff,” “ragged-proletariat,” etc.

In German, “lumpen” means “ragged” and “proletariat” was Marx and Engels’ term for “working class.”

Marx and Engels derogatorily called the poorest of the poor, typically out-of-work laborers, the “dangerous class” and society’s absolute worst people. But don’t take my word for it. Here are just some of their diatribes against the lumpenproletariat:

“The lumpenproletariat is passive decaying matter of the lowest layers of the old society, is here and there thrust into the [progressive] movement by a proletarian revolution; [however,] in accordance with its whole way of life, it is more likely to sell out to reactionary intrigues. – The Communist Manifesto

“They belonged for the most part to the lumpenproletariat, which forms a mass clearly distinguished from the industrial proletariat in all large cities, a recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds, living on the refuse of society, people without a fixed line of work.” – The Class Struggles in France 1848–1850

Marx writes the “Chief of the Lumpenproletariat” (Napoleon III) bought votes from the lumpenproletariat with “gifts and loans, these were the limits of the financial science of the lumpenproletariat, both the low and the exalted. Never had a President speculated more stupidly on the stupidity of the masses.” – “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,” 1852

Marx describes the lumpenproletariat in the following manner: “Alongside ruined roués with questionable means of support and of dubious origin, degenerate and adventurous scions of the bourgeoisie, there were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged convicts, runaway galley slaves, swindlers, charlatans, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, procurers, brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, rag-pickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, beggars; in short, the entirely undefined, disintegrating mass, thrown hither and yon, which the French call la bohème.” – “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,” 1852

And these are just a handful of the disparaging descriptions made by Marx and Engels about the most “unprivileged” and “oppressed.”

So many today think of Marx and Engels as the compassionate Robin Hood’s of their day, yet their words speak volumes. Marx and Engels were not looking to save everyone in society, but rather to usher in a revolution that would create a “dictatorship” of the working class. There was, in many ways, very little compassion in Marx and Engels for anyone they deemed to be outside of the proletariat.

It is about time the true Karl Marx, warts and all, is exposed.

PHOTO: Statue of Karl Marx in Trier. Photo by Jan Maximilian Gerlach. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Chris Talgo (CTalgo@heartland.org) is an editor and research fellow at The Heartland Institute and a researcher and editor at StoppingSocialism.com.