Tabloid media in the West target the lumpen proletariat as enemies of the State. They are the lowest stratum of the class dependent on benefits. It includes such undesirables as tramps, criminals, social deviants and welfare scroungers.
Karl Marx was very antagonistic towards the lumpens in The Communist Manifesto. He called them “social scum” who were unlikely to participate in revolutionary activities with their “rightful brethren,” the proletariat.
Since then many political thinkers see the lumpens as the true rebels in a bourgeois society. The dominant class struggle isn’t between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat but between the lumpen proletariat and all other classes who have been bourgeoisified.
Theorists see the lumpens as an anarchic force, made up of the most desperate and alienated sub-groups in society. The delinquents and deviants refuse to knuckle under and accept work, debt and accumulation. They are the real threat to bourgeois stability.
One of the many ways Hegel paved the way for Marxism was his realization that bourgeois industrial capitalism created an ever-growing mass of people [les misérables] forced into hopeless poverty.
Marxist theory saw this as the nature of capitalist production which logically requires an ever greater reduction in real wages and worsening of working conditions for the proletariat.
The dispossessed and disenfranchised poor created the conditions for a subjective alienation found in the rabble with its hostile attitude to the rest of society and brute sense of angry entitlement.
There are significant political differences between the industrial working class [in decline], the proletariat [growing globally] and the masses [the shifting but productive and creative site of political alliances].
Badiou considers the ‘masses’ [potentially the inclusive realm of communization] to be the crucial category here.
The masses becomes the generic site of one for all for one. It provides the focus and leverage for the communization process. Badiou calls this ‘movement communism’.
‘Class’ is an analytical and descriptive concept, one that is ‘cold’. ‘Masses’ conceptualizes the urban riots that took place across Europe and North America in the twenty twenties.