On New Marxian Classes

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Socialist and Communist theory have long distinguised two primary classes of people, the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie, each with specialized classes: the Lumpenproletariat and the Petite Bourgeoisie. These classes, I believe, need further clarification in the modern day. Specifically, through this analysis I will express the case for two new Marxian classes.

This will be accomplished by analyzing the various classes expressed in Marxism and their modern definitions followed by the descriptions of the Libre movement and others in leftist decentralization movements to express how a new relationship to labor and production now exists. Over the course of this analysis we will weave our justification for the Technobourgeoisie (a new form of Petite Bourgeoisie) and a Technoproletariat (a new subclass of Proletariat).

Marxian Classes

In Marxist theory there are generally two primary classes of people, the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. These two classes show the fundamental aspects of society embodied in a citizenry. Each of the two classes (and as we will go over, the sub classes) are defined by their relationship to labor in society.

The Proletariat are marked by only being able to survive in society by wage slavery. More academically, they are marked by being the sellers of their labor and their production, but having no ownerships to the means thereof. Effectively, they survive by selling themselves and their time such that they often have little ownership over their own lives.

The Bourgeoisie are marked by the exploitation of the Proletariat. More academically, they are marked by being purchasers of labor and owning the means of production such that they recuperate the profits brought by the labor of the members of the Proletariat they exploit.

Each of these classes are broken down into further specialized subclasses: the Lumpenproletariat and the Petite Bourgeoisie.

The Lumpenproletariat are those who, through circumstance, willful ignorance, or hope that they will one day become the Bourgeoisie are unaware of their existence in the proletariat and the collective class struggle that arises from that. These are those who are generally non-contributory to society for any number of reasons, and are oft written-off as unorganizable.

Finally, we address the Petite Bourgeoisie. This class is marked by their existence as neither labor purchasers or sellers. These are those capable of purchasing labor, but own their own means of production. While Marx himself poorly defined them as "Small Capitalists" in the Communist manifesto as his only reference to further definition, they are generally viewed as being such individuals as self-employed artisans, small business owners, and I would say modern-day self-employed consultants would fit this bill. They are generally socio-economically and politically tied to the Bourgeoisie; this is simply because they view the problems of the Bourgeoisie as their problems, and do not have any desire to resolve the problems of the Proletariat class(es).

These classes are core to understanding the Marxist ideology, but for our discussions, the Petite Bourgeoisie that I would like to address further when I make the case for a Technoproletariat.

Marxist Classes in Cyberspace

Note, this section is going to be focused on internet and computer technology. It is important to note that the meat of this discussion can be applied to any technology, such that Automotive technology is currently undergoing a change in which a Technobourgeoisie is utilizing its power to control a Technoproletariat class. Such as the issue that Tesla can remotely lock your car for violating their Terms of Service

There are trends currently in motion that are bringing a new relationship to labor and production that I believe are not addressed in current Marxist theory including the federated decentralization movement (herein FedDec) and the Libre movements. These are contrasted to the current Web 3.0 (herein Web3) movement.

First, we will address how the Bourgeoisie appear: The Web3 movement. Web3 is defined by a coopting of the concept of decentralization into a capitalist tool built on ill-defined and vulnerable technologies (with vulnerabilities that get worse when considering the planned usecases of Web3). Currently, the trend is the transactionification of all things interconnected, and the storage of these transactions (everything in your life will become a transaction object) in blockchains. These blockchains, in addition to having substantial technical and social problems, are ecological disasters. This has a number of benefits for a Technobourgeoisie.

First, it entrenches the classes: Means of Production owners and labor purchasers (Haute Bourgeoisie), and labor makers and sellers (Proletariat) by ensuring that those with higher, more modern, technological power or with more tokens (money) will always control the system. (This paper is not going into the technical details of blockchains. As a high level, in order to exist there are some issues blockchains must overcome, and consensus is the biggest one. These are generally solved by Majority consesnus, where a majority of the computational power on the chain all agree on an answer, or token-based consensus where those with the most tokens make the decision of which fork of the chain is correct. Both of these are rife with potential for abuse, and abuses do happen on the current chains.)

Second, it provides unprecedented means of censorship and loss of privacy. The very way the blockchain work inexoriably links everything you've ever done or said for any reason to the blockchain permanently. Do you exist in a nation or place where it is unsafe for you to express opinions? Tough. Are you in an abusive relationship and need to get out? Too bad, all of your actions are stored on the chain. It is horrid.

Now, these two issues are called out specifically because it truly entrenches the Web3 movement as the bourgeoisie. They not only want to own the means of production, but they want to create a world whereby it will be nigh-impossible to seize the means of production within cyberspace entirely. They are the natural extension of the Bourgeoisie into cyberspace.

Now that we see what the Bourgeoisie looks like in a technologically dominant sub-culture, let's define our new Technobourgeoisie.

The Libre movement has its roots in the belief that there should be entirely free access to information, knowledge, and technology. While this goal is laudable, there are issues with the implementation. It is common in the Libre movement for capitalist tendencies to be enshrined and codified in the very definitions of Libre and Free that are used. To wit, a license for software, cultural works, or other information is considered "non-free" if it is explicitly open to any and all but disallows commercialization of the work.

For the artists in the crowd consider this: this means that if you were to take a painting you have made, and put it out into the world saying "Anyone may look upon this image, but no one can put it behind a curtain and make others pay to see it." you would be looked poorly upon by the Libre movement. That is because the current Libre movement is steeped in the Capitalist ideology: You are free to make things free, but only if you allow profiteers to use this freely provided labor for profit.

These are generally developers who oft own the means of their own production and may sometimes hire labor (but often work with them as they do). However, they find themselves oft aligned with the Bourgeoisie in terms of socio-economic and political thought. These would be the Technobourgeoisie. They are neither labor purchasers, nor owners of the means of production but they have been brainwashed by the Bourgeoisie that their efforts are only beneficial if those efforts can be used by profiteers and the Bourgeoisie as a source of entirely free labor. They are not Proletariat, in that they do not rely on the sale of their labor as their primary contribution to society, nor for their survival if they are donation-driven developers. Although they would fare far better in a Marxist society where their ideals and dreams are still be able to be accomplished, without stipulation that they must also allow others to profit off of their labor with no return.

Contrasted to the Technobourgeoisie are the Technoproletariat. These groups are similar in capability and power, but differ largely in their intent, understanding and relationship to labor and the means of production. These are the FedDec crowd and the Gemspace crowds. They believe that there should not be a requirement to allow profiteers to profit off of work, and that the means of production on the internet should be in the hands of the laborers, or creators, of the internet. This is a movement of laborers, or maker-creators, that have seized the means to share data and information on the internet themselves and actively work to educate others to do the same. They understand that in order for the world to be truly free there must be a shedding of the ideals and chains left on all of us by steeping the internet (a network designed to be decentralized, free, and creator owned from the beginning) in capitalism for most of the Web2.0 world.

The Technobourgeoisie and Technoproletariat

Over the course of the analysis of groups that showcase the characteristics of the Technobourgeoisie and Technoproletariat we drew upon the original classes, and contrasted them to our new variants. From these comparisons we can come to clear and concise definitions of the new subclasses:

  • The Technoproletariat

    • A subclass of the Proletariat marked by seizing the means of | production, but still living as labor-sellers or Revolutionaries with | class-solidarity. Notably, they are marked by their ability to make | use of the resources of the Technobourgeoisie in the same | technological space to substantially different ends.
    • These are generally Proletarian Revolutionaries who maintain their | solidarity with the Proletariat and use their capabilities and power | as a voice, venue, and avenue for the Revolution.
  • The Technobourgeoisie

    • A lower subclass of the Bourgeoisie marked by owning the means of | their own production, or having the technological capabilities to do | so, and choosing still to align themselves with the Technobourgeoisie | in the same technological space. Their goal is generally their own | ascension into the bourgeoisie vice the Revolutionary's goal of | seizing the means of production for all.
    • Distinct from the Petite Bourgeoisie in that the Technobourgeoisie | are actively, generally, still laboring with the ostensible goal of | either improving life for everyone (such as by implementing novel | ways of Capitalism, or as the Libre movement, by ideologically | forcing profiteering off of otherwise communal or free labor). | However, like the Lumpenproletariat, they have forgotten their class | identity.


In this analysis I have presented the case that we should introduce two new subclasses in Marxist theory. These will give us the tools we need to address the world as it is, with differing complexities due to the growing technological nature of the world, and the novel relationships that brings to novel forms of labor (such as creation of content).