Lumpenproletariat, Disability, Social reproduction, Autonomist Marxism, Dismodernism, Covid-19 pandemic, Universal

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Research Article


Capitalism establishes a fundamental connection between the constitution of society and the sphere of production. Whether in the form of direct participation or indirectly through the performance of social reproduction, the working class is expected to be working. The universals of capitalist society as a work-based society revolve around the material and symbolic centrality of the working class, its struggle and its social reproduction. This association is reinforced by the othering effect that the definitional politics of the universal working class has on subjects defined by their non-relation to the sphere of production, but also by the categories we choose for thinking class struggle and antagonism. In this paper I will explore a perspective of struggle that starts from the ‘others’ of the universal working class as generative of the universalisation of class struggle and social reproduction as involving all of us, regardless of our position vis-à-vis productive labour.

I will consider this universalisation first as it emerged through the figure of the ‘universal’ pandemic lumpenproletariat that, under the impact of the biological ‘real’ of the pandemic, overspilled from an othered position to a generalised condition for the working class, necessitating an expansion and re-valuation of social reproduction beyond the confines of its subordination to the sphere of production. Secondly, I will discuss the ways in which the encounter with the biological real can be politically chosen as the ground on which to reproduce anti-capitalist dynamics of social reproduction in post-pandemic times. As a political choice, I will contend, this unfolds through the symbolic universalisation of disability and through the symbolic dismodernization of the working class, which in turn connect with a dismodernized form of social reproduction. In spaces where the lumpenproletariat and disability are universal, universal care and support replace the limited forms of capitalist social reproduction. I will conclude by suggesting that an autonomist dismodernism, as an expression of a more general autonomist disability perspective, reads this other form of social reproduction as the telos of struggle that choosing disability orients us towards.




December 21, 2022


May 9, 2023