Nietzsche said that “the criminal is a type of strong man under unfavorable conditions.” Similarly, the lumpenproletarian is a type of peasant under unfavorable conditions. He is the criminal or exiled type of the worker.
His being a negative force of pain leaves him as the final line of war and revolution. The peasant faces the most elemental forces, the first barbarian incursions; or he retreats into the cities as war becomes permanent. Either way, he is forced to survive beyond the national borders. The lumpenproletarian forms in this underworld, which is why he is close to the criminal. Fighting is not an ideological decision for him, it is the very force of his character.
Where the peasant is forced to fight there is a condition of the deepest poverty, which threatens from the primordial laws – in the worst crises the state will have to rule over starvation.
With the great conflicts landscapes are devastated, old relations erode, in certain cases one will have to abandon the territory. The lumpenproletarian is closest to the democratic erosion of land and will, he struggles on the ground of property and the neutralization of borders, rather than on technological or economic issues, thus political opposition is a natural condition for him. He fights from the will to power, or is its last sign, a memory of the dead. That one of the legendary anarchists was a grave robber is revealing.
Other legends are of nobles and princes forced into the criminal ranks. Mercenary warriors were the criminal heroes in the early wars of democracy, the civil wars turned against the nation itself. The noble holds out among the peasants, and sends a message to his Majesty to “lick his arse.” Then every hour becomes the eleventh. This type prefigured the partisan, which is of a pure revolutionary force, of nihilism rather than nobility.
With the defeat of the ancien regime strong men were forced to hold out in a similar manner, in a condition of criminality, the dwindling aristocracy, or sleep. Criminal organisations carry with them the last remnants of the ancien regime: struggle, danger, and oath, if not honour. “Mafiusu” once referred to the handsome, courageous, and enterprising man. It is also worth remembering that Hermes was both patron of criminals and herald of the gods, a guide of the underworld, spirits, boundaries. Blind wealth is no virtue, but during the great upheavals it becomes a weapon of justice. One may also say that the criminal is the worker turned mercenary – in the age of revolutions he must be his own hire. A Götz von Berlichingen is distinct from Robin Hood not only in how wealth is distributed, but also its very type.
The danger in class conflict is that it forces an illusory enemy, material conditions lead to a weakening of the political force, which is why the workers’ revolution can only be bourgeois and nihilist.
The real political opposition is with the Third Estate itself and the world order which creates it. Most of all, the worker must remain in contact with the political struggle, to know his real enemy, and only through such struggle can the Third Estate – which is a providential test rather than material question – become the force of a new order, a dominion which will allow the return of the old estates, or the creation of new ones.
To be resisted at all costs is the interim state, which is the political aspect of nihilism.