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Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels
Full name Friedrich Engels
Born 28 November 1820
Barmen, Prussia
Died 5 August 1895 (aged 74)
London, England
Era 19th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Marxism
Main interests Political philosophy, Politics, Economics, class struggle, capitalism
Notable ideas Co-founder of Marxism (with Karl Marx), alienation and exploitation of the worker, historical materialism

Friedrich Engels (28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895) was a German social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of communist theory, alongside Karl Marx. Together they produced The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Engels also edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx's death.


Early years

Friedrich Engels was born in Barmen, Rhine Province of the kingdom of Prussia (now part of Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) as the elder son of a German textile manufacturer, with whom he had a strained relationship.[1] Due to family circumstances, Engels dropped out of high school and was sent to work as a nonsalaried office clerk at a commercial house in Bremen in 1838.[2][3] During this time, Engels began reading the philosophy of Hegel, whose teachings had dominated German philosophy at the time. In September 1838, he published his first work, a poem titled The Bedouin, in the Bremisches Conversationsblatt No. 40. He also engaged in other literary and journalistic work.[4][5] In 1841, Engels joined the Prussian Army as a member of the Household Artillery. This position moved him to Berlin where he attended university lectures, began to associate with groups of Young Hegelians and published several articles in the Rheinische Zeitung.[3] Throughout his lifetime, Engels would point out that he was indebted to German philosophy because of its effect on his intellectual development.[2]


Friedrich Engels' house in Primrose Hill

In 1842, the 22-year-old Engels was sent to Manchester, Britain to work for the textile firm of Ermen and Engels in which his father was a shareholder.[6][7] Engels' father thought that working at the Manchester firm might make Engels reconsider the radical leanings that he had developed in high school.[2][7] On his way to Manchester, Engels visited the office of the Rheinische Zeitung and met Karl Marx for the first time - though they did not impress each other.[8] In Manchester, Engels met Mary Burns, a young woman with whom he began a relationship that lasted until her death in 1862.[9] Mary acted as a guide through Manchester and helped introduce Engels to the English working class. The two maintained a lifelong relationship; they never married, as Engels was against the institution of marriage which he saw as unnatural and unjust.[10]

During his time in Manchester, Engels took notes of the horrors he personally observed there, notably child labor, the despoiled environment and overworked and impoverished laborers.[11] These notes and observations, along with his experience working in his father's commercial firm, formed the basis for his views on the "grim future of capitalism and the industrial age", outlined in his first book The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.[11] While writing it, Engels continued his involvement with radical journalism and politics. He frequented some areas also frequented by some members of the English labour and Chartist movements, whom he met, and wrote for several journals, including The Northern Star, Robert Owen’s New Moral World and the Democratic Review newspaper.[9][12][13]


After a productive stay in Britain, Engels decided to return to Germany in 1844. On his way, he stopped in Paris to meet Karl Marx, with whom he had an earlier correspondence. Marx and Engels met at the Café de la Régence on the Place du Palais, 28 August 1844. The two became close friends and would remain so for their entire lives. Engels ended up staying in Paris to help Marx write The Holy Family, which was an attack on the Young Hegelians and the Bauer brothers. Engels' earliest contribution to Marx's work was writing to the Deutsch-französische Jahrbücher journal, which was edited by both Marx and Arnold Ruge in Paris in the same year.[6]


From 1845 to 1848, Engels and Marx lived in Brussels, spending much of their time organizing the city's German workers. Shortly after their arrival, they contacted and joined the underground German Communist League and were commissioned by the League to write a pamphlet explaining the principles of communism. This became the The Manifesto of the Communist Party, better known as the Communist Manifesto. It was first published on 21 February 1848.[2]

Return to Prussia

Friedrich Engels

During February 1848, there was a revolution in France that eventually spread to other Western European countries. This event caused Engels & Marx to go back to their home country of Prussia, specifically the city of Cologne. While living in Cologne, they created and served as editors for a new daily newspaper called the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.[6] However, during the June 1849 Prussian coup d'état the newspaper was suppressed. After the coup, Marx lost his Prussian citizenship, was deported, and fled to Paris and then London. Engels stayed in Prussia and took part in an armed uprising in South Germany as an aide-de-camp in the volunteer corps of August Willich.[14] When the uprising was crushed, Engels managed to escape by traveling through Switzerland as a refugee and returned to England.[2]

Back in Manchester

Once Engels made it to Britain, he decided to re-enter the commercial firm where his father held shares in order to help support Marx. He hated this work intensely but knew that his friend needed the support.[15][16] He started off as an office clerk, the same position he held in his teens, but eventually worked his way up to become a partner in 1864. Five years later, Engels retired from the business to focus more on his studies.[6] At this time, Marx was living in London but they were able to exchange ideas through daily correspondence. In 1870, Engels moved to London where he and Marx lived until Marx's death in 1883.[2] His London home at this time and until his death was 122 Regent's Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1.[17] Marx's first London residence was a cramped apartment at 28 Dean Street, Soho. From 1856, he lived at 9 Grafton Terrace, Kentish Town, and then in a tenement at 41 Maitland Park Road from 1875 until his death.[18]

Later years

After Marx's death, Engels devoted much of his remaining years to editing Marx's unfinished volumes of Capital. However, he also contributed significantly to other areas. Engels made an argument using anthropological evidence of the time to show that family structures have changed over history, and that the concept of monogamous marriage came from the necessity within class society for men to control women to ensure their own children would inherit their property. He argued a future communist society would allow people to make decisions about their relationships free from economic constraints. One of the best examples of Engels' thoughts on these issues are in his work The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.

Engels died of throat cancer in London in 1895.[19] Following cremation at Brookwood Cemetery near Woking, his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, near Eastbourne as he had requested.[19][20]


Engels is commonly known as a "ruthless party tactician", "brutal ideologue", and "master tactician" when it came to purging rivals in political organizations. However, another strand of Engels’s personality was one of a "gregarious", "bighearted", and "jovial man of outsize appetites", who was referred to by his son-in-law as "the great beheader of champagne bottles."[11] His interests included poetry, fox hunting, and he hosted regular Sunday parties for London’s left-wing intelligentsia where as one regular put it, "no one left before 2 or 3 in the morning." His stated personal motto was "take it easy", while "jollity" was listed as his favorite virtue.[11]

Tristram Hunt, author of Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, sums up the disconnect between Engel's personality, and those Soviets who later utilized his works, stating:

"This great lover of the good life, passionate advocate of individuality, and enthusiastic believer in literature, culture, art and music as an open forum could never have acceded to the Soviet Communism of the 20th century, all the Stalinist claims of his paternity notwithstanding."[11]

Ideological legacy

Tristram Hunt argues that Engels has become a convenient scapegoat, too easily blamed for the state crimes of the Soviet Union, Communist Southeast Asia and China. "Engels is left holding the bag of 20th century ideological extremism," Hunt writes, "while Marx is rebranded as the acceptable, postpolitical seer of global capitalism."[11] Hunt largely exonerates Engels stating that "in no intelligible sense can Engels or Marx bear culpability for the crimes of historical actors carried out generations later, even if the policies were offered up in their honor."[11]

Paul Thomas, of the University of California, Berkeley, claims that while Engels had been the most important and dedicated facilitator and diffuser of Marx's writings, he significantly altered Marx's intents as he held, edited and released in a finished form, and commentated on them. Engels attempted to fill gaps in Marx's system and to extend it to other fields. He stressed in particular Historical Materialism, assigning it a character of scientific discovery and a doctrine, indeed forming Marxism as such. A case in point is Anti-Dühring, which supporters of socialism like its detractors treated as an encompassing presentation of Marx's thought. And while in his extensive correspondence with German socialists Engels honestly presented his own secondary place in the couple's intellectual relationship, Russian communists who had no available direct evidence, raised Engels up with Marx and conflated their thoughts as if they were necessarily congruous. Soviet Marxists then developed this tendency to the state doctrine of Dialectical Materialism.[21]

Major works

The Holy Family (1844)

The Holy Family was a book written by Marx & Engels in November 1844. The book is a critique on the Young Hegelians and their trend of thought which was very popular in academic circles at the time. The title was a suggestion by the publisher and is meant as a sarcastic reference to the Bauer Brothers and their supporters.[22] The book created a controversy with much of the press and caused Bruno Bauer to attempt to refute the book in an article which was published in Wigand's Vierteljahrsschrift in 1845. Bauer claimed that Marx and Engels misunderstood what he was trying to say. Marx later replied to his response with his own article that was published in the journal Gesellschaftsspiegel in January 1846. Marx also discussed the argument in chapter 2 of The German Ideology.[22]

The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (1844)

The Condition of the Working Class is a detailed description and analysis of the appalling conditions of the working class in Britain and Ireland during Engels' stay in England. It was considered a classic in its time and still widely available today. This work also had many seminal thoughts on the state of socialism and its development.

Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science (1878)

Popularly known as Anti-Dühring, Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science is a detailed critique of the philosophical positions of Eugen Dühring, a German philosopher and critic of Marxism. In the course of replying to Dühring, Engels reviews recent advances in science and mathematics and seeks to demonstrate the way in which the concepts of dialectics apply to natural phenomena. Many of these ideas were later developed in the unfinished work, Dialectics of Nature. The last section of Anti-Dühring was later edited and published under the separate title, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880)

In what Engels presented as an extraordinarily popular piece,[23] Engels critiques the utopian socialists, such as Fourier and Owen, and provides an explanation of the socialist framework for understanding capitalism.

The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884)

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State is an important and detailed seminal work connecting capitalism with what Engels argues is an ever changing institution - the family. It was written when Engels was 64 years of age and at the height of his intellectual power and contains a comprehensive historical view of the family in relation to the issues of class, female subjugation and private property.


  • Carlton, Grace (1965), Friedrich Engels: The Shadow Prophet. London: Pall Mall Press
  • Carver, Terrell. (1989). Friedrich Engels: His Life and Thought. London: Macmillan
  • Green, John (2008), Engels: A Revolutionary Life, London: Artery Publications. ISBN 0-9558228-0-7
  • Henderson, W. O. (1976), The life of Friedrich Engels, London : Cass, 1976. ISBN 0-7146-4002-6
  • Hunt, Tristram (2009), The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0713998528
  • Mayer, Gustav (1936), Friedrich Engels: A Biography (1934; trans. 1936)

Notes and references

  1. ^ Frederick Engels. "Letters of Marx and Engels, 1845". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lenin: Frederick Engels". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  3. ^ a b Tucker, Robert C. The Marx-Engels Reader, p.xv
  4. ^ Progress Publishers. "Preface by Progress Publishers". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  5. ^ "Footnotes to Volume 1 of Marx Engels Collected Works". 1941-11-15. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Biography on Engels". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  7. ^ a b "Legacies - Work - England - Manchester - Engels in Manchester - Article Page 1". BBC. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  8. ^ Wheen, Francis Karl Marx: A Life, p. 75
  9. ^ a b "Legacies - Work - England - Manchester - Engels in Manchester - Article Page 2". BBC. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  10. ^ Frederick Engels. "Origins of the Family". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Fox Hunter, Party Animal, Leftist Warrior by Dwight Garner, The New York Times, August 18 2009
  12. ^ Karl Marx. "Introduction to the French Edition of Engels' by Karl Marx 1880". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  13. ^ Whitfield, Roy (1988) The Double Life of Friedrich Engels. In: Manchester Region History Review, vol. 2, no. 1, 1988
  14. ^ "Engels, Frederick (encyclopedia)". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  15. ^ "Legacies - Work - England - Manchester - Engels in Manchester - Article Page 4". BBC. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  16. ^ "Legacies - Work - England - Manchester - Engels in Manchester - Article Page 5". BBC. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  17. ^ London Blue Plaques English Heritage - Accessed February 2007
  18. ^ "Photos of Marx's Residence(s)". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  19. ^ a b "Letters: Marx-Engels Correspondence 1895". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  20. ^ Kerrigan, Michael (1998). Who Lies Where - A guide to famous graves. London: Fourth Estate Limited. p. 156. ISBN 1-85702-258-0. 
  21. ^ Thomas, Paul (1991), "Critical Reception: Marx then and now", in Carver, Terrell, The Cambridge Companion to Marx, Cambridge University Press, pp. 36–42 
  22. ^ a b "The Holy Family by Marx and Engels". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  23. ^ Engels, Friedrich (1970) [1892]. "Introduction". Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Marx/Engels Selected Works. 3. Progress Publishers. "From this French text, a Polish and a Spanish edition were prepared. In 1883, our German friends brought out the pamphlet in the original language. Italian, Russian, Danish, Dutch, and Roumanian translations, based upon the German text, have since been published. Thus, the present English edition, this little book circulates in 10 languages. I am not aware that any other Socialist work, not even our Communist Manifesto of 1848, or Marx's Capital, has been so often translated. In Germany, it has had four editions of about 20,000 copies in all."  Cited in Engels: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2003. p. 56.  and Thomas, Paul (1991), "Critical Reception: Marx then and now", in Carver, Terrell, The Cambridge Companion to Marx, Cambridge University Press 

External links

Works by Engels


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Terror is for the most part useless cruelties committed by frightened people to reassure themselves.

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820August 5, 1895) was a 19th-century German political philosopher who developed communist theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx, co-authoring The Communist Manifesto (1848).



  • Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.
    • Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy (1843)
  • The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general.
  • What is Communism? Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor....
  • How do you think the transition from the present situation to community of Property is to be effected?

The first, fundamental condition for the introduction of community of property is the political liberation of the proletariat through a democratic constitution.

  • There is no country in Europe which does not have in some corner or other one or several ruined fragments of peoples, the remnant of a former population that was suppressed and held in bondage by the nation which later became the main vehicle of historical development. These relics of a nation mercilessly trampled under foot in the course of history, as Hegel says, these residual fragments of peoples always become fanatical standard-bearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character, just as their whole existence in general is itself a protest against a great historical revolution.
  • Ireland still remains the Holy Isle whose aspirations must on no account be mixed with the profane class-struggles of the rest of the sinful world ... the Irish peasant must not on any account know that the Socialist workers are his sole allies in Europe.
  • Labour is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert. And it really is the source -- next to nature, which supplies it with the material that it converts into wealth. But it is even infinitely more than this. It is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this to such an extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labour created man himself.
  • Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research.
  • Freedom does not consist in any dreamt-of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends.
  • Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him, freedom is the insight into necessity.
    • Anti-Dühring, pt. 1, ch. 11 (1878)
  • The state is not “abolished,” it withers away.
    • Anti-Dühring, pt. 3, ch. 2 (1878)
  • By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat, the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live.
  • Just as Marx used to say about the French Marxists of the late ’seventies: All I know is that I am not a Marxist.
  • What each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed.
  • People think they have taken quite an extraordinarily bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy.
    • Introduction to 1891 edition of Karl Marx's, The Civil War in France
  • The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society—the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society—this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not “abolished.” It dies out.
    • Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (1901)

The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (1845)

  • The way in which the vast mass of the poor are treated by modern society is truly scandalous. They are herded into great cities where they breathe a fouler air than in the countryside which they have left.
  • How is it possible that the poorer classes can remain healthy and have a reasonable expectation of life under such conditions? What can one expect but that they should suffer from continual outbreaks of epidemics and an excessively low expectation of life? The physical condition of the workers shows a progressive deterioration.

Quotes About Engels

  • Engels always considered himself a junior partner, and so, without doubt, he was. But that does not lessen his role. Had he not been the junior partner, much for which his senior partner is known would not have been done.


External links

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|200px|Friedrich Engels]] Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820August 5, 1895) was a German political thinker. With his friend Karl Marx, Engels wrote about Communism. They wrote the famous book The Communist Manifesto together.


Friedrich Engels was born in Germany in 1820. His father was a very rich factory owner, and sent Friedrich to England to run one of the factories. The way the workers were living at his father's factories made Engels upset with the class system. At about this time, he began to write about politics and workers' struggles.

In 1854 he met Karl Marx in France and the two became friends and began to write together. The two men worked together until Marx's death in 1883.

After Marx died, Engels spent the rest of his life editing and translating Marx' writings. He also wrote about women and marriage.

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