Friedrich Engels

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"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." -The Communist Manifesto

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).

Sourced[edit]

  • 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.
  • Was ist der Kommunismus? Der Kommunismus ist die Lehre von den Bedingungen der Befreiung des Proletariats. Was ist das Proletariat? Das Proletariat ist diejenige Klasse der Gesellschaft, welche ihren Lebensunterhalt einzig und allein aus dem Verkauf ihrer Arbeit und nicht aus dem Profit irgendeines Kapitals zieht; deren Wohl und Wehe, deren Leben und Tod, deren ganze Existenz von der Nachfrage nach Arbeit, also von dem Wechsel der guten und schlechten Geschäftszeiten, von den Schwankungen einer zügellosen Konkurrenz abhängt.
    • 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 – hence, on the changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition.
    • Principles of Communism (1847)
  • 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 (Völkerruinen), 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 (Völkerabfälle) 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.
    • "The Magyar Struggle" in Neue Rheinische Zeitung (13 January 1849). Völkerabfälle has been variously translated as "ethnic trash" or "racial trash."
  • Among all the large and small nations of Austria, only three standard-bearers of progress took an active part in history, and still retain their vitality — the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars.… All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm (Weltsturm).
    • "The Magyar Struggle." Weltsturm is sometimes translated as "holocaust."
  • The Austrian Germans and Magyars will be set free and wreak a bloody revenge on the Slav barbarians. The general war which will then break out will smash this Slav Sonderbund and wipe out all these petty hidebound nations, down to their very names. The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.
    • "The Magyar Struggle"
  • 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.
  • La Terreur, das sind großenteils nutzlose Grausamkeiten, begangen von Leuten, die selbst Angst haben, zu ihrer Selbstberuhigung. [2]
    • Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.
    • Letter to Marx (4 September 1870)
  • 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)
  • The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the political organisation of the state. But after its victory the sole organisation which the proletariat finds already in existence is precisely the state. This state may require very considerable alterations before it can fulfil its new functions. But to destroy it at such a moment would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the victorious proletariat can assert its newly-conquered power, hold down its capitalist adversaries and carry out that economic revolution of society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat and in a mass slaughter of the workers similar to those after the Paris Commune.
  • We are now approaching a social revolution, in which the old economic foundations of monogamy will disappear just as surely as those of its complement, prostitution. Monogamy arose through the concentration of considerable wealth in one hand — a man's hand — and from the endeavor to bequeath this wealth to the children of this man to the exclusion of all others. This necessitated monogamy on the woman's, but not on the man's part. Hence this monogamy of women in no way hindered open or secret polygamy of men. Now, the impending social revolution will reduce this whole care of inheritance to a minimum by changing at least the overwhelming part of permanent and inheritable wealth—the means of production—into social property. Since monogamy was caused by economic conditions, will it disappear when these causes are abolished?
    One might reply, not without reason: not only will it not disappear, but it will rather be perfectly realized. For with the transformation of the means of production into collective property, wagelabor will also disappear, and with it the proletariat and the necessity for a certain, statistically ascertainable number of women to surrender for money. Prostitution disappears and monogamy, instead of going out of existence, at last becomes a reality—for men also.
    At all events, the situation will be very much changed for men. But also that of women, and of all women, will be considerably altered. With the transformation of the means of production into collective property the monogamous family ceases to be the economic unit of society. The private household changes to a social industry. The care and educatlon of children become? a public matter. Society cares equally well for all children, legal or illegal. This removes the care about the "consequences" which now forms the essential social factor—moral and economic—hindering a girl to surrender unconditionally to the beloved man. Will not this be sufficient cause for a gradual rise of a more unconventional intercourse of the sexes and a more lenient public opinion regarding virgin honor and female shame? And finally, did we not see that in the modern world monogamy and prostitution, though antitheses, are inseparable and poles of the same social condition? Can prostitution disappear without engulfing at the same time monogamy?
  • 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)[edit]

German title: Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England
  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

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