Friedrich Engels

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The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

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).

Quotes[edit]

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.
  • How did this division of the nations come about, what was its basis? The division is in accordance with all the previous history of the nationalities in question. It is the beginning of the decision on the life or death of all these nations, large and small. All the earlier history of Austria up to the present day is proof of this and 1848 confirmed it. 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. Hence they are now revolutionary. All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm. (Weltsturm). For that reason they are now counter-revolutionary.
  • 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.
  • La Terreur, das sind großenteils nutzlose Grausamkeiten, begangen von Leuten, die selbst Angst haben, zu ihrer Selbstberuhigung. [2]
  • 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 only difference as compared with the old, outspoken slavery is this, that the worker of today seems to be free because he is not sold once for all, but piecemeal by the day, the week, the year, and because no one owner sells him to another, but he is forced to sell himself in this way instead, being the slave of no particular person, but of the whole property-holding class.
  • By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of themeans 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.
  • 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)

Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy (1844)[edit]

Published in the first and only issue of the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, January 1844 Full text in English Full text in German

  • Die Nationalökonomie entstand als eine natürliche Folge der Ausdehnung des Handels, und mit ihr trat an die Stelle des einfachen, unwissenschaftlichen Schachers ein ausgebildetes System des erlaubten Betrugs, eine komplette Bereicherungswissenschaft.
  • Diese aus dem gegenseitigen Neid und der Habgier der Kaufleute entstandene Nationalökonomie oder Bereicherungswissenschaft trägt das Gepräge der ekelhaftesten Selbstsucht auf der Stirne.
  • Das Merkantilsystem hatte noch eine gewisse unbefangene, katholische Geradheit und verdeckte das unsittliche Wesen des Handels nicht im mindesten. ... Als aber der ökonomische Luther, Adam Smith, die bisherige Ökonomie kritisierte, hatten sich die Sachen sehr geändert. ... An die Stelle der katholischen Geradheit trat protestantische Gleisnerei.
  • Natürlich ist es im Interesse des Handelnden, mit dem einen, von welchem er wohlfeil kauft, wie mit dem andern, an welchen er teuer verkauft, sich in gutem Vernehmen zu halten. Es ist also sehr unklug von einer Nation gehandelt, wenn sie bei ihren Versorgern und Kunden eine feindselige Stimmung nährt. Je freundschaftlicher, desto vorteilhafter. Dies ist die Humanität des Handels, und diese gleisnerische Art, die Sittlichkeit zu unsittlichen Zwecken zu mißbrauchen, ist der Stolz des Systems der Handelsfreiheit.
  • Ihr habt die kleinen Monopole vernichtet, um das EINE große Grundmonopol, das Eigentum, desto freier und schrankenloser wirken zu lassen; ihr habt die Enden der Erde zivilisiert, um neues Terrain für die Entfaltung eurer niedrigen Habsucht zu gewinnen, ihr habt die Völker verbrüdert, aber zu einer Brüderschaft von Dieben.
    • You have destroyed the small monopolies so that the one great basic monopoly, property, may function the more freely and unrestrictedly. You have civilised the ends of the earth to win new terrain for the deployment of your vile avarice. You have brought about the fraternisation of the peoples – but the fraternity is the fraternity of thieves.
  • Ihr habt ... die Kriege vermindert, um im Frieden desto mehr zu verdienen, um die Feindschaft der einzelnen, den ehrlosen Krieg der Konkurrenz, auf die höchste Spitze zu treiben! - Wo habt ihr etwas aus reiner Humanität, aus dem Bewußtsein der Nichtigkeit des Gegensatzes zwischen dem allgemeinen und individuellen Interesse getan? Wo seid ihr sittlich gewesen, ohne interessiert zu sein, ohne unsittliche, egoistische Motive im Hintergrund zu hegen?
    • You have reduced the number of wars – to earn all the bigger profits in peace, to intensify to the utmost the enmity between individuals, the ignominious war of competition! When have you done anything out of pure humanity, from consciousness of the futility of the opposition between the general and the individual interest? When have you been moral without being interested, without harbouring at the back of your mind immoral, egoistical motives?
  • Nachdem die liberale Ökonomie ihr Bestes getan hatte, um durch die Auflösung der Nationalitäten die Feindschaft zu verallgemeinern, die Menschheit in eine Horde reißender Tiere - und was sind Konkurrenten anders? - zu verwandeln, die einander ebendeshalb auffressen, WEIL jeder mit allen andern gleiches Interesse hat, nach dieser Vorarbeit blieb ihr nur noch ein Schritt zum Ziele übrig, die Auflösung der Familie. Um diese durchzusetzen, kam ihr eine eigene schöne Erfindung, das Fabriksystem, zu Hülfe.
    • By dissolving nationalities, the liberal economic system had done its best to universalise enmity, to transform mankind into a horde of ravenous beasts (for what else are competitors?) who devour one another just because each has identical interests with all the others – after this preparatory[work there remained but one step to take before the goal was reached, the dissolution of the family. To accomplish this, economy’s own beautiful invention, the factory system, came to its aid.
  • Die Nachfrage des Ökonomen ist nicht die wirkliche Nachfrage, seine Konsumtion ist eine künstliche. Dem Ökonomen ist nur der ein wirklich Fragender, ein wirklicher Konsument, der für das, was er empfängt, ein Äquivalent zu bieten hat.
    • The economist’s “demand” is not the real demand; his “consumption” is an artificial consumption. For the economist, only that person really demands, only that person is a real consumer, who has an equivalent to offer for what he receives.

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

German title: Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England
Page numbers refer to 1987 Penguin edition
  • The bourgeoisie has gained a monopoly of all means of existence in the broadest sense of the word. What the proletarian needs, he can obtain only from this bourgeoisie, which is protected in its monopoly by the power of the state. The proletarian is, therefore, in law and in fact, the slave of the bourgeoisie, which can decree his life or death.
    • p. 112
  • The bourgeoisie ... lets him have the appearance of acting from a free choice, of making a contract with free, unconstrained consent, as a responsible agent who has attained his majority. Fine freedom, where the proletarian has no other choice than that of either accepting the conditions which the bourgeoisie offers him, or of starving, of freezing to death, of sleeping naked among the beasts of the forests!
    • p. 112
  • Der ganze Unterschied gegen die alte, offenherzige Sklaverei ist nur der, dass der heutige Arbeiter frei zu sein scheint, weil er nicht auf einmal verkauft wird, sondern stückweise, pro Tag, pro Woche, pro Jahr, und weil nicht ein Eigenthümer ihn dem andern verkauft, sondern er sich selbst auf diese Weise verkaufen muss, da er ja nicht der Sklave eines Einzelnen, sondern der ganzen besitzenden Klasse ist.
    • The only difference as compared with the old, outspoken slavery is this, that the worker of today seems to be free because he is not sold once for all, but piecemeal by the day, the week, the year, and because no one owner sells him to another, but he is forced to sell himself in this way instead, being the slave of no particular person, but of the whole property-holding class.
      • pp. 114-115
  • I have never seen a class so deeply demoralised, so incurably debased by selfishness, so corroded within, so incapable of progress, as the English bourgeoisie; and I mean by this, especially the bourgeoisie proper, particularly the Liberal, Corn Law repealing bourgeoisie. For it nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold. In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain untainted.
    • p. 275
  • 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.

Principles of Communism (1847)[edit]

Full text in English

  • 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.
  • There have always been poor and working classes; and the working class have mostly been poor. But there have not always been workers and poor people living under conditions as they are today.
  • The capitalists soon had everything in their hands and nothing remained to the workers.
  • The class of big capitalists, who, in all civilized countries, are already in almost exclusive possession of all the means of subsistance and of the instruments (machines, factories) and materials necessary for the production of the means of subsistence. This is the bourgeois class, or the bourgeoisie.
  • The class of the wholly propertyless, who are obliged to sell their labor to the bourgeoisie in order to get, in exchange, the means of subsistence for their support. This is called the class of proletarians, or the proletariat.
  • Labor is a commodity, like any other, and its price is therefore determined by exactly the same laws that apply to other commodities. In a regime of big industry or of free competition – as we shall see, the two come to the same thing – the price of a commodity is, on the average, always equal to its cost of production. Hence, the price of labor is also equal to the cost of production of labor. But, the costs of production of labor consist of precisely the quantity of means of subsistence necessary to enable the worker to continue working, and to prevent the working class from dying out. The worker will therefore get no more for his labor than is necessary for this purpose; the price of labor, or the wage, will, in other words, be the lowest, the minimum, required for the maintenance of life.
  • The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly. The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is assured only to the class as a whole.
  • The slave is outside competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries.
  • 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.
  • The proletarian works with the instruments of production of another, for the account of this other, in exchange for a part of the product. ... The proletarian liberates himself by abolishing competition, private property, and all class differences.
  • The manufacturing worker almost always lives in the countryside and in a more or less patriarchal relation to his landlord or employer; the proletarian lives, for the most part, in the city and his relation to his employer is purely a cash relation. The manufacturing worker is torn out of his patriarchal relation by big industry, loses whatever property he still has, and in this way becomes a proletarian.
  • Big industry has brought all the people of the Earth into contact with each other, has merged all local markets into one world market, has spread civilization and progress everywhere and has thus ensured that whatever happens in civilized countries will have repercussions in all other countries. It follows that if the workers in England or France now liberate themselves, this must set off revolution in all other countries – revolutions which, sooner or later, must accomplish the liberation of their respective working class.
  • Wherever big industries displaced manufacture, the bourgeoisie developed in wealth and power to the utmost and made itself the first class of the country. The result was that wherever this happened, the bourgeoisie took political power into its own hands and displaced the hitherto ruling classes, the aristocracy, the guildmasters, and their representative, the absolute monarchy. The bourgeoisie annihilated the power of the aristocracy, the nobility, by abolishing the entailment of estates – in other words, by making landed property subject to purchase and sale, and by doing away with the special privileges of the nobility. It destroyed the power of the guildmasters by abolishing guilds and handicraft privileges. In their place, it put competition – that is, a state of society in which everyone has the right to enter into any branch of industry, the only obstacle being a lack of the necessary capital.
  • The introduction of free competition is thus public declaration that from now on the members of society are unequal only to the extent that their capitals are unequal, that capital is the decisive power, and that therefore the capitalists, the bourgeoisie, have become the first class in society. Free competition is necessary for the establishment of big industry, because it is the only condition of society in which big industry can make its way.
  • Having destroyed the social power of the nobility and the guildmasters, the bourgeois also destroyed their political power. Having raised itself to the actual position of first class in society, it proclaims itself to be also the dominant political class. This it does through the introduction of the representative system which rests on bourgeois equality before the law and the recognition of free competition, and in European countries takes the form of constitutional monarchy. In these constitutional monarchies, only those who possess a certain capital are voters] – that is to say, only members of the bourgeoisie. These bourgeois voters choose the deputies, and these bourgeois deputies, by using their right to refuse to vote taxes, choose a bourgeois government.
  • Everywhere the proletariat develops in step with the bourgeoisie. In proportion, as the bourgeoisie grows in wealth, the proletariat grows in numbers. For, since the proletarians can be employed only by capital, and since capital extends only through employing labor, it follows that the growth of the proletariat proceeds at precisely the same pace as the growth of capital. Simultaneously, this process draws members of the bourgeoisie and proletarians together into the great cities where industry can be carried on most profitably, and by thus throwing great masses in one spot it gives to the proletarians a consciousness of their own strength. Moreover, the further this process advances, the more new labor-saving machines are invented, the greater is the pressure exercised by big industry on wages, which, as we have seen, sink to their minimum and therewith render the condition of the proletariat increasingly unbearable. The growing dissatisfaction of the proletariat thus joins with its rising power to prepare a proletarian social revolution.
  • Big industry, competition and generally the individualistic organization of production have become a fetter which it must and will shatter.
  • It makes unavoidably necessary an entirely new organization of society in which production is no longer directed by mutually competing individual industrialists but rather by the whole society operating according to a definite plan and taking account of the needs of all.
  • Big industry, and the limitless expansion of production which it makes possible, bring within the range of feasibility a social order in which so much is produced that every member of society will be in a position to exercise and develop all his powers and faculties in complete freedom. It thus appears that the very qualities of big industry which, in our present-day society, produce misery and crises are those which, in a different form of society, will abolish this misery and these catastrophic depressions.
    We see with the greatest clarity: (i) That all these evils are from now on to be ascribed solely to a social order which no longer corresponds to the requirements of the real situation; and (ii) That it is possible, through a new social order, to do away with these evils altogether.
  • Since the management of industry by individuals necessarily implies private property, and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form in which the control of industry by private property owners expresses itself, it follows that private property cannot be separated from competition and the individual management of industry. Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement – in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods.
  • The abolition of private property is, doubtless, the shortest and most significant way to characterize the revolution in the whole social order which has been made necessary by the development of industry – and for this reason it is rightly advanced by communists as their main demand.
  • Every change in the social order, every revolution in property relations, is the necessary consequence of the creation of new forces of production which no longer fit into the old property relations. Private property has not always existed. When, towards the end of the Middle Ages, there arose a new mode of production which could not be carried on under the then existing feudal and guild forms of property, this manufacture, which had outgrown the old property relations, created a new property form, private property. And for manufacture and the earliest stage of development of big industry, private property was the only possible property form; the social order based on it was the only possible social order.
  • So long as it is not possible to produce so much that there is enough for all, with more left over for expanding the social capital and extending the forces of production – so long as this is not possible, there must always be a ruling class directing the use of society’s productive forces, and a poor, oppressed class. How these classes are constituted depends on the stage of development.
  • The abolition of private property has become not only possible but absolutely necessary.
  • In all probability, the proletarian revolution will transform existing society gradually and will be able to abolish private property only when the means of production are available in sufficient quantity. What will be the course of this revolution? Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this, the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat.
  • The outcome can only be the victory of the proletariat.
  • Democracy would be wholly valueless to the proletariat if it were not immediately used as a means for putting through measures directed against private property and ensuring the livelihood of the proletariat.
  • Once the first radical attack on private property has been launched, the proletariat will find itself forced to go ever further, to concentrate increasingly in the hands of the state all capital, all agriculture, all transport, all trade. All the foregoing measures are directed to this end; and they will become practicable and feasible, capable of producing their centralizing effects to precisely the degree that the proletariat, through its labor, multiplies the country’s productive forces.
  • When all capital, all production, all exchange have been brought together in the hands of the nation, private property will disappear of its own accord, money will become superfluous, and production will so expand and man so change that society will be able to slough off whatever of its old economic habits may remain.
  • By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others. Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries.
  • It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range.
  • What will be the consequences of the ultimate disappearance of private property? Society will take all forces of production and means of commerce, as well as the exchange and distribution of products, out of the hands of private capitalists and will manage them in accordance with a plan based on the availability of resources and the needs of the whole society. In this way, most important of all, the evil consequences which are now associated with the conduct of big industry will be abolished. There will be no more crises; the expanded production, which for the present order of society is overproduction and hence a prevailing cause of misery, will then be insufficient and in need of being expanded much further. Instead of generating misery, overproduction will reach beyond the elementary requirements of society to assure the satisfaction of the needs of all; it will create new needs and, at the same time, the means of satisfying them. It will become the condition of, and the stimulus to, new progress, which will no longer throw the whole social order into confusion, as progress has always done in the past.
  • Big industry, freed from the pressure of private property, will undergo such an expansion that what we now see will seem as petty in comparison as manufacture seems when put beside the big industry of our own day. This development of industry will make available to society a sufficient mass of products to satisfy the needs of everyone. The same will be true of agriculture, which also suffers from the pressure of private property and is held back by the division of privately owned land into small parcels. Here, existing improvements and scientific procedures will be put into practice, with a resulting leap forward which will assure to society all the products it needs. In this way, such an abundance of goods will be able to satisfy the needs of all its members.
  • Industry controlled by society as a whole, and operated according to a plan, presupposes well-rounded human beings, their faculties developed in balanced fashion, able to see the system of production in its entirety.
  • Education will enable young people quickly to familiarize themselves with the whole system of production and to pass from one branch of production to another in response to the needs of society or their own inclinations. It will, therefore, free them from the one-sided character which the present-day division of labor impresses upon every individual. Communist society will, in this way, make it possible for its members to put their comprehensively developed faculties to full use. But, when this happens, classes will necessarily disappear. It follows that society organized on a communist basis is incompatible with the existence of classes on the one hand, and that the very building of such a society provides the means of abolishing class differences on the other.
  • The general co-operation of all members of society for the purpose of planned exploitation of the forces of production, the expansion of production to the point where it will satisfy the needs of all, the abolition of a situation in which the needs of some are satisfied at the expense of the needs of others, the complete liquidation of classes and their conflicts, the rounded development of the capacities of all members of society through the elimination of the present division of labor, through industrial education, through engaging in varying activities, through the participation by all in the enjoyments produced by all, through the combination of city and country – these are the main consequences of the abolition of private property.
  • What will be the influence of communist society on the family? It will transform the relations between the sexes into a purely private matter which concerns only the persons involved and into which society has no occasion to intervene. It can do this since it does away with private property and educates children on a communal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional marriage – the dependence rooted in private property, of the women on the man, and of the children on the parents.
  • Community of women is a condition which belongs entirely to bourgeois society and which today finds its complete expression in prostitution. But prostitution is based on private property and falls with it. Thus, communist society, instead of introducing community of women, in fact abolishes it.
  • What will be the attitude of communism to existing nationalities? The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of [[community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and thereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property.
  • All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and brings about their disappearance.
  • Some propose mere welfare measures – while others come forward with grandiose systems of reform which, under the pretense of re-organizing society, are in fact intended to preserve the foundations, and hence the life, of existing society. Communists must unremittingly struggle against these bourgeois socialists because they work for the enemies of communists and protect the society which communists aim to overthrow.
  • Democratic socialists are either proletarians who are not yet sufficiently clear about the conditions of the liberation of their class, or they are representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, a class which, prior to the achievement of democracy and the socialist measures to which it gives rise, has many interests in common with the proletariat. It follows that, in moments of action, the communists will have to come to an understanding with these democratic socialists, and in general to follow as far as possible a common policy with them – provided that these socialists do not enter into the service of the ruling bourgeoisie and attack the communists. It is clear that this form of co-operation in action does not exclude the discussion of differences.
  • Since the communists cannot enter upon the decisive struggle between themselves and the bourgeoisie until the bourgeoisie is in power, it follows that it is in the interest of the communists to help the bourgeoisie to power as soon as possible in order the sooner to be able to overthrow it.

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.

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