Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On annotation

I have annotated the first section of Engels work on Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. However, when I try to post it it does not include my annotations as they are footnotes and it will not copy them in here. I sent notice of this particular issue to Dr. Kreir. Thus if you would like to see a copy of this annotated version, please e-mail me or request it in person. Thank you.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Friedrich Engels' biography

Friedrich Engels’ Biography (11/28/1820 – 08/05/1895)
Isaac Christiansen

Friedrich Engels was born in Barmen, in the Rhine province of what was then Prussia to a wealthy textile manufacturer, whose fortunes can be traced to his great grandfather Johan Casper Engels (Henderson, 1976). These fortunes later played a key role in helping Engels support his long time friend, mentor and collaborator Karl Marx. Engels, who had become disaffected with Prussian autocracy in high school, dropped out to work as a clerk in a commercial house in Bremen (Lenin, 1896). In spite of his disaffection with Prussian autocracy, Engels joined the Prussian army, which led to him staying in Berlin, where he came into contact with the work of Hegel at university lectures. During this time Engels started writing in the Rheinische Zeitung, and joined the young Hegelians (Wikipedia, 2009). He first met Karl Marx tat the office of this newspaper, but it was not until two years later in Paris (1844) that their friendship developed. (Ibid.)
By 1842 Engels moved to Manchester England to work in a textile factory in which his father held shares. In Manchester he observed the abysmal conditions of the working class, which led to one of his most significant publications.  “The Condition of the Working class in England in 1844” not only described the conditions of the working class there, but also argued that it is the task of the workers themselves to become emancipated and that this will only occur through a political struggle of the proletariat (Lenin, 1896). Engels had become involved in one of the first working class movements by this time known as Chartism, which demanded an extension of suffrage and an end to the property requirement to be a member of parliament (Wikipedia, 2009). Manchester, was a pivotal stay in his life, for not only was it where he became more in touch with the realities of the working class, but also where he met his love Mary Burns who assisted him in his observations and with whom he stayed until she passed away (ibid.) Engels never married her due to their views on marriage.
Engels outlines his view on marriage, and its patriarchal economic foundations in “The Origin of Family, Private Property and the State” (1884). Engels maintained therein that patrilinear inheritance was among the key factors in the development and maintenance of patriarchy and the oppression of women. He argued for women to become involved in the labor force. He critiqued the concept of “free-contract” in marriage, arguing that the cards are stacked against the women in marriage as the capitalists stack them against the worker under capitalist production. (Engels, 1884); Tucker, 1978) Although this was the work of a later Engels, it shows the thoughts of Engels on marriage, and it is thus of little surprise that he never married the woman he stayed with for a significant portion of his life.
Engels, like Marx, was a materialist, and like Marx was influenced by Hegel (who was an idealist). Now in Paris together they jointly wrote “The Holy Family” (yet anoher critique of the Bauer brothers). Soon Marx and Engels became involved in the German Communist League, by whom they were commissioned to put together “The Manifesto of the Communist Party”, explaining some basic principles and demands of communism (Lenin 1886; wikipedia 1009).
At the same time France had a revolution that spread over to other Western European nations. France, under the rule of Louis-Philippe I, further disenfranchised the workers, as well as the petit-bourgeoisie had been brought to a boiling point. The revolution overthrew the king and he fled to England, demanded a right to work, but suffered from internal and unresolved class divisions (Wikipedia, French Revolution). Due to these events, Marx and Engels returned to Prussia, settling in Colgne. After the coup of 1849 the Prussian authorities closed the newspaper and deported Karl Marx. Engels stayed, however, and joined the revolutionary movement there, serving with August Willich and fighting in ther battles (Lenin, 1886). However, the revolution did not succeed and Engels escaped to England (Wikipedia, 2009).
Back at the factory Engels decides to support Marx with money from the factory so that Marx can continue to write. Although he did not like the work, he became a joint proprietor, retiring five years later. Later, Engels and Marx moved in together in London (ibid.). After Karl Marx’s passing in 1883, Engels worked on finishing up Capital, Marx’s seminal work, and continue to contribute significantly to socialist theory. Freidrich Engels was 74 years old when he passed away.

Engels, Friedrich [1884] 1978. “The Origins of Family, Private Property, and the State” pp 734-759 in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd edition, edited by Robert C. Tucker New York W.W. Norton and Company.
Henderson, W.O. “The Life of Friedrich Engels Volume Two” Routledge, London
Lenin, Vladimir Ilych. “Friedrich Engels” Marxist Internet Archive accessed 02/01/2009 http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1895/misc/engels-bio.htm
Wikipedia. Chartism, Accessed 02/01/09 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartism
Wikipedia, French Revolution,Accessed on 02/01/2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutions_of_1848_in_France
Wikipedia. Friedrich Engels page, Accessed 02/01/09 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Engels

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Welcome to my blogspot on Freidrich Engels, soon to appear will be information on Engels' biography, writings, annotations and analysis. For a starter I would like to provide the following link to the hungry mind.