1820 - 1895
co-founder of communismby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Freidrich Engels was a German philosopher whose ideas contributed to the ideology of communism and whose writings influenced countless numbers of people. Engels was born November 28th, 1820 in the town of Barmen Germany. He was the son of a wealthy German industrialist who hoped that his son would follow in his footsteps. When Engels was a teenager his father sent him to the town of Breman to work as a clerk. Even as a young man, Engels was interested in radical left wing literature.
In 1842 he met Karl Marx for the first time in Cologne. That same year, in the hopes of reforming his son, Engels’ father sent him to Manchester, England to work as a manager in one of his cotton factories. While there, he wrote his first book entitled The Condition of the Working Class in England. The book was about the appalling conditions that the working class people had to suffer.
After working in England for two years, Engels decided to return to Germany. On the way there, he stopped in Paris where he met Karl Marx again. It was there that their friendship began to take off. Over the next five years Marx and Engels collaborated on many different works. Because of their radical writings, they were forced out of Germany, France, and even liberal Belgium, until finally they found safety in England. In 1850, Engels, unable to support himself writing, went back to work for his father In Manchester. In 1864 in Manchester after his father’s death, he became a partner in his father’s former business in Manchester. In 1869 Engels decided that he had earned enough money to support both himself and Marx for awhile, so in 1870 they moved to London where Engels settled into retirement writing and enjoying life. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels used Marx’s notes and wrote the second and third volumes of Das Kapital. He died of cancer in 1895.
Personality of Freidrich Engels
Engels was a brilliant and disciplined man. He dressed and acted like an English gentleman despite having distaste for all things bourgeois. He was well read in many fields including science and military affairs. He could speak and write in numerous languages and was said to have mastered Persian in three weeks. He was also very athletic. On an interesting note he seems to have gone back to his Germanic roots in a writing of his and complained about the lack of beer in British work houses.
Freidrich Engels Ideas and Writings
Freidrich Engels had many well known and controversial beliefs. I will try and list a few of them here.
Economy: It is for this subject area that Engels and Marx are most well remembered, and the area where their ideas were almost totally in sync. Engels and Marx both believed that the state should control every aspect of life and commerce. He believed that there should be an elimination of private property, that all industry should belong to the state, and that all farms and private property should become the property of the state. He also believed that every one should be paid equal wages unless they had a family or some other special need requiring additional assistance. They both thought that they could bring everything on even ground and make sure that money was evenly distributed and that there should be an elimination of private property. Both of them hoped that one day all countries would be under communist governments and that eventually they could create a society were governments were no longer needed, and that all people helped and treated each other equally, and where there was no need for money, countries or war.
In a way some of Engels utopian ideas have been realized today although not in the way he may have desired. Many of thise countries who claimed to follow his genuine ideas twisted them to fit themselves and eventually failed. But those countries that do not claim to be communist but have decided to look out for the good of the people have come close to achieving what Engels and Marx wanted.
Religion: Engels and Marx disagreed greatly on the origin of humans. Engels believed in Darwinism and the evolution of the species. While Marx believed that humans had come from the ground, and that those humans who lived on better soil would have the advantage over those who did not. In his youth, Engels had been a Christian, like his father, but later he became an atheist and advocated complete separation of church and state. He also thought that religion, although similar in origin to the socialist movement, was a flawed tool of the bourgeois and that it was used to control the masses. This belief along with his overall political leanings created a huge rift between he and his father.
Social: Engels also believed in free education and healthcare for all. He believed that all farming and industrial production should be constantly modernized, and that women should have the right to work, and to be treated as equals to men. As mentioned above, he believed in complete separation of church and state, and that all workers should be paid equally.
Even after his death Engels writings continued to inspire countless numbers of people and generations to take up the mantle of socialism. Engels ideas, although well thought out and expanded, are flawed in several areas most prominently in his ideas about religion. As you know he thought that religion was just a tool of the bourgeois and that it was wrong about were we came from. But despite all this, Engels had good intentions at heart. He did not for see that his ideas would cause a major divide between, not just classes, but countries as well. He could not for see that his ideas would cause the death of millions of people and create bitterness and war. He merely sought to benefit those less fortunate than himself, and punish those who would take advantage of the poor. So whether people agree or disagree with his policies, whether they view him as a radical, a political commentator, or a philosopher, it is safe to say that Engels is one of the most influential writers of our time.
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