Engels: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Engels: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Terrell Carver

Language: English

Pages: 120

ISBN: 0192804669

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It is by no means absurd to say that Engels invented Marxism. His work did more than Marx's to attract and make converts to the most influential political movement of modern times. He was not only the father of dialectical and historical materialism--the official philosophies of history and science in many communist countries--but was also the first Marxist historian, anthropologist, philosopher, and commentator on early Marx.

In his later years Engels developed his materialist interpretation of history, his chief intellectual legacy, which has had revolutionary effects on the arts and social sciences. Terrell Carver traces its source and its effect on the development of Marxist theory and practice, assesses its utility, and discusses the difficulties which Marxists have encountered in defending it.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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to utilize them for the whole of society . . . (i.462, 463, 464, 468–9; xvi.217) By 1878 Engels had also become, in a small way, Marx’s biographer, 50 contributing a sketch for a German almanac on ‘the man who was the first to give socialism, and thereby the whole labour movement of our day, a scientific foundation’. He chose to dwell on only two of Marx’s discoveries: his ‘new conception of history’ and the ‘final elucidation of the relation between capital and labour’. The discussion

Marx’s own reconsideration of 1848–9 in the light of Louis Bonaparte’s coup d’état of late 1851. Still, Marx’s account of 52 contemporary political events in terms of classes, parties and individuals fitted rather poorly into Engels’s methodological mould, with its emphasis on ‘ ultimate economic causes’ in ‘the movement of industry and trade’ (i.119, 120, 121). When a series of Marx’s articles of 1849 was republished in 1891 as Wage-Labour and Capital, Engels considered in his

possible end even for the earth’. Though ‘for the history of mankind’, according to this dialectical view, ‘there is not only an ascending but also a descending branch’, we were fortunately a ‘considerable distance from the turning point’. Engels’s method was to pursue ‘attainable relative truths along the path of the positive sciences, and the summation of their results by means of dialectical thinking’ (ii.362, 363, 365). Having attempted to establish the relation of dialectical

88–90 see also under Hegelian philosophy 64 individual titles Hess, Moses 13 England 12, 13–14, 35 historical materialism 47, 49, evolution 67, 69, 85 51, 52, 58–9, 59, 64, 70, 74–86, 88, 89 F Holy Family: A Critique of factories 21, 38 Critical Criticism, The false consciousness 83–4 (Engels and Marx) 30, families 28, 36, 71–2 32, 33 feudalism 38–9 House of Commons 17 Feuerbach, Ludwig 9, 32, 33, House of Lords 16 64 housing for the poor 18–21 First International 41–2

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