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Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels Friedrich Engels[2†]

Friedrich Engels (born Nov. 28, 1820, Barmen, Rhine province, Prussia Germany[[?]]—died Aug. 5, 1895, London, Eng.) was a German socialist philosopher, the closest collaborator of Karl Marx in the foundation of modern communism[1†][2†]. They coauthored The Communist Manifesto (1848), and Engels edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx’s death[1†][2†]. Engels was also a businessman and Karl Marx’s closest friend and collaborator[1†][2†]. He met Marx in 1844, and they jointly authored a number of works, including The Holy Family The German Ideology (written 1846), and The Communist Manifesto (1848), and worked as political organizers and activists[1†][2†]. Engels also helped Marx financially, allowing him to continue his writing after moving to London in 1849[1†][2†]. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels compiled Volumes II and III of Das Kapital (1885 and 1894)[1†][2†].

Engels’s family was wealthy and owned large cotton-textile mills in Barmen and Salford, England, both expanding industrial metropoles[1†][2†]. Engels also wrote wide-ranging works of his own, including The Condition of the Working Class in England Anti-Dühring (1878–1882), The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy[1†][2†]. His philosophical writings on supplied Marxism with an essential theoretical foundation[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Friedrich Engels was born on November 28, 1820, in Barmen, Rhine province, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany)[1†][2†]. He was the eldest son of Friedrich Engels Sr. and Elisabeth “Elise” Franziska Mauritia von Haar[1†][2†]. The Engels family was wealthy, devoutly Protestant, and owned large cotton-textile mills in Barmen and Salford, England[1†][2†][1†].

Engels received a classical education at the Gymnasium (secondary school) in the adjacent city of Elberfeld[1†][2†]. However, he had to leave school at the age of 17 due to pressure from his father, who wanted him to become a businessman[1†][2†]. Despite showing some skill in writing poetry, Engels was made to join the family business[1†]. He spent the next three years (1838–41) in Bremen acquiring practical business experience in the offices of an export firm[1†].

While in Bremen, Engels began reading the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose teachings dominated German philosophy at that time[1†][2†]. He published his first work, a poem entitled “The Bedouin”, in the Bremisches Conversationsblatt No. 40[1†][2†]. Engels also began writing newspaper articles critiquing the societal ills of industrialization[1†][2†]. He wrote under the pseudonym “Friedrich Oswald” to avoid connecting his family with his provocative writings[1†][2†].

In 1841, Engels performed his military service in the Prussian Army as a member of the Household Artillery[1†][2†]. Assigned to Berlin, he attended university lectures at the University of Berlin and began to associate with groups of Young Hegelians[1†][2†]. He anonymously published articles in the Rheinische Zeitung, exposing the poor employment- and living-conditions endured by factory workers[2†].

Career Development and Achievements

Friedrich Engels’ career was marked by his deep involvement in social and political theory, his partnership with Karl Marx, and his contributions to the development of communism[1†][3†].

In 1838, Engels was sent by his father to work as a non-salaried office clerk at a commercial house in Bremen[1†][3†]. During this time, he began reading more of the banned work of many authors like Ludwig Borne, Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Heine, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel[1†][3†]. He also started writing newspaper articles, further developing his philosophical and political ideas[1†][3†].

Engels met Karl Marx in 1844, and they quickly found common ground in their shared critique of industrial capitalism and the plight of the working class[1†][3†]. This meeting marked the beginning of a lifelong intellectual partnership and friendship[1†][3†]. They jointly authored a number of works, including “The Holy Family” and “The German Ideology”, and worked as political organizers and activists[1†][3†].

Their most notable collaboration was “The Communist Manifesto”, published in 1848[1†][3†]. This work laid the foundation for modern communism and continues to be one of the most influential political manuscripts in the world[1†][3†].

Engels also wrote wide-ranging works of his own, including “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, “Anti-Dühring”, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, and "Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy"[1†][3†]. His philosophical writings supplied Marxism with an essential theoretical foundation[1†][3†].

Despite his criticism of capitalism, Engels was a successful businessman himself[1†][4†]. He worked in his family’s textile business, which had factories in Germany and England[1†][4†]. The profits from his business activities provided Marx with the financial support he needed to continue his writing[1†][3†].

Engels’ work, both independently and in collaboration with Marx, has had a profound impact on world history. His writings have influenced societies worldwide, most notably, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and China[5†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Friedrich Engels, in collaboration with Karl Marx, produced several significant works that laid the foundation for modern communism[2†][1†]. Here are some of their main works:

After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels edited and published the second and third volumes of Das Kapital, Marx’s magnum opus[2†][1†].

These works have had a profound impact on the development of socialist and communist theory[2†][1†]. They continue to be studied and referenced in discussions about capitalism, socialism, and communism[2†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Friedrich Engels, along with Karl Marx, is recognized as one of the foundational figures of modern communism[8†][9†]. His works have been subject to extensive analysis and evaluation by scholars across various disciplines[8†][9†].

Engels’s contributions to the development of dialectical materialism, a cornerstone of Marxist theory, have been particularly noteworthy[8†][10†]. His work, “Dialectics of Nature,” is often cited in discussions about the philosophical underpinnings of Marxism[8†][10†]. Engels’s interpretation of dialectics has been analyzed for its political and philosophical implications, and it continues to be a topic of debate among scholars[8†][10†].

Engels’s critique of political economy, as seen in his early writings and his collaboration with Marx, has also been a significant area of study[8†][9†]. His analysis of capitalism and its inherent contradictions have informed generations of socialist thought[8†][9†].

Furthermore, Engels’s writings on gender and the state, particularly in “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State,” have been influential in the field of gender studies[8†][9†]. His theorization of power dynamics and the role of the state in perpetuating class conflict have been widely discussed[8†][9†].

Despite being often seen as a “junior partner” to Marx, Engels’s contributions to the development of Marxist theory are significant[8†][9†]. His works continue to be studied and evaluated for their insights into the nature of capitalism, the state, and class struggle[8†][9†].

Personal Life

Friedrich Engels was born on November 28, 1820, in Barmen, Rhine province, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany), as the eldest son of Friedrich Engels Sr. and Elisabeth “Elise” Franziska Mauritia von Haar[2†][1†]. The Engels family was wealthy and owned large cotton-textile mills in Barmen and Salford, England[2†][1†].

Engels’ parents were devout Pietist Protestants, and they raised their children accordingly[2†]. At the age of 17, due to pressure from his father, Engels had to leave secondary school and start work as a mercantile apprentice in the family firm[2†]. After a year in Barmen, the young Engels was sent by his father to undertake an apprenticeship at a trading house in Bremen[2†].

Engels lived a double life during his three years in Bremen. During regular hours, he operated effectively as a business apprentice, but he also began reading the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose teachings dominated German philosophy at that time[2†][5†]. He also engaged in other literary work and began writing newspaper articles critiquing the societal ills of industrialisation[2†]. He wrote under the pseudonym “Friedrich Oswald” to avoid connecting his family with his provocative writings[2†].

Despite his revolutionary activities that threatened traditional values, Engels could usually count on financial aid from his family[2†][1†]. The influence of his mother, to whom he was devoted, may have been a factor in preserving the tie between father and son[1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Friedrich Engels, a philosopher, political theorist, and social scientist, left a lasting impact on the world[5†][7†]. His ideas, developed in collaboration with Karl Marx, formed the basis for modern communism[5†]. Engels co-authored “The Communist Manifesto”, a document that has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political texts[5†]. After Marx’s death, Engels edited the second and third volumes of “Das Kapital”, further cementing their joint legacy[5†][1†].

Engels’ writings, including his own works and those co-authored with Marx, have reverberated with increasing force into the 20th century[5†]. By 1950, nearly half the world’s population lived under Marxist governments[5†]. His critical analysis of capitalism and his vision of a future socialist and communist society have influenced political movements around the world[5†][7†].

Engels’ life and work have been the subject of much study and analysis[5†][11†]. As a journalist, author, and communist figurehead, Engels dealt succinctly – and with strong opinions – with the core questions of the developments changing the globe in the 19th century[5†][11†]. His legacy continues to be relevant today, as his writings continue to be studied and his ideas continue to influence political and social movements[5†][7†][11†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Friedrich Engels: German philosopher [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Friedrich Engels [website] - link
  3. The Famous People - Friedrich Engels Biography [website] - link
  4. Britannica - Friedrich Engels summary [website] - link
  5. Investopedia - Who Was Friedrich Engels, and What Is His Legacy? [website] - link
  6. Britannica - What did Friedrich Engels write? [website] - link
  7. Political Science Blog - Who was Friedrich Engels? [website] - link
  8. Springer Link - Friedrich Engels for the 21st Century: Reflections and Revaluations [website] - link
  9. Google Books - Friedrich Engels for the 21st Century: Reflections and Revaluations [website] - link
  10. Springer Link - Friedrich Engels and the Dialectics of Nature [website] - link
  11. Bookpath - The Life, Work and Legacy of Friedrich Engels: Emerging from Marx’s Shadow [website] - link
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