Archive for Friedrich Engels

A biography of Friedrich Engels

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , on August 19, 2009 by Umer

From The Economist

The self-effacing friend who enabled “Das Kapital” to be written


Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels. By Tristram Hunt.Metropolitan Books; 448 pages; $32. Published in Britain as “The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels”. Allen Lane; £25. Buy,

WHEN the financial crisis took off last autumn, Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”, originally published in 1867, whooshed up bestseller lists. The first book to describe the relentless, all-consuming and global nature of capitalism had suddenly gained new meaning. But Marx had never really gone away, whereas Friedrich Engels—the man who worked hand in glove with him for most of his life and made a huge contribution to “Das Kapital”—is almost forgotten. A new biography by a British historian, Tristram Hunt, makes a good case for giving him greater credit.

The two men became friends in Paris in 1844 when both were in their mid-20s, and remained extremely close until Marx died in 1883. Both were Rhinelanders (our picture shows Engels standing behind Marx in the press room of Rheinische Zeitungwhich they edited jointly) but came from very different backgrounds: Marx’s father was a Jewish lawyer turned Christian; Engels’s a prosperous Protestant cotton-mill owner. Marx studied law, then philosophy; Engels, the black sheep of his family, was sent to work in the family business at 17. While doing his military service in 1841 in Berlin, he was exposed to the ferment of ideas swirling around the Prussian capital.

Next, he went to work for the Manchester branch of the family business, Ermen & Engels. Manchester’s “cottonopolis” in the mid-19th century was a manufacturer’s heaven and a working man’s hell, and it provided an invaluable lesson for Engels: that economic factors were the basic cause of the clash between different classes of society. By 1845, when he was just 24, he had not only learnt how to be a successful capitalist; he had also written a coruscatingly anti-capitalist work, “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, which charted the inhumanity of modern methods of production in minute detail.

Continue reading

Marx Shrugged: Introduction

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism with tags , , , , on July 10, 2009 by Umer

(The following is an attempt to understand Marxism as a social and economic ideology from a non-technical point of view. Already a bevy of efforts to simplify Marxism have been made and this is merely another addition to the trend. This lay interpretation of Marxism is spread over a series of articles of which this is the first.)

By Zia Ahmad

Back in the day when color red carried connotations of evil and Godlessness, words like Communism, Socialism and Marxism were equated with unrepentant vice, waywardness and choice of lifestyle adopted by the heretics and atheists. Nothing short of a foul swear word in view of our elders, Marxist and Socialist ideas were actively discouraged and demonized. Sharing the wealth was more of a ruse for the red Socialist/Marxist/Communist threat to gobble up all privately owned, hard earned asset and capital from the people leaving them destitute. No thanks to the Soviet Empire’s expansionist designs and invasion of Afganistan, the bar was considerably raised for their Godless ways. And more often than not when asked where it all started from, fingers were raised at odd sounding names like Lenin and Marx. One would imagine Marx and Lenin palling up in dark corners of a shady alley, geared up in trench coats and smelling of cheap booze, plotting the demise of the free living world and special attention was drawn to the fact that the gent by the name of Karl Marx was a Jew.

Continue reading