On December 5th 1820, in front of the Deputy of Parish of Barmen, appeared Mr Fredrick Engels and his wife Elisabeth Francisca Mauritzia to notify that on Tuesday, the 28th Day of November Elisabeth delivered a male child for whom they gave the first name of Fredrick.
Fredrick Engels father was wealthy cotton spinner, respected as clever and energetic industrialist. Fredrick Engels was the first of the nine children of this wealthy, conservative spinner.
His mother was an educated woman. When his father loved listening to the sounds of spinning wheels, his mother was fond of music and literature. Fredrick Engels thorough out his life hated the things of his fathers’ interests and followed his mother’s likes.
His childhood was influenced by his grandfather on the mother’s side, Gerard Bernhard van Haar. His stories aroused in his grandson affection for the myths of Ancient Greece and German folklore. Many of the stories Fredrick Engels would have retold to the children of Marx later days.
Every revolutionary is the product of his times. Germany of that time was a collection of 38 states, formally aligned in a German confederation, Prussia was one among them. The feudal system prevailed in all parts of Germany and capitalism was in its birth stage. Democracy was the matter for revolutionaries. During his school days until 1834 in Barmen town, Europe had seen many upswings of revolutionary movements.
July revolution in France in 1830, in Belgium in September of the same year, the uprisings of the Lyons weavers in 1831 and 1834, the Chartist movement in England. These uprisings of people had an impact on the political landscapes of Germany too. The loud cries for a united and free Germany and for Democracy filled the airs of that country.
Until 14 Engels had his schools in his native town. On 1834 he joined in the gymnasium in Elberfeld, reputed to be one of the best in Germany.
The areas of interest of Engels childhood were music, painting, Greek, Latin, horse riding, writing poems, reading the works of Homer, Virgil, Cicero and even translating them to German. He used to draw sketches on the sides of his letters.
The School leaving Reference issued by Dr. JCL. Hantschke showed that Engels was outstanding in Languages, mathematics and sciences. On the religion side, he had understood the basic doctrines of the Evangelical Church, chief elements of the Christian Church. He also certified that Engels was also not without experience in reading the New Testament.
Engels' plans to finish the gymnasium and then study law and economics in university did not come true. His father wanted him to learn commerce. In the year 1837, he joined in his father’s business as an obedient son. But later this obedience will become a left out in the father and sons relationship.
After one year he was sent to Bremen to serve in the large trading company of Heinrich Leopold. Bremen, a major port city trading with the entire world, broadened Engles outlook. He became acquainted with foreign literature and the press. He devoted his leisure time in reading fiction and political books. His love for languages continued. I can list out the languages Engles knew fluently and used effectively in communications with various revolutionaries during his life. Engles on the record knew Germany, Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and Dutch. Later he learned Serbian, Russian, Arabic, Persian, and Italian.
He started to read many political books which started to shape the mind of Engels. In a letter to Whilhelm Graber, Nov 13 1839, he wrote as: “I am now a large-scale importer of banned books into Prussia”.
His interest in music too grown during these days. He was regular in attending concerts. He studied the theory of music and tried his hand at composing and even writing choral. The only Left revolutionary in the history who had written about the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven is FE. He also liked Bach, Handel, Gluck, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
Engels with the Spirit of those times started to write articles on freedom, condition of the poor and even on idealism. Few articles of Engels were published anonymously and few were under the name of Fredrick Oswald. He published few poems influenced by Shelley. His poems were romantic in nature and spoke about freedom. He was regularly attending fencing lessons and started to smoke.
In March-April 1839 two unsigned articles by Engles entitled “Letters from Wuppertal” were published in the Telegraph fur Deutschland. Hard to pronounce German.
He wrote about the poor factory workers and their poverty and attacked the factory owners and wealthy manufacturers. The Letter from Wuppertal created a sensation in Barmen and Elberfeld.
Engels read David Strauss’ Life of Jesus which was a best seller of that period. It made him to understand the philosophical background to religion. In a letter to a friend on Oct 8, 1839 said: “I am now a devout follower of Strauss”.
At the end of 1839 Engles occupied himself with the works of Hegel. Of his the Philosophy of History attracted Engels. Influenced by this he had written an article “Retrograde Signs of the Times” which was published in Telegraph fur Deutschland.
In one his articles “Requiem for the German Adelszeitung” which was a newspaper ridiculed the political concepts of that newspaper. He argued for a united and Democratic German.
He returned to Barmen in March 1841. Here once again he come to crossroads and had to choose between submitting to his father’s wish and becoming a merchant, or following his inclinations, studying and dedicating himself to more spiritual pursuits.
Like all the revolutionaries he pursued his interests. He left Barmen and travelled to Switzerland and Northern Italy before joining a voluntary military service in Berlin in September 1841.
This helped Engles to develop the knowledge in the history of armies, field strategies and even in military theory. In later part of his life he observed and written the Russian-Turkish war like an army strategist and historian. Members of Marx family used to call Engels as General.
Since he was a volunteer he was allowed to stay by his own. He stayed near Berlin University and joined as an external student. During this period he established his contact with the Berlin Group of Young Hegalians. This Young Hegalians was the left wing of Hegelian school. It contained David Strauss, Bruno and Edger Bauer, Arnold Ruge, Karl Koppen, Ludwig Baul, Max Stirner and for a time also Karl Marx who left Berlin shortly before Engels came there. Later the duo took arms against David strauss, Bauer brothers.
Hegel as a leading philosopher of that time had reached till idealistic dialectics. They Young Hegelians argued that man’s reason possessed the right of criticising the political system and the church. They argued that a social order or institution had to be vindicated by the judgement of reason before it won the right to exist.
Engels used to visit to the lectures of Friedrich Schelling, once a comrade of Hegel’s turned his critic of the progressive elements in Hegel’s system. After attending his lectures Engels perceived that Schelling’s “philosophy of revelation” was a rejection of the principles of reason and science and an attempt to justify the reactionary order in Germany. He felt the necessity of challenging this “latest attempt of reaction against the free philosophy”.
Between end of 1841-early 1842 he wrote an article “Schelling on Hegel” and pamphlets Schelling and Revelation, and Schelling, Philosopher in Christ defying that apostle of reactionary philosophy.
We need to remember that Shelling was an eminent Philosopher and Engels was only 21 years old.
He wrote in that article which I want to produce here, “Up to now all philosophy has made it its task to understand the world as rational. What is rational of course also necessary and what is necessary must be, or at least become real. This is the bridge to the great practical results of modern philosophy. True freedom was not arbitrary but conscious activity flowing from the knowledge of the existing necessity. Giving credit to Hegelian dialectics, Engels formulated an important postulate: “Only that freedom is genuine which contains necessity”.
Unlike Schelling who dissociated reason from sensation from experience, Engels saw them closely connected. This shows us the depth of his study on Hegel and his dialectics.
He even criticised the short comings of Hegel philosophy.
These papers bear the mark of the materialistic views of Ludwig Feuerbach. His book “The essence of Christianity” published in 1841 according to Engels had the liberating effect on him.
His articles drew the attention of many. The articles were published without the authors’ name. Learning of its author Arnold Ruge wrote a letter to Engels addressing him as Doctor of Philosophy. In reply on June 15, 1842 he wrote “Apart from all this, I am not a Doctor and cannot ever become one. I am only a merchant and a Royal Prussian artillerist, so kindly spares me that title”.
But what we knew of Engles today not only as a philosopher but also a contributor to science and a revolutionary forefather of communism.
In October 1842 he contributed for Rheinishce Zeitung a newspaper edited by Karl Marx. Though he did not personally know Marx, he wrote in his satirical poem “The Insolently Threatened Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible”, that Marx as a swarthy chap of Trier, he opens wide his arms and reaches for the sky.
After his military and university tenure was over he left to Barmen. His father after learned his son’s literature revolutions wanted to keep him as far away from Germany. He asked his son to go to Manchester a textile hub of England to learn commerce and management is the spinnery of Ermen & Engels, of which his father was a co-owner.
On the way to England, Engels stopped at Cologne to meet a person who will be the most important person of Engels life. His first meet with Karl Marx had occurred that time. They discussed and even argued in support and against of The Free, one school of Young Hegelians with whom Engels connected.
Young Fredrick Engels before leaving to England was a non-conformist atheist, a young and energetic chap whose interests varies from music to philosophy to fencing and who was a strong radical democratic and who had read Hegel in philosophy, read and rejected Adam Smith and Malthus as the first as the protector of merchant and commerce economy and the later as vulgar population theorist.
His lift in England was going to change Engels as a new man. Engels spent two years in Manchester where he developed his social, political and philosophical views. His ultimate shift to materialism and proletarian communism had happened here. As Lenin said that “It was not until he came to England that Engels became a socialist”.
He made contact with the local works and used to visit their homes and interact with them. Engels had made all his practical acquaintances of working class sufferings. From England he contributed to Rheinische Zeitung the articles such as “The English View of the Internal Crises”, “The Internal Crises”, “The Position of the Political Parties”, “The condition of the Working Class in England” and “The Corn Laws”. He analysed the British society and its social relations between the classes – the landed gentry, industrial bourgeoisie and proletariat.
He described “the emergence of the proletariat a class of unpropertied, absolutely poor people as the result of industrial development”.
He met some of the men directly involved in Chartist movement (a developed working class movement of that time). He described their idea of “revolution by legal means” as “a contradiction, a practical impossibility”.
Engels had written five articles for Rheinische Zeitung until its publication was suspended by Prussian Govt. as of April 1843. This is the first newspaper Marx was involved and the first in the list of suspended.
Here only he met Mary Burns, an Irish girl employed in the factory where he was a clerk. She used to take Engels to various workers part of Manchester. Georg Weerth, the German poet whom Engels met in Dec 1843 soon also became a companion on his visits to the workers districts.
He also joined in Chartist Party as its member and started to contribute their print organ “The Northern Star”. He even made contacts with Robert Owenists. He went to their Sunday meetings in the Hall of Science and took an interest in their atheist and socialist agitation.
By the sum of the experiences of all these activities Engels started to contribute to a Zurich journal Schweizeisher Repulikaner, under the title “Letters from London”.
In May 1843, Engels met the London leaders of the League of Just, the secret organisation of German communist workers – compositor Karl Schapper, shoemaker Heinrich Bauer and watchmaker Joseph Moll. Engels wrote that “these three were the first revolutionary proletarians whom I met”.
In Nov 1843 his article “Progress of Social Reform on the Continent” appeared in The New Moral World which was an organ of the English socialists. He began this article with an important observation, the result of his study of the socialist and communist movement in Europe. He wrote that “the great and civilised countries of Europe – England, France and Germany have all come to the conclusion, that a thorough revolution of social arrangements based on community of property, has now become an urgent and unavoidable necessity”. And further Engels traces the rise of communist and socialist ideas in France to Gracchus Babeuf, and examines Henri Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier. He wrote that “Saint-Simon and Fourier did not touch politics at all, and their schemes, therefore, became not the common property of the nation, but only subjects of private discussion.”
He paid tribute to the French bourgeois socialist P. J. Proudhon book “What is the property”.
He made thorough examination of the situation in Germany and Switzerland and the activity of Whilhelm Weitling, the father of utopian communism in Germany with whom Marx and Engels fight later.
He started to contribute to “Deutsch-French Yearbook” of which Marx and Ruge were founders and editors. The first issue of this journal contained Engels work. He wrote 4 articles: “Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy”, “The position of England: Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle”, “The position of England” and “The position of England. The British Constitution”. The first two appeared in the yearbook and the latter two appeared in Vorwarts! (Meaning Forward in German) a Paris newspaper with which Marx was associated after the Year book suspended.
“Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy” caught Marx’s eye. In a way it stimulated his study of political economy. The publication of this article marked the beginning of a constant exchange of ideas by correspondence between Marx and Engels.
At the end of August 1844 Engels “practical study” of society was over. On the way from Manchester he stopped in Paris to see Marx who moved from Germany.
It was the last days of August Engels visited Marx. He spent 10 days with him. He discussed many things and meeting Marx’s friends in Café’s. Marx‘s group were Karl Ludwig Berneys, one of the editors of Volwarts!. August Hermann Ewebeck, leader of the Paris communities of the League of the Just, A French ships doctor, Guerrier, the Russian emigrants Mikhail Bakunin and Nikolai Sazonov and others.
Engels wrote about this meeting with Marx as “When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of 1844 our complete agreement in all theoretical fields became evident and our joint work dated from that time”.
Marx had been planning to write a book against the Young Hegelians and also against Bruno Bauer esp. his article “The year 1842” in which he criticised radicalism and its vehicle Rheinische Zeitung. Marx and Engels since their idea on Young Hegelians were identical decided to write a pamphlet against Bauer brothers and their followers. This is the first joint work of Marx and Engels.
Interesting thing is that as decided Engels wrote his part of one and half pages and Marx needed to write three and half pages. Engels as agreed completed his part and Marx exceeded the space allotted to him. Then they decided to publish it as a book.
At first Marx and Engels entitled the book as Critique of Critical Criticism: Against Bruno Bauer and Co., however Marx later changed the title as “The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism”.
In this book Marx and Engels paid tribute to the rational element in Hegel dialectics.
Surprise to all of us Hegel had written as such that “the absolute spirit, the maker of the history, uses the masses as the matter without which historical action cannot occur.” In this book Marx and Engels formulated one of the essentials of historical materialism: the people are the real maker of history.
Engels returned to Barmen in September 1844 and started to propagate communism and socialism in the meetings across Barmen, Elberfeld. Engels attended and spoke in the Elberfeld meetings held in Feb 8, 15 and 22 of 1845. The first meeting was attended by 40 and the second by 130 and the third drew nearly 200.
In his speeches Engels showed that “Free competition meant a disorderly economy, lack of organisation, universal exploitation, a war of all against all, mutual hostility and scorn for the common weal in the name of personal gain. The immediate result is progressive concentration of property in the hands of a few, sharp antagonism between the few rich and the many poor, glaring discrepancy between production and consumption, frequent commercial crises and a staggering waste of material and human resources”.
His father started to monitor the letters arrived to Engels. He knew that the letters were from communists. He wrote in a letter to Marx that “I cannot eat, drink or sleep, or make wind even, without my father’s unbearably Pharisee face bobbing up. I cannot go out or stay, speak or be silent, read or write, laugh or keep a straight face – whatever I may do; the old man instantly puts on the same disgusting expression”. Like Kafka, this explains the relationship of father and son.
On November 19, 1844, he wrote in a letter to Marx as “I am buried up to the neck in English newspapers and books from which I am compiling my book on the condition of the English proletarians”.
We all knew what he was describing in this letter. Yes he announced Marx about his book of “The Condition of the Working class in England”. One of the Engels powerful works and a first of its kind. At the age of 24 he pictured the condition of the proletarians. Still it is a classical work of communism.
In this book, probably he was the first of the communists to appreciate the importance of trade unions and economic strikes for advocating the vital interests of workers. Engels wrote that “Strikes are the military school of the working men in which they prepare themselves for the great struggle which cannot be avoided; they are the pronunciamentos of single branches of industry that these too have joined the labour movement”.
In 1892, in a preface to the second German edition of the book Engels observed, “the wonder is, not that a good many of them proved wrong, but that so many of them have proved right”.
Engels Condition of the Working Class in England is forever part of the history of the world’s socialist literature.
In 1845 Marx moved to Brussels from Paris. Engels arrived there in April 1845. He stayed near to Marx’s house and was accepted by the Marxes as a close friend.
Under the contract made with his publisher Marx was due to submit to him the manuscript of a two volume Critique of Politics and Political Economy and found that he needed to go to England to acquaint himself with the latest English economic literature. Marx’s command of English was inadequate, so he took Engels along with him. They stayed in Manchester from July 12 to August 21, 1845. During this time they visited the famous Chatham’s Library of which Engels fondly recalled in 1870.
They met the leaders of League of the Just, Chartist movement. Engels helped to establish a relationship between the League and Chartist Left. They attended a meeting of democrats from different countries held in mid-August. This meeting ended in forming a group called Fraternal Democrats. To the inaugural meeting of September 22 Engels devoted a special article, “Festival of Nations in London”.
For the first time in print Engels wrote that, “Proletarians in all lands have the same interests and a common enemy, and are faced with the same struggle; by nature, the mass of proletarians are free from national prejudice and their whole growth and movement is essentially humanitarian and anti-nationalistic. Only the proletarians can abolish nationality, only the awakening proletariat can get the various nations to fraternise”.
This is the first call for the internationalism.
In the autumn of 1845, Engels and Marx set out on their joint work – a critique of post-Hegelian philosophy. They began to write their large philosophical work, The German Ideology, in Nov 1845. This plan evolved after the appearance in the summer of 1845 of an article by Feuerbach where he declared himself a “Communist”.
Marx and Engels decided to take all the utopian and true socialists. Unlike the Holy family which Marx and Engels had contributed their own chapters, this book was a combined creative effort.
I want to describe few thoughts from this book as this book was the first evidence of the understanding of historical materialism of Marx and Engels.
The German Ideology speaks about the mode of production determines the way of life. Besides, the material conditions of production determine the social and political relationships between people. Each new stage of material production sees new forms of division of labour and new forms of property and each new form of property gives birth to corresponding social and political relations.
Marx and Engels demolished the illusions about the independence of the state and showed that the bourgeois state is “nothing more than the form of organisation which the bourgeois necessarily adopt both for internal and external purposes, for the mutual guarantee of their property and interests”.
Further they have written that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the ruling the material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.”
Marx and Engels transformed the communism from its utopian nature into a scientific one in this book. They wrote that “Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal of which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present stage of things”.
The German Ideology ridiculed Stirner’s contention that under communism the individual becomes a slave of society, that by replacing the private ownership Communists destroy the personality. In reply to this Marx and Engels explained private property is the basis for the bourgeois type individuality only; however it robs of individuality of the vast majority of the people, who own no property. The workers acquire individuality in the battle against the capitalist system.
The German Ideology argues in favour of the historical approach to the freedom concept, stressing that in each epoch man attains but a degree of freedom, a degree of dominance over the forces of nature and the social relationships. Not until man reaches communism, the highest stage in the development of social relations, will he be able to exercise complete social and spiritual freedom.
But the fate of this book is quite unnatural or natural of those times.
The first edition of this book was published in 1933 in Soviet Union.
Marx sarcastically wrote in 1859, “We abandoned the manuscript to the gnawing criticism of the mice all the more willingly”.
In Brussels, Marx and Engels were surrounded by a group consisted of Edgar von Westphalen, brother of Jenny, George Weerth, Ferdinand Wolff, Sebastian Seiler and their one of the important follower and friend for whom Marx was dedicated the first volume of Capital, Wilhelm Wolff and Philipe Gigot.
They formed a correspondence committee called Brussels Correspondence Committee and started to correspondence with various revolutionaries across Europe.
The first job this committee took was to fight against all kinds utopian communism called “true socialists”.
This job had begun in attacking against the artisan communism of Whilhelm Weitling.
They had circulated an article against the United States true socialist Hermann Kriege who demanded for each needy person in the US should be given 160 acres of land and other democratic reforms in the name of communism. A resolution condemning Kriege was passed by a sitting Brussels Committee on their initiative on May 11, 1846; Weitling was the only one to vote against it. The resolution was drafted by Marx and Engels subsequently named as “Circular against Kriege”. In this circular they argued that “if private ownership of means of production remains in agriculture, if commodity relationships are private the concentration of production and capital would follow inevitably, one former would become richer, another would suffer ruin and finally the ruined one would become the labourer of the rich one”.
Engels was asked to go to Paris to start an ideological fight against the utopians and coordinate between the communities. He stayed in Paris from August 15, 1846 to January 1848 until he was expelled by the French authorities.
As a result of the devastating criticism of Weitling, Proudhon and “true socialism” by Marx and Engels some of the League of the Just communities some of its leaders changed their views.
Schapper, Moll and Bauer who headed the League broke off with Weitling. Moll left London to Brussels to see Marx and then went to Paris to see Engels in persuading them to join in the League.
After learning that the League had broken off with utopian socialism, Marx and Engels decided to join with the League of the Just.
The first congress of the League of the Just was opened in London on June 2, 1847. Marx was unable to attend because of financial conditions, Wolff was sent as a delegate of Brussels committee and Engels sent as a delegate of the Paris Communities.
The League was renamed as Communist League. The leagues motto, “All men are Brothers” was replaced with “Working Men of All Countries, Unite” as proclaimed by Marx and Engels.
Engels was asked to write the common program. The program called as “Principles of Communism” which was in a question and answer form.
An interesting incident I want to tell. One International Free trade congress was held in Brussels on September 16-18, 1847. Many bourgeois economists and statement attended with the English free traders. They argued for a broader access to national markets in Europe. Marx and Weerth put their names down to speak.
Weerth horrified the managers of the congress by his eloquent speech. When Marx turn came, he was denied the floor on the excuse that the debate was ended. The undelivered speech was later published. In the speech he argued that neither protectionism nor free trade would improve the condition of the working class to any significant extent.
Further to this tale, free trade and protectionism were also made a topic of discussion at the German Workers Society. To enliven the debate Marx and Engels took the opposite sides. And any guess who took the side of free trade? …..
It is Marx who took the side of free trade and Engels the opposite.
The second congress of the Communist League was opened in November 29, 1847 for which Marx and Engels both attended. Marx called this congress as the first international congress of the proletariat. The congress last for 10 days. The leaders of the congress requested Marx and Engels to write a common programme for the League. They agreed.
After returning from the congress Engels left to Paris, Marx started to write the common programme. Within a month i.e., with in the end of January 1848, he completed the program and named it as “the Communist Manifesto” which would be the haunting literature for the ages from the first publication itself.
The years 1848-49 were the period of action in the field for both Marx and Engels.
On Feb 22-24, 1848 the insurgent Paris Workers joined by other social groups overthrew the monarchy of Louis Philipe and proclaimed republic. There were uprisings in Italy, in various parts of Germany and Austria. Even in Belgium the Democratic Association took the lead in the campaign for a republican system. The Brussels Committee was convened daily and it called the municipal council to distribute arms not only to the bourgeois guard but also to the workers and journeymen.
Marx as the first contribute to the fund gave up a part of the inheritance he had just received upon the death of his father.
In April 1848, Engels and Marx and their other associates returned to Germany, their father land to participate in the uprisings. They decided to open a newspaper. They renewed the Rheinische Zeitung as Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Engels even tried to get his father to finance the paper, but in vain.
Engels was not only contributed to the newspaper, he worked as one of the editors. Marx was amazed of his friend’s brilliant journalist abilities. He wrote that “Engels is a real encyclopaedia, able to work, merry and sober, at any hour of the day or night; he is as quick as the devil at writing and thinking”.
The uprisings across Europe was suppressed by the Govt. forces. Engels was forced to leave to Paris.
Engels stayed there for few days and as he wrote “I could not bear it longer in this dead Paris. I had to leave no matter where. And so, for a start off to Switzerland.” He had no money to spare and set out on foot. The son of wealthy spinner was now a tramp.
He walked from Paris to Berne. It was a meditating journey for him. He observed the rural, peasant life across France.
He could not stay there in Swiss idly. He returned to Barmen and soon faced the jury along with Marx. Both were doubled their efforts to unite the workers organisations. Civil war was in full swing in the Southern parts of Germany. Engels went to Elberfeld on May 10, 1849 on the way he stopped in Solingen, formed a company of 400 armed workers and arrived in Elberfeld. During the uprisings when Engels approached the barricade on the bridge with a red shawl across his shoulder to show he was an insurgent commander, he met his father, who was on the way to church.
Engels participated in the armed uprisings here and there. An arrest warrant was issued for his part in Elberfeld.
May 19, 1849 the last issue of the newspaper was printed. As a symbolic notion it was printed in red. The paper was closed for lack of money.
Engels joined the insurgent Baden-Palatinate army as a volunteer and fought in General Willich’s army revolutionary corps. Once the army was defeated he first went to Switzerland and then to London. The voyage lasted nearly five weeks.
After a split in the Communist League on tactical lines, the league was dissolved in 1851.
Marx first moved to Paris and expelled and then moved to London. In fact he was denied citizenship by Prussian authority.
In the period between March – November 1850, Marx and Engels put out six issues of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Engels contributed “The campaign for the German Imperial Constitution and the Peasant war in Germany”.
Engels took a job in his fathers’ concern in Manchester for two reasons. One was to support Marx’s family and the second was that after the uprisings across the Europe suppressed. The fought was won by the reactionary forces and the revolutionaries needed time to prepare.
He began his lengthy career in the company as an in-charge for the correspondence and general management from late November 1850. This time it last till July 1869. Some 19 years he was locked in Manchester. Though the work he hated all these years, it fed not only the Engels and also to the Marxes. He married Mary Burns and stayed in the outskirts of Manchester.
Marx started to contribute articles to New York Daily Tribune. He was not sure of his English. Engels took the job of translating his works into English. Even Engels had contributed few articles to the same newspaper some got published in the name of Marx.
When the Crimean War started Engels began a series on the Eastern Question. All these years both were followed the events in East, that is the scramble of the great powers for spoils from the break-up of the Ottoman Empire by the internal crises in that feudal state and the national liberation struggle of its subject Balkan peoples.
His knowledge of Slav languages helped him to understand and follow the issues more precisely from the press.
He wrote few articles like “The Real Issue in Turkey”, “The Turkish Question” and “What is to Become of Turkey in Europe?”. In these articles Engels attacked the great powers of Europe – Britain and France for their involvement in the internal affairs of Turkey. It further shows his sympathy for the Slovenians who still not formed as a nation and crushed under Turkish rule.
Engels with all his understanding of the history predicted the future revolutions. He wrote that “to the European Revolution… the revolutionary landmarks have been steadily advancing ever since 1789. The last revolutionary outposts were Warsaw, Debreczin, Bucharest; the advanced posts of the next revolution must be the Petersburg and Constantinople.”
Engels involved himself in writing the articles and reviews about the war between Russian Tsar – Turkey. The articles were: “Movements of the Armies in Turkey”, “The Holy War”, “and The progress of the Turkish war”, and “The War on the Danube”. They appeared in New York Tribune as editorials.
These articles were the proof for his military expertise and the student of military history.
In the latter half of the 1850s Engels took the job of exposing the colonial expansion of the main capitalist powers and closely followed the national liberation movements in Asia and Africa.
In one of the Articles Engels wrote that “an Oriental Government never had more than three departments: finance (plunder at home), war (plunder at home and abroad) and public works (provision for reproduction). The British Govt. administered the first two and dropped the third entirely, with the result that the irrigation system fell into decay and Indian agriculture was being ruined”. This thought was barrowed by Marx for his article “The British rule in India”.
In fact he had written articles about the revolt of 1857 with great sympathy to the national rising. The articles were “The capture of Delhi”, “The Relief of Lucknow”, “The defeat of Windham”, “The Revolt in India” and others.
In one of the articles Engels stressed that “this second conquest has not increased the England’s hold upon the mind of the Indian people and only redoubled its hatred of the British colonialists.” How true were his words. The history of Indian freedom struggle proved that.
To our full exclamation he continued in writing articles on Algeria. In an article “Algeria” for The New American Cyclopaedia, he described the savage colonial regime of the French. “From the first occupation of Algeria by the French to the present time, the unhappy country has been the arena of unceasing bloodshed, rapine and violence…The Arab and Kabyle tribes, to whom independence is precious, and hatred of foreign domination a principle dearer than the life itself, have been crushed and broken by the terrible razzias”.
These articles on colonial question were the point of departure in subsequent Marxist studies on the issue.
The eastern question and the Crimean War prompted studies of the culture and history of the Slav peoples. He studied the histories of Russian, Chinese and Indian peoples. He even studied the history of religious doctrines.
In May 1853 he wrote “that Jewish so-called Holy Scriptures is nothing more than a record of the old Arabian religious and tribal tradition, modified by the early separation of the Jews from their consanguineous but nomadic neighbours- that is now perfectly clear to me”.
During this period only he learned Slave languages – Serbo-Croat, Slovene and Walachian.
This giant-in-built guy had now become even an anthropologist.
He spent more time on reading on science too. His subjects were ranging from physics, physiology and comparative anatomy, organic chemistry. He attached special importance to the discovery of the cell by Matthias Scheleiden and Theodar Schwann and to the law of the conservation and transformation of energy.
In 1857 throughout Europe economic crises had started. It added the volumes of enthusiasm in Engels and wrote as they believed “the revolution follows only after a crises”.
He wrote a pamphlet entitles as “Po and the Rhine”, describing the politics of Nepoleon III. It was published anonymously in Germany. To make a contact with German workers Marx and Engels started to write articles for Das Volk.
In mid-March 1860, Engels received the news of his father’s demise. He reached after two days of his father’s death. The family members were started to settle his father’s estate. Engels had to give up his share in the Prussian business and in recompense was to receive a share of 10000 pounds in the Manchester firm of Ermen and Engels from 1864. This made him as one of the partner of this firm. His father’s death improved his financial conditions.
Though his relationship with his father was not maintained but his love on his mother continued till the end. He used to say that “I can have a hundred other enterprises but never another mother”.
In January 6, 1863 his wife Mary Burns died. In the following year on July 1, his close friend Wilhelm Wolff died in Manchester. This shrinks his circle there.
In September 1864, International Working Men’s Association was formed in London. This helped Marx and Engels to acquire a splendid opportunity for practical revolutionary work again.
During this period only Marx and Engels argued for a united action of the Working class parties of Germany, fought against the reformist Lasselleanism, on Polish Question, Nihilist sentiments among workers and in building a mass workers party in Germany, on Bismarck and so many.
In one of the articles Engels stated that the big formers who exploited the labour of others classed with bourgeoisie.
June 30, 1869 was an important day in his life. That was the last working day in Manchester firm.
In a July 1 letter to Marx he wrote as “Dear Moor! Hurray! Today, it is all over with doux commerce and I am free man!”.
Eleanor Marx – daughter of Marx recalled later : “I was with Engels when he reached the end of this forced labour and I saw what he must have gone through all those years. I shall never forget the triumph with which he exclaimed: “For the last time!” as he put on his boots in the morning to go to office… “A few hours later we were standing at the gate waiting for him. We saw him coming over the little field opposite the house where he lived. He was swinging his stick in the air and singing, his face beaming. Then we set the table for a celebration and drank champagne and were happy”.
At long last, Engels devoted himself entirely to party work and science.
In 1869-70 Engels took up to study the history of Ireland, and then was a colony of British for centuries. This was the outcome of the Internationals General Council meeting in the autumn of 1867.
After the death of Mary Burns he married Lizzie Burns who is her sister and also an ardent supporter of the Irish revolutionaries.
He even visited to Ireland accompanied by his wife and Eleanor. He collected various materials regarding the history of the nation, of Irish folklore. His list on Irish history contains more than 150 titles, 15 notebooks.
He started to write a book on Irish question. But the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and then the Paris commune and his activity in the International diverted Engels from his undertaking. He completed only the first chapter “national conditions” and wrote the beginning of the second “Ancient Ireland”.
Engels moved to London on September 20, 1870. He lived at a ten minutes walking distance from Marx. From that day he used to visit Marx every day. He also became the member of the General council of the International.
On March 19, 1871 Engels and Marx learned that the Paris workers had taken up arms.
In September same year, Engels wrote to Marx: “if anything at all could be done in Paris, the workers should be prevented from letting fly before peace is concluded… they. Would be needlessly crushed by the German armies and thrown back another twenty years”. On March 21, 1871 Engels spoke before the General Council about the revolution in Paris.
The later part of the year and during 1868 Engels and Marx took out the fight against Bakunin’s anarchist movement. His demand of social liquidation was vague and incoherent – abolition of the state and all its institutions, elimination of all authority, and equalisation of classes and individuals. He wanted to convert private property into the property of associations of producers rather than into national collective property. Nothing but revolutionary violence by the masses could accomplish this.
He even rejected the centralised mass political parties of the working class. His influence prevailed until 1872 among many factions of working class associations.
Engels in the London conference was opened on September 17, 1871. Engels spoke for 30 minutes. In his speech Engels said that “the revolution is a supreme political act and those who want revolution must also want the means of achieving it, that is, political action, which prepares the ground for revolution and provides the workers with the revolutionary training… However, our politics must be working class politics. The workers party must never be the tagtail of any bourgeois party; it must be independent and have its goal and its own policy”.
After the congress he was appointed as a corresponding secretary for Spain and Italy.
He maintained contacts with the various revolutionaries in Spain and Italy.
A year after Engels arrived in The Hague on September 1, 1872 with Marx and his wife. The main content of debate was the Bakuninists movements within the International.
Engels responded to anarchist movement in his article entitles as “On Authority” at the end of October 1872. The manuscript was not printed as it was lost during the arrest of Bignami in Italy. Engels sent him a duplicate and the same was published in December 1873 only.
The article demolished the very foundations of anarchism. “Everewhere combined action, the compilatioin of processes dependent upon each other, discplaces independent action by individuals. But whoever mentions combined action speaks of organisation; now is it possible to have organisation without authority?” he raised the question on organisation and authority.
Later he wrote one more article “The bakuninists at Work” which enriched the Marxist teaching on working-class tactics in the bourgeois democratic revolution.
In the spring of 1873 came the end of the International.
A series of Articles written in 1872-73 which were at first published in Volksstaat and later appeared as pamphlet, The Housing Question. In this article he fought against the reformist nature of Prodhonists and Lasseleanians.
Engels described in this book the bourgeois state as the organised collective power of the possessing classes, landowners and capitalists, over peasants and workers. What these possessing classes want, their State also wants.
In the early 1870s utopian tendencies grew strong among socialist minded workers aspiring to the amalgamation of the two political organisations – the Social Democratic Workers Party and the General Association of German Workers. Though Engels and Marx accepted the unity but they were cautious about the utopian tendencies of Lassallens.
Engels in his draft wrote as The State is only a transitional institution which is used in the struggle, I the revolution, to hold down one’s adversaries by force, it is pure nonsense to talk of a free people’s state; so long as the proletariat still uses the state it does not use it in the interest of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist.”
During the later years of 1870s the theoretical standards of German Social Democracy declined.
The workers were under the influence of the Berlin University Professor Eugen Duhring. His lectures created sensation. Engels and Marx took it seriously and decided to fight back his reformism and utopian socialism.
Engels wrote one of his important works “Anti-Duhring” in three parts namely – “Philosophy”, “Political Economy” and “Socialism”.
In philosophy part he described the dialectical materialism. It runs as “Consiousness is the product of man’s brain, and man is the product of nature. Consequently if only for this reason, the laws of thinking and the laws of nature are in accord. Thought is the reflection of the material world, of its being”.
Duhring separated motion from matter, Engels wrote “Motion is the mode of existence of matter”.
He conceived the time and space are independent of material objects. Countering Duhring, Engels argued that space and time are the main forms of the existence of matter, of all being, that “being out of time is just as gross an absurdity as being out of space”.
This shows the outstanding expositions of the main laws of dialectics.
He further said that “the freedom of the will therefore means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject” and “Life is therefore also a contradiction which is present in things and processes themselves, and which constantly originates and resolved itself, and as soon as the contradiction ceases, life too comes to an end and death steps in”.
This shows his enormous knowledge in the field of philosophy esp. dialectical materialism.
In the second part “Political Economy” stressing that though the mode of distribution is in the final analysis determined by the mode of production and exchange, distribution also exercises a substantial reverse influence on production and exchange. Each new mode of production or form of exchange is at first retarded not only by the old forms of production and exchange but also by the old form distribution”.
Engels drew the conclusion that “Wherever private property evolved it was the result of altered relations of production and exchange, in the interest of increased production and in furtherance of intercourse- hence as a result of economic causes. Force plays no part in this at all. The main factor of the political force at the disposal of the state is the army, its organisation in all epochs, and the method of warfare, are directly dependent on economic conditions, that is “the quality and quantity of the population and technical development”.
Though the force is secondary to the economy Engels wrote that “All political power is originally based on a definite economic function performed by it for society. But after it makes itself independent in relation to society, it can work to promote economic development or to hold it back”.
Engels quoted Marx description of the revolutionary role of force; “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one”.
He pointed out that the Marx was the first to discover the origin of surplus value lifting the veil on the mechanics of capitalist profit.
In the third part he described the scientific socialism and its society.
Anti-Duhring became the handbook of every politically conscious worker.
It shows his knowledge in philosophy, politics and economy. It requires a detailed reading.
On September 12, 1878 Lizzie, Engels wife passed away. He wrote that “my wife was real Irish proletarian stock and her ardent inborn feeling for her class was for me worth infinitely more had at all critical times supported me far more securely, than all the refinements and subtleties of the “educated” and “sensitive” daughters of the bourgeoisie.
After the tensions of working in Capital Marx fell in illness.
This year he studied the history of Germany, helped to form the French socialist party and wrote many articles against the anti-socialist law of Germany.
In autumn of 1881, Jenny Marx was found that she had cancer in the liver. She died in the month of December and as Marx confined to bed and could not attend his beloved wife’s funeral.
The next year when Marx health was improving, the second shock fell on him. His daughter Jenny died on January 11, 1883 leaving five children. Marx’s family was in a huge mess. Engels took the responsibility of the whole family.
Marx after the death of his wife and daughter not lived more than a year and half. On March 14, 1883 Marx had a haemorrhage and died. He wrote on March 15, that “yesterday at 2.45 in the afternoon, left alone for barely two minutes, we found him quietly asleep in the armchair, but never to wake again. Our party’s most powerful mind had stopped thinking; the staunchest heart I have ever known had stopped beating”.
Three day later on March 17, 1883 Marx was buried at the side of his wife in London’s Highgate Cemetery.
At the funeral Engels spoke briefly. He said that “His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his works!.”
On August 16, 1867 at 2 o clock at night Marx wrote to Engels to inform that he completed the works of Capital. Stating that “So this volume is finished. It was thanks to you alone that this became possible.
During Marx’s lifetime only the first volume of Capital was published. Engels took the responsibility of publishing the second and third volumes which were accidentally found by Helan Demuth after Marx’s death.
He compiled in an order and put enormous energy in constructing the volumes and even completed the unfinished portions. If Engels were not there the capital’s fate would have become unknown.
After Marx, Engels wrote one of his major works, the origin of the Family, private property and the state within two months starting from end of March to the end of May, 1884.
My favourite quote from this book is that “if the marriage based on love is moral, then only the marriage is moral if love continues”.
he visited to America in the year 1888, travelled across country and even to Nayagra.
Engels wrote that “America aroused my interest. One must see for oneself this land whose history does not go back farther than commodity production and which is capitalism Land of Promise”.
He guided the formation of various socialists’ parties across Europe (Belgium 1885, Norway 1887, Switzerland 1888, Spain 1879, Austria 1888, Sweden 1889).
Engels entered the 1890s. Lafargue wrote in a letter at the end of 1889, “I have never known a head as young as alert, and of such encyclopaedic knowledge”.
Engels participated the London march demanding the eight hours working day.
Engels observed and wrote about the changes happened in capitalism and also in science.
In November 1894 Engels wrote his will. He shared all his property to the family members of Marx.
To Laura Lafargue he wrote: “that is my position; 74 years, which I am beginning to feel and work enough for two men of 40. Yes, if I could divide myself into the F.E of 40 and the F.E of 34, which would just be 74, then we should soon be all right.
In the same year Engels developed cancer.
The last letter he wrote to Laura on July 23, 1895.
On August 5, 1895 one of the great men of 19th century passed away.
A young Russian in his obituary article quoted a poetry: it goes “what a torch of reason ceased to burn, what a heart has ceased to beat”.