Friedrich Engels was the lifelong collaborator of Karl Marx, and played, after Marx himself, the leading role in the development of Marxism as a science and a revolutionary program for the working class in the 19th century.
Engels’ early work on political economy and his study of the conditions of the working class in England exerted an immense impression on the young Marx and directed the latter toward his study of political economy. Between 1843 and 1848, Marx and Engels collaborated closely in the refutation of the idealist philosophy of the Young Hegelians, including in the publication of The German Ideology, which contained the first ever elaboration of the materialist conception of history.
In 1848, Engels assisted Marx in his writing of the Communist Manifesto. The Manifesto, commissioned as a program for the Communist League, established the programmatic foundations of the modern socialist movement. Engels’ intense intellectual and political collaboration with Marx, which continued throughout the latter’s 35-year exile and until his death in 1883, embraced the founding of the First International and Marx’s writing of Capital, which Engels ultimately completed after Marx’s death.
Through the writings of such works as Anti-Dühring, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Dialectics of Nature, and Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels secured the triumph of Marxism as the theoretical and political foundation of the world socialist movement.
On this page, readers will find major works by Engels, as well as essays by leading Marxists on the significance of his life and work.
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Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November, 1820. Together with his friend Karl Marx, who was two-and-a-half years his senior, Engels co-founded scientific socialism. Two hundred years later, their life’s work is of burning contemporary relevance.
This essay by Secretary of the International Committee of the Fourth International Peter Schwarz was published on the World Socialist Web Site on 28 November, 2020.
This essay by David North was written as a review of Marx after Marxism: The philosophy of Karl Marx by Tom Rockmore.
North answers the efforts by Rockmore to separate Engels from Marx, specifically via the claim that Engels was responsible for the “positivist” vulgarization of Marxism and that he imposed upon Marxism an identification with materialism and, in particular, science, that was alien to Marx himself.
This essay was written by Abram Moiseyevich Deborin, a major Soviet Marxist philosopher, in 1924. It was published in the theoretical journal Under the Banner of Marxism which was founded in 1922 in the Soviet Union at the urging of Leon Trotsky. Deborin reviews the book of Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, and opposes the effort of Lukács to counterpose Engels to Marx, and to argue that Engels alone, and not Marx, believed that the laws of dialectics are applicable to nature.
This essay was published by the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in 1895, following the death of Engels. “From the time that fate brought Karl Marx and Frederick Engels together,” Lenin wrote, “the two friends devoted their life’s work to a common cause. And so to understand what Frederick Engels has done for the proletariat, one must have a clear idea of the significance of Marx’s teaching and work for the development of the contemporary working-class movement.”
This essay was published by Leon Trotsky in 1935, in The New International, the monthly organ of the American Trotskyist organization, then called the Communist League of America. The year 1935 was the 40th anniversary of the death of Engels. Karl Kautsky, the former collaborator with Engels, who had later become an opponent of socialism and the 1917 Russian Revolution, published his correspondence with Engels that year.
In this short book Engels examines the relation of Marxist philosophy to that of Hegel. Engels acknowledges the impact that the critique of Hegel’s idealism by the German materialist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach had on the development of the ideas of himself and Marx.
In his 1883 book Dialectics of Nature, Engels applies the philosophical method of dialectical materialism to an examination of the development of humanity’s understanding of scientific and natural phenomena up to the latter half of the 19th century, including in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and geology.
Engels wrote this book in 1884, basing his analysis on notes left behind by Marx on the work of American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Engels added his own material from his own research on the ancient societies of the Greeks, Romans, Celts and Germans.