Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels Memorial Day

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On this day, August 5, in 1895, Friedrich Engels died. Although he has always been in the shadow of his comrade, Karl Marx, there would have been no Marx without Engels. The two worked together closely. Marx and Engels collaborated on numerous works, including the Communist Manifesto, which is one of the most important documents of all time. They also collaborated on The Holy Family and The German Ideology, both spectacular works.

Engels also was critical to Marx’s ability to write Capital, providing him with insights as well as financial support. Marx wrote to Engels upon completion of Volume I:

16 August 1867 2 a.m.

Dear Fred,

Have just finished correcting the last sheet (49th) of the book. … So, this volume is finished. I owe it to you alone that it was possible! Without your self-sacrifice for me I could not possibly have managed the immense labour demanded by the 3 volumes. I embrace you, full of thanks! …

Salut, my dear, valued friend.

K. Marx.

After the death of Marx, Engels edited and published Volumes II and III of Capital.

But Engels was prolific in his own right. In addition to The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, he wrote Socialism: Utopian and Scientific – which is one of the best introductions on historical materialism and scientific socialism. This was actually an excerpt from the much larger work, Anti-Duhring, which introduced the principles of dialectical materialism. These he would expand upon in the uncompleted work The Dialectics of Nature. The importance of these works cannot be overstated.  

The laws of dialectics as outlined by Engels:  

The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa
The law of the interpenetration of opposites; 
The law of the negation of the negation. 

Both Marx and Engels were dialectical materialists and these laws can be found throughout their work. Any serious Marxist would do well to study dialectical materialism.

So far as we are concerned, after our whole past only one way is open to us. For nearly 40 years we have raised to prominence the idea of the class struggle as the immediate driving force of history, and particularly the class struggle between bourgeois and the proletariat as the great lever of the modern social revolution; hence, we can hardly go along with people who want to strike this class struggle from the movement. At the founding of the International, we expressly formulated the battle cry: The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself. – Marx and Engels, Strategy and Tactics of the Class Struggle  

Marxism is really Marx/Engelism. While Marx is always mentioned first, Engels was an essential part every step of the way. Today we remember Engels, his amazing beard, and his contributions to Marxism.


This tribute was originally published August 5, 2022, on the author’s substack, An Appeal To Reason.

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