Frederick Engels biography

The People
November 25, 1995
Vol. 105 No. 15

FREDERICK ENGELS

Frederick Engels, the 175th anniversary of whose birth we celebrate on Nov. 28, was Karl Marx's lifelong friend and cofounder of scientific Socialism. In their ceaseless malicious attacks on Marx, the defenders of capitalism never weary of ascribing Marx's hostility to their robber system to his alleged personal "frustrations." Marx, they say, was a "failure." Their line changes with Engels.

Engels was a successful businessman. But Engels never had his heart in what he called "this damn business." He worked at it mainly to supply the material means whereby he and Marx carried on the great scientific labors that have given cohesion and direction to the movement for working-class emancipation.

Engels' solid contributions to the literary arsenal of scientific socialism include, among other, THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844, ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY, PRIVATE PROPERTY AND THE STATE, and ANTI-DHRING. Three chapters from the latter form what may be his most famous independent work, SOCIALISM: FROM UTOPIA TO SCIENCE. He was also co-author, with Marx, of the immortal COMMUNIST MANIFESTO.

Despite these achievements, Engels was extremely modest about his own contribution to the development of socialist science. Franz Mehring wrote of Engels in his biography of Karl Marx:

"On one occasion he [Engels] declared that Marx had given his economic writings 'their final shape and form,' on another occasion that 'Marx was greater, saw farther, saw more and saw more quickly than all of us,' and on a third occasion that Marx would have discovered what he, Engels, had discovered in any case. However, the fact remains that in the beginning Engels gave and Marx received on that field [economics] on which in the last resort the decisive struggle must be fought out and is being fought out."

We dip our banner once again in tribute to this intellectual giant and working-class champion.