Commemorating 200 Years of Friedrich Engels

By the Editorial Board

The great revolutionary Friedrich Engels reaches 200 years on November 28, a landmark observed with important reflection by the International Communist Movement. Engels has passed, but his teachings still live, and will always live on long after all the names of his contemporary bourgeois counterparts have been forgotten—the intellectual juggernaut stands above all of his day, with the sole exception of the founder Karl Marx, his comrade and closest collaborator.

Engels is a torch in the history of the proletariat and mankind as a whole, his proximity to Marx is no mere act of consequence, in fact, it is scarcely possible to imagine a Marx without Engels. It was Engels the pioneer who took up the topic of the working class—in 1845 Engels wrote the Condition of the Working Class in England, and by 1849 co-wrote the most monumental text of the proletariat along with Marx, the Manifesto of the Communist Party.

It was Engels the great thinker, who not only financially supported Marx, but took to explaining the Marxist method philosophically. His works Anti-Duhring, Dialectics of Nature, and Socialism Utopian and Scientific lay the very foundation of Marxist philosophy—dialectical materialism. The question of the women’s struggle could hardly be imagined in the Marxist conception without Engels’ work on the question in the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, a mighty weapon taken up by proletarian women the world over.

Recognizing Engels as the great intellectual he was is only a start to comprehending this giant. Engels the militant must be comprehended for even the most basic understanding of him as a man as well as his contributions to Marxism. Like Marx, Engels was not only a mind capable of great thought, but a fighter in the very first trenches of the proletariat. Marxism has not taken a step in its life without struggle, and this is where Engels the fighter emerges.

One of the critical battles waged by the proletariat and their leaders Marx and Engels was the battle against anarchism. Engels, showing his standard brilliance, penned in 1872, On Authority, providing a strong Marxist viewpoint which would be instrumental in influencing the coming generations of great revolutionaries, represented by the Great Lenin, Comrade Stalin, and Chairman Mao. Engels declared that:

“anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries.”

Today, this quotation takes on utmost importance, when liberal “progressivism” i.e. reaction, dresses itself in “anti-authoritariansim” as a means to distort socialism into a concept palatable with collaboration with the capitalist state.

Engels brings vital concepts which cut though the fog and lethargy of the modern democratic-liberal left, exposing their utter ineptitude. In a society which increasingly promotes the idea that men and women are nothing but self-identifications, Engels again destroys these myths. Unlike bourgeois positions today, which conceive of men and women as a matter of mere identity, Engels pointed out that while men and women predate the oppression of women, the oppression of women emerges from and is sustained in private property relations. Engels provides the indispensable theory required to have a basic understanding of the women’s question:

“…maternal affiliation and inheritance by mother right were abolished, replaced by masculine affiliation and inheritance by father right…The overthrowing of mother right was the great historic defeat of the female sex throughout the world. Man also grabbed the reigns of the house; woman saw herself degraded, turned into a servant, into slaves of man’s lasciviousness, in a mere instrument of reproduction.”

Understanding the root of the oppression of women as the first act of class oppression, Engels sets the general Marxist thesis that the emancipation of women can only be accomplished through class-based socialist revolution. He exposed that the oppression of women is bound up in property relations, and not a mere division of labor as a function of sex. This would lead to the Marxist conception that class differentiates the individual more than sex, as pointed out by the great Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui, as well as the Marxist concept that women hold up half the sky and therefore indispensable to proletarian revolution as elucidated by Chairman Mao.

The above contributions of Engels are universal and foundational to Marxism, and hence, must be upheld, defended, and applied. Proletarian ideology emerged in Marxism with the participation and support of Engels, it was thrust into tireless combat with all bourgeois ideas and has developed today into the third and highest stage, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism—an all powerful ideology and conquest of class struggle—one which would not have developed, scientific and with such clarity and precision, without the hero Engels.

This is only the most brief examination of one of the proletariat’s greatest teachers. For all genuine revolutionaries, Engels is commemorated with the greatest honors on his 200th birthday. There are those who seek to remove his picture from their walls, revolutionaries must combat this trend and hang it proudly. After all, it was the great Engels who continued carrying on the work of Karl Marx after his death in 1883 until his own death in 1895, however it is his life that is to be treasured. To commemorate the birth of Friedrich Engels is to uphold, apply, and defend his life’s work, inextricable from Marxism, foundational to Leninism, and living eternal in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.



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