Friedrich Engels

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Friedrich Engels (28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895) was a German philosopher and organizer of the working class, and a friend and beneficiary of Karl Marx. He co-wrote the Manifesto of the Communist Party with Marx in 1848, and also wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in 1884.

Background and acquaintance with Marx

Engels was the son of a German industrialist who owned a cotton factory in Manchester, although was involved in the same intellectual circles as Marx. Engels contributed an article to the Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher which deeply affected Marx's thinking about economics, and eventually they met and their friendship friendship began in Paris, in 1844. They started work on what Engels intended to be a pamphlet, leaving his contribution of about fifteen pages for Marx when leaving Paris, however Marx would develop this into a 300-page work that would become his first published book: The Holy Family. At the time when Marx was residing in Brussels, Engels and Marx went to England for six weeks to study economics in Manchester, "the heart of the new industrial age".

In the Communist League, Marx and Engels were tasked with producing a simple-language work about the doctrines of the organization, which came to be known as The Communist Manifesto. Later on, when Marx was employed by the New York Tribune, Engels would secretly send in some articles under Marx's name, with the newspaper publishing an article by the two almost every week.[1]

Influence on Marx

Marx knew little to nothing about economics before his work with Engels, who in turn knew little about philosophy. In a letter to Franz Mehring in 1892, Engels wrote: "Marx was then a Hegelian [...]. He knew nothing whatever about political economy and could not have had any idea about the meaning of a term like ‘economic form’."[2] Their encounter inspired Marx to study economics and combining them with his philosophy.

See also


  1. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer, page 6
  2. [1]