Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Engels: Anti-Dühring, 1877-1878 Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


With the help of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels wrote an important book in 1877 and 1878 in order to refute a German philospher named Eugen Dühring. It is known in English as Anti-Dühring. Engels and Marx attacked Dühring because they believed that his writings were weakening the philosophical basis for a socialist revolution.

Engels began from the basic philosophical considerations of materialism and dialectics. These are of great importance for those who struggle for revolution, explaining how things change as a result of human action, not because of divine intervention. And not only do things change, but we can also understand how change occurs. For example he considers the relation of matter and motion in basic physics and the nature of evolution as discovered by Darwin.

In his chapters on Morality and Law, Engels gives a brilliant historical explanation of the ideals of equality and freedom which have different meanings for the the capitalist and for the worker. To illustrate what it meant for the capitalist, he notes how "the American constitution, the first to recognise the rights of man, in the same breath confirms the slavery of the coloured races existing in America." For the worker, "the real content of the demand for equality is the demand for the abolition of classes".

The section on socialism was considered so important that Engels republished its main chapter in 1870 in a separate book called Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.

Of special importance for revolutionaries is the argument in Anti-Dühring about the "Theory of Force." Dühring, like most of our schoolbooks, explains history as the history of force, while Marx and Engels explain history in terms of the relations of economic exploitation. Engels analyzes the role of force in great detail: "Militarism dominates and is swallowing Europe. But this militarism also bears within itself the seed of its own destruction. Competition among the individual states forces them, on the one hand, to spend more money each year on the army and navy, artillery, etc., thus more and more hastening their financial collapse; and, on the other hand, to resort to universal compulsory military service more and more extensively, thus in the long run making the whole people familiar with the use of arms, and therefore enabling them at a given moment to make their will prevail against the warlords in command."

Engels analysis is remarkable because it predicts forty years into the future, how World War I would consume Europe to the point that socialism could emerge out of the ruins.

Engels goes on to say that while Dühring sees force as evil, he and Marx see it as the midwife of history: "in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one." This is consistent with the analysis of the Communist Manifesto and the origins of the state as an agent of violence.

Now, a century later, a century marked by force and destruction, we may disagree with both Dühring and Engels about the Theory of Force.

Dühring was wrong. It is economics, not force, that structures society.

But Marx and Engels were also wrong. Although they could predict World War I and the first great socialist revolutions, it turns out that force was not a good midwife, because the revolutions it delivered could not survive. The revolutions that arose out of the ruins of World War I (and later from the ruins of World War II) in Eastern Europe were organized according to the principles of the culture of war. They could not survive in competition with the capitalist culture of war. As shown by the collapse of the Soviet Union, it turns out a capitalist culture of war is more efficient than a socialist culture of war.

But how can we answer the final words by which Engels dismisses Dühring's rejection of violence: "this parson's mode of thought - dull, insipid and impotent - presumes to impose itself on the most revolutionary party that history has known!"? Clearly it is not enough to reject violence. The revolutionary strategy for the 21st Century must include the means for overcoming the violence of the culture of war and defending the revolution with means that are not "dull, insipid and impotent", but dramatic, courageous, powerful and, in the end, successful.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Friedrich Engels on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism