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Writings of Friedrich Engels

Writings of Friedrich Engels
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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.

As we will discuss later, the Engels analysis can also explain the crash of the Soviet empire at the end of the 1980's and it can predict the crash of the American empire in the 2020's.

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game administrator Jun. 13 2019,18:22
Readers' comments are invited on this topic.
Omegared May 27 2007,17:20
Thanks, Mirin.

You make some good points. But I still believe that revolutionaries need to be more precise in their definitions of "imperialism" so we can know exactly what we are dealing with.

I forgot to mention another important commentary by John Bellamy Foster. Find it here. Foster grapples directly with the old Leninist theories, and sees "modern imperialism" as a state of perpetual war, expropriation, and "polarization."

It's downright eerie to read the article you cite on the collapse of the Soviet Union alongside the Johnson article. I think you're on to something. Johnson especially points to the concealment of the true extent of American military spending (exactly the same way it happened in Russia).

You're also correct about the loss of confidence in the government. I know an historian of fascism who refers to these moments as a "sense-making crisis" - when a large segment of the population gropes around for a new ideology/movement to save them.

But I think you underestimate the ideological commitment of most Americans. Disagreement with the government or simple apathy does not necessarily indicate a desire to embrace an alternative world-view (whether it be a fascist dictatorship or a socialist culture of peace).

Also, I don't think the American economy is as fragile as you imply. Our physical imports may outstrip our physical exports - but what about the vibrant service and information-technology industries? I would argue that the primary American export now is knowledge, technology, and intellectual property. American corporations (as Parenti points out in his article) hold the preponderance of international patents. Scientists from all over the world come here to work. And where do wealthy parents from every continent send their children for advanced degrees? American universities.

What is interesting is the sea-change in opinion among non-Americans. After traveling abroad extensively over the past few years, I can tell you that the initial wave of sympathy for the United States after 9/11 has been replaced by a very critical view of the Bush government. American officials now proudly proclaim that they run an empire - and that this empire creates its own reality. But I think the first few decades of the 21st century will be remembered as the time when the rest of the world decided America no longer mattered.

This new external pressure is important as well, no?
grok July 10 2009,08:08
I liked the essay on dialectical-materialism on this site. Of course, it only starts from Square One, like most all these sorts of articles; but then -- that's pretty much where we've been stuck for 100 years, isn't it?