Friedrich Engels


August 19, 2022

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 - August 5, 1895) was a German industrialist, social scientist, author and philosopher. As a political (socialist) theorist, in the 19th century, at the time of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the resulting social question about the fate of the rapidly growing working class, he was the founder of Marxist theory, together with Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research. In the "revolutionary year" of 1848, he co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, and later supported Marx financially to conduct research and write Capital. After Marx's death in 1883, he edited the second and third parts. In addition, Engels organized Marx's notes on the "Theories of Surplus Value" and this material collected and edited by him was later published as the "fourth volume" of Capital.


Engels was born in Barmen (present-day Wuppertal) as the eldest son of a successful German textile baron. As a young man he was sent to England by his father to help run his cotton factory in Manchester. Shocked by the widespread poverty, after his return from England to Germany in November 1844 to March 1845, he worked on his report on the subject, entitled Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England (The Condition of the Working Class in England). This work, published in 1845, was Engels' first major own publication. In the same year, Engels began writing articles for a newspaper called "The German-French Yearbooks" published by Karl Marx in Paris. After their first face-to-face meeting, they found out that they shared the same ideas about capitalism and decided to work together more. Engels' articles prompted Marx to study economic theories. After Marx was expelled from France in January 1845, the two decided to move to Belgium, which at the time was more tolerant of freedom of expression than other countries in Europe. In July 1845, Engels took Marx to England. There he met an Irish worker named Mary Burns. He would be with her until her death, after which he entered into a relationship with her sister Lizzie. These women could have introduced him to the Chartist movement, of which Engels met several leaders, including George Harney. Engels and Marx returned to Brussels in January 1846 where they founded the 'Communist Correspondence Committee'. The idea was to unite socialist leaders from all over Europe. Influenced by Marx's ideas, socialists in England held a meeting where they formed a new organization called the League of Communists. Engels acted as a representative and had a lot of influence on the developed strategy of the union. In 1847, Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet together. It was based on Engels' The Principles of Communism. The 12,000 word pamphlet was completed in six weeks and written in such a way as to make communism understandable to a wide audience. It was called the 'Communist Manifesto' and was published in February of the Revolutionary year 1848. In March, both Engels and Marx were expelled from Belgium. They moved to Cologne and started publishing the radical newspaper 'De Nieuw-Rijnse Krant' (the Neue Rheinische Zeitung). Engels was an active participant in the uprising in Elberfeld during the Revolution of 1848. He fought in the Baden campaign against the Prussians (June/July 1849) as personal aide to August Willich who was the leader of a Free Corps that took part in the uprising in Baden. In 1849, again, both Marx and Engels were forced to leave Germany, after which they moved to London. The Prussian authorities pr