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Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels (born November 28 1820, Barmen[?], Prussia - died August 5 1895, London) was a Socialist philosopher and co-founder (with Karl Marx) of modern Communist theory. Together, they published The Communist Manifesto in 1848 and Engels edited several volumes of Das Kapital (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) after Marx's death.


Engels was the eldest son of a successful German textile industrialist. As a young man his father sent him to England to help manage his cotton-factory in Manchester. Shocked by the widespread poverty in the city he began writing an account which was published in 1844 as Condition of the Working Classes in England.

In the same year, Engels began contributing to a journal called the Franco-German Annals which was edited and published by Karl Marx in Paris. After their first meeting in person, it turned out that both share the same views on capitalism and hence they decided to work more closely together. After Marx was deported from France in January of 1845, they decided to move to Belgium, which permitted a greater freedom of expression than other countries in Europe.

In July 1845 Engels took Karl Marx to England, where he met several of the Chartist leaders including George Harney[?]. They returned to Brussels in January of 1846 where they set up the Communist Correspondence Committee. The plan was to try and unite socialist leaders living in different parts of Europe. Influenced by Marx's ideas, socialists in England held a conference in London where they formed a new organisation called the Communist League. Engels attended as a delegate and had a great impact on the developed strategy of action.

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 finished in six weeks, written in such a manner as to make communist theory understandable to a wide audience. It was named The Communist Manifesto and was published in February 1848. In March both Engels and Marx were expelled from Belgium. They moved to Cologne where they began to publish a radical newspaper, the New Rhenish Gazette.

By 1849 both were forced to leave the country and moved to London. The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel the two men but the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, held liberal views on freedom of expression and refused. With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty.

In order to help supply Karl Marx with an income, Engels returned to work for his father in Germany. After Marx's death in 1883 Engels devoted the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx's writings. He died in London on August 5, 1895.

Other notable works by Engels:

  • Anti-Duhring
  • Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State
  • The Peasant War in Germany

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