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It was during his time in Berlin that Engels became a communist, and also an atheist, something that would have been very shocking to his devoutly Protestant family. He believed that a communist revolution was inevitable somewhere in Europe, due to the oppressed conditions of its workers and their vast numbers.
Friedrich Engels, (born Nov. 28, 1820, Barmen, Rhine province, Prussia [Germany]—died Aug. 5, 1895, London, Eng.), German socialist philosopher, the closest collaborator of Karl Marx in the foundation of modern communism. They coauthored The Communist Manifesto (1848), and Engels edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx’s death.
Engels grew up in the environment of a family marked by moderately liberal political views, a steadfast loyalty to Prussia, and a pronounced Protestant faith.
His father was the owner of a textile factory in Barmen and also a partner in the Ermen & Engels cotton plant in Manchester, Eng.
Even after Engels openly pursued the revolutionary goals that threatened the traditional values of the family, he usually could count on financial aid from home.
The influence of his mother, to whom he was devoted, may have been a factor in preserving the tie between father and son.
actions as the father
Aside from such disciplinary actions as the father considered necessary in rearing a gifted but somewhat rebellious son, the only instance in which his father forced his will on Engels was in deciding upon a career for him.
accordingly, spent the next three years (1838–41) in Bremen acquiring practical business experience in the offices of an export firm.
show the capacity for living
In Bremen, Engels began to show the capacity for living the double life that characterized his middle years.
During regular hours, he operated effectively as a business apprentice.
An outgoing person, he joined a choral society, frequented the famed Ratskeller tavern, became an expert swimmer, and practiced fencing and riding (he outrode most Englishmen in the fox hunts).
Engels also cultivated his capacity for learning languages; he boasted to his sister that he knew 24.
In private, however, he developed an interest in liberal and revolutionary works, notably the banned writings of “Young German” authors such as Ludwig Börne, Karl Gutzkow.
and Heinrich Heine. But he soon rejected them as undisciplined and inconclusive in favour of the more systematic and all embracing philosophy of G.W.F.
Hegel as expounded by the “Young Hegelians,” a group of leftist intellectuals, including the theologian and historian Bruno Bauer and the anarchist Max Stirner.
They accepted the Hegelian dialectic—basically that rational progress and historical change result from the conflict of opposing views, ending in a new synthesis.
The Young Hegelians were bent on accelerating the process by criticizing all that they considered irrational, outmoded, and repressive.
As their first assault was directed against the foundations of Christianity, they helped convert an agnostic Engels into a militant atheist.
a relatively easy task since by this time Engels’s revolutionary convictions made him ready to strike out in almost any direction.
Conversion to communism
After his discharge in 1842, Engels met Moses Hess, the man who converted him to communism.
Hess, the son of wealthy Jewish parents and a promoter of radical causes and publications.
demonstrated to Engels that the logical consequence of the Hegelian philosophy and dialectic was communism.
Hess also stressed the role that England, with its advanced industry.
burgeoning proletariat, and portents of class conflict, was destined to play in future upheavals.
Engels eagerly seized the opportunity to go to England.
ostensibly to continue his business training in the family firm in Manchester.
Partnership with Marx
On his way to Barmen, Engels went to Paris for a 10-day visit with Marx, whom he had earlier met in Cologne. This visit resulted in a permanent partnership to promote the socialist movement. Back in Barmen, Engels published Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England (1845; The Condition of the Working Class in England), a classic in a field that later became Marx’s specialty.
Last years of Friedrich Engels
After Marx’s death (1883), Engels served as the foremost authority on Marx and Marxism.
Aside from occasional writings on a variety of subjects and introductions to new editions of Marx’s works, Engels completed volumes 2 and 3 of Das Kapital (1885 and 1894) on the basis of Marx’s uncompleted manuscripts and rough notes.
Engels’s other two late publications were the books Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats (1884; The Origin of the Family.