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Engels focuses on early human history, following the disintegration of the primitive community and the emergence of a class society based on private property. He looks into the origin and essence of the state, and concludes it is bound to wither away leaving a classless society. The book argues that the first domestic institution in human history was not the family but the matrilineal clan. Engels here follows Lewis H. Morgan's thesis as outlined in his major book, Ancient Society.
Lenin would later describe it as "one of the fundamental works of modern socialism."
Posted October 22, 2011
When I was growing up Engels was a bad guy. He, along with Karl Marx, was honored on postage stamps of the German Democratic Republic in the same way that the Statue of Liberty and Lincoln were honored here. The Cold war is over and it's time to take a fresh view of things.
This book is true to its title. It relies heavily on the work of Lewis Henry Morgan and others with regard to Iriquois and other "uncivilized" societies outside of Europe and on Tacitus and other classical writers with regard to Greeks, Romans, and northern Europeans.
Engels was as subtle as his contemporary Nietzche, meaning he had a bold, forthright, no holds barred approach.
He had the same reasoning as our own Ralph Nader, which is why I wonder how he got to his conclusions.
Nevertheless what he brought to the reader's attention needs to be read and discussed again today.
It would have been nice if the translator or the publisher added a bibliography, but you get what you pay for.
Posted August 24, 2002
What we run into as being the causes of our problems, our families, somall, isolated, at war within and against each other, a government that is set against working people, youth, farmers, oppressed minorities, a pie in the sky religion, and a world where a few own vast riches and most own nothing. It wasn't always this way. Engels probed into the anthropology and the ancient history and provides an important work of science as well as a political analysis that can help us change it all.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2002
Was human society always overseen by a military and police force? Was wealth and the means of producing more wealth always the private possession of individuals or a small section of society? Were women always at the bottom of society, treated primarily as sex objects and machines for child-bearing and child-raising? And is this humanity's destiny? In this book published in 1884, Fredrich Engels answers the above questions in the negative. His book is based on anthropological data available in his day from societies around the globe. New discoveries since have confirmed his conclusions and the book is remarkably relevant today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2002
This is a serious, scientific and materialist analysis of development and change in human society and its institutions. Frederick Engels, who along with Karl Marx was one of the central founders of the modern communist movement, wrote this book in the late 1800s based on the latest developments in the then-new science of anthropology. Studying it can help us understand society and be better prepared to organize and work to change it. Engels takes up the rise of the state and of the family and the oppression of women as early societies became more productive, making possible the division of groups of human beings into those who produce and those who live off them, and the need of the exploiters to perpetuate this state of affairs. The Pathfinder Press edition also has a valuable introduction by Evelyn Reed, long-time socialist activist and author of works including ¿Woman¿s Evolution,¿ ¿Sexism and Science,¿ ¿Cosmetics, Fashion and the Exploitation of Women,¿ and ¿Problems of Women¿s Liberation.¿
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Posted April 27, 2002
Are the father-centered family, private property, and state authority necessary and inevitable parts of all human societies? Frederick Engels, coworker of Karl Marx, says no. Engels demonstrates that the three institutions arose in the fairly recent history of the human race, as a way to establish the rule of the many over the few. And, conversely, when these institutions are an obstacle to human progress, they can be dismantled. Although his book was written about 125 years ago, the subject matter and his point of view sound surprisingly modern. Evelyn Reed, a Marxist anthropologist, writes a 1972 introduction that updates the original work from the point of view of 20th century anthropology debates, and the rise of the modern women¿s movement. An additional short article by Engels, ¿The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man,¿ is a lively piece that could be part of today¿s debates on human origin with almost no hint of its vintage (except maybe his use of the term ¿man¿ for gender-neutral ¿humanity).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.