Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the Stateby Frederick Engels, Friedrich Engels
Pub. Date: 06/01/1972
Publisher: Pathfinder Press GA
This work first tried (perhaps in rivalry with the Owens utopian movement) to set the fall of matriarchy as the origin of all class society. Engels' work follows Marx's lead in the study of Lewis H. Morgan's Ancient Society Or Researches In The Lines Of Hum an Progress From Savagery, Through Barbarism To Civilization, (New York, 1877), considering societies based on… See more details below
This work first tried (perhaps in rivalry with the Owens utopian movement) to set the fall of matriarchy as the origin of all class society. Engels' work follows Marx's lead in the study of Lewis H. Morgan's Ancient Society Or Researches In The Lines Of Hum an Progress From Savagery, Through Barbarism To Civilization, (New York, 1877), considering societies based on class and property as developing materialistically from origins based on sexual ties and the inevitable disharmony of the two social states. Engels credits Morgan with "finding in the sexual organizations of the North American Indians the key that opens all the unfathomable riddles of most ancient Greek, Roman & German history." Engels extends Morgan's "epochal" work to German & Celtic application. Attention is paid to the role of the family in primitive society, barbarism and civilization, the various schools and trends with respect to the concept of social stages, the forms of property kinship and marriage, and the subjugation of women in relation to the emergence of private property classes and state
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Table of Contents
|The Iroquois Gens||102|
|The Grecian Gens||120|
|Origin of the Attic State||131|
|Gens and State in Rome||145|
|The Gens Among Celts and Germans||158|
|The Rise of the State Among Germans||176|
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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 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.
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).
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.¿