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Robert Owen

Book Review: A Striking Coincidence

 Although written by a man who lived too early to have studied Marx (and who, in addition, stated, he was no economist, and merely wished to learn from the public men of his day) the following analysis of the causes of the misery following upon the close of the Napoleonic wars is as applicable in its main points to-day as when written over a hundred years ago.

Frederick Engels: A Lifetime's Service

1995 is the Centenary of the death of Karl Marx's friend and collaborator Frederick Engels, and Engels spent his entire adult life working for socialism. A prolific and popular writer as well as indefatigable activist and theorist, his name is justly coupled with that of his life-long friend as the originator of scientific socialism.

Engels became a Socialist (or Communist in the language of the time) earlier than Marx, in October 1842—at the age of 22—after a meeting with Moses Hess. Hess, Engels wrote a year later, was the first of the "Young Hegelians" to embrace socialist ideas, so founding a school of German "philosophical communism".

The Young Hegelians were a group of intellectuals who gave Hegel's philosophical views a radical twist and used them to criticise the then existing political and social order. Engels associated with them when he was in Berlin doing his military service in 1841-2.

A Question of Definition (2) Class and Reform

Class was originally a general term for a division or a group and was thus equivalent to modern “category”. Thus it had no particular social significance but from the period 1770 to 1840 it came increasingly to be used to describe divisions in society. Williams explains its displacing of previous words for social divisions such as rank, order, estate, degree by the fact that, unlike them, class did not imply a hierarchical arrangement of society—such as feudalism had been but as (an) emerging capitalism was not.

A Question of Definition (4) - Socialism/Communism

Socialism is the name we give to the new society we wish to see the working class establish, defined in our Object as “a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community”.

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