ENGELS DIED TODAY -- BOOK REPORT
jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Mon Aug 7 21:15:54 MDT 1995
I agree with Ralph that Engels is underrated and neglected where he is not
vilified and misrepresented. It should be noted that E was alsoa
pioneering theorist of women's liberation and belongs with J.S. Mill as
amond the male forebears of the women's movement. In some ways I think
that this work deserves to be regarded as Engel's chief original
contribution to Marxism.
Engels wrote a lot on the military, and some of it was good, but I do not
think he deserves to called a "military genius" or even a military
theorist of genius on a par with, say, Clausewitz.
Engels ought to be honored by careful reading and careful criticism--lest
Changing the subject, Sidney Hoopk's first two books on Marxism are very
good. His long-out-of print Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx is a
powerful statement of the Marxism as Pragmatism view that I hold myself.
(Arrived at seperately--the book is hard to find, as it is so radical that
Hook's estate will not allow it to be reprinted.) The second book, From
Hegel to Marx, which Ralph has been quoted, is one of the best studies of
the young Marx and the young Hegelians. Hook's careful commentary on the
Theses on Feuerbach alone is worth the price--which is considerable, as
the book has, I believe, been repoublished by Columbia. Old U-M Press
Press paperbacks are widely available though. Hook's switch to the right
was a great loss to Marxist theory, as well as to Hook, who never wrote
anything worth redaing after making it.
I regret to say that I cannoit rejoin the list for now--law school starts
in two weeks and I have five classes each semester. I miss y'all.
On Sat, 5 Aug
1995, Ralph Dumain wrote:
> FRIEDRICH ENGELS: IN MEMORIAM
> Today, August 5, is the centenary of Friedrich Engels' death. The world has gone on now for exactly one century without Engels. And look where we are today. A few days ago I read FRIEDRICH ENGELS: A BIOGRAPHY by Gustav Mayer (New York, Alfred A. Knopf
, 1936). This is neither a scholarly tome nor a history of ideas, but a dramatic portrait of Engels as a man of action. The book does not always give a full historical background behind all the events which took place, but from reading the book I got a l
iving sense of Engels and Marx and the times they lived through. From now on I will be more likely to avoid the temptation to treat their writings as disembodied philosophical treatises a la Bhaskar.
> The author paints a vivid portrait of Engels' character. He is contrasted with Marx (p. 48-53). Engels was more practical than Marx, quicker to make judgments, and as sure and quick in his writing as he was in action, where Marx was more hesitant,
more nervous and temperamental, less smooth and facile in expression, but nonetheless a deeper thinker. Engels was not only modest but always insisted in Marx's premier importance over his own. Marx is reported to have ultimately deeper, less impetuous
political judgment than Engels (p. 96). Engels was more wont to take life as it comes and enjoy the goods of this world (p. 104).
> I learned much that was new to me. I did not know that Engels was such a military and geopolitical genius. Engels not only had military experience but steeped himself in military science and apparently had a superb grasp of it. Engels was also keen up
to the end of his life on geopolitical considerations of both international and domestic (German) politics, with much advice on revolutionary tactics to give. I was also surprised to learn that Engels was preoccupied toward the end of life with seeking a
strategy for the workers movement to prevent the World War he foresaw and social patriotism as its virtually inevitable consequence. The one area neglected by the book (and Engels?) is the issue of colonialism in Africa and Asia at the end of the century
and Germany's role.
> I shall look forward to other reading recommendations with an eye towards Engels as a thinker. I am not happy with the intellectual treatment of Engels as a cardboard figure. And since this is the centenary, I hope we can pursue, as at least one person
has recommended, an examination of Engels' contributions. Freddy boy, here's a toast to you. Lest we forget. Lest we forget.
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