[Marxism] Engels' biography

Einde O'Callaghan eindeoc at freenet.de
Sun Oct 11 10:33:50 MDT 2009

Links to a number of reviews of Tristram Hunt's Engles biography, "The 
Frock-Coated Communist", have been posted in recent weeks. Now a review 
has appeared in the new International Socialism:

An Engels for the bourgeoisie

Issue: 124
Posted: 1 October 09
Katherine Connelly

Tristram Hunt, The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of 
Friedrich Engels (Allen Lane, 2009), £25.00

Ten years ago Paul Foot wrote a review of Francis Wheen’s engaging and 
jovial, if somewhat lightweight, biography of Karl Marx. In the review 
he commented that while most dead left wingers are patronised and 
rehabilitated by the establishment, “detestation of Karl Marx…has 
persisted for over a hundred years”. Not so now. A systemic and global 
crisis of capitalism is so profound that previously smug free-marketeers 
are looking desperately for answers in the writings of two 19th century 
communists who said that capitalism is inherently unstable, that crisis 
is inevitable. The spectre of Marx, which for so long faced an academic 
wall of silence, is haunting the press, the universities, financial 
institutions and booklists. For one reviewer of Hunt’s book “the faddish 
return to Marx visible in sales of some of his books is mostly just a 
sign of loss of nerve”—embarrassing evidence of his class failing to 
keep a stiff upper lip.

Just as governments have turned to state intervention (albeit to bail 
out the rich) after years of the mantra “there is no alternative” to 
laissez-faire capitalism, so we face an ideological somersault from 
establishment figures who are now writing about Marxism.

Tristram Hunt is a product of this contradiction, and perhaps this is 
why the “contradictions of Hegelian proportions” in the public and 
private lives of Frederick Engels appeal to him and lie at the heart of 
his biography....

The rest at <http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=592&issue=124>

Einde O'Callaghan

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