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Contribution to ICOR Webinar on Frederick Engels

MLPD Marxistisch-Leninistische Partei Deutschlands (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany), Lisa Gärtner, 11 February 2021


Dear comrades, I am happy to participate in this webinar. In Germany, in connection with Engels’ 200th birthday there was a full-blown debate over his heritage. It is an indication of the defensive of the anticommunists when all bourgeois parties claim Frederick Engels for themselves or interpret him in their own interest! Gabi Fechtner, MLPD chairwoman, was deleted from the official program of the Engels Year because she is a communist and party politician! The MLPD and its Youth League Rebell answered offensively and with polemics. Finally, on Frederick Engels’ birthday, due to the corona pandemic all cultural, allegedly nonpolitical events were canceled – only the revolutionaries commemorated Frederick Engels with a militant demonstration, on the evening of which in X cities MLPD and Rebell held educational and very moving film events on the lifework of Frederick Engels. That is the dialectics of history! This film meanwhile has been translated into X languages; Arabic is to follow.


1. The most underestimated classic

In our opinion, Frederick Engels is the most underestimated classic also in the revolutionary and working-class movement. Yet his role in developing dialectical and historical materialism is no smaller than that of Marx. Most fundamental writings were joint products of Marx and Engels; great credit is due to Engels for the development of the proletarian world outlook. He actively participated in the revolutionary struggles of the bourgeois revolution.


2. Frederick Engels and the working-class movement, and his development from capitalist’s son to communist

Much was written about the sufferings of the workers even before Engels. But Engels, sooner even than Marx, was first to discover that the workers are the only revolutionary class. He played a leading role in building their parties and international organizations. His pathbreaking works would be good reading today for many a petty bourgeois or old leftist who arrogantly looks down on the working masses. The influence of postmodernism, which today denies the existence and leading revolutionary role of the working class, partly extends even into the revolutionary movement in the form of pushing aside everyday revolutionary work among the working class. Engels betrayed his class roots in the bourgeoisie and merged with the working class.


3. Engels studies the dialectics of nature

Engels had an inquiring and critical mind and was a universal genius. From the religious beliefs of his childhood, through Hegel and Feuerbach in his youth, in a dialectical process together with Marx he developed dialectical materialism. In the work, Dialectics of Nature, he dealt dialectically with all new developments in modern natural science. Through today he is the mentor of anyone who wants to investigate the unity of humanity and nature and its development dialectically and lead the struggle to save it and develop it to a higher level. Since Marx and Engels the dialectical unity of humanity and nature belongs to the principles of Marxism-Leninism. For a few decades it was largely forced into the background, but today urgently must be placed on the agenda.


4. Socialism – from utopia to a science

Lenin sums up Engels’ and Marx’s lifework, saying that they “substituted science for dreams”. With the study of surplus value, the materialist conception of history, and the dialectical method, from a utopia they developed the science of socialism. Modern anticommunism accuses the idea of socialism/communism of utopianism, while it defames socialism as put into practice as a terror regime. Consequently, the struggle for genuine socialism today must inseparably merge with the struggle against anticommunism.


5. Engels – brilliant polemicist, and his Anti-Dühring

It is a great pleasure to read the works of Frederick Engels. One reason is that they are full of spirited polemics. With works like Anti-Dühring he made himself friends and enemies – and developed Marxism-Leninism further. It must be a general lesson to us today: Without polemics there can be no victory over bourgeois ideology! Without polemics, no battle of world outlooks as preliminary to the revolutionary struggles! Without polemics, the workers and the masses cannot come successfully to grips with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking. Scientific polemics is the highest art of the proletarian culture of debate, and when we study Engels, we study both his content and his method of theoretical work.


6. Pioneer of the liberation of women

Frederick Engels’ role as co-founder of the proletarian women’s movement often is neglected. He investigated and developed the twofold conception of production. To this day it is a challenge to any economism in the working-class movement, or to feminism in the women’s movement: Production and reproduction of human beings, the species, on the one hand, and of all means of subsistence, on the other. Society must be analyzed according to the stages of development of labor and of the family.


Frederick Engels was an extraordinary person, equally brilliant and modest. He is a model for every young – and old – revolutionary!

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