Engels: A Very Short Introduction

Engels: A Very Short Introduction

Engels: A Very Short Introduction

Engels: A Very Short Introduction


It is by no means absurd to say that Engels invented Marxism. His work did more than Marx to make converts of the most influential political movement of modern times. He was not only the father of dialectical and historical materialism, the official philosophies of history and science in many communist countries; he was also the first Marxist historian, anthropologist, philosopher, and commentator on early Marx. In his later years Engels developed his materialist interpretation of history, his chief intellectual legacy, which has had revolutionary effects on the arts and social sciences. Terrell Carver traces its source and its effect on the development of Marxist theory and practice, assesses its utility, and discusses the difficulties which Marxists have encountered in defending it.


While there are many books on Marx and Marxism there are few books on Engels, and even fewer that take him seriously as a thinker. In this one I have attempted a close study of Engels's ideas. To a large extent I have allowed him to speak for himself, since his own words are suitably vivid. It has been my object to interest the reader in Engels's thought and its implications for contemporary social science and politics.

I am grateful to the University of Liverpool for granting me study leave to begin this book, and I am indebted to those who supported my application, as well as to my students there. I should like to thank Catherine Payne and Mary Woods for their careful and critical attention to my typescript, and Larry Wilde, Henry Hardy, Keith Thomas and an anonymous adviser for their very helpful suggestions.

I should like to dedicate this book to David McLellan.


September 1980 . . .

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