Revisiting Engels: History, Gender & Class


  • Marnie Holborow Socialist Workers Network


Friedrich Engels, as is well known, was Marx’s lifelong friend, collaborator, and comrade. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels used Marx’s notes on the US anthropologist Louis Henry Morgan as the basis for perhaps his most famous book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. The importance of the book is that it marked the first Marxist attempt to bring together history, gender, and class. Engels provided a historical materialist explanation of women’s oppression whose political conclusion was that capitalism was a gendered and exploitative system, and that tackling oppression meant taking on capitalism.