Read The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan by Friedrich Engels Eleanor Burke Leacock Online


Prepared by Prof. Eleanor B. Leacock who examined Engels' major conclusions in the light of more recent anthropological researches, supplied notes to the text, and a bibliography. Engels' essay, "The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, " is an Appendix....

Title : The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan
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ISBN : 9780717803590
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Number of Pages : 274 Pages
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The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan Reviews

  • Nathan
    2019-03-17 01:44

    I read Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State in the interest of sorting out the Marx-Engels position on the family and for background to the frequently mis-read passage in The Communist Manifesto about the “community of women.”Engels composed Origin, published in 1884, from notes he and Marx had made from their reading of the anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery Through Barbarism to Civilization (1877). Regarding Morgan, Engels says, “in his own way [he] discovered afresh in America the materialistic conception of history discovered by Marx 40 years ago.” Morgan’s study involves analysis of the social organization of the Iroquois nation from an anthropological perspective. This analysis of “barbarian” Iroquois society (“barbarian” being a value neutral term for the stage of societal development between “savage” and “civilization”), structured upon a “gens” system (a complicated familial system to be contrasted with the bourgeois, patriarchal, “nuclear” family), is used as the basis from which to trace the emergence of “civilization” and its attendant class divisions, rise of the commodity, suppression of women, and rise of the state. After a description of the Iroquois society, Engels describes the transformation of the gens-based organizations of society in Athens, Rome, and Germany into state organizations with their attendant divisions of classes, development of slavery, etc. All of which would tend to feel like a fall from a state of egalitarianism into an oppressive “civilization.” But there is, of course, no return.Written in 1884 Origin is clearly outdated in terms of the rigors of current anthropological data and methodologies. Oddly, though, Engels’ work feels less dated than does the editorial material provided by Leacock in this 1971 edition. I assume that this is the case due to Engels’ interest in the broader theoretical strokes and outlines than in the details of data. Certainly portions of Origin can be set aside on the basis of more modern anthropology, but data is not the reason for reading this volume. The interest in this volume is for teasing out the Marx-Engels position on the status of the family.The first impression one always receives upon reading any anthropology is that societies are not necessarily organized in the manner in which I have experienced my society. And the same goes for the structure of the family. There is no necessity in the organization of the family as a “nuclear” family; it is contingent and changes over time according to its conditions. The Marx-Engels thesis, in a nutshell, is that the family is organized according to the needs of the modes of production of any given society. The family under capitalism is organized in the interests of private property. Period. Its purpose is to regulate the private ownership of the means of production. Inheritance laws make this a rather uncontroversial thesis. It is the fundamental unit of organization in a capitalist society. In contrast, Morgan’s study of the Iroquois describes a society without knowledge of private property, a society more or less egalitarian, and with a family structure based upon the gens, a family organization fully distinct from the patriarchal. When paternity is never certain, familial organization can only operate along matrilineal lines. When the possession by men of the means of production arises, men must assert control of the women so that they may know that their property will pass to their own heirs.What does all this mean for the communist? That the family, as a fundamental economic unit for the organization of private property, will disappear when private ownership of the means of production is eliminated. Does this mean that women will be herded into whorehouses? By no means. But such is the practice under a system of private property, when labor is a commodity, women are commodities, and marriages take place in the interest of the transfer of property. Only under a communist organization of society for the needs of its citizens, will the pure sexual love of persons, as sung by our most romantical poets, be freed from the fetters of inheritance and economic anxieties. When the woman is not chained out of economic dependency to a man, or vice versa, or when the economic well being of children is not dependent upon two people not loving each other, only then can relationships based solely upon affection flourish. Far from the communists creating a “community of women” they would create the social and economic conditions in which relationships would only be formed and sustained upon “true love.” Thus, the patriarchal family structure, like religion, will disappear upon the elimination of private ownership of the means of production; when marriages will be made and sustained on the basis of love and not upon economic anxiety.Engels’ own words, clearer, perhaps than mine:“But what will quite certainly disappear from monogamy are all the features stamped upon it through its origin in property relations; these are, in the first place, supremacy of the man and secondly, the indissolubility of marriage. The supremacy of the man in marriage is the simple consequence of his economic supremacy, and with the abolition of the latter will disappear of itself. The indissolubility of marriage is partly a consequence of the economic situation in which monogamy arose, partly tradition from the period when the connection between this economic situation and monogamy was not yet fully understood and was carried to extremes under a religious form. Today it is already broken through at a thousand points. If only the marriage based on love is moral, then also only the marriage is moral in which love continues. But the intense emotion of individual sex love varies very much in duration from one individual to another, especially among men, and if affection definitely comes to an end or is supplanted by a new passionate love, separation is a benefit for both partners as well as for society--only people will then be spared having to wade through the useless mire of a divorce case.“What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production [which is merely another word for “communism” --NR] is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman's surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences.”This final paragraph of the quote should be kept in mind any time someone asks about what this future “communist utopia” will look like and how it will be structured. It will depend upon the will of those never having been corrupted by social relations dominated by exploitative economic relations and the commodity.One should also note that Marx-Engels have little or no interest in your sex lives. The regulation of and preoccupation with sexual practices is a trope of the liberal bourgeois. It is their own hang ups and obsessions which they project upon the communists; their own fantasies they imagine the communists realizing. The liberal bourgeois preoccupation with correct sexual relations has little to do with love and has everything do to with the maintenance of capitalist property relations. Nor should we fall for that most treacherous of ideological traps, “Won’t someone please think of the children?” Capitalist relations are not healthy for children, not when their parents are little more than wage-slaves or relegated to the rolls of the unemployed.Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your bourgeois morality!___________A note on the edition:For those interested, there exist several editions and translations. I have made no thorough comparison. Penguin has the newer translation, but it appears to lack annotations which would be, in my opinion, very helpful in excavating the 19th century anthropology upon which Engels based his work. Contrasts with our current state of anthropological data would be a very important element of a thorough edition. Leacock’s 1971 edition, which I read, does include a number of annotations in this regard, but her notes feel even more outdated than Engels’ text. The short selection found in the Tucker Marx-Engels Reader would seem rather too little, but the full volume maybe more than the average student of Marx would require. I would recommend the chapters II, III, and IX, “The Family,” “The Iroquois Gens,” and “Barbarism and Civilization.” Leacock also includes a report from a Russian anthropologist entitled “A Recently Discovered Case of Group Marriage” and Engels’ unfinished text “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition From Ape to Man.”Addendum: Engels’ style proved to be wittier and demonstrating a stronger ironic sense than I had anticipated. Perhaps he is still not the rhetorician that Marx is, but his prose here is not as awful as his completion of Kapital is reputed to be.

  • Edward
    2019-03-05 21:26

    IntroductionNote on the Text--The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the StateGlossary of Some Contemporary Terms and Concordance with Engels's UsageIndex

  • Helen
    2019-03-02 18:18

    The book, written in 1884, examines controversies of the time as to the origin of the State. Research and knowledge available up to that point seem to point to common levels of human progress which the author says confirms his idea that society was once based on a communistic model. He cites information on the American Indians, the German tribes that conquered Rome (and why Rome fell), how Greek society was organized prior to a State organization. Engels says that all State structures are designed to assist the exploiters exploit the exploited. Simply put, monogamy and private property are linked in antiquity, with slavery also coming into existence because of the inability of the herd-owning man to care by himself for his livestock. Once primeval society had become more complex, including the production of excess goods for trade, there was a need for more workers and that was when raiding parties began capturing defeated enemies to turn into slaves. The State in classical antiquity was able to keep order in Greek cities that contained many times more slaves than free Greeks. The antithesis to the State is the former communistic system of common, shared land, lack of money, and no poor, no rich, no need for police or State, no concept of private ownership of flocks or land. The author discusses in detail how these societies were organized and states that American Indian society was based along communistic concepts. The author states that tribes, if they are organized along matriarchal lines - because of group marriage/casual pairing being allowed - which the author states is the original social organization of mankind, tribal affiliation is first and foremost - he states that in the Pacific NW, sometimes entire tribes occupied one long house, while in other areas of the US, a number of families might occupy a long house, and share the use of canoes, land. There might be individual allotments of land for garden plots, but the allotments might be re-allocated, and there was no concept that the land was actually the current holder's property, or that the land could be bought/sold. The author mentions the use of cattle as money at a certain stage of social development, and the eventual supplanting of cattle with coinage/money - which thereafter took on a life of its own. He is particularly negative toward middle-men and merchants, using various colorful phrases to describe their parasitic existence since they are not involved in production directly. The edition I read was a wonderful edition copyright 1902 by Charles H. Kerr & Company, which included the Translator's Preface (by Ernest Untermann, written in Chicago in August 1902) as well as the Author's preface to the first edition (1884) and Author's preface to the Fourth Edition (1891). I actually did not think this book is that well-written, nor does it seem particularly scholarly or rigorous. The author occasionally slides into polemics - but not very often. I could follow his reasoning, which was based on knowledge collected up to that point. I have no doubt that much of what he says is actually true, and is not well-publicized since it would point to various uncomfortable facts about the organization of human society and the State in general (that is, any State). One thing I did notice is the author's marked pro-German slant, which is, perhaps unsurprising considering the author was a German. The tribal German past, the theory that the German tribes invigorated Europe by conquering Rome, and the admiration for the German respect for women, work, democracy, is remarkable - he seems to think that the outpouring or migration of German tribes from Germany into Northern France and thence to England, means that these three geographic areas (Germany, France, England) received the impetus toward democracy from their Germanic tribal heritage. I suppose the US - founded by Americans of English descent - then could be said to have also benefited from the tribes. (Interestingly, it's said that the Founders may have drawn some inspiration from the political organization of the Iroquois Federation - but were they really aware of the analogies of Germanic tribes, that they also had common lands, group marriage, and so forth?) I'm not sure the author's analysis can explain the origin of the State, as an extension of the oppression of women in a monogamous marriage, and the development of the concept of private property, with the rise of herding culture and the need for additional labor with the development of commodity production. The book is obviously key to understanding theories of communism - ideally, the State would disappear as classes disappeared with the disappearance of private property (or most private property). I think this book challenges many concepts that are deeply ingrained in human society, such as lineage traced through the father. The author claims that once the man laid claim to ownership of herds, and with it the concept of private property , and the woman was in effect locked into non-social work in the home, classes arose as it became possible to amass larger herds, masses of slaves, and so forth. The State arose because of the contradictions in society - the fact that there were many slaves (or, in the general, the exploited) or the poor free people, vs. the rich (whether or not they owned slaves). A mechanism had to be set up to keep order in a society that included vast inequality and exploitation, as well as a way to ensure women's or the wife's "subservience." The mechanism was the State, which Engels says was set up - in any form it might take - to maintain the conditions for continued exploitation, ownership of private property. He directly links the rise of the State to the rise of private property, and claims that the rise of the concept of private property occurred when the men in the former matriarchal-lineage tribes began to claim livestock as their own property, rather than held in common by the tribe. The men previously had been hunters, and made their own tools/weapons, which they owned. Once livestock was tamed, they realized it was no longer necessary to constantly hunt and much more and varied food was then available, which permitted populations to expand. Cattle became the equivalent of money. Once the man had split off from the tribe, patriarchy took hold - and the man's interest was descent, insuring his wealth (since now there was a concept of private property/wealth) would descend to his heirs on his death. Hence the need to essentially "imprison" the female - the end of group marriage or casual pairing, the end of polyandry (where it might have existed) - although adultery and prostitution simultaneously arose with monogamy/polygamy. Engels traces the entire state of affairs to covetousness - the focus on acquisition. In this, the link to the revolutionary message of Christianity is evident. On a religious side, greed is said to be wrong, there is rhetoric "The meek shall inherit the Earth" and that there will be a "Kingdom of Heaven" on Earth as opposed to the secular State, which is perhaps organized to protect private property, as Engels says. Yet, after approximately 2,000 years of Xian teaching that greed is not good, along with the example of Jesus himself, who obviously personally shunned private property, nothing has changed - other than that more and more information is amassed on social organization and development. Engels was obviously a reformer who decried the exploitation ongoing in his time. Serfdom persisted in his time in Russia. To say that communism - no, or not much private property, thus no need for a State to protect private property - was the answer to exploitation, which is the message of Marx and the other communist thinkers, is perhaps an oversimplification. Also, it is extremely difficult to re-engineer human nature now after ?4,000+ years of private property/patriarchy. In fact, I don't think it would have worked even had communism overspread the entire Earth, as envisioned by various thinkers. There is a lot of what Engels says that seems to make sense, such as, mankind once was organized along tribal lines, and as tribes, there was no private property (other than perhaps a few garden plots although they were not "owned" per se and could be re-allocated) other than implements (hunting implements made and owned by the males, agricultural/cooking/weaving/sewing implements made and owned individually by the females). There was little trade, and no need for money. There were no tame livestock, and cooperation was needed to hunt. The animals so hunted were then shared with the tribe. According to Engels, this was the ideal, because it was a completely flat/classless society. Democracy was in force with participation of women as well as men at council meetings. North American Indian society, since it had not tamed livestock (and no livestock had been tamed in the W. hemisphere other than the turkey in Mexico and the llama in Peru, according to the author) was therefore free of greed/private property/monogamy/patriarchy (although men were the warriors/political and war leaders). Thus, American Indian society as it was discovered/described by European settlers/scholars post-Discovery/Conquest is said to offer a glimpse into an earlier stage of human development in general. The development of herding and private ownership of livestock is thus given as the key factor that led to the concept of society organized to protect private property, or, the State. And several thousand years of private property ownership, State structures probably in place to protect same, patriarchy, and so forth - is it possible to erase it all? Obviously, the experiments with communism in the last century didn't work out as expected, maybe because the State was still in force, and there was no democracy despite democracy being a key feature of prehistoric/early communistic/tribal society. Probably, the unplanned/random aspects of tribal life were what led to the lack of a need for private property. Remember, in those days, without herding, without much agriculture, there was "enforced" cooperation, because in order to survive, hunting/fishing/collecting seafood/gathering vegetables/fruits/wild grains needed to be done probably constantly. If there were no herds of livestock, there was no need to feed the herds. The development of organized large-scale grain agriculture is traced to the need to provide fodder for herds - grain was first grown for animals, according to Engels, and humans only later began eating the grain they were feeding to cattle. A hunting/gathering/communistic society could not "take off" demographically because of the limited number of foods, uncertain food supply despite the vast amount of wildlife. If there was a never-ending need to hunt/fish & subsistence/rudimentary agriculture, there would have been little time/energy left for anything else. What Engels misses is the attachment of humans to "anything else" - that is, activities that do not directly involve day-to-day existence/survival. It is very difficult to detach humans from their affection for all the things that are uniquely human, after all, albeit they may have only been enabled by the accumulation of private property enabling leisure/study, and could have only existed as long as there was a market for these products, i.e. a great deal of extra money accumulated many times through exploitation if not slavery. Let's say human society never did move much beyond tribal organization, with no classes, no private property, no monogamy although there might be casual pairing bonds, and no need to ensure descent along the male line, since the only "guaranteed" descent was through the female line and in any event any property was held in common by the tribe; and contrast that to the world today. You can even try to transpose the situation of several thousand years ago, or perhaps the tribal situation in North America (according to Engels) to today's world. How could you do it, and would you want to do it? The question is: Is the bare-bones private-property less social arrangement, the communistic tribe, the only way to achieve a completely flat/non-exploiting society that contains no rich and no poor, no social classes whatsoever? Are money and the State the hallmarks of exploitation and class differences based on property? Is private property inextricably intertwined with poverty, exploitation, slavery, female "imprisonment" in the home, patriarchy? It is truly difficult to say that the tribal arrangement is superior; I think much human development - such as inventions such as a written language probably did arise in response to questions of ownership/taxation/laws regarding the preservation of private property which may have initially consisted of livestock. Once mankind moved beyond the hunter-gatherer subsistence agriculture existence, and figured out how to tame and keep livestock, how can you undo what must have been as progress (more food available year-round, guaranteed food supply without hunting). The expansion of the population must have proved to the tribe that livestock ownership was a superior system to hunting - and at that point, it would not take long before private ownership of livestock was claimed, by those who tamed the cattle and wished to keep them around year-round (covetousness rather than sharing the livestock with the tribe as before animals that were hunted had been shared). There was an excess of cattle - more than needed to go around. The man may have wanted to ensure that his descendants only inherited his wealth (the cattle) and so patriarchy rather than group marriage/casual pairing began - including eventually the seclusion of women. At the same time, adultery, prostitution started once monogamy started. Private property - keeping livestock - which was based on covetousness (or possibly a tribal herd had become too big to manage collectively and it had to be split up among initially nominal "owners" or responsible people who eventually became actual owners) led to many social ills, in this analysis. The issue was the rise of the concept of (a) private property that could therefore be (b) inherited by an individual, such as a descendant or other kin, as opposed to tribal/collective property that cannot be inherited by any individual tribal member, but belongs instead to the tribe/collective group. Engels is saying the issue is covetousness/greed/self-interest. How has the tribal model of human organization worked in human history vs. the private property model (whether under monarchy/democracy)? Engels is right in that the tribe that lived collectively/communistic system probably did lack social classes/conflict, in the absence of private property. Yet that form of social organization did not result in a "critical mass" of population. In areas of sparse population, it may be that it is difficult to advance in terms of what we know as, or call, progress. Is a population safer or more successful living in a relatively small group with no private property, no social discord, or in a much larger group? Do numbers alone signify success? Is demographic advance the indicator of success? How can success be measured? An expanded population base that can therefore become more specialized, and possibly hit upon inventions such as the wheel, or writing, or other developments? Learning is synonymous with progress, but is it synonymous with success, in discussing all of humankind. Engels uses the terms "savagery" "barbarism" and "civilization" and divides these periods into phases, in discussing the progress of mankind. Tribalism is in the "barbarism" or higher barbarism period. For Engels, civilization, linked to the rise of the State, is therefore a problem - because of the simultaneous development of private property/monogamy/woman's loss of status/class differences. However, Engels can only make these observations as a man who is only able to perceive and comment on these issues because of civilization (having gone to school and become a scholar and so forth). If Engels were living in a tribe what would he know? The paradox is that we can only know that there are indeed problems, by living within a State (as a product of the problem). Of course there are many problems - and individuals have come up many times over history to point out injustices. Some have lived and some have died, because the entrenched interests didn't want to see anyone upset the apple-cart of exploitation. The new ideas are then sometimes coopted by the establishment. Engels mentions how large church organization in the Middle Ages (abbeys) tricked small farmers into transferring land titles to the church, in exchange for protection, although the church itself was supposed to be carrying out a new, more fair, social schema as set forth by Jesus. Engels decries specialization, production of commodities, the market, the merchants, middle-men - even the rise of money as a symbolic form of wealth that supplanted cattle, which was according to Engels, the first form of money. But Engels would not have been in a position to comment about all this had it not been for the society made possible by these "ills." He simply would not have known because he wouldn't have been affected by the problems, as a tribesman living in a tribe with no private property. Certainly, human development diverged at the point when the tribal model split into individual households with private herds of livestock, as opposed to the original tribal model. I do not think Engels has thought through the paradox of how the good that arose with the branch that began keeping livestock, can be retained, in a setting of a sort of return to tribal life (no money, no classes, no private property, no State). Was life in the tribe boring? I'm not sure Engels has addressed the question of what tribal life - possibly unchanging, or possibly satisfying - represented, as opposed to life with private property.Also, once you have given people a materially better life - such as additional food, which might not have been possible with collective herding - it's not so easy to take it away. But, is the only way to give people a better life through the accumulation of private property/wealth/class divisions etc? Is civilization linked to injustice, if civilization always involves the development of private property and the State? Even if that were true, how many would willingly wish to return to a more backward form of social organization in order to avoid the downsides of civilization? I do not think these thinkers thought through the implications of communism especially with respect to the State, which never did wither away. What they wanted to give to the people, had only become possible under a State system, or a system of private property (i.e. more of everything). The most important thing the people didn't have when they were exploited in pre-revolutionary days, communism couldn't give, because of the fear that covetousness would win over idealism: Democracy. Today, the culture of "more" is more prevalent than ever - arrogance/egoism/selfishness/greed is glorified. Income inequality is decried, but people still mock the opposite - sharing, selflessness, the group (vs. the individual). Engels would be dumbstruck by the exponential expansion of the world's population since the late 19th Century - what would he make of the 20th Century communist experiments? Would he still predict the imminent demise of capitalism - along with private property, the family, classes, exploitation, the State?

  • Salah
    2019-03-03 00:25

    كما يدل العنوان يتناول الكتاب مباحث ثلاثة:1-الحياة الاجتماعية في المجتمعات البدائية التي تكونت من العشيرة ذات الحق الأمي كوحدة بناء للمجتمع (القبيلة) وكيفية التزاوج وتطورها من الزواج الجماعي إلى الزواج الثنائي ثم بعدها الزواج الفردي، وكيف تحول هذا الوضع الاجتماعي تدريجياً إلى ما نحن عليه الآن من نظام اجتماعي يتكون من الأسرة والعائلة كأصغر وحدة لبناء المجتمع ينتسب فيها الإنسان لأبيه وليس لأمه والزواج فردي يسيطر فيه الرجل على المرآة وعلى العائلة بما يملك من قوة اقتصادية ظهرت بعد اكتشاف الزراعة2-النظام الاقتصادي لدى البدائيين الذي يصفه ماركس وإنجلز بالشيوعية البدائية حيث كانت الملكية الخاصة في أضيق الحدود وكان الإنسان يحيا على الصيد والثمار التي كانت مشاع للجميع ولا يملكها أحد، ويظهر العمل الجماعي المنظم تنظيما تلقائياً لإدارة بيوت تحوي المئات من الأفراد يشتركون في أعمال الصيد وقطف الثمار والاعمال المنزلية واليدوية وكيف يتوزع الإنتاج بين أفراد القبيلة بشكل تلقائي عادل دون الحاجة للنقود ولا المقايضة ولا المتاجرة ولا المضاربة، التي ظهرت لاحقاً مع ظهور الزراعة حيث بدأ الفرد يخصص لنفسه قطعة أرض يزرعها ويمنع الآخرين من استخدامها، حينها ظهرت اولى أشكال الملكية الخاصة، وأولى أشكال خضوع المرأة للرجل حيث كان الأقدر على حماية الأراضي الزراعية، فكان هو المالك والمتحكم اقتصاديا في زوجته وفي الأسرة. ويتحدث عن التخصص وتقسيم العمل ودورهما في ظهور النقود ومن ثم ظهور طبقة التجار التي تعمل كوسطاء للمنتجين فيربحون بلا إنتاج، بل ويتحكمون في الطبقات المنتجة ويستعبدونهم عن طريق شراء قدرتهم على العمل.3- النظام السياسي والهيكل الإداري والتشريعي عند البدائيين والذي يتميز بالالتحام الشديد بالمجتمع وفقا لما يراه إنجلز؛ فتتخذ القرارات في العشيرة بالإجماع ويحق للجميع الكلام في اجتماعاتها والتعبير عن رأيه بحرية وإذا كان الأمر يمثل شأنا لعموم القبيلة يرسل ممثل عن العشيرة إلى اجتماع القبيلة يعبر عن رأي العشيرة الذي توصل إليه أفرادها في اجتماعاتها، ويتخذ القرار أيضاً بالإجماع ويرسل ممثلاً عن القبيلة يتم اختياره بالانتخاب إلى اجتماع مجلس القبائل الذي يتخذ القرارات التي تخص القبائل بشكل عام. ويتحدث إنجلز عن تطور هذا النموذج السياسي ليصل بالتدريج إلى شكل الدولة البطريركية التي أصبح فيها الحاكم وصياً على الشعب وملكاً لهم.

  • Jennifer Lynn Harrison
    2019-03-20 19:43

    One of the very first IMPORTANT works that I ever read in university. This provoked discussion among my friends and felt RELEVANT despite being so very old. If Karl Marx is too 'dry' for you (or too long!) then try Engels, Marx's tag team partner in thought! --Jen from Quebec :0)

  • Varad Deshmukh
    2019-02-21 00:33

    Friedrich Engels takes you on a tour around the evolution of the human society into the current establishment we take for granted as the ever-existing standard. No doubt there are many holes left in this study of anthropology, it provides a systematic study into the transformation of an egalitarian society of humans in their primitive stages (savagery/barbarism) to a state-controlled monogamist society (civilization). I. What’s good about the book?Its a great introduction to anthropology for everyone, inspite of the political inclinations of the author. Engels provides an explanation of how the economic conditions slowly influenced the social structure and changed the woman-centric group family into a monogamistic male-centric slave-owning one. Engels bases his foundations on Lewis H. Morgan’s kinship theory, the American anthropologist/social theorist. Although many aspects of Morgan’s anthropology theory have been rejected by the modern day anthropologists, Engels cannot be simply thrown away. The matrilineal structure of a group family in the early tribes has been proven of recent [1][2]. Thus, inspite of the outdatedness of the theory built and possibly many faults with it, it is definitely worth re-assessing it again in light of recent findings. II. Some of the let-downs/problems with the book1. Engels has sadly not considered Indian societal structure, when he claims how exogamy amongst tribes was the norm amongst the Native American tribes. India exhibits an exact opposite norm of endogamy amongst tribes, owing to its caste system. The Indian system does have a system of “gotras” to prevent intermarriage amongst kins, but nevertheless, its a complicated system with endogamy at the top. 2. I found certain claims in the book a bit abrupt without a scientific backing, and need to dig in further to verify them. a. The woman did not own any means of production but was more involved in household work. It seems a bit contradictory to me, given that women are known to be involved in agriculture/food gathering since antiquity. Additionally, women have been involved in many handicraft activities, its difficult to not own the means. b. The woman was responsible for moving away from the group marriage into a pairing-family relationship which ultimately led to monogamy. Engels says that the woman found the group marriage inconvenient under growing population in a settling human community. However, why that was the case is not clearly mentioned. 3. Engels seems to show a remarkable personal hatred towards traders and middle-men, which I feel is not befitting a scientific objective thesis.4. The flow of the book is a bit irksome. Explanations/elaborations for some of the claims in the book come much later. III Brief Summary1. Evolution of Economic ActivityEngels takes the example of a number of tribes which were evolving in different regions across the world -- the Iroquois Native Americans, the Athenians, Romans, Germans and Celts. Each of these start out in the form of a group marriage (everyone in group A is married to everyone in group B), arranging themselves with the “gens” as a basic unit/clan, and undergoing further super-grouping the forms of phratries and tribes. Engels describes how each of these societies ended up into become a centrally controlled state held together by capitalism and mass-production as its pillars. The society starts out as a set of individual tribes, where humans participate together in producing goods as much as is required to sustain themselves locally. Through generation of surplus, it ends up as a hierarchy, where a few capitalists control a large-scale production of goods by employing the masses in exchange for wages. The produced, as well as the means of production such as the domesticated cattle, tools and the land used for growing crops which was jointly owned by the community, ended up as contested objects for private ownership under the new capitalist system. Engels states how a central state was established (along with a police force) to keep the rules of private ownership sustained (and often in the favour of the wealthy). 2. Evolution of Marriage More importantly than the economic activity, is the evolution of the relationship between a man and a woman, and therefore, the social positions enjoyed by them. Engels discusses the various phases of marriage society went through -- group marriage, pairing marriage, and eventually monogamy. With the origin of mass production and the private property, Engels elaborates in his thesis how a female descent based society became a male descent one, how the property rights of a woman were slowly curtailed and how that of a man grew, and how monogamy -- the ultimate result -- gave man the ultimate freedom in his sexual activities while forcing the woman to maintain her chastity. Therefore, what is understood by monogamy is essentially, monogamy only for women. The discussion explains a number of observations in history and the present -- polygamy (male), prostitution (female), dowry, lack of female ownership, etc. Engels concludes that the household activities of the woman, that were a social activity in the stages of barbarism, were no longer so in the new model of private property. The means of production being owned by the man (as according to his activities of hunting and food-gathering in the early stages), made him much powerful than the woman. Engels further concludes that with the arrival of machine-based mass-production, the woman can find her part in the social production, and thereby regain her rights of property making her equal to man.3. The Division of Labor : From Barbarism to CivilizationEngels concludes his thesis with a summary of the above two evolutions together with an evolution of the division of labour starting from the primitive tribes of barbarism. The 3 revolutionary stages of the division of labour, which separate barbarism from civilization are -- Division of labour between tribes which had cattle v/s those who did not. This signifies the first stage of exchange of mass-produced goods. Division of labour between agriculture and handicraft industry. The amount of work prevented a single person to be involved in both. Introduction of the middle-man -- the trader, and along with him, the minted currency for exchange of goods. For the first time, a class is introduced that does not concern itself with the production but with the exchange of goods. The introduction of the trader marks the threshold of the civilization, and also, the state as described above. Engels describes civilization as :“Civilization is, therefore, according to the above analysis, the stage of development in society at which the division of labor, the exchange between individuals arising from it, and the commodity production which combines them both, come to their full growth and revolutionizes the whole of previous society.”Finally, Engels follows up with a number of consequences : loss of control of produce by the producer, slave labour, mortgages, and a growing hypocrisy in the society to cover up its contradictions. IV References[1][2] http://www.radicalanthropologygroup.o...(For a well formatted review (Goodreads really needs to improve their formatting), please go to :

  • Bradley
    2019-02-28 18:36

    Most of the work outlined in this book has been disproved. It is rudimentary, a great summation of mid-19th century anthropology. I like his analysis of Iroquois tribes as compared with Far Eastern configurations of the family. Basically his argument is that pre-capitalist societies and non-western societies, notably Native American tribes have already understood basic principles of communism, and that in many ways it is more natural to have common property rights, and community based child raising, than the way the family is configured in contemporary society. He makes some arguments that have kind of become glossed over or completely forgotten by contemporary Marxists; that capitalism is inherently patriarchal, that "it takes a village to raise a child" and that we are all better of when we know how to share. Although he constantly reverts to teleological discussions (Progressivist arguments about how feudalism becomes capitalism which becomes socialism which then becomes communism). Most contemporary Marxists have abandoned this schematic for reasons I have yet to fully understand.

  • μιχαέλα
    2019-02-20 01:22

    Ενα πραγματικά διαφωτιστικό βιβλίο βασιζόμενο στον διαλεκτικό υλισμό. Κανει λογο για την εξελικτική πορεία της κοινωνίας με κατάληξη την γένεση του κράτους το οποιο θεμελιώνεται στην διαβάθμιση των ανθρώπων σε κοινωνικές τάξεις με αντικρουόμενα συμφέροντα. Αναφερει επίσης τις ενδιάμεσες μεταβατικές βαθμίδες της πορείας αυτής οι οποίες χαρακτηρίζονται απο μεγάλες ανατροπές οπως για παράδειγμα η ανατροπή του μητρικού δικαίου και η κυριαρχία του πατρικού που σηματοδοτεί μια νεα εποχή και εξυπηρετεί τις ανάγκες της ατομικής ιδιοκτησίας.

  • Hosna
    2019-03-11 01:31

    This is a very interesting work, specially considering the time when it was written. Engels, being very modern for his time, portrays how the first class antagonism in history coincides with the development of a patriarchal society, as man started to settle down and gain private properties. He also shows a parallel between the domination of the male in the household with the antagonism between social classes.

  • Jeffwest15
    2019-03-11 22:30

    I re-read this after some 30 years after having recommended it to someone. Engels provides a materialist view of the origin and development of human social structures by linking the then-recent findings of Lewis Morgan on primitive families to the underlying means of procurring food, shelter, and tools.He traces the origin of the modern male dominated monogamous family through early group marriage, development of the incest taboos, and gens clan structure arriving at the monogamous family with the advent of private property and the ability for a human to produce more than necessary to stay alive. With private property comes class-divided society, the relegation of women to the status of domestic slave, the need to know heirs to pass the property to, and the begining of the exploitation of man by man, in the first instance, through ancient slavery. He additionally shows that the end of the oppression of women will occur only when that family structure disappears, she is fully freed from the constraints of household drudgery and she plays a full role in productive society.A triumph of the application of historical materialism. A few years ago I read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond who summarizes contemporary understanding of the transition of the hunter-gatherer to settled agricultural status. By my memory, he doesn't deal at all with social structures. Diamond decides that environmental accident governs differences between European versus other human development. It would be interesting to re-look at the Diamond book now.

  • Christoph White
    2019-02-24 22:38

    Giving a synopsis of this is turning out to be a struggle. As I read Friedrich Engels' book about the anthropology of family I found myself taking copious amount of notes. And not notes that I care to share in a review of the text it was more as if I was reading this text for a class. I have become increasingly more interested in Socialism over the past few years. I can remember being a Socialist punk teenager, reading the works of Marx and saying F the system. But the truth is I never really read Marx. I couldn't stomach the translation and it was too much theory for my teenage punk brain to understand. Now that I have gotten more education and am able to read theory and pick out the main points and understand the ideas I did like this book. I can say I recommend it for light reading but if you curious about polygamy or group marriages or relationships before capitalism got involved this is a good resource just know it does take some setting down maybe getting out a pad of paper and writing down key points so you don't forget them because he will throw a lot of information at you at once.

  • Feliks
    2019-03-02 19:41

    This book infuriates and overturns feminists! Or, as good as does. It's not a perfectly authoritative work but nevertheless, they simply have no answer to anthropological summaries like this. At the very least, Engels shows that there are all sorts of other answers besides blaming supposed 'male dominance from time immemorial'. Uh, no. Sorry, ladies. If we go back far enough in time, we find that it was women who ran early society. But nevermind even this (rather pointless) 'fault-finding'. Dissatisfied with the state of the world today? Yearn for reform? Well, Engels also shows that there are myriad other relationship options available to modern society if women have the guts to bring them about. What would it take? Just that we all agree to drop capitalism and consumerism. That is the great evil, not this myth of 'male enslavement'.Fun prose style and a trove of awesome information on the evolution of family relationships. Examination of North American and South Pacific Indian tribes is often cited. Lively backstory re: collaboration with Marx. Overall: a must-read.

  • 6655321
    2019-02-21 22:26

    Honestly it took me forever to read this (i think i started sometime last year) because outside of the fact that Engels simply *is not a good writer* (he isn't) and some of the examples in here are made up colonial anthropology (which they are) and don't really hold water as examples (you would get in trouble for citing the research although you can cite Engels conclusions frequently) for all of his proclaiming the historical materialist method as answering questions about family & private property & the state, Engels absolutely fails to interrogate sexuality (at all almost as a concept) or gender roles (appealing to a vague essentialism); this is a footnote (and it isn't though feminist marxists haven't used this as a jumping off point for much better work) but this is the sort of analysis that holds back dogmatic marxists from having any sort of intelligent conversation about gender or sexuality? On the bright side, this isn't Freud or Lacan?

  • Mohamed Khaled
    2019-02-25 21:25

    وعندما كانت أثينا فى قمة ازدهارها كان العدد الكلى للمواطنين الاحرار تسعين ألفاً، وكان عدد العبيد من الجنسين ثلاثمائة وخمسة وستين ألفاً، وكان عدد المهاجرين والمعتقين حوالى خمسة وأربعين ألفاً، وعلى ذلك فقد كان هنالك ثمانية عشر عبداً فى المتوسط لكل ذكر بالغ واثنين من المهاجرين وكان هذا العدد الكبير من العبيد يعمل فى المصانع تحت رقابة المديرين، ومع نمو التجارة والصناعة ازداد تركيز الثروة فى أيدى قليلة وافتقرت كتلة المواطنين الأحرار وكان عليها أن تختار بين الحرف اليدوية ومنافسة عمل العبيد -الذى كان يعتبر مهينا كما كان قليل الربح- أو أن تختار الفقر المدقع، وفى ظل الظروف الموجودة اختارت الحل الثانى، وحيث أن هذه الجماهير كانت الاغلبية فقد جرت معها أثينا إلى الحضيض، ولم تكن الديموقراطية هي سبب انهيار أثينا كما يحاول المدرسون الأوروبيون الراكعون تحت اقدام الملوك أن يوهمونا، ولكن السبب كان الرق الذى حطّ من شأن عمل المواطنين الاحرار.

  • Tilad
    2019-03-07 00:18

    الكتاب غاية في الأهمية لما يحويه من دراسة شاملة لتطور الحياة البشرية مقسما اياها إلى ثلاثة مراحل تبدأ بالمرحلة الوحشية و البربرية و انتهاء بالمدنية و التي قسمت كل منها الى عدة مراحل تبعا لتطور أدوات الانتاج والتحول من الملكية العامة الى الملكية الخاصة و الانتقال من الزواج الجماعي الى الزواج الثنائي فالزواج الحديث الذي شكل العائلة على ما نعرفها اليوم و التي هي أصغر نواة في المجتمع الحديث اللذي أدت ظروف تطوره الى تشكل الدولة الحديثة مقتضيا بأهم ثلاثة أمثلة عن العصور القديمة و هي الامبراطورية الرومانية و الاغريقية و الدولة الألمانية

  • Danae
    2019-03-15 17:45

    Increíble revisión. A pesar de la perspectiva desde el materialismo histórico, la vocación anarquista no la puede esconder el Engels <3Me parece un libro clave para entender las luchas de las mujeres que en estos tiempos de feminismo blanco requieren urgente un componente de clase.Ojalá todo el mundo se lo leyera, pocos textos encienden la llama interior del alma que te hace buscar sin descanso el fin del estado y del patriarcado :)

  • vhatos
    2019-02-27 22:20

    Цей твір Енгельса, прочитаний у студентські роки, мабуть під певним примусом чи за необхідності, вважаю найкращим з його праць, які знаю. На той час, праці інших, не комуністичних науковців, з цих питань були недоступними. Тепер добре розумію, що класова теорія не є правильною...

  • Duaa Issa
    2019-03-09 17:17

    بعتقد إنو لازم أقرأوا كمان مرة..

  • Oscar Fuentevilla
    2019-03-09 00:37

    Muy buenísimo libro. Definitivamente pesado, tedioso y lento en algunas partes, hubo momentos que parecía que nada más repetía y repetía y sobreanalizaba, pero no, cada palabra fue básica para poder entender todo el concepto.En resumen es una historia de la sociedad desde tiempos de salvajismo y como han ido evolucionando y cambiando las reglas sociales, comportamientos, idea de familia... Vemos como se crearon diferentes tipos de familias y las etapas o estadíos; cómo hemos pasado por diferentes tipos de familias (sindiasmía, poligamia, ), diferentes tipos de órdenes sociales (matriarcado) y cómo todo ha sido un proceso natural que nos ha llevado hasta donde estamos. Eventualmente se crea algo que dara lugar al estado para unir a las diferentes gens y tribus en uno, y eventualmente cuando se crean las clases sociales y se niego el comunismo natural en el que se había vivido siempre, es que se crea la propiedad privada.Es un libro que recalca muchas cosas y explica fenómenos que vemos todos los días, ayuda a entender mejor a la sociedad y ver las cosas diferentes.Al principio está con madre el libro, luego por en medio se pone un poco tedioso y repetitivo pero al final vuelve a agarrar fuerza y se pone otra vez muy bueno.En suma, un muy buen libro si tienes interés por la sociología, historia o simplemente curiosidad sobre alguno de los 3 grandes que analiza: familia, propiedad privada o estado. Disculpa por mi largo 'resumen'.EXTRA:Este es un libro que relacionan a veces con el movimiento feminista (o más bien que han sacado de aquí frases para 'avalarse' en algo) pero me parece que siempre fuera de contexto. Engels busca ser lo más objetivo posible, así que a veces describe las cosas de manera muy fría y hace frases con datos duros del pasado (fue publicado en 1888) que son las que sacan de contexto y usan a su favor. Al igual que dice los beneficios o ventajas del hombre, también de la mujer: deja bien claro cómo fue dominante (matriarcado por miles de años, la fase más larga de la historia humana) y cómo se 'dejó dominar' para su propio beneficio (cuando llega la caza y no solo la recolección empieza la lenta transición). El libro solo habla de historia y sociedad, sí tiene un poco de 'propaganda' o intenta venderte una idea, sin embargo es el comunismo y nada más, no es un documento contra la desigualdad ni mucho menos, es un documento meramente histórico, no ideológico.

  • Jesse
    2019-03-03 23:41

    That society has not always been based on money, which is to say, on private property, should be uncontroversial, but it is more often, for many people, perhaps, unthinkable. In what is surely Engels' most profound description of how civilization got 'this way', the reader is guided, with the aid of the anthropologist Morgan's schematic outline for the study of historical stages found in his book, Ancient Society, through the historical permutations and evolutions of such seemingly immovable categorical entities as the family and the state. Now, Marx once said that the family is, in its highest stage of development, in complete contradiction with private property (and how Reagan proved this veridical! But it was evident in the 19th century - wherever laissez-faire made its mark, the family was ripped apart); Engels gives us the benefit of seeing how true this is as well, for the diremption between a natural economy and a money economy occurred in many places at many different times, but all with the same outcome - the trampling of matriarchy and its, as some feminists would argue, inseparable corollary communal property, in favor of patriarchy (and its artifical buttress, the state) and private property. This is the dualism out of which the class struggle issues, the conflict between the sexes; which you must have intuited, no? Quite simply, an amazing substitute for Genesis.

  • Mazdak Paskeh
    2019-03-05 21:37

    تصوير خيلى بهترى از شكل گيرى خانواده واسم ايجاد كرد. تكامل خانواده رو با توجه به پيشرفت مادى جامعه از ازدواج گروهى تا تك همسرى و به موازات و در رابطه با اون شكل گيرى تقسيم كار و دولت رو با بررسى دلايل مادى و نمونه هاى تاريخى نشون ميده و همچنين ناگزير بودن اين روند رو. روابط خويشاوندى و ارث و بحث حق و وظيفه تو قوم ها و آيين هاى مختلف نشون داده ميشه. اين كه چطور پيوندهاى جنسى و عاطفى و حقوقى تكامل پيدا ميكنن و در نهايت براى سه جامعه مختلف ( يونانى، رومى، ژرمنى) نشون ميده كه چطور و به چه منظور دولت ايجاد ميشه.

  • Ayse Sen
    2019-03-14 23:30

    ilk çağlardan günümüze kadının toplumdaki yerinden, ailenin oluşumunu, devleti ve özel mülkeyetin kökenini anlatan bir kaynak. biraz karışık olması size başka kaynaklardan araştırma yapmanıza neden olabilir.

  • Carl Webb
    2019-02-22 22:42

    Best feminist book I ever read.

  • Jsludika
    2019-03-04 00:18

    Libro fundamental. Debería ser lectura obligatoria en escuelas y universidades. De absuluta actualidad.

  • Steven
    2019-03-01 01:31

    Enlightened my thinking on nature of the family, women's rights and private property.

  • Muhamed Battiekh
    2019-03-16 23:39

    أصل العائلة, والدولة, والملكية الخاصة,,, التوصيف الأنثروبولجي لحركة التاريخ.

  • Julieta Arien
    2019-03-02 21:21

    Espectacular. Gracias biblioteca por tener a mano esta joya. Me abrió la cabeza, me hizo reír, aprendí más sobre historia y amplié mi vocabulario sociocientífico. Impecable la escrituro de Engels, fácil de seguir, sin necesidad de haber leído a Marx. Lo supera ampliamente a su amigo.

  • Catarina de Carvalho
    2019-03-14 19:27

    Interesting and controversial.

  • alternBRUNO°°
    2019-03-13 20:32

    Tras meses de resistencia logré terminar este libro. Es un tratado que escribe Engels para complementar las investigaciones de Marx y Morgan en torno a la familia como unidad mínima de articulación del Estado. Tomando como base la periodización del salvajismo, la barbarie y el Estado, analiza la transformación de un estadio de libre comercio sexual a la familia consanguínea, la familia punalúa, la sindiásmica y por último la familia monógama. Ubica el desarrollo de la familia y su conexión con el Estado entre los griegos, los romanos y los germanos.Para Engels, el estado natural y original de la familia es un colectivismo con ordenamientos en torno a una distribución equitativa de lo público y lo privado que históricamente toma un cariz que privilegia a la propiedad individual. Este libro está enmarcado, por si es necesario decirlo, en la teoría del materialismo histórico y en la progresiva introducción de escisiones sociales que tienen por objeto beneficiar sólo a unos pocos contra la opresión de la mayoría. Dado que el desarrollo histórico-social es un proceso que se repite por una serie de contrarios conjugados, Engels, propone que en la sociedad del futuro, la familia se reacondicionará a estructuras orientadas a la comunidad de nuevo, porque en realidad se han mantenido ciertas configuraciones que son opuestas a la primacía del individuo y su capital privado.A 200 años de la publicación del libro sabemos que las predicciones de Engels no se cumplieron y que hizo falta más que distribuir de nuevo la antinomia de lo público y lo privado para balancear las labores entre hombres y mujeres o para gestionar al Estado de forma distinta. Sin embargo, este texto mantiene, a pesar de sus imprecisiones, un trabajo muy rescatable de las estructuras de asimetría social que no puede ser ignorado por la sociología, la antropología y otras disciplinas. La revisión de documentos que hace para enriquecer sus consideraciones también deberían servir como ejemplo por su claridad que la saturación actual sobre los sistemas de parentesco y familiares.

  • Dr. A
    2019-02-28 20:25

    ---Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of (athinkPhilosophy Production).---A persistently undervalued work, Friedrich Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State remains a most salient account of the relationship between private property and the marriage compact through which women are subjugated. (The argument is further developed by structural anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and Gayle Rubin; for the latter, see “The Traffic In Women” in Deviations A Gayle Rubin Reader.) Engels then provides readers with the connections between private property and the need for states to expand their territories (leading to conflicts and all out wars), and the necessary exploitation of a working class to power this expansion — an exploitation made possible through the gendered division of labor into the private and public realms. It is a work that thoroughly implicates the economic exploitation of the working class with the exploitation of women under capitalism. Readers interested in this topic can also read economist Heidi Hartman’s now classic essay, “The Marriage Of Marxism and Feminism” that is printed along with discussions of this essay in Lydia Sargent’s Women and Revolution A Discussion of the Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism.---Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of (athinkPhilosophy Production).---