The caricature of Engels as the first revisionist and of his work as a haute vulgarisation of Marx is not new but began to emerge during and shortly after World War I. One finds it in Erwin Bans, "Engels als Theoretiker," in the issue of Kommunismus, 3 December 1920, a journal that Georg Lukacs edited for a while after World War I. Even before, it may be found in Rudolfo Mondolfo's Le Materialisme Historique d'apres F. Engels, published in Paris in 1917.
The most competent contemporary source of that view is George Lichtheim's learned Marxism, which holds that "socialism, as understood by Engels and those who followed in his lead, was above all scientific. . . . Engels's later writings, especially Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, are a veritable compendium of the new positivist world-view. . . . Marx gradually came to adopt a standpoint which in some respects resembled the scientism of the age, but he never quite yielded to the temptation to recast his doctrine altogether in evolutionary-materialist terms; Engels had no such inhibition.''1
Lichtheim does acknowledge, however, that Marx's own development was towards a Scientific Marxism: "The thinking of the mature Marx plainly discloses a growing emphasis upon the scientific study of processes independent of human volition and a corresponding stress upon the concept of 'historical necessity'. . . . Yet the subsequent drift towards positivism and scientism—accelerated after his death and formalized by Kautsky after Engels in his turn had left the scene ( 1895)— went far beyond anything he could have envisaged." 2 I concur with Lichtheim in the view expressed earlier by Karl Korsch—that Engels "merely accentuated a tendency that was already present in Marx,"3 but not with Lichtheim's speculations about what Marx would have ''envisaged." How can anyone know what Marx would have envisaged had he lived twelve years longer, as Engels did, after Marx's death in 1883. I agree entirely with Lichtheim that, first, Marx manifested an increasingly scientific, antivoluntarist position, and seconnld, that 'Marx never relinquished his hold on the two horns of his peculiar dilemma."4 Which means: he never resolved the contradiction.
To maintain anything more than that, however, makes Engels the scapegoat for Scientific Marxism; to differentiate him radically from Marx is, as I hope to show below, historically dubious and unjust. Given their different life spans; and given Marx's drift toward science,5 if we extrapolate Marx, and pretend that he had another dozen years of life, i.e., if we draw a line representing his theoretical movement up to 1883 and extend it to 1895, can we be so sure that his reliance on science in 1895 would then have differed from Engels's? Marx's purity, one suspects, depended in part on his earlier death. The difference between Marx and Engels is a complex question, and we must reject all tendencies to replace a "vulgar Marxism" with a vulgar criticism of Engels.
Lichtheim complains that Engels's critique of Duhring was a "veritable compendium of the new positivist world view." But he also mentions, somewhat too quickly, that this was written ''with some assistance from Marx." In truth, Engels's Anti-Duhring— perhaps the most comprehensive statement of their "system" ever written either by Marx or Engels—involved the close collaboration of the two friends. Marx, in fact, wrote part of one of the chapters and later endorsed the book for party publication. Engels's surrender to "positivism" was hardly done behind Marx's back. Never one to bite his tongue, Marx, we must conclude, countenanced these views. Why did he do so if he did not concur? The most reasonable assumption is that Marx shared Engels's drift toward "positivism" and Scientific Marxism, although, as we shall see, the matter is complex and to understand it we shall have to go beyond that obvious consideration.
Nevertheless, there has been a busy cottage industry of critics who make a scapegoat of Engels as the fount of the positivist heresy in Marxism—best epitomized by Sartre's wreckless reference to Marx's "destructive encounter with Engels."6 In an interview with Lucio Colletti, the interviewer complains (and correctly) that Colletti tends "to counterpose Marx against Engels in an extremely radical way . . . indeed, in one passage, you have gone so far as to speak of 'the gulf between the rigor and complexity which characterizes every page of Marx, and the popular vulgarization and at times dilettantism of the work of Engels'." The interviewer also correctly objects to the "supposed political contrast between the two men—an allegedly pro-reformist Engels set off against an unswervingly radical Marx. Engels, after all, never committed such involuntary blunders as Marx's prediction that the mere introduction of universal suffrage—bourgeois democracy—would ensure the advent of socialism in England, a far more parliamentarist statement than anything to be found in Engels."7
The imputation of a radical gulf between Marx and Engels, heedless of the differences in the periods in which they worked, and which fails to see Marx's own movement toward science, survives less because of its intellectual justification than because of the need it serves. What is at work here is the need to deal with the real contradiction within Marxism, its Januslike character as both a Scientific Marxism and Critical Marxism. The critique of Engels, however, seeks to resolve this by denying that there is a contradiction within Marxism, insinuating that the contradiction was between Marx and Engels, and that the rejected "positivist" side of Marxism was largely an alien heresy somehow smuggled in by Engels behind Marx's back.
The manufacturer's son, Engels, who enjoyed horses, good wine, attractive women, and all song, is not a congenial figure to revolutionary or academic ascetics. My own contrary judgement, however, is emphatically that of Trotsky: "Engels is undoubtedly one of the finest, best integrated and noblest of personalities in the gallery of great men . . . how consciously Engels endeavors to complement Marx: all his life is used up in this task.... Against the background of their everyday lives, Engels gains tremendously in stature."8
In contrast, the effort to cope with the contradiction in Marxism repeatedly takes the form of a ''splitting" mechanism—splitting the young from the old Marx or, as here, splitting Marx from Engels. What splitting (in Anna Freud's sense) does is to minimize the similarities between any two objects, declaring them to be essentially two different things, and focusing on their differences The splitting mechanism makes one thing into two, stresses the virtues of one, while emphasizing the defects of the other. In effect, the contradiction within one entity is thus resolved by reconstructing it as two entities: one, whose negative character is focalized; a second, whose positive character is stressed. This has the effect of reducing the dissonance of the single "gray" object where strengths and weaknesses are complexly intermingled, by substituting for it, one object, all white, and a second, all black. Ambivalences to the original object are resolved; persons can now whole-heartedly accept one of the objects and unambivalently reject the other. Splitting thus produces both uncritical hero worship and unworthy "scapegoating."
Efforts to resolve differences between Marx and Engels by thus splitting them rest on a most un-Marxist assumption: that Marxism simply cannot be internally contradictory, that there are no real contradictions within it, but only differences between two persons, Marx and Engels, the latter of whom is downgraded as the first "vulgar" Marxist and an oversimplifying "amateur" to boot.
The differences discernible between Marx's and Engels's work have been largely evaluated from the standpoint of philosophy, from which perspective the son of the cotton mill owner, who never won a college degree, is held to be naive and gauche. Engels's "corruption" of Marxism is tacitly seen as a "sin against philosophy," and it is philosophers rather than economists (or more generally, those in the social sciences) who condemn Engels as a vulgarizer. (One honorable exception is Louis Althusser who, on several occasions, speaks of Engels's theoretical "genius.")
Engels was an empirical genius, which is not the same thing as saying that he was a theory-less empiricist. Not one of the major works that Marx wrote was based on his own systematic, direct, firsthand observation, as was Engels's own early study of 1844 of The Condition of the Working Class in England. (Indeed, so far as I know, Marx never set foot in a factory, mine, mill, or shipyard, either as worker or observer.) It was not Engels's capacity to write clearly and forcefully (which detractors hold up to contempt as journalistic "popularization") that was his contribution to Marxism, but, rather, his firsthand studies of capitalism and urbanism, undertaken from both sides of the class divide.
As a student of the new industrial proletariat in Manchester, Engels haunted their streets, drank in their pubs, read their press, talked with their leaders, and came to know them intimately in a way that Marx never did. Indeed, Engels's lover, Mary Burns, was an Irish working-class revolutionary who could not be admitted to the Marx home lest it offend Marx's wife, daughter of the Baron von Westphalen. Engels's personal involvement in his father's Cotton-milling business on the Continent and in England, and the connections these opened up, brought him a close acquaintance with the commercial and industrial vanguard of capitalism—an acquaintance Marx never had except through his friendship with Engels. Engels's business involvements thus also acquainted him with life on the other side of the class divide, and both experiences provided intellectual sustenance to the emerging Marxism Indeed, it was Engels who first placed England and its advanced capitalism at the center of Marxism. It was also Engels's early article, "Outline of a Critique of Political Economy, says Harold Draper, that "was at least one of the important influences, if not the most important one, that turned Marx to the study of political economy. "9
Engels's field work for his Conditions of the Working Class in England, as well as his firsthand business experience, centered his attention on technology, the new technology (and not simply on subsistence-getting activity in general), and on the ambiguities of that technology; he viewed it as a new source for the relief of ancient scarcity and, also, as the present but historically transient source of misery among the working class. Engels saw how new fortunes were being made in Manchester and how, at the same time, a new misery was also being mass produced—observations relevant to Marx's subsequent theorizing about the increasing misery of the working class. And it is the young Engels who begins to see the working class as more than a passive object of philanthropy in the manner of the Saint-Simonians, but as an aggressive historical agent with their own power and initiative: "From them will come England's salvation." (Indeed, in the Condition of the Working Class, Engels portrayed communism as mitigating the violence of the coming proletarian class struggle.)
Engels also took note of the ramifying effects of the industrial revolution: the spread of social and cultural debris hurtful to workers, such as child labor, disease, slum overcrowding, disrupted families, drunkenness, sexual distortions. Engels's vision of the technological disruption of social life and its resultant human misery is also seen in its association with commerce; on the one side, facilitating the spread of commerce and, on the other, spurred by commercial motives. Engels clearly saw technology, then, in its association with bourgeois commerce.
Engels noted that the industrial revolution's hurtful consequences were hidden, spontaneously and unconsciously, by the bourgeoisie. Speaking of the street layout of Manchester that hides the slums, Engels had remarked in the Condition, "I cannot help feeling that the liberal industrialists . . . are not altogether innocent of this bashful style of building." In effect, Engels began developing a notion of the limits of bourgeois rationality; the bourgeoisie is seen as concealing the one-sided distribution of gains to itself and of costs of the working class. He is here thus working toward the Marxist notion of ideology.
"While I was in Manchester," reminisced Engels, "it was tangibly brought home to me that the economic facts
. . . are, at least in the modern world, a decisive historical force; that they form the basis of the origination of the present-day class antagonisms; that these class antagonisms, in the countries where they have become fully developed . . . are in their turn the basis of the formation of political parties and political struggles, and thus of all political history.'' 10 Engels thus saw his own Manchester experience as an independent grounding of historical materialism or as an origin of what he calls, in his preface to the 1888 English translation of The Communist Manifesto, its "fundamental proposition." In the latter, however, it is not his own Manchester experience, but Marx, whom Engels credits with the idea. Is this modesty or reality? Is it Marx who puts Engels's Manchester experience into words; or is it Engels who provides him, vicariously, with the decisive experiences which Marx distilled theoretically? The evidence of the Condition of the Working Class in England strongly suggests that Engels had, at the least, taken his own convergent path to historical materialism. And Marx himself says exactly that, in his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy: "Friedrich Engels . . . arrived by another road . . . at the same result as I."
Engels, the avid participant observer and roving ethnographer of capitalism, suspected the philosopher's proclivity to erect his ideas as a system. Systems, he says, are the rationalist's false consciousness; they are born because men are continually driven to achieve fictitious consistencies by hiding contradictions. He thus begins his Anti-Duhring by lampooning German academicians because "the most insignificant doctor of philosophy and even the student will not go in for anything less than a complete 'system'."
If Engels's Marxism was less philosophically sophisticated, it was the work of a man who had been close to the things he was talking about; it was a critique of capitalism that was achieved by someone who had actually known at first hand both workers and capitalists; it was the product of an observer whose suspicions of ''system were in healthy tension with the system he helped to complete.
For Norman Levine, Engels, unlike Marx, "believed in necessitarian stages of development: history moved from the lower to the higher. Capitalism; for Engels, represented the highest stage of productive capacity yet attained by man. . . . If historical laws had any validity, and they did according to Engels, Russia must follow the path of western Europe . . . from primitive society to capitalist society, and the mir must be destroyed. Consequently, the revolution that was immanent in Russia was not the proletarian revolution. Rather, it was the bourgeois revolution."11
First of all, it must be noted that Levine cites nothing in this discussion about Engels that would in the least justify the conclusions he recites. Levine does, however, earlier12 cite Engels's polemic against Tkachev in which he held that a bourgeoisie was as much a necessary condition for a socialist revolution as a proletariat. This, however, bore on only a limited problem and is a very slender basis for Levine's larger and very general conclusion that, while Marx was a multilinear evolutionist, Engels was a unilinear determinist. The former has been clear, at least since the availability of Marx's Grundrisse in which he indicated that the oriental path of village development was a very different basis for evolution than the Graeco-Roman city, and hence that Western development was historically unique, rather than a universal template. Nonetheless, there is no evidence that Engels disagreed with Marx's views about Asiatic development or, for that matter, that they had substantial differences about the possibility of skipping stages in Russia. Both found this difficult to come to a conclusion about; but both came to it after much soul-searching.
In Engels's reply to Tkachev, it must also be remembered that Engels was most vehement in rejecting the latter's views when they are given a general formula, namely, when Tkachev held that the struggle against a developed capitalism is less promising than struggle against an embryo capitalism. There is no doubt that this defied the general position both he and Marx had long held: that development of capitalism would bring a mature proletariat into a society whose contradictions were most intense and is thus the most favorable context to produce a socialism. If Tkachev was trying to find a way for Russian socialists to keep up their courage' rather than waiting passively for capitalism to come, Engels was, for his part, attempting to defend Western socialism from seeming to face an impregnable foe. In short, Engels's position here, first reaffirmed the main position he had shared with Marx; second, it was, at its most vehement, a critique to Tkachev's own different general formula which had accented the advantages of industrial "backwardness"; and, third, it was in important part as much motivated by concrete political considerations as by any metaphysical propensity, of which Levine repeatedly accuses him.
As shown earlier, however, Engels's reply to Tkachev had considered it possible for the mir to take on a new lease on life and might allow Russian peasants to skip "the intermediary form of bourgeois small-holdings." This could happen, said Engels, if before the mir's complete dissolution there was a successful workers' revolution in Western Europe which provided the surrogate material basis that Russia's native economic development lacked. According to Engels, then, a proletarian revolution in Western Europe might well give the mir ''a chance of growing into a new, really viable form." Rather than dogmatically insisting on a deterministic unilinear evolution, Engels exhibited openness toward possible social novelty, while, at the same time, attempting to accommodate (i.e., normalize) this novelty to the essential Marxist paradigm with his inventive idea of a surrogate material basis in the West for a Russian Revolution, an idea that Marx would later endorse in their joint preface to the 1882 edition of the Russian translation of the Communist Manifesto.
In addition to the discussion of the Russian mir, as the second basis on which Marx's multilinear evolutionism is usually affirmed, there is his discussion in the Grundrisse of the Asiatic mode of production.13 Supposedly, this not only documents Marx's multilinearity but also tacitly demonstrates Engels's vulgarizing unilinearity which presumably ignored this. In this vein, Levine notes that the initial sign that Marx was reading Asian history were his notebooks of 1853, with excerpts from his readings on Indian history, and that by the time he started the Grundrisse in 1857, he had conceived the Asiatic form of communal society. "In this socioeconomic totality," writes Levine, "the Oriental despot was the sole proprietor of the land . . . the village was powerless and propertyless, because the land belonged to the despot who formed therein an all-embracing unity. The specific rnanner in which the Asiatic despot exercised his social control . . . was through his maintenance of public works. Village communities in arid regions needed water to carry on their agriculture, and the Asiatic lord had as his primary social duty the construction and preservation of irrigation canals.''14
Levine tells us15 that, on this question, Engels ''was in basic agreement with Marx.' Levine typically formulates the matter in a distorted way in stating that Engels had agreed with Marx on the Asiatic mode of production. This is significantly inexact because it implies that Engels's views were dependent on Marx's. As I shall later show, Marx's "own" views were actually derived from political economists (not to say, Hegel), such as R. Jones, and from Engels's own original ideas. On 6 June 1853 Engels had written the following to Marx from Manchester, which accounted for the absence of private property under oriental despotism:
The absence of property in land is indeed the key to the whole of the East. Here lies its political and religious history. But how does it come about that the Orientals do not arrive at landed property, even in feudal form? I think it is mainly due to the climate, together with the nature of the soil, especially with the great stretches of desert which extend from the Sahara straight across Arabia, Persia, India, and Tartary up to the highest Asiatic plateau. Artificial irrigation is here the first condition of agriculture and this is a matter either for the communes, the provinces, or the central government.16
Thus Engels did not "agree with Marx." Rather, and at the very least, they agreed with one another; and Engels undoubtedly had priority in explaining the origins of the unique propertyless character of oriental society. Moreover, and I shall return to this much mooted point shortly, Marx followed Engels in attributing importance to the climate and to irrigation technologies.17
Too much has been made to rest on Marx's yeasty notes concerning primitive communal forms, often without acknowledging the defective brevity of these seminal remarks which, be it remembered, Marx himself never sought to and never did publish. Their essential contents are to be found in nine printed pages, from page 471 to 479 in a volume of almost 900 printed pages. Of these, Martin Nicolaus, their admiring translator notes, "In 1858 not a single person in the world understood the Grundrisse except Marx, and even he had his troubles with it." 18 (Now, of course, everyone understands with complete confidence that they ''overthrow the myth that Marx had a rigid historical theory of economic development.") Martin Nicolaus also speaks of "the unfinished quality of the manuscript . . . we have here a rough draft . . . [with] missing elements of grammar, of difficult, sometimes awkward, obscure and even altogether inaccurate formulations, endless sentences and paragraphs, irritating digressions and reiterations, etc. It is a text which proclaims on nearly every page its unripeness for print."19
I believe that these nine pages do indeed justify considerable doubt about viewing Marx, at that period and after, as a unilinear determinist, although I do not believe they demonstrate that he was not a unilinear determinist earlier, in the late forties. These pages also brilliantly hint at the kind of comparative historical scholarship required to document their views, a scholarship to whicl1 Max Weber, rather than any proper Marxist, is probably the legitimate heir. On the evidence in hand, not much more can be said. Certainly, it does not in the least justify the ad hominem attacks on Engels's supposed intellectual inferiority or contempt for him as a "metaphysical determinist." For the most part, those who have handed in the verdict against Engels have not been a jury of his peers.
One of the less important conclusions which I believe that the discussion above supports is this: the contrast between Engels and Marx, aside from being greatly overstated, is so compulsively invidious and flagrantly tendentious as to suggest that it is grounded in some driving need. The passion for differentiating and degrading Engels is sometimes so powerful that it drives those overcome by it to the plainest internal contradictions, leading them to gloss over the slim textual grounding of their argument, and to a procedure in which it is tacitly assumed that any difference between Engels's formulations and Marx's is prima facie evidence of the inferiority of Engels's text. It never seems to occur to a critic like Norman Levine that some differences may be to Engels's credit, rather than evidence of his vulgarizing corruption of Hegel and Marx, of which Levine accuses him. What is worse, irresponsible comparisons between Engels and Marx have the effect of discrediting even serious efforts to understand such differences as do exist between the two and, also, what these might mean—other, that is, than as "evidence" for Marx's superiority. In this eristic, the substantive issues themselves lose value and became mere efforts at public relations, to canonize Marx and protect him from a semblance of the slightest flaw, even if at the cost of abusing his lifetime friend.
Not only is almost any difference exaggerated but—as I have shown in Levine's discussion of Asiatic society even where there are no real differences, even where the two agree, this is presented as if it were evidence of Engels's inferiority, of the capitulation of (what is expressly called) his second-rate mind to Marx's genius; we are then told that Engels agreed with Marx. Thus where some difference in texts is found, it is treated as proof of Engels's vulgarization of Marx and as ipso facto evidence that Engels's views were inferior to his; where no difference in texts is found, this is presented as evidence of the fitting subordination of the lesser to the greater mind.
That even the absence of differences is used against Engels may be seen once more in Levine's discussion of Engels's political views on the alliance between the peasantry and the proletariat—a matter of far greater moment, of course, than the use to which is is put here. Levine notes that, in the 1870 edition of The Peasant War in Germany, Engels had called for a worker peasant alliance, since an urban insurrection without it seemed doomed. "A worker-peasant alliance was the correct formula," we are assured by Levine, but the trouble was that "Engels then espoused a policy that made a worker-peasant alliance an impossibility. Land nationalization remained an uncompromisable principle in Engels's socialist platform . . . [consequently] Engels remained the prisoner of the proletarian, urban model of class struggle." 20
The trouble is that Levine seems to have forgotten that he had discussed the same matter earlier, in connection with Marx who, he tells us, "was willing to accept a proletarian-peasant alliance, where one was possible, as a justifiable revolutionary strategy." But adds Levine, this "is not to say that Marx ever surrendered his belief that the land must be nationalized. Land nationalization remained throughout his life an unshakeable tenet of communism.''21 Now this is a matter of great historical import, and it is regrettable that we must temporarily confine ourselves only to the small implication which shows us that there was no difference here between Engels and Marx. Levine uses Marx's espousal of a worker-peasant alliance to prove that he did not view the peasantry as conservative and passive, thus evidencing his revolutionary flexibility. Yet when Engels faithfully adheres to Marx's policy, Levine argues that this shows that he was the "prisoner" of an outmoded notion of urban class struggle and lacking in revolutionary flexibility and spirit. Clearly, the policy of worker-peasant alliance and of simultaneous land nationalization was a fateful contradiction whose full impact was to be seen only much later in the Soviet Revolution, but it was a contradiction spawned by Marx and shared by Engels, which in no way allows them to be contrasted invidiously.
Levine states that the major difference between Marx and Engels centered on the issue of praxis. "The central idea that distinguished the Marxian from the Engelsian interpretation of nature was the notion of praxis. . . . Engels [presumably unlike Marx] described a macrocosmic determinism in which thought was merely the epiphenomenon of physical forces. Marx referred to humanism and dialectical naturalism, the belief that man modified the inorganic world. . . . The Marxian vision was always on man who acted, while the Engelsian was on cosmological determinism." 22
Although Levine centers his analysis on the idea of praxis he does little to clarify how he understands that basic idea.23 Yet he says enough to indicate that this involves (for him) an emphasis on the mutability of the world on the basis of human initiative, activity, and power. Yet pages later, and without seeing the contradiction, Levine observes that both "Marx and Engels continued to believe in, to extol, the revolutionary nature of the working masses." 24
There is a little known but interesting essay that Engels wrote which bears on his conception of praxis, seen within an evolutionary framework. It is clear from this essay, written in 1876, that Engels conceived of labor as that everyday praxis in which human beings not only transformed and appropriated external and internal nature—a view which he and Marx both derived from Hegel—but this praxis was also seen as shaping the very formation of the human species. In this essay25 we see Engels in the role in which his critics most despise him,26 as the student of science and evolution, and, we may add, as a forerunner of modern ecology with its concern about the destruction of the natural environment. It will be plain from this that Engels's studies of science were not simply a gymnasium for the exercise of his metaphysical proclivities, of which he is paradoxically accused by those (like Levine) who deny he had any talent for philosophy.
In this essay, Engels begins by noting that labor, much more than the source of all wealth, is ''the first fundamental condition of all human life, and to such an extent that in a sense we must say: it created man himself:''27 Thus according to the Engels who, allegedly unlike Marx, attributed little importance to human praxis, man made himself. Engels argues that "the decisive step in the transition from ape to man" occurred when tree climbing led to the differentiation between the ape's hands and feet, thus leaving the hands free when walking, and thereby conducive to an upright gait. The hands became specialized for eating, nest building, and physical defense—"they grasp cudgels." Yet "no ape's hand has ever fashioned the crudest stone knife,"28 a dubious accomplishment reserved for men.
Engels held that the greater flexibility acquired by the ape's hand subsequently evolved into the human hand as a result of its (Lamarckian) transmission and increase over generations, concluding that ''thus the [human] hand is not only an organ of labor, it is also its product." It is with the hands' development through labor that man's supremacy over nature begins, for this extends men's mental capacity since the use of hands enables the continual discovery of "new, hitherto unknown properties in natural objects." It permitted labor to be more productive and complex which, in turn, intensified human association and cooperation; thus, "evolving human beings arrived at the point where they had something to say to one another."29
For Engels, speech itself emerged ''out of and along with labor." "First labor; afterwards, and then along with it, speech" contributes to the evolution of the ape brain into the human brain. The brain's development is in turn accompanied by "the development of all the senses." These reciprocally contributed to the development of both speech and labor. For Engels, then, the key distinction between the ape-horde and the human race was not speech but labor. Labor really begins, says Engels, with the "fabrication of tools" for hunting and fishing. For Engels, the use of tools, not premeditated effort, characterized human labor, for "it is obvious that we cannot think of denying to animals the capacity for planned, premeditated activity."30 Use of tools helped diversify and stabilize the human diet, in particular allowing meat to become a staple. "Man did not become what he is without meat," which is associated with the taming of animals and the development of the use of fire.
In the idealistic view, notes Engels, ''all the credit for rapidly progressing civilization was ascribed to the head, to the development of the brain . . . even the materialists of the Darwinian school are still unable to formulate a clear idea of the origin of man, because under that ideological influence they cannot recognize the role that labor has played therein.''31 Whatever its merits from the standpoint of contemporary evolutionary science, clearly Engels is affirming the primacy of labor as praxis in human evolution, enabling persons not merely to accommodate passively to their environment but actively to transform it to their purposes, to "dominate" it. It is in this praxis whereby man bends nature to his own ends that Engels finds "the ultimate, essential distinction between man and other animals."
Two other points of interest in this essay are worth noting. One concerns Engels's emerging use of a kind of general systems theory, which stresses the mutual interaction of elements, and thus the possibly ramifying effects of one change throughout a system. A second is Engels's observation that human initiatives similarly produce reactions from the natural environment on which they work, reactions which were not expected or intended but were unanticipated consequences of their labor. For Engels, such unanticipated consequences do not necessarily imply the presence of an alienation produced by a system of exploitation. Moreover, Engels here casts a skeptical eye on the human capacity to dominate its environment. With all Engels's emphasis on the importance of man's labor as a self-creating praxis, man is no Promethean standing triumphantly astride the earth. Engels is no proponent of an unreflective view in which man gives himself a charter to dominate the universe and everything in it; he has a sense of human limits and fallibilities.
Engels does indeed seem to differ from his friend who identified himself with Prometheus: "It is Prometheus who remains his [Marx's] favorite hero; for Prometheus is a Satan who suffers, a Job who never assents; and unlike either Job or Satan, he brings liberation to mankind. Prometheus turns up in Das Kapital (in Chapter Twenty-three) to represent the proletariat chained to capital. The Light-Bringer was tortured, we remember, by Zeus's eagle's tearing, precisely, his liver, as Karl Marx himself—who is said to have reread Aeschylus every year—was obsessed by the fear that his liver would be eaten like his father's by cancer."32
Norman Levine notes that Marx had "begun his doctoral dissertation with a note of veneration for Prometheus. 'The knowledge of Prometheus . . . is his own self-awareness, his own self-consciousness as the highest godhead. There is nothing equal to him' " 33 Levine, of course, again thinks this a great compliment to Marx, just as he thought it marvelous of Marx only to have studied applied science. I, however, rather think that this ''How-like-a-God-is-Man (and-I-am-a-man)" Prometheanism, is a naive, transient form of humanistic imperialism which has little to recommend it, least of all history; it is a human imperialism by which man transformed the world into an ecological charnel house for himself and other species. All that recommends such humanistic imperialism is that it opposes the tragic view of history. Yet if the latter consigned humanity to eternal suffering and served as an apology for whatever miserable forms of domination that strutted across the historical stage, its successor, Promethean humanistic imperialism, came perilously close to sanctioning a view of humanity as noble Nietzschean beast of prey, fording it over other species—although this is somewhat unjust to Nietzsche.
As suggested, Engels's own views seem more sober, less intoxicated with delusions of godliness, more aware of human limits without conceding an iota to the tragic view. "Everything acts upon everything else and vice versa," urged Engels, "it is mainly because they forget this universal motion and reciprocal action that our natural scientists cannot see clearly into the simplest things." (Thus Engels, supposedly the ideologist of positivism and of scientific hero worship.)
While stressing that, of all animals, men alone "succeeded in impressing the stamp of their will upon the earth," Engels immediately warns, ''Let us not, however, flatter ourselves too much upon our human victories over nature. For every such victory it revenges itself upon us. To be sure each such victory has in the first instance the results upon which we counted, but in the second and third instances it has quite unforeseen effects, which only too often nullify these first results . . . we by no means dominate nature, as a conqueror dominates a foreign people, as one standing outside nature—that we belong to it with flesh and blood and brain and stand in its very midst; and that our entire supremacy over it consists in the fact that we, above all other creatures, are capable of knowing and correctly applying its laws.34
Clearly, then, when Engels speaks of technology he means knowledge of nature, not just hardware; and his focus on nature was driven by a dialectical sense of man's unity with and difference from nature, his dependence on nature and his effort to dominate it, his separation from it and his being in its very midst, flesh and mind alike part of one whole. There is a hint of mysticism here in Engels's near rapture, of a communion with the All. We may, like Levine, decry this as evidence of Engels's abiding search for God and as proof of his remnant religion; or we may extol him as another philosopher of the "totality," akin to the Critical Marxist Lukacs, whose links to the Russian mystics Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy35 surely do not disqualify him as a serious thinker.
Engels's quest for a lost oneness is a central reason for his interest in science—not only his commitment to an instrumental reason—and he remarks that the more science advances "the more will men once again not only feel but know themselves to be one with nature" and indeed with himself, destroying that "nonsensical and unnatural notion of an antithesis between mind and matter, man and nature, soul and body."36 For Engels, then, the point of science was not simply instrumental control by man over nature, but the restoration of oneness with nature.
Engels's view of capitalism involves a distinctive, ecologically sensitive critique of its degradation of nature. Capitalism and its social science, political economy, "concerns itself for the most part only with the immediately intended social effects of human activities directed towards production and exchange." Capitalism means a narrowing of attention to market conditions and profit-making activity, and a corresponding neglect of the effects of their actions on nature. "The Spanish planters in Cuba who burned down the forests on the mountainsides and found in the ashes enough fertilizer for one generation of extremely profitable coffee trees—what cared they that afterwards the tropical downpours would wash away the new unprotected soil and leave only the bare rocks behind?"37
My intention, then, is not to deny that there were differences, even important differences, between Marx and Engels. What I have insisted on, however, is that, first, these not be exaggerated and seized upon to make a scapegoat of Engels or to protect Marx from any taint of error; and I have insisted further that such differences as are textually established should not be tacitly treated as automatic evidence of Engels's intellectual inferiority. Seeing a difference in texts, one ought to question which of the differences is right, rather than using one or the other to fuel Engels's funeral pyre. And seeing a difference in their texts, one ought to ask whether this evidences a difference in their individual views; and one ought further to consider the premises on which one allows oneself to conclude that it does. I shall return to this last shortly.
First, however, I want to consider another difference of considerable import that is often suggested to exist between Engels and Marx. This has to do with their views about the role of technology in the development of capitalism in particular, and as an element in the paradigm of historical materialism more generally. Essentially, I concur with Shlomo Avineri when he notes that ''industrial revolution in its technological aspects does not really hold the centre of Marx's interest. . . . One need only compare the highly technologically oriented draft of the Manifesto, written by Engels in 1847 . . . with Marx's final version of the Manifesto . . . "38 Avineri states the issue fairly. Yet a moment later, in the latter part of the sentence quoted last, he adds that, in the Manifesto, ''technology is a mere side issue." No textual reference is cited in support of this remarkable statement. Worse still, Avineri then proceeds to compound what one must, in all respect, call a blatant exaggeration, by declaring, again with no textual evidence, that "Marx is interested in technology only because he sees in it the most consequential development of man's relation to his world-shaping capacity. Hence he sees capitalism itself as a highly developed stage in the unfolding of man's creative powers—a speculative element missing from Engels's thought. Marx sees of course that the development of machinery has been the main technological achievement of the industrial revolution. But technology is just an expression of man's creative powers. This power, including the discovery and development of machinery, would never have come into being had it not been caused by a human need."39
Our discussion of Engels's analysis of the role of labor in human evolution plainly indicates that Avineri is mistaken in holding that the idea of capitalism as an unfolding of man's creative power is "a speculative element missing from Engels's thought." (Engels's critics complain that Engels is not speculative enough when he seeks to assimilate modern science, but too speculative when he tries to assimilate Hegel's metaphysics.) Indeed, Engels is perfectly prepared to speculate even about the origins of these creative powers, rather than simply brandishing them in Promethean romanticism.
But is it really true that in the Communist Manifesto—the final draft of which was a product of both Marx and Engels and is not just "Marx's version"—that ''technology is a mere side issue"? Clearly, in the Manifesto as in their other works of the late 1840s, the forces of production--including technology--are of decisive importance to them both. Even though one should not reduce the "forces of production" to technology, the latter is certainly understood by Marx as a key constituent of the former. Throughout the Manifesto there is discussion of technology, directly and indirectly, through frequent references to the growth of industry, navigation, communication. Indeed, after noting that the feudal system of industry was supplanted by the manufacturing system, the Manifesto remarks that "modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way."40 Does Avineri suppose that Marx thought "modern industry" possible without modern technology'? And again, one aspect of the world significance of the bourgeoisie, according to the Manifesto, is that they "cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production."41 Surely that reference, especially to the "instruments of production," plainly indicates it is a fantasy to think that in the Manifesto "technology is a mere side issue." Again, the Manifesto refers to "the means of production and of exchange on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up. 42 Surely these means of production relate importantly to technology. Again, the Manifesto holds that "with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases in number, it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows and it feels that strength more . . . machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level."43 Does this treat technology as a mere side issue? On the contrary, this makes it plain that modern industrial machine technology was expected by both Marx and Engels to help constitute the proletariat, in strength of numbers and in social character, so that it could fulfill its historical mission of overthrowing capitalism and supplanting it with socialism.
Avineri's contention that Marx sees technology as "just an expression of man's creative power" is only a testimonial to Avineri's creative power. In fact, technology is central to the whole Marxist notion of productive powers or forces which, together with the relations of production, largely constitute the economic infrastructure which, according to Marx and Engels, governs society in the last instance. The mutual tensions between these forces and relations of production are the central contradiction that Marx and Engels expected would ultimately overthrow capitalist society.
Just as crucially, Marx and Engels saw modern bourgeois industry, grounded in an advancing technology, as allowing for an escape from want that established the very possibility of socialism. The technological, after all, relates to an increase in productivity grounded in the improvement of machinery. Estrangement or alienation itself, as we have seen, can "only be abolished given two practical premises," held Marx and Engels in their The German Ideology.
For it to become an "intolerable" power, i.e., a power against which men make a revolution, it must necessarily have rendered the great mass of humanity "propertyless," and produced, at the same time, the contradiction of an existing world of wealth and culture, both of which conditions presuppose a great increase in productive power, a high degree of its development . . . this development of productive forces . . . is absolutely necessary as a practical premise firstly, for the reason that without it only want is made general, and with want the struggle for necessities and all the old filthy business would necessarily be reproduced; and because only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established. . . . Empirically, communism is only possible as the act of the dominant peoples "all at once" or simultaneously which presupposes the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bound up with them.44
Avineri's idea, then, that for Marx, technology was a trivial issue, is frivolous, born of his insistence on exaggerating the differences between Marx and Engels and of his effort to prove that "here as well as elsewhere the difference between Marx and Engels is significant and striking."45
Yet to say that Avineri has grossly and unfairly inflated that difference and to hold that he is totally in error in holding that technology was a trivial issue for Marx (and Engels) in the Manifesto, or anywhere else for that matter, are not the same as saying there was no difference in the salience of technology for Marx and Engels. While Engels acknowledges, as had Marx, that modern industry and capitalism are born of a commercial interest in profit, he does seem to explore the effects of technological change more insistently than does Marx, particularly in his The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.
It is perhaps generally correct to suggest that Engels associated capitalisn1 and technology somewhat more closely than did Marx, perhaps attributing more importance than Marx had to technological innovation as a source of larger social change. Levine, too, may be correct in arguing that "when Engels wrote of the economic, the center of gravity of that definition was always the technological."46 In contrast, Marx tended to accent the ways in which the development of modern industrial technology was also called forth by the opportunities for commercial profit.
Thus in a letter to P. V. Annenkov of 28 December 1846, Marx wrote that "the general demands of consumption increased more rapidly than production and the development of machinery was a necessary consequence of the needs of the market. Since 1825, the invention and application of machinery has been simply the result of the war between workers and employers . . . the European nations . . . were driven to adopt machinery owing to English competition." In short, if Engels had stressed technology's role as cause, Marx stressed its role as effect; if Engels overestimated technology's autonomy, Marx may well have underestimated it.
Marx then goes on to make an interesting remark: "The application of machinery in the present day is one of the conditions of our present economic system, but the way in which machinery is utilised is totally distinct from the machinery itself: Powder remains the same whether it is used to wound a man or to dress his wounds."47 Here Marx makes a distinction between a machine and the use to which it is put, implying a certain neutrality or independence in its character, and that it is not inherently changed by the use to which it is put or the property or economic system within which it is developed; Marx here looks on technology as a brick that can be lugged from one socioeconomic system to another without changing it. The development of technology in bourgeois society thus does indeed provide the basis for socialism precisely because it generates a large-scale and homogenized proletariat and solves the problem of want, so that socialism need not mean making want general, while at the same time technology's neutrality enables it to be transferred to a socialist social system. But whether a technology born of the war between workers and owners would not have built into it features at variance with the liberative intentions of socialism is a question that Marx does not raise. On this important question, I am not aware of any difference between Marx and Engels.
We can see from the above that Marx viewed trade and markets as fostering industry. Indeed, Marx generally argues that capitalism preceded and fostered the industrial revolution. This dissociates capitalism from any necessary connection with industry and machine production, treating capitalism as only implying general commodity production—i.e., as an economy in which things are produced for sale by means of labor, which is both constrained and free to sell its labor power for a wage and which is employed with the object of making a private profit. Now such a system of production had existed for hundreds of years in England before the industrial revolution began there. In itself, it could not have been conceivable by Marx as the grounding for human emancipation through socialism, for it could not have been seen as the culminating class society so fundamentally different from all other forms of class society preceding it.
Capitalism is of decisive moment for Marx because it is a class society which is constrained to revolutionize the means of production. In short, what makes it different from preceding societies is that it is released by capital from the limits of the land. "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production," and it is this, says the Manifesto, which transforms the entire bourgeois era and society. This revolution in production starts with a system of manufacture characterized by an increasing division of labor and the assembly of workers and their families (at first doing much the same thing), under the control of a capitalist who may at first only supply the raw materials, but who subsequently gains control over the instruments of production. Precisely as the instruments of production are developed and become more costly they come increasingly under the control of the capitalist, while the worker, alienated from them, is now constrained to work for a wage.
The essential means by which the bourgeoisie "revolutionized" production and gained control over the instruments of production were closely related, though not reduced, to the development of machinery. Without machinery, the bourgeois era would have been just one more class system. Ancient Greece also had wage labor both by freemen and slaves (who were rented out) and commodity production; what it did not have was machinery deliberately developed for and harnessed to production. Conversely, Europe from the twelfth century on had technical innovation, but this operated within a limited framework in which ''civil society and commodity production were circumscribed and in which economic decisions were still highly politicized. Thus while there were surely many factors involved in the outbreak of the industrial revolution in England, certainly two of the most important were (a) an established and already extensive system of commodity production with wage labor, and (b) a period of creative technical innovation (by no means confined to profit-seeking industry) and, above all, the conjunction of the two.
What is at issue in this matter, then, is nothing less than an effort to define the character of the modern mode of production. Profit seeking, generalized commodity production with wage labor, and the use of machinery in manufacture seem essential and partially independent elements in (even if not exhausting) the bourgeois mode of production. If this issue brings into focus the question of the characteristics of the capitalist era, it also tacitly raises the question of just what Marx intended to supersede in overthrowing capitalism. That is what is the nature of the "socialism" he wanted to succeed it? Clearly, what is being overthrown—in the Marxist view—when capitalism is dismantled, is generalized commodity production for private profit, based on the private ownership of the means of production. The central goal of the proletariat when, as the Manifesto says, it becomes the "ruling class," is "to centralize all the instruments of production in the hands of the
State."48 Clearly, however, Marx does not intend to abolish machinery in overthrowing capitalism. As evident in their
discussion in The German Ideology, Marx agreed with Engels in believing that the abolition of private property premised a certain
mass of productive powers and . . . the possibility to increase them infinitely
[N. B.] by machinery, chemical, and other means. . . . Communism has only appeared since machines and other inventions made it possible to offer to all members of society the promise of an all-around education, a happy existence."49
There must always be a dominant class controlling the forces of production and a poverty-stricken, oppressed class, so long as there is not enough produced to supply the immediate wants of all members of society, but also a surplus of products for the increase of social capital and for the further development of the forces of production. . . . Private property will be abolished only when the means of production have become available in sufficient quantities. . . . Once liberated from the yoke of private ownership, large scale industry will develop on a new scale that will dwarf the present machine industry as conspicuously as this has dwarfed the manufacturing system of earlier days. The growth of industry will provide a quantity of products sufficient to gratify the need of all. The same will be true for agricultural production.... Here scientific methods and improvements of all sorts will Soon result in a totally new leap forward, which will provide amply for society's needs. . . . The division of society into various antagonistic classes will then become superfluous.50
If socialism premises a release from scarcity based on increased productivity, it therefore premises the requisites of that increase. These include continued use and development of advanced technology in industry, the continued existence of the very division of labor and the entire system of authority and subordination on which the application of technology to industry depends and, with this, the very human stultification that machinery and that division of labor imply. It is only in a more remote, vaguely sketched communist society beyond socialism that removal of this stunting division of labor is contemplated. In expropriating private ownership of the means of production, then, there was never any intention by Marx or Engels of eliminating machine manufacture and the division of labor in which it was grounded—that "instrument of civilised and refined exploitation," as Marx called it 51—for this refined exploitation was the very premise of the escape from want that their socialism promised. The long march to the cornucopia of communism was to wind through the valley of socialist exploitation.
The retention under socialism of the manufacturing division of labor, and, with it, of the authority of man over man, was always a premise of their socialism. Indeed, in an article written in October 1872 (and published in 1874)—in short, when Marx was still very much alive—Engels decried those socialists who waged a "regular crusade against what they call the principle of authority.''52 Authority, said Engels, means that the will of one is imposed on another and presupposes the latter's subordination. Engels denies the possibility of creating a social system in which authority would cease to exist. "A certain authority, no matter how delegated, and, on the other hand, a certain subordination, are things which, independently of all social organisation, are imposed on us together with the material conditions under which we produce and make products circulate.''53
Indeed, "the material conditions of production and circulation inevitably develop along with large-scale industry and large-scale agriculture, and increasingly tend to enlarge the scope of this authority."54 People will have to come to work on time even under socialism, says Engels. Once fixed, whether by majority vote or by a delegate, these hours "must be observed without question." The "will of the single individual will always have to subordinate itself, which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian way. The automatic machinery is more despotic than the small capitalists. . . . If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, insofar as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organisation. Wanting to abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel."55
So long as the reduction or elimination of want is a requisite of socialism, and so long as this premises the use of advanced industry to optimize product output and the efficient use of scarce resources, then the division of labor and with it a system of authority needed to coordinate it are required. Moreover, the increase of plenty and productivity are tacitly looked upon in a "Promethean" way—that is as endless and insatiable. Engels speaks of the "possibility to increase them infinitely,"56 in discussing "the final abolition of private ownership":
Crises will cease to be; the increase of production, which in the present order of society spells overproduction and is such a great cause of suffering, will then not even suffice to meet the need and will have to be greatly stimulated. Instead of bringing wretchedness in its wake, over-production beyond the immediate wants of society will satisfy the needs of all, and create new needs, and at the same time the means of their gratification.
Given this premise of an endless increase in plenty, combined with the assumption that the available means of production are not limitless and costless, the drive toward Promethean abundance generates pressures to economize and use limited resources, including human labor, efficiently, thus retaining if not intensifying the division of labor and "imperious authority" (as Engels called it) even under socialism. At this point, then, the differences between capitalism and socialism become blurred, particularly from the standpoint of ordinary workers in advanced industry.
In short, the differences between Engels's and Marx's account of the role of the forces of production, and especially of technology, can now be seen to express a real intellectual (not to say political) problem. We can now begin to see why it was that Marx, even if attributing somewhat less importance to technology shall Engels, does not make an issue of it with Engels. It is not, as Levine imagines,57 that Marx did not want these intellectual differences to interfere with their friendship, but, rather that, since Marx himself assumed that socialism required the development of advanced forces of production, he also saw advanced industry and technology as critically important for socialism. It is not, as I indicated, that Marx did not see that the system of machine manufacture entailed exploitation and suffering; he simply saw no way forward to socialism without this exploitation and suffering.
The differences between Marx and Engels, then, are not an oversight; nor are they simply due to their agreed-upon division of labor; nor do they express only the differences inevitable between any two human beings; nor, again, are they evidence of Engels's corruption of Marx's genius. Their differences were, in part, produced by certain unresolved theoretical problems they shared.
One problem was that they had assumed that socialism meant the elimination of poverty and had further assumed that this primarily required strengthening the forces of production, which included both technology and the division of labor. But the division of labor also meant the crippling of human potentialities— alienation. The problem was: how could socialism escape want without, however, utilising the old crippling division of labor? Engels is drawn to technology because this might allow a "clean" solution to the problem of want; and might one day yield a technology that allowed abolition of the old division of labor.
For both Marx and Engels, however, the important thing was the escape from want, and neither could reject anything that promised this. If Engels was overly sanguine about using technology to accomplish this, Marx, for his part, was obscure about how he intended to escape want and yet avoid the alienating division of labor. Focusing on capitalism as general commodity production directed attention to the importance of expropriating the bourgeoisie. Yet expropriation did not mean that the old division of labor was scrapped. Moreover, they still needed technology's productivity. Thus while Engels might have accented technology more than Marx would have wished, Engels at least addressed a problem of the theory they shared. Recognizing this, Marx could not very well berate him for it, all the more so since he himself had no better solution to their common problem. Bound to the conquest of want, Marx could not very well reject anything that promised to accomplish it. The differences between them are thus expressive of the internal needs and tensions of their intellectual system as a whole.
An example: one person in a family may become the group's "economy bloc," reminding the others of their limited funds, while others, in turn, may be less disposed to mention this. This can become part of the division of social labor within the family with the wife alert to its limited resources, and, indeed, the rest of the family relying on her to be so. Their own more spendthrift impulses, therefore, need not be curbed; they can now be expressed in the confidence that they will be checked by the wife. If the wife were absent, however, then the "spendthrift" husband might be forced to assume her role himself and speak for the economy bloc. For the group has a real problem—its income is, in fact, limited. These "differences" between husband and wife then, are not generated simply by their personal differences but are role differences in part grounded in circumstances they share.
This is essentially my view of the textual differences (such as they are) between Marx and Engels, of how they are generated, and what they mean. They signify the presence of unresolved problems in their system of thought. These differences themselves were the expression of incipient efforts to develop solutions for problems in the mode of analysis they shared. Their very differences, then, testify to their intellectual kinship and contributed to their solidarity precisely because they were an effort to solve a common problem.
The point of comparing Marx and Engels's texts is not—nor should it be—to thrust them into a posthumous contest. Still less should it be to portray Marx as a demigod incapable of error and Engels as a vulgar positivist responsible for all the defects of Marxism. The sound reasons for examining their differences include the clarification of certain unresolved problems in their theory and its evolution, and to exhibit a method of analyzing theories having application to other social theories as well.
Underlying the usual invidious contrast of Marx-Engels texts is an entire meta-theory concerning theory production, but it is a theory which itself remains untheoretized. Basically, those invidiously contrasting Marx and Engels tacitly assume that social theory is the product of a single "creator" who is taken to be an individual person. The tacit meta-theory (or, better still, tacit rules of analysis) are atomistic and individualistic, partly romantic and partly bourgeois in character. The tacit but dubious methodological assumption is that we can properly impute differences between "Marxism" and "Engelsism" by comparing texts which bear Marx's name with those bearing Engels's. Differences between the two texts are then attributed to differences between the two persons because it is assumed that the names on each text indicate its true and full authorship, and that each of these is independent of the other, because their named authors are different.
Actually, however, "authorship"—i.e., placing a name on a text—is a conventional way of formulating a condensed account of the origins of the text. In short, "authorship" is in part a societally standardized myth of origins. It is convincing within a secular cultural framework in which it is held that individuals make things, thus normalizing the origin of the text for those believing this. At the same time, the text is also presented as a moral production produced in conformity with certain prescriptions, so that the text may not only be understood but evaluated. The naming of an individual as author specifies—in an individualistic culture— who may be held accountable for a text. It makes a text something for which person(s) are accountable.
"Authorship" is also part of the political economy of culture. Authorship conventionally assigns a text to the person named as author as his property, since about the seventeenth century it is a claim to incomes produced by the text. Conventionally defining the text as belonging to the person named on it as its author, it entails the assumption that, since he created or wrote it, it is deservedly and truly his, because expressive of his work and personality. The conclusions reached in comparing texts presented under the names of Marx and Engels are thus grounded in an unexamined meta-theory of literary property58—i.e., in a pre-text— which treats cultural objects as if they were merely individual products.
Authorship is the use of a segment of a collectively developed culture for private incomes (whether in money or repute); it is the transformation of culture into an income-producing, individually controlled stock of goods. To some extent—and, often, to a considerable extent—authorship has become a conventional fiction or pre-text, minimizing the larger cultural origins while emphasizing the individual origin of a text. It is a socially sanctioned illusion for there may be assistants who helped do the "research,'' find resources, think through, and, indeed, sometimes actually ' write-up" the text in question; there may be colleagues and comrades who have helped, students to whom new texts are presented in "tryouts'' because they are less threatening, as well as spouses,59 lovers, friends with whom there is constant communication about the ideas involved. Although not usually seen as part of the work group producing the textual product, they are indeed members of it and who, because conventionally neglected, I shall call the shadow group.
Whether enshadowed or not, however, all theory work is not simply influenced by but is always the product of some collective group. In the case of Marx and Engels, the latter was surely not part of Marx s shadow group, being widely known in his lifetime as Marx's colleague and was even called (by Kugelmann) Marx's twin star"; Engels was almost the "Pope" of Marxism (as he has also been called) after Marx died. Among those more properly considered part of Marx and Engels's shadow group was Helene Demuth—"our faithful Lenchen"—a feudal gift from Mrs. Marx's mother to the newly married Marxes as a housemaid. Helene Demuth, later mother of Marx's illegitimate son and herself buried in the Marx family gravesite at Highgate, became Engels's housekeeper after Marx died and "acted for Engels, as she had done for Marx, 'as his housekeeper and his trusted counsellor and advisor not only in matters of daily life, but even in politics.' " 60
Beyond those with whom he has face-to-face relations, an author of course also derives help from countless other scholars or artists (living or dead) whom he has read or whose work he has seen. Behind each theory product, then, there is not merely the person whose name appears as author, but an entire group and tradition for whom the assigned author is merely the emblem. This is obviously true of Marx and Engels's "own" publications, each work often being discussed frequently and closely with the other. An author's name, it might be said, is actually not the name of an individual person but of an intellectual work group. The author's name, however, overshadows the group or tradition involved in a text's production and serves authoritatively to resolve its paternity (or maternity) putting aside all questions, much as a father's name on a birth certificate does. Yet it is obvious that there are such things as plagiarism and ghost writing, the first being authorship of one man's work that is claimed by another without his permission; the second, where authorship is claimed and used by one with the permission of another. Thus it was long unknown that many of the articles which appeared in the New York Herald Tribune under Marx's name were actually written by Engels as a contribution to Marx's support.61 Engels was, in this connection part of Marx's "shadow group." There is also, of course, a larger sense in which he was "overshadowed," for the theory to which they both contributed came to be called (often by Marx's foes), "Marxism." When Marx had blurted, in criticism of some French Marxists whom he thought vulgarizing his work, "I am not a Marxist," this is in part the effort of a theory's owner to assert his control over his theoretical property (to protect the ''brand'' name), and to prevent others from using it improperly. The very idea of a "Marxism" thus manifests the compelling fiction of individual authorship, whether made by Marx's Bakunist adversaries or by his Guesdist admirers. Marx's daughter Laura had a finer sense of tact and property—and perhaps also of Engels's own expectations—when writing to him (2 January 1893) she declared: "As for me, my dear General, you know that it's enough to be marxiste et engelsiste to stay young forever."
An otherwise extremely careful scholar, Marian Sawer makes reference to the supposed fact that "by June 1853 Marx had already developed the distinctive Marxian model of Oriental society." This model, notes Sawer, had two elements: (1) "the central feature was seen as the governmental monopoly of land," and (2) the oriental state's dominance was grounded in "the need for the central power to provide the conditions of production such as irrigation and communication." But the first, as Sawer herself acknowledges, ''was similar to that employed by political economists" such as Richard Jones. Actually, more than similar, it was almost identical. The second element was suggested to Marx by Engels (in his letter of 6 June 1853), and Sawer acknowledges that also. Despite this, she still speaks of Marx developing "the distinctive Marxian model of Oriental society."62 Clearly, the conventionalized fictions on which her account rests are compelling It is called the "Marxian" model even though Marx simply appropriated from others both of the ideas on which it is based.
From the standpoint of a political economy of culture, a theory is also the product of unpaid theory work by members of the working group. It entails a situation in which the named author literally appropriates the product of an entire group, and a larger culture—and the incomes it produces—for himself while, conversely, members of the shadow group, receiving neither income nor repute, have truly been alienated from their labor by the author. Often compensation is given through footnotes or other acknowledgements of the property rights or contributions of others. Yet footnotes are inherently ambiguous, on the one side, acknowledging the existence of a debt, but on the other, delimiting and discharging it, allowing the author to claim that he is debt free and now has a freehold on his intellectual property. A footnote honorably discharging a debt can, in effect, become a quitclaim which the author has given to himself, relinquishing the other's interests in his work and placing himself in sole possession.
If the "author" is in part the conventional emblem of the creativity of the collectivity, he is, nonetheless, not the inanimate puppet of the work group, and his voice is not simply the group's ventriloquistic projection. The work group is stratified and has leadership. For the author recruits and discharges members from his work group, taking initiatives of his own, and responding actively and selectively to their criticisms and suggestions. While individual authorship is always to some extent fictional and conventional, it may also in part express the real initiatives of an individual theorist whose collaboration with a work group helps produce those theoretical performances traditionally termed authorship (and scholarship).
Authorship, moreover, is not only dependent on the work but on the tact of the work group, which is to say, it is not merely a system of domination but a hegemony in which the author's special position is accepted by the dominated as legitimate. It is well known that, great gentleman that he was, Engels once said that the essential ideas of Marxism were largely the creation of Marx and that, while Marx could have produced them without him, he, Engels, could not have produced them without Marx. Engels accepted the conventions of authorship; by which I mean that while his humility correctly conveys the reality of Marx's leadership of their work group, Engels is surely mistaken in maintaining that he was not necessary to the production of Marxism, or that Marx could have accomplished his work without him. For Engels participated in their agreed upon division of labor (focusing on military history and science); he provided Marx with intellectual stimulation and consensual validation in the precarious years before his work won outside recognition; and, of course, he gave tnateria1 support without which Marx would have had to divert himself from his scholarship to earn a living for his family.
Edmund Wilson puts it well:
Marx and Engels in relation to one another were like the electrodes of the voltaic cell . . . Marx was to play the part of the metal of the positive electrode, which gives out hydrogen and remains unchanged, while Engels was to be the negative electrode, which gradually gets used up. "There's nothing I long for more," Engels wrote Marx, April 27, 1867, just after the last pages of the first volume of Das Kapital had finally been got off to the printer, "than to escape from this miserable commerce, which is demoralizing me completely by reason of the time it makes me waste. . . ." He is going to give it up, he says; but then his income will be very much reduced, "and what I always have on my mind is what are we going to do about you?" Marx replies on a note of contrition: "I confidently hope and believe that I shall be within a year's time enough of a made man so that I can fundamentally reform my economic situation and stand finally on my own feet again. If it had not been for you, I should never have been able to bring this work to completion, and I assure you that it has always weighed like an incubus on my conscience that it should have been principally on account of me that you have been allowing your splendid abilities to be wasted and msted in business and have had, besides, to live through all my petites miseres with me."63
Marx thus acknowledges that his work could not have been completed without Engels's help and without the waste of his "splendid abilities."
Bearing in mind the constant and intimate communication between Marx and Engels, it is clear there are few texts we can confidently label as exclusively the product of one or the other. The entire enterprise of denigrating Engels assumes, however, just the opposite without any real reflection on the methodological problems and the dubious theoretical premises involved in making that invidious comparison. Together with others, including "dear faithful Lenchen," Marx and Engels comprised a theory-producing work group, a small community of critical theorists, and for the most part, each of "their" texts represents the views, work, and sacrifice of other, often anonymous' members of their theoretical community. "Their" texts are by no means the product of their individual work alone but of an often invisible group and larger tradition whose unpaid contributions the authors appropriated for themselves. This supportive group is important under all conditions but, most especially, when theory work seeks to elude conventional views and for which, therefore, authors all the more require protection from the demand for C011tUmlity to the prevailing paradigm or to the common sense.64
One final thought about the relations of Marx and Engels. I have stressed the consensus and the functional differentiation of their intellectual contributions—partly a deliberate division of labor and partly an unplanned differentiation which was a response to the unresolved problems of their common theory. I have, too, of course acknowledged that they were different personalities and therefore incapable of having identical views, but my accent has been on their consensus and collaboration. I want to acknowledge, however, that (given my own assumptions about contradiction and conflict in social affairs) I would be astonished if their difference never took the form of conflicts and tensions, open or repressed. Here I wish to add only two things. First, that even conflicts premise a sharing among the conflicting parties, and second, that the sheer premise of possible conflict does not absolve us of the obligation to prove it. It would have been a near miracle it Engels's subordination of his own life to Marx's did not leave some resentment. Yet this is a conjecture in which we tacitly liken Engels's feelings to our own. But ''ever-laughing Engels" was a remarkable man. Whether anything might be or even should have been is one thing; whether it was in fact, is quite another. Although it is true that Marx was often an abrasive person who finally broke with almost everyone with whom he had once been friendly, we know of only one notable quarrel between Engels and Marx, and that was when Mary Burns (Engels's lover) died and when, in the midst of Engels's desolation, all Marx could think of was the press of his own needs. We do know, however, that after Marx died, Engels—as Helene Demuth told Eleanor Marx— " 'burnt lots of letters referring to himself.' "65 We may, therefore, never learn much more.
1. George Lichtheim, Marxism, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964), pp. 235, 238, 243.
2. Ibid., pp. 236, 238.
3. Karl Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy (London: New Left Books 1970), p. 80.
4. Lichtheim, Marxism, p. 236.
5. Levine, too, accepts this trend line. See his The Tragic Deception: Marx Contra Engels (Santa Barbara: Clio Books, 1975), p. 6. As Marx became "deeply immersed in his economic studies . . . even though the basic theme of human activity remained persistent, it again appeared in a different form . . . as labor . . . the making of things necessary for human subsistence, replaced the political revolutionizing praxis of the 'theses on Feuerbach' . . . a shift has taken place. . . . By 1858, history for Marx, had become the story of the expansion of social production powers . . . a reflection of industrial capacity."
6. J.-P. Sartre, Situations (Paris: Gallimard, 1949), vol. 3, p. 213n.
7. Interview with Lucio Colletti, New Left Review, July/August 1974, pp. 13-14. It is far from clear that Marx's "blunder" about universal suffrage was ''involuntary." His statements on this were measured and reiterated.
8. Irving Howe, ea., Basic Writings of Trotsky (New York: Random House, 1963), pp. 401-02.
9. Hal Draper, Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Part 1: The State and Bureaucracy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977), vol. 1, p. 16.
10. Frederick Engels, "On the History of the Communist League," Marx-Engels, Werke, Institut fur Marxismus-Leninismus (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1956-68), vol. 21, p. 211.
11. Levine, Tragic Deception, pp. 192 - 93.
12. Ibid., p. 171.
13. Richard Bernstein, too, emphasizes that "Marx's views on the Asiatic Mode of Production not only have intrinsic importance, they help to overthrow the myth that Marx had a rigid historical theory of economic development applicable to all societies." Richard J. Bernstein, Praxis and Action: Contemporary Philosophies of Human Activity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), p. 63.
14. Levine, Tragic Deception, pp. 92-99. This cannot fail to remind one of the great importance that the first Cambodian communist government attributed to irrigation works and dams.
15. Ibid., p. 201.
16. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence, 1846 - 1895, trans. Dona Torr (New York: International Publishers, 1942), pp. 66-67.
17. Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy, trans. Martin Nicolaus (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973), p. 474.
". . .aqueducts, very important among the Asiatic
peoples . . . "
18. Ibid., p. 61.
19. Ibid., pp. 24-25.
20. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 197.
21. Ibid., P. 71.
22. Ibid., p. 152.
23. For serious discussion, see Bernstein, Praxis and Action; Nicholas Lobkowicz' Theory and Practice: History of a Concept from Aristotle to Marx (South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967); Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1969).
24. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 181. Subsequently, however, Levine purports to show that Engels became increasingly reformist, nonrevolutionary, the first revisionist. But at the last congress of the First International at the Hague in 1872, just one year after the disaster of the Paris Commune, Marx held that America, England, and Holland might achieve socialism through parliamentary and peaceful means. This, however, seemed to embarrass Engels who (in the preface to the first English translation of Capital) insisted that, in saying this, Marx "never forgot to add that he hardly expected the English ruling classes to submit, without a 'pro-slavery rebellion,' [in the manner of the American confederacy] to this peaceful and legal revolution." Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of PoIitical Economy, vol. 1, translated from the 4th German edition by Eden and Cedar Paul, published in 2 vols., with an introduction by (,.1). H. Cole (London and Toronto: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1930), vol. 2, p. XX7. Was Engels more reformist than Marx, or was it the other way around?
25. The essay, which plays no role in Levine's work on Engels, is "The Role of Labor in the Ape's Evolution into Man," Dialectics: A Marxist Literary Journal, no. 8, pp. 1 - 14. Translated by Morris Goldenberg with the assistance of Leonard Mims, n.d.
26. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 2. Levine makes the strange remark that "Marx never treated the inorganic world as having a separate and distinct existence apart from man," as if this was a compliment to Marx. Yet this sentence is not merely wrong but downright silly if meant to imply that Marx the materialist did not acknowledge the priority and independence of the world before men. It is typical of Levine, however, that his formulations are not merely inexact but ludicrous. For why make a special point about insensate, "inorganic" nature? Wasn't there also sensate and organic life before men evolved? Did Marx discuss this in its own right or only in relationship to men? Obviously Marx thought Darwin decisive and, he said, as having provided the basis in natural philosophy for his own work. It seems that it is this that is embarrassing to Levine who tries to squeeze out of it with his bizarre reference to "inorganic" nature. Darwinianism conventionally looked on homo sapiens as produced beings derivative of natural selection and survival. In the essay on the role of labor in man's evolution from the ape, what Engels is doing is actually stressing the role of man's praxis even in that natural evolutionary process, stressing that man was not simply a product made by a natural environment but was also self-produced. Levine says some of the most mind-boggling things on this subject, such as: "When Marx did become involved in science, it was always in terms of applied science', (ibid., p.237). Were this true, one could only say, too bad for Marx. Levine attributes idiotic behavior to Marx, as if complimenting him; fortunately, Marx was not an idiot. He obviously spent much time studying not merely the findings but the methods of several of the sciences, and on top of that worked creatively in mathematics. Levine condemns Engels for his supposed emphasis on technology and then applauds Marx for having attended to applied science—i.e., technology—rather than pure science. Once again, Engels is put in a no-win situation and Marx in a no-lose situation. When Engels studies technology and emphasizes its importance he presumably evidences his second-rate, positivistic mind; but when Marx does so he evidences his Promethean humanism, aiming at a "science that could be used to improve and enhance human productivity . . . and enlarge the productive powers of man" (Ibid). In 1863 Marx actually took a course on technology given by a Professor Willis at the Geological Institute in London.
27. Engels, "Role of Labor," p. 1.
28. Ibid., p. 2.
29. Ibid., p. 4.
30. Ibid., p. 9. So much for Marx's bee and foresightful architect.
31. Ibid., p. 8.
32. Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1940), p. 317.
33. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 6.
34. Engels, "Role of Labor," pp. 10, 11.
35. Concerning these links, see Michael Lowy, Pour une Sociologie des Intellectuals Revolutionnaires: L'Evolution Politique de Lukacs, 1909-1929 (Paris: Presses Universitaires du France, 1976).
36. Engels, "Role of Labor," p. 11. Italics added.
37. Ibid., p. 13.
38. Avineri, Social and Political Thought, p. 153.
39. Ibid., p. 153. This unfortunately evokes Levine. A recent discussion stressing the importance of technology in Marxism is to be found in Ramesh Mishra, "Technology and Social Structure in Marx's Theory, Science and Society, Summer 1979, pp. 132-58. Mishra appears to accept E. Balibar's conception of industrial technology as entailing both the separation of the worker from the means of production and his transformation into an appendage. Mishra adds that these "are, in a certain sense, inherent in technology itself quite independent of the relations of production." He is therefore led to ask: "Does not industrial technology provide a fertile soil for the institutionalization of inequality and class relations in 'socialist' societies" (p. 149).
40. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authorized English edition of 1888, supervised by Engels, published by Charles 11. Kerr, Chicago, p. 14.
41. Ibid., p. 16.
42. Ibid., p. 19.
43. Ibid., p. 24.
44. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology trans. W. Lough and C. P. Magill, ed. R. Pascal (New York: International Publishers, n.d.), pp. 24-25.
45. Avineri, Social and Political Thought, p. 153.
46. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 159.
47. Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, pp. 10-11.
48. Communist Manifesto, p. 141.
49. F. Engels, "1847 Draft of the Communist Confession of Faith," in Birth of the Communist Manifesto, ed. D. J. Struik (New York: International Publishers, 1971), pp. 163, 167.
50. Ibid., pp. 178, 180, 183. Nowhere does Marx challenge any of this.
51. Capital 1, Dent ed. 1:380.
52. Robert C. Tucker, ea., The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1972), p. 662.
53. Ibid., p. 664.
55. Ibid., p. 663.
56. Engels, "The Communist Credos," in Birth of Communist Manifesto, p. 183.
57. Levine, Tragic Deception, p. 240.
58. For an introductory yet valuable discussion of property in knowledge, see W. W. Sharock, "On Owning Knowledge," in Ethnomethodology, ed. Roy Turner (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974), pp. 45 - 53. See also Lewis Mumford: "Pascal pointed out that people often spoke of 'my ideas' as complacently as middle-class people talked of 'my house' or 'my paintings,' but that it would be more honest to speak of 'our ideas.' This trait became so deeply a mark of the finer scientific mind that my own master, Patrick Geddes, was pleased rather than offended when others put forth his most original ideas as their own. He gleefully described his habitual practice as that of the cuckoo bird who lay her eggs in other birds' nests, and gives them the trouble of hatching and caring for the offspring." Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964), vol. 2, The Pentagon of Power, p. 122. Patrick Geddes (like Mumford) was of course the exception, not the rule, which is why the history of modern science is littered with disputes about priority.~' For fuller discussion of my own related views, see Gouldner, The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), pp. 18ff
59. A curious instance was the posthumous review of the life and work of Oscar Lewis the anthropologist by John Womack, Jr., in which the latter decided to award Ruth Lewis credit for the literary merit of her husband's work. (Notice how ingrained the fiction of individual author ship is: even as I criticize it, I am constrained to use it—"her husband's work.") Womack does this even though Ruth Lewis s contribution is usually indicated on the title page of this work or is elsewhere acknowledged. Thus one member of Oscar Lewis's production group is here presented by Womack as an unmasking of an unusual situation when, in fact, it is standard. See the review by Womack in the New York Review of Books, Aug. 4, 1977, pp. 25ff.
60. From Edward Aveling, "Frederick Engels at Home, cited in Chuschichi Tsuzuki, The Life of Eleanor Marx, 1855-1898, A Socialist Tragedy (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 240. Se e also Stefan Grossman's work Lenchen Demuth und andere Novellen (Berlin, 1925).
61. See Gustav Meyer: "in 1851 The New York Herald Tribune . . . offered him [Marx] the post as regular correspondent. But Marx had not sufficient command of English as yet and was therefore forced to depend on Engels, to write, or at least translate, his articles. For years, indeed, countless articles which were sent under his name were actually written by his friend. . . . When his first articles were due, Marx was deep in his economic studies and asked Engels if he could write a series for him on the German revolution. Accordingly between August 1851 and October 1852 he wrote a group of articles called Germany, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, which were issued in book form after his death by Kautsky, with Marx's name on the title page. . . . From 1851 till 1859 none of Engels's writings appeared under his own name. His sole purpose was to enable Marx to support his family." Gustav Meyer, Friedrich Engels, A Biography (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1936), pp. 144, 155.
62. Marian Sawer, Marxism and the Question of the Asiatic Mode of Production (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1977), p. 44.
63. Wilson, To the Finland Station, pp. 309-10.
64. Compare Alvin W. Gouldner, Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins of Social Theory (New York: Basic Books, 1965), pp. 177ff.
65. Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1972), vol. 1, Family Life (1853-1883), p. 278.
From Alvin W. Gouldner, The Two Marxisms. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980, Chapter 9 - "Engels Against Marx? Marxism as Property" pp. 250-286.
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