In many ways Engels was the very opposite of Marx. He enjoyed athletics, liked people, and was by nature an optimist. He was born in Barmen, Germany, in 1820, the son of a textile manufacturer who owned large factories in both Germany and England. Engels chafed under the iron discipline of his father and learned to despise the textile factories and all they represented. As he matured he lined himself up with the “industrial proletariat”.
For the son of a bourgeois businessman, he had a surprisingly limited education or at least one that did not include extensive university training. What he lacked in formal training he supplied through hard work and native talent. He spent much time in England and learned both English and French. He was able to sell articles to liberal magazines in both languages. While very different from Marx they followed an identical course in intellectual development. Like Marx, Engels quarreled bitterly with his father, took to reading Strauss’ “Life of Jesus”, and fell in with the same radical left-wing Hegelians that had attracted Marx. He became an agnostic and a cynic, lost confidence in the free-enterprise economy of the Industrial Revolution, and decided that the only real hope for the world was Communism.
Having never met Marx in August of 1844 he traveled to Paris for the specific purpose of meeting him. After ten days both men felt it was their destiny to work together. It was during this same ten days that Marx converted Engels from a Utopian Communist to an outright revolutionist. He convinced Engels that there was no real hope for humanity in the idealism of Robert Owen or Saint Simon but that conditions called for a militant revolution to overthrow existing society. With Engels in agreement, he headed back to Germany. Six months later Marx was expelled from France and took up residence in Brussels, Belgium.
It was during this time that Marx and Engels teamed up to write the book “The Holy Family” , a book designed to rally around them Communists who were willing to completely disavow any connection with the so-called “peaceful reforms” of philanthropy, Utopianism, or Christian morality. Their relationship developed because Engels considered it a privilege to be associated with such a genius as Marx. Engels was honored to use some of his father’s wealth to assume responsibility for Marx’s financial support. ( No wonder liberals expect others to support them.)
This partnership gave them both the courage to immediately launch an International Communist League based on the need for violent revolution. They planned to use workers in Germany and France as the backbone for their new political machine but this effort proved bitterly disappointing. After several months among the French workers he ended up castigating them because they preferred their present lifestyle…”most preposterous day-dreaming”…as he described it. Having failed in their plan to build their own revolutionary organization, they decided to take over one that was already in existence. In August 1847, they succeeded in gaining control of the “Workers’ Educational Society” in Brussels. It gave them the opportunity to expand their influence to England. To their much unanticipated surprise England rather than the Continent would become the headquarters for their revolutionary work.
During November 1847 word came from London that the “Federation of the Just” (later known as the Communist League) wanted Marx and Engels to participate in their second congress as representatives of the Communist organization in Brussels. They not only attended but practically took it over. They succeeded in getting the congress to adopt all of their basic views. Marx and Engels were then commissioned to write a declaration of principles or a “Manifesto to the World”. They returned to Brussels and immediately went to work…a work that included Marx’s passionate plea for a revolution. When completed they announced to mankind the new program that they called “International Communism”. It called for :
> overthrow of capitalism
> abolition of private property
> elimination of the family as a social unit
> abolition of all classes
> overthrow of all governments
> establishment of a communist order with communal ownership of property in a classless, stateless society
In short, the Communists everywhere were to support every revolutionary movement against existing social conditions. The ruling classes were to tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians had nothing to lose but their chains and could win a world. A call was put out to the working men of all countries. This policy statement came to be known as the “Communist Manifesto”. The revolution was to come sooner than anticipated. The year 1848 was the be the start of a communist revolution.
I write this history because people in a free society need to know about the philosophy that is driving the threat that we have today. The Bible tells us: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” [Ephesians 6:12-13]. We are not to sit back while the rulers of darkness…communism, liberalism, and progressivism… have free rain to destroy a society including the church. Today many are saying it is difficult to maintain faith in a God of love, power, and justice while it is preferable to compromise with the world rather than challenge it. In many cases compromise has become the spirit of the age. This plays right into the plans of the communists. They know that the church must be destroyed for the revolution to be complete. ‘Principalities’, ‘powers’, ‘rulers of the darkness’, and ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness’ are all represented by minions of Satan. Christians are given the power to destroy these evil operatives but must be willing to do so. It is not always easy. They have been actively at work for many years using the stresses of life as a ally. Many preachers today seem to have lost sight of the naked power of the Word of God, the word that tells us to put on the armor and go to work. Believers have the power to put up the fight . It is a tragedy when ministers fail to “hold up the teachings of the apostles”. God will rarely take our trials away, because He knows our need for trials, but He will take us through our trials. It is important that we learn to recognize the evidence of Satan at work and be ready with the help of God to take a stand against such evidence. Our society and future generations depend on it.
Next week we will continue to look into the history of two men who have had probably more evil impact on the world than any humans in history.
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” Thomas Sowell