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Dave Haslam: Post-Madchester, 25 February 1993

... Friedrich Engels described the scene in the centre of Manchester on a Saturday night: ‘Intemperance may be seen in all its brutality. I have rarely come out of Manchester on such an evening without meeting numbers of people staggering and seeing others lying in the gutter.’ The habits of the citizens of Manchester are unchanged ...


Linda Colley, 1 November 1984

The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism 
edited by Margaret Jacob and James Jacob.
Allen and Unwin, 333 pp., £18.50, February 1984, 0 04 909015 1
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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 
by Roger Wells.
Alan Sutton, 312 pp., £16, May 1983, 9780862990190
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Radicalism and Freethought in 19th-Century Britain 
by Joel Wiener.
Greenwood, 285 pp., $29.95, March 1983, 0 313 23532 5
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For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution 
by Robert Dozier.
Kentucky, 213 pp., £20.90, February 1984, 9780813114903
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... for a snark, the Bellman said. And with equal assurance, political activists from Tom Paine to Friedrich Engels and historians from Elie Halévy to Edward Thompson have hailed 18th and 19th-century Britain as just the place for a revolution. For superficially – though only superficially – the conditions seem to have been almost ideal. From the ...

Town Planner?

Miles Taylor: Engels, 17 December 2009

The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels 
by Tristram Hunt.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9852 8
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The Condition of the Working Class in England 
by Friedrich Engels.
Penguin, 307 pp., £10.99, May 2009, 978 0 14 119110 2
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... The best of friends started as the closest of rivals. When Marx first met Engels in 1842 he immediately disliked his theology, his military uniform and the company he kept in the beerhalls of Berlin. Within a couple of years the two were housemates in Paris, co-authoring and co-conspiring their way towards The Communist Manifesto of 1848 and the revolutionary barricades of that momentous year ...


Peter Pulzer, 4 September 1986

Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 304 pp., £17.50, July 1986, 0 19 212239 8
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... here, it was from choice, not necessity. A few straddled the professional/exile divide, like Friedrich Engels who came to Manchester in the early 1840s on family business and was obliged to stay after his participation in the Baden rising of 1849. But for the business and professional category in general, political considerations came second. They ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior, 12 March 2009

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... By the time Friedrich Engels arrived in England in the winter of 1842, the country already had a class warrior of its own. One of Engels’s new neighbours in downtown Manchester had spent the summer warning his countrymen of imminent social catastrophe. ‘It is my firm belief,’ Richard Cobden told the House of Commons in July, ‘that within six months we shall have populous districts in the north in a state of social dissolution ...

Be like the Silkworm

Terry Eagleton: Marx’s Style, 29 June 2023

Marx’s Literary Style 
by Ludovico Silva, translated by Paco Brito Núñez.
Verso, 104 pp., £14.99, January, 978 1 83976 553 7
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... the finest critical writing of our own day. The aesthetic theories of Goethe’s fellow classicist Friedrich Schiller lie behind his vision of communism, a society in which everyone will be free to express the wealth and diversity of their powers. As a young man Marx wanted to be a poet, not a political theorist, and wrote some floridly Romantic verses to his ...

Brand New Day

Niela Orr: ‘The Wiz’ and the Prez, 18 March 2021

... sequence, ‘A Brand New Day’, written by Luther Vandross, ‘may be the first musical number by Friedrich Engels’. Despite The Wiz’s political messaging, what’s striking now is its focus on feeling. In ‘Can I Go On?’ Dorothy is afraid of feeling too much, saying it’s ‘more than I can deal with’. In ‘What Would I Do if I Could ...

Partners in Crime

Julie Elkner: Everyday life in Stalinist Russia, 8 March 2007

Tear Off the Masks! Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia 
by Sheila Fitzpatrick.
Princeton, 332 pp., £15.95, July 2005, 0 691 12245 8
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... of 1920s Russia is dotted with ‘the false grandsons of Karl Marx, the non-existent nephews of Friedrich Engels, the brothers of Lunacharsky, and as a last resort descendants of the famous anarchist Prince Kropotkin’. Fitzpatrick’s study sets out to find the real-life counterparts of these fictional con-artists. Her convincing demonstration of ...

Marx v. The Rest

Richard J. Evans: Marx in His Time, 23 May 2013

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life 
by Jonathan Sperber.
Norton, 648 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 0 87140 467 1
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... propelled them towards atheism and got them into trouble with the pious new king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who came to the throne in 1840 and turned the government’s educational policy in a more conservative direction. Denied university careers, the Young Hegelian thinkers moved rapidly to the left. Sperber plays down the influence of ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl Marx, 26 January 2006

Karl Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... according to which both the family and the cultural-territorial origins of Marx and his colleague Friedrich Engels were merely accidental preludes to a world-historic symphony: the triumph of socialism, Lenin and historical (if not dialectical) materialism. Attali’s quiet, disenchanted treatment suggests a deeply alternative reading. Although from ...

Desperate Responses

Richard Hyman, 5 April 1984

Industry, Unions and Government: Twenty-One Years of NEDC 
by Keith Middlemas.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, January 1984, 0 333 35121 5
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Strikes in Post-War Britain: A Study of Stoppages of Work Due to Industrial Disputes, 1946-73 
by J.W. Durcan, W.E.J. McCarthy and G.P. Redman.
Allen and Unwin, 448 pp., £20, November 1983, 0 04 331093 1
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Picketing: Industrial Disputes, Tactics and the Law 
by Peggy Kahn, Norman Lewis, Rowland Livock and Paul Wiles.
Routledge, 223 pp., £5.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9534 1
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... the English. Some strange allusions yet some familiar resonances in the conclusions of the young Friedrich Engels after his first eventful contact with the labour movement in Lancashire at the height of the second Chartist upsurge. His diagnosis of a close nexus between trade unions, strikes, economic disruption and political disaffection was not merely ...

Imagined Soil

Neal Ascherson: The German War on Nature, 6 April 2006

The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape and the Making of Modern Germany 
by David Blackbourn.
Cape, 497 pp., £30, January 2006, 0 224 06071 6
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... conservation movement, peevishly attacked the deforming of landscapes for trivial convenience. Friedrich Engels, no less, wrote: ‘Let us not flatter ourselves too much with our human victories over nature. For every such victory revenges itself on us.’ But it is probably true that until the 20th century, technical progress and the overcoming of ...

No Haute Cuisine in Africa

Ernest Gellner, 2 September 1982

Cooking, Cuisine and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 24455 2
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... Africa. No high cultural products without differentiation, specialisation and stratification ... Friedrich Engels thought that the subjection of women marked one of the great social revolutions of human history. Goody, by contrast, thinks it was the sign of a crucial transformation in human culture when cooking for great men and occasions was handed ...

Opium of the Elite

Jonathan Rée: Hayek in England, 2 February 2023

Hayek: A Life, 1899-1950 
by Bruce Caldwell and Hansjoerg Klausinger.
Chicago, 840 pp., £35, November 2022, 978 0 226 81682 1
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... hope of bringing industry under political control and getting rid of ‘haggling’ (Schacher). Friedrich Engels was more specific, asserting in 1878 that socialism would eliminate the ‘social anarchy’ of capitalist free markets by delivering ‘social regulation of production upon a definite plan’. Forty years later Lenin promised to rejuvenate ...

Kings Grew Pale

Neal Ascherson: Rethinking 1848, 1 June 2023

Revolutionary Spring: Fighting for a New World, 1848-49 
by Christopher Clark.
Allen Lane, 873 pp., £35, April, 978 0 241 34766 9
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... overwhelming strength and firepower. Another cliché, still common on the left, is that Marx and Engels dismissed 1848 in France in class terms as a ‘bourgeois revolution’ whose inevitable failure at least lit the road towards a final proletarian conquest of power. Marx was dismissive, but not because middle-class politicians and intellectuals had given ...

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