The Condition of the Working Class in England Paperback – 7 May 2009
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"This is a very nicely-produced edition at a price practical for course use. David McClellan's introduction is clear and useful."--J. Boyden, Tulane University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Frederick Engels (1820-1895), the son of a wealthy German textile manufacturer, moved in 1842 to England to take a position in a factory near Manchester partially owned by his father. Engels met Karl Marx in 1844 and began a lifelong association with him. The two are considered to be the founders of modern communism. The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845; English translation 1847) is one of the classic texts of Marxist thought, standing besides such other of Engels' works as Socialism: Utopian and Scientific and The Dialectic of Nature. It is a vitally important political, social and historical document. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I had always been aware that Victorian Britain was well known for the poverty of its masses, but nothing prepared me for the detailed, horrifying descriptions of living and working conditions, starvation, disease and a stagnant existence of poverty in which there was literally no way out of except suicide.
For all its justified power, I do feel that Engels does tend to drift from being a critical and detatched observer in favour of spectacular tirades championing the case of the working class. Though this is clearly understandable as a result of what he saw and experienced in the numerous cities of England and Scotland in the twenty-two months he spent in Britian for the material of the book.
The first book to give the working class a voice in a society which entirely suppressed it, and a damning study of the cruel and exploitative nature of capitalism, which proves to be as relevant now (with the imergance of globalisation) as it was when first written in 1844.
It's often cited in modern discussions of complex systems as the book also gives an idea of the interactions between social, political and economic factors and their results in the real world. The origins of these much more modern ideas, how social and economic conditions interact, taking the holistic view etc. are all visible here.
It gives some ideas of what Engels must have been like and his compassion for the suffering of the people described is clear throughout the book.
Engels' main purpose is to confront the bourgeoisie with the reality of their mode of production and to contrast this with the rhetoric of "free choice" and "civil liberties", as well as the capitalist apologia of the political economists of his day, in particular Andrew Ure. With great insight into both the causes and effects of the capitalist system, Engels catalogues the endless want, filth, despair and misery experienced by millions of labourers every day in 19th century England. He pays attention to housing, to factory safety, to unionism, to the physical condition of the workers, to alcoholism, the state of the Irish underclass, to prostitution and disease; in short, all the ills attendant on industrialization.
What gives this book such power is that Engels on the one hand proceeds in an analytical manner, making use above all of sources from the bourgeoisie itself and from Parliamentary reports, in explaining the functioning of the capitalist system and the competition between capitalists and between labourers. On the other hand, he writes in a particularly readable manner and at no point bores the reader with the mere summing-up of statistics.Read more ›
Engels vividly describes the working and living conditions of the working class predominantly, although not only, in Manchester, and links this to the economic developments taking place. This is based on researching Factories Inspectors reports - a method that was to be copied by Marx in Volume 1 of "Capital" and contemporary newspaper articles as well as his own eyewitness reports garnered by walking around the affected areas and interviewing locals. It is a very professional and accomplished work of investigative social reporting, and no less than UNESCO has included it on its list of most influential works of sociology.
There is no 'call to arms' here in this book - this is still to wait until "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848 but there are shades of "A specter is haunting Europe" particularly in the final chapter.
Marx was to compliment Engels long after for its passion and incisiveness. It is a classic of its times.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In 1842, Friedrich Engels was sent by his father to Manchester, England. It was hoped a short apprenticeship in the family-owned Ermen & Engels mill would cure Engels of his... Read morePublished 14 months ago by SJK
This book is an eye opener and should be read by everyone -brilliant.Although it refers to conditions in Victorian times it is also very relevant today as the rise of food banks... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Geoffrey Knowles
Having been born in the most deprived part of Manchester in 1930, I know first hand what Engels is writing about.Published 16 months ago by Mr. E. E. Gill
I am using this as part of my Open University degree. Really interestingPublished 18 months ago by Supersec
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