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The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 29 Apr 2010
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About the Author
Friedrich Engels was born in 1820. In 1842 Engels went to Manchester to represent the family firm. Relationships there inspired the famous The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Collaboration with Marx began in 1844 and in 1847 he composed the first drafts of the Manifesto. After Marx's death, he prepared the unfinished volumes of Capital for publication. He died in 1895.
Dr Tristram Hunt is one of Britain's best known young historians. Educated at Cambridge and Chicago Universities, he is lecturer in British history at Queen Mary, University of London and author of several books. A leading historical broadcaster, he has authored numerous series for the BBC and Channel 4. A regular contributor to The Times, The Guardian and The Observer, he is a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
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Prof. Peter C. Patton, Ph.D.
It stands out really clearly in this book that he and Marx trace the origins of class society to the agricultural revolution (when human beings started raising crops and animals instead of being hunter gatherers) - which immediately resulted in a "surplus" of food - which became the responsibility of an elite (chieftains and priests) to safeguard for the winter and hard times.
He also traces the necessity for men to trace their offspring once there is a surplus and they begin to accumulate wealth (the keepers of the surplus get to keep a little more of it than everyone else). Because by this time human beings have figured out how babies are made and want to bequeath their wealth to their descendents. This can only happen if they can trace their paternity, which means limiting women (but not men) to a single sexual partner. Thus the need to replace matriarchal society with patriarchy and to introduce the marriage contract to bind women to a single man.
Engels then traces how this primitive "tribal" structure, eventually led to the concept of private property - and of the feudalistic state. To have a state you have to have a king or supreme leader. He maintains power via a standing army and rewards "knights" in his army with gifts of private property. And because property is no longer owned communally, people are forced off the land they used to farm and have no choice but to go and work as serfs for the knights and lords who now own the property by the king's decree.
The book contains a fascinating section about the way the Iroquois Nation governed themselves - including their use of consensus in decision making, inheritance through the female line and their collective ownership of property. He also outlines how various Iroquois tribes were united in a Confederacy governed by a Federal Council (which formed the basis for state-federal structure the colonists adopted in the US Constitution).
The section about democracy in ancient Athens and the coalescence of Latin tribes into a single Roman government is also extremely interesting. The final section concerns the amalgamation of the various Germanic tribes into the states of Germany and France.
By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, author of THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE.
regard for all members of the tribe as having an equal voice (with men and women playing an equal role in leadership), , insistence on consensus decision making, their
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