The Guardian • Issue #2069

Engels and pizza: Sunshine Coast Branch gets educated

Friedrich Engels

In July the Sunshine Coast Branch of Queensland had its first education class, examining Friedrich Engels’ Principles of Communism. Written in 1847 it was the precursor of Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto written in 1848. There was a good number of branch members in attendance, while those who could not attend in Caboolture made use of the Zoom link. The class produced lively interaction and debate, followed by pizzas. It was a great evening of camaraderie, enjoyed by all. The Power Point presentation is available for those who would like it.

Principals of Communism is structured as a question-and-answer handbook, containing 25 questions about Communism. Engels presents his core ideas of Marxism: historical materialism, class struggle and proletarian revolution. He articulated the political arguments of the newly-formed Communist League, to become its mission statement.

Engels begins with a brief history of the proletariat, the 19th century working class. His ideas developed in a sequential and logical progression, predicting that the abolition of private property would be a panacea for social ills. Class and ethnic differences would dissipate and religion rendered superfluous. Engels asserts that Communism will greatly benefit women’s rights and the family, with the abolition of private property women will be emancipated.

The Principles begins with ‘What is Communism? Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat.’

‘What is the proletariat?’ Engels explains that the 19th century working class lived by selling its labour, having derived no profit from capital.

Question 24 asks ‘How do communists differ from socialists?’ There are three main types of socialists: reactionary, bourgeois, and democratic. The first two groups are antagonistic to communist aims, while communists can sometimes align with democratic socialists when useful.

All up, Engels book is a useful and engaging way to get started on Communism.

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More