Talk:Classical Marxism

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Friedrich Engels[edit]

belongs to the main theorists of classical Marxism. This is supported for example by Franz Mehring's biography of Karl Marx. --Schwalker 17:25, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

I have taken the liberty of putting both your reasonings onto the talk page. Can we please continue the discussion here. Reasoning in edit summaries is hard for other people to see and join in. (I hope no-one minds.) JenLouise 13:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the edit comments again, since I'm not convinced that they are helpfull here to solve the problem.--Schwalker 20:22, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree that Engels belongs in this article, however I am wary of an edit war. I am going to add Engels back in, but add a tag so that anyone reading the article may be aware of controversy until the matter is resolved. Please can we not make any more changes before the discussion has been finished.

I am not aware of any contraversy regarding Engel's role. Engels is present in the Classical Marxism section of the Marxism article which tons of people read and look at every day and no-one has any issues with it there. Indeed I suspect if you were to delete Engels from that section of the article you would create quite a furore. Moreover, you asked Schwalker to provide a source and he did so. (Your opinion of the source is not really an issue unless it too is backed up by a source). You were in turn asked to provide a source and you have not done so. I will highlight this debate on the Marxism page as it gets many more viewers than this one does. I am going to add Engels back in, but add a tag so that anyone reading the article may be aware of any controversy until the matter is resolved. Please can we not make any more changes before the discussion has been finished. JenLouise 13:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't know why Schwalker prefers to have this discussion on user pages, since this is the relevant place for it.
I haven't had a lot of time to devote to this, but in one minute I found this Review: Marxism's Unseen Hand: Friedrich Engels & the Rise of Historical Determinism Ronald J. Hunt Polity, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Winter, 1985), pp. 340-349.
"Historical determinism" is but one issue regarding Engels role. More generally, there is the question of his translations and heavy editing of Marx, especially after the latter's death. I am surprised that neither of you seem to know about these matters. Grant | Talk 22:44, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

The first sentence was:

"Classical Marxism refers to the social theory expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as contrasted with later developments in Marxism."

I think this senctence does not exclude the possibility that E. did not adhere to M.'s theory. However, it may cause a false impression of a homogenous theory without inner contradictions. Even if E. did not adhere to M.'s own theory, or vice versa, this does not necessarily imply that any of both is not a classical Marxist. I've read that George Lukacs in the 20s was first to show differences between E. and M. theory. This article Classical Marxism perhaps should inlcude a reference to Lukacs' work.

In any event, both have M. and E. have colaborated in many projects, for example The Holy Family or The German Ideology. Parts II an III of Das Kapital were revised and edited by E. after Marx's death. E. supported M. financially and intellectually for many decades. So Mehring's assessment that their works are inseparable seems correct as a first approximation. I now have added "the works of" to the first sentence in order to indicate that each of M. and E. have both created their own works, and by this take account of possible discrepancies within the body of classical Marxist theory.

It seems that this article still needs an authoritive source for the term classical Marxism itself.

Greetings, --Schwalker 20:50, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Interestingly enough non of the contributors to this discussion have offered any evidence to support the idea that Engles should not be considered part of the classical marxist tradition. Michael Harrington tried, unsuccessfully, to make the case that Engles is responsible for "Historical determinism". Similarly, the Italian marxist, Lucio Coletti, whom Harrington relied on, In his book From Rousseau to Lenin, after making this kind of claim tells us, he does not have enough space to show us the evidence, but it's out there, if we want to do is job for him and dig it up. All such claims, as they must, ignore Marx's own epigramatic writing style, that often times suggested a determinist outlook. On the other hand, Thomas Sowell's Marxism: Philosophy and Economics makes nonsense of the idea that Engles differed from Marx in any substantial way Spiker 22 (talk) 08:29, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

This is an absurd question, of course Engels belongs in it! Marx wrote about history and economics, and Engels about philosophy. Without Engels, Marxism would be nothing more than economic jargon without a philosophical base. (Demigod Ron (talk) 03:42, 27 December 2007 (UTC))

Demigod Ron: I do not think the division of labor was as neat as you claim for example There is Engles Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy’ While one or the other name may have appeared individualy on this or that book, It does not mean the material inside was uninfluenced by the other. Considering that Engles eventually became a proprietor in his father's textile business, it would not suprise me at all to find that Engles was a big source for marx's thinking about Industry. The idea of the ever increasing misery of the proletariat was certainly substantiated, in their eyes, by Engles The Condition of the Working Class in England. Similarly you have marx's Poverty of Philosophy, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy authored by both men. 129.33.1.37 (talk) 04:49, 4 February 2008 (UTC) The reason for raising the question of Engles belongs is because many marxists believe that Engles somehow misunderstood his collaborator and that in editing marx's work after his death, Engles put his misunderstandings in marx's mouth. Misunderstandings that made marx's ideas more deterministic that they he ever intended. Consequently, so the argument goes, providing a foothold for Stalin in marxian theory. Spiker 22 (talk) 04:25, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

RE: Schwalker. One must not confuse the phrase Classical Marxim with "True Marxism" if there is any real difference. Friedrich Engles definitely belongs to Classical Marxism. The idea that Engles may not have understood or did not adhere to Marx's ideas belongs to later developments in Marxism. The reality is that when Marx and Engles met, there was no Marxism as such and that Engles definitely played a role, whether good or ill in its development. In short the problem is that there is no record in the survivng correspondance between them of said misunderstanding or lack of adherence. It is strange that 39 years of friendship, collaboration and correspondance did not bring this to Marx's attention; while it's purported to be clear to someone writing over 100 years later. How could Marx have missed this? Spiker 22 (talk) 03:17, 11 February 2008 (UTC) Spiker_22

Reference for "Classical Marxism"[edit]

"Classical Marxism" is the term that was used in my sociology theory subjects and I just assumed it was widely used so I didn't bother with references (and yes it did just look at Marx and Engels) but when I get a chance I'll go and find my uni notes and try and find a proper reference for it. 02:50, 16 November 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by JenLouise (talkcontribs) 02:50, 16 November 2007, signature added --Schwalker (talk) 16:58, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Merge into Marxism[edit]

It seems that nearly all of the content of this article is already adequately covered in Marxism. Therefore, I propose a merge and redirect. --causa sui talk 03:30, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

The marxism article is already very, very long, and is meant to be a summary article, highlighting the key points of a host of more specific articles sitting underneath it. Merging this article into the Marxism article, wouldn't not only increase the length of that article and skew the proportions of the different summary sections but would also make it difficult to expand on this content later. Having a separate article here gives the possibility of being able to develop and add more detail to this topic over time. JenLouise (talk) 04:24, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Proposing a section on Engles alledged misunderstanding of Marx[edit]

Do we think Ron Hunt would object to us stealing his title? The purpose of the section would not be to judge Engles place in Classical Marxism, but to document this most intereasting question. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.33.1.37 (talk) 09:12, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

The Invisible Hand of Historical Determinism?

One of the more intriguing developments in contemporary Marxism concerns Engles purported "misunderstanding" of Marx; particularly given his role in translating and editing the latter. Little if any evidence exists showing Marx's awareness of this, which makes it unlikely given their 39 years of friendship and collaboration. Marx's lack of awareness on this point would indeed be curious given his awareness and written criticism of differences with his son in law, Paul Lefarge, while nothing of the sort can be found in surviving correspondance with Engles. Even if such differences existed, demonstrating them would be difficult given that The Marx of 1844 differed from the Marx of say 1880; if only in terms of the maturity of his ideas. Further complicating matters is Marx's dialectical method of presentation. Depending on the level of abstraction, one could pull any number of quotes from, say Capital, to claim Marx beleived in any number of ideas; thus confusing the level of abstraction with later conclusions. As if this would not complicate mattes enough,there's Marx's own epigramatic style of writing that often suggested a more deterministic outlook. Including phrases like Base and superstructure.Spiker 22 (talk) 09:29, 6 February 2008 (UTC) Spiker_22

Now to the evidence:

For openers we have a letter from Engles to Franz Mehring, wherein Engles observes


"Marx and I always failed to stress enough in our writings and in regard to which we are all equally guilty. That is to say, we all laid, and were bound to lay, the main emphasis, in the first place, on the derivation of political, juridical and other ideological notions, and of actions arising through the medium of these notions, from basic economic facts. But in so doing we neglected the formal side — the ways and means by which these notions, etc., come about — for the sake of the content. This has given our adversaries a welcome opportunity for misunderstandings" [1]


Thus apparent economic determinism is not due to some difference between Marx and Engles, but an on the fly overemphasis of the "economic facts" as against other ideas that underestimated or denied their significance.

Later, in the same letter Engles observes:

Hanging together with this too is the fatuous notion of the ideologists that because we deny an independent historical development to the various ideological spheres which play a part in history we also deny them any effect upon history. The basis of this is the common undialectical conception of cause and effect as rigidly opposite poles, the total disregarding of interaction; these gentlemen often almost deliberately forget that once an historic element has been brought into the world by other elements, ultimately by economic facts, it also reacts in its turn and may react on its environment and even on its own causes.

Note that Engles understanding of dialectic does not follow the deterministic model he is purported to have believed in. instead we have the reciprocity of causation: it also reacts in its turn and may react on its environment and even on its own causes. In a word Engles understood causation is dialectical rather than stemming from a single source.--Spiker 22 (talk) 03:57, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments and excuse my earlier just rearranging them instead of responding to their content. Do you think that the parts of Engels letter to Mehring which you've cited should be used as a source for the article? Greeting --Schwalker (talk) 23:06, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Schwalker: The letter to Mehring certainly could be used, but I have another clearer one replacing it in the article I am slowly developing. Now if only I can find a way to get input from Jen Louise, the original editor (re-editor?) as to placement etc, I will be well on my way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Spiker 22 (talkcontribs) 10:56, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

I've been in project land for the last few months with no spare time on my hands, but am back now! Of course Spiker 22, you are more than welcome to put the section in anywhere you feel is appropriate, and if I or anyone else reading the article has any suggestions we'll let you know. Happy to offer my opinion that you could add it as additional content in the "Marx and Engels" section or create a new heading to become 2.3 so that it appears after "After Marx's death". Cheers, JenLouise (talk) 04:04, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Proposal to do away with the accurracy tag[edit]

since no one has offered anything substantial in the way of showing that Engles somehow failed to understand or accurately express Marx's ideas. it is not enough to assert that Engles may or may not have adhered to marx's ideas. While the accuracy of this article is in dispute, no evidence has been offered to substantiate the claim despite the tag's existence for over 1 month. Wikipedia should adopt a policy that a dispute tag must be accompanied by some effort at substantiation. Innocent till proven guilty, anyone? Spiker 22 (talk) 02:31, 5 May 2008 (UTC) Spiker_22

I agree that the teg should be removed. I don't think that a debate over Engel's consistency with Marx in any way means that it is in accurate to say that Engels is relevant to classical Marxism. The debate itself has actually been going on since last year, and I do not think there is any conclusive evidence that is in accurate, so I am going to remove the tag. Given that it is planned to add a section referring to the controvery, I think that is more than enough to be in line with NPOV. JenLouise (talk) 04:07, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi JL! Thanks for your attention! Any conclusive evidence? So far no evidence has been presented to show that there are sufficient grounds for the controversy, but let us go further here to show the controversy itself rests on shakey grounds: Take for example Z.A. Jordan's The Origins of Dialectical Materialism http://www.marxmyths.org/jordan/article.htm The article is written in such a way that the reader is likely to doubt Engels before any evidence is presented. While discussing the significance of Anti-Duhring, Jordan cites Engels' prefatory remarks concerning his understanding with Marx about the publication of that book:"... it was understood between us that this exposition of mine should not be issued without his knowledge. I read the whole manuscript to him before it was printed...." [A fact that becomes even more devastating to Engels critics when you add in that Marx, himself, contributed a chapter on economics}. Jordan simply does away with this notion by asserting. "It is easy to understand why Engels’s account has been accepted uncritically by practically everybody. Engels statement in Anti-Dühring merely brought out with specific reference to a particular issue what people had always felt to have been the case in general, namely, that the views of Marx and Engels were without exception absolutely the same." What reason do we have for being critical of Engles testimony? If anything Engels reliability on presenting Marx's ideas is attested to by non other than Marx's own daughter, Eleanor, who had also been Marx's secretary: "The only authorized translation either of the whole first volume of “Capital,'’ or of the first nine chapters of it, is the one published by Mr. Sonnenschein, which had the inestimable advantage of revision by Engels" http://www.marxists.org/archive/eleanor-marx/1897/03/marxs-capital.htm Apparently, both father and daughter were so fond of their doltish friend, Engels that they simply ignored his departures or showered him with undeserved praise. For we are told that poor Friedrich just wasn't so bright after all and that this fact was discovered by "Sidney Hook who in the early thirties challenged the accepted opinion that from the beginning of their personal, intellectual, and literary friendship the views of Marx and Engels were identical. Considering the indisputable fact that they were minds of a different order, the alleged identity of views is highly implausible." http://www.marxmyths.org/jordan/article.htm. Thus on the testimony of professor Jordan and Mr. Sydney Hook, we have learned that Engels was a bit of an unreliable dunce before any evidence, let alone conclusive evidence is presented. Most folks aren't gonna side against a couple of knowledgeable guys, especially when doing so puts them with an unreliable dunderhead. Of course, let us not get too carried away with this embellishment and confess that Mr. Jordan's point isn't that Engles was a dunce; just that he did not have the mental faculties to follow Marx's "inventive genius" —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.33.1.37 (talk) 09:31, 3 June 2008 (UTC) ~Spiker_22 Spiker 22 (talk) 09:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Certailnly the belief in Engles deviation is far more fashionable than factual. It seems to be enough for someone to mention they read something of the sort somewhere. Luckily for us Mein Kampf was not the Book of the Month or we might have found ourselves debating the verities of Shicklegruber. The reality is that the surviving correspondance shows little if any evidence of said deviation and certainly no mention of it by Marx. Yet we are expected to believe that through 39 years of friendship and collaboration, Marx either did not notice or remained silent concerning his friends "peculiar combination of science and speculative philosophy" Jordan gives us the following explanation for Marx's silence "Marx did not disavow the responsibility for the views expounded by Engels, but he need not have seen any necessity for doing so; he might have felt that there was no danger of a work of Engels being construed as an exposition of his own philosophical beliefs. In the Preface to the first edition of Anti-Dühring, published in Marx’s lifetime, Engels said that the criticism of Dühring’s philosophy gave him the opportunity to set forth ‘my views on controversial issues which are today of quite general scientific and practical interest’. He suggested nowhere that what he wrote committed Marx in any way. Quite a different problem is the question as to what was Marx’s opinion about Engels’s peculiar combination of science and speculative philosophy, and the most plausible answer is that Marx did not trouble to make up his mind about it. At that time Marx was entirely engrossed in his own work, above all in the completion of the remaining volumes of Capital, which increasingly prevented him from becoming interested in matters unrelated to his main task." http://www.marxmyths.org/jordan/article.htm This is a bit curious given that Marx's editorial proclivities probably led to the understanding that Anti-Duhring "should not be issued without his knowledge" Indeed, the most plausible reason for Marx's silence is that the book accurately reflected his views. Jordan seems to feel that Marx "might have felt that there was no danger of a work of Engels being construed as an exposition of his own philosophical beliefs." A curious impression given that Engles tells readers that "the mode of outlook expounded in this book was founded and developed in far greater measure by Marx...." Of course, it is entirley plausible that Marx may have been overly preoccupied with finishing his Magnum Opus and simply didn't notice Engles peculiar "twist" on his views. Here again Jordan gives us the most plausible reason why Marx would take great interest in the content of "a work of Engles" Eugen Dühring was "Marx’s detractor and .... rival for the intellectual leadership within the German Social Democratic Party." Anyone familiar with Marx's personality would find this to be a potent reason for Marx to take great care about how the book was interpreted: Wouldn't Duhring and even the public have taken the contents of the book as an exposition of Marx's ideas? Ultimately there is no reason to doubt Engles testimony. The aforementioned agreement is completely consonant with their habit of exchanging proofs, and with Marx's editorial habits. Further it seems absurd that Marx would not have offered suggestions and criticisms while Engles "read the whole manuscript to him". We know he did the former by adding a chapter and it is this last bit that belies the idea that marx was too preoccupied with Capital. ~Spiker_22 Spiker 22 (talk) 05:00, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Merge with Orthodox Marxism page[edit]

Hi, I have removed the merge tax from this article and placed it on the Orthodox Marxism page. See my explanation on the talk page for the change and to discuss. JenLouise (talk) 04:15, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

For. Orthodox Marxism isn't a widely used term, and the article on Orthodox Marxism is a horror, with not a single reference. --Duncan (talk) 23:14, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Missing lead paragraph[edit]

The lead paragraph (sentence) seems to have dropped off somewhere along the line. I have added in the original sentence (that began the controversy regarding Engels' role in Classical Marxism). This sentence needs to be expanded to be at least one paragraph and introduce the key elements of the article - if anyone has any ideas, please have a go! Cheers, JenLouise (talk) 04:20, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Removing inaccuracy not supported in reference[edit]

I have removed the following;

"It is important to distinguish between "Marxism" and "what Marx believed"; for example, shortly before he died in 1883, Marx wrote a letter to the French workers' leader Jules Guesde, and to his own son-in-law Paul Lafargue, accusing them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggles; "if that is Marxism" — paraphrasing what Marx wrote — "then I am not a Marxist."[1]"

The reasons are as follows; There is no mention in that reference of Marx writing a letter to Guesde shortly before he died. There is a reference to Marx writing Engels however. There is no account whatsoever of Marx ever claiming (whether paraphrased or otherwise) that he is "not a Marxist". There is no account of Marx using the term "revolutionary phrase-mongering" towards anyone in the entire article. There is no reference outlining what Marx believed which was in contrast to Marxist principles as stated by this entry.

As such, it is obvious that this entry is the independent and subjective words of the author, and are not verified in the reference provided. The only similarities between the aforementioned entry and the reference used to support the entry are the names, "Marx", "Jules Guesde", and "Paul Lafargue". The account of events and perspectives are NOT supported. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.118.201.253 (talk) 17:58, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

One fact that is not represented in this "report" is that Marx was supposedly for the "Worker" but never worked a day in his life and lived off the sweat of other people. This is a fact that is never mentioned, nor is the fact that many of his so called "Histories" are nothing but ranting over the rich. For example in his "History" of the French Revolution one would not know what it was about until he mentioned Bonaparte...lets try something new, lets quit giving this non-working, class warmongering moron any more attention...his theories have failed and have always lead to dictatorships, communism, and the deaths of millions of people... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.138.74.36 (talk) 19:41, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

Incorrect and unnecessary Anglicization[edit]

under the "concept of class" heading it mentions the "PETTY bourgeoisie" and links to the page about the "PETITE bourgeoisie", the article on Marxism only lists petite and not petty and perhaps I missed it in my copy or the translator was lazy but I never saw the mention of the petty bourgeoisie. I propose we change it to reflect the redirect page and the main article. 99.249.182.150 (talk) 02:29, 21 March 2013 (UTC)