Friedrich Engels and his role in Marxism
Within the terms best known and used to refer to communism we can find «Marxism», «Stalinism», «Leninism», «Trotskyism» and even mixtures between one and another, and all these branches or conceptions of communism lead us to reflect on Marx’s thesis, but we seldom stop to think about the added value that Friedrich Engels gave to thought known as Marxism. What did Engels do to disappear from popular culture, or rather, to take a back seat? What did Engels lack in his work towards the Communist League to go down in history with a term similar to that of his comrade Marx and generate the study of an «Engelinism»? Answering these questions might be difficult but we can still list what Engels did in order to obtain a place in Marxism.
The objective of this article is to revalue the role of Engels within the expansion of Marxism and the work he did in pursuit of the ideals of his comrade Karl Marx after his death in 1883. Generally, Engels is often reduced to co-author of several books that founded the pillars of Marxist thought; obviously those who make a deeper inquiry into the history of political ideas know more assertively the legacy of Engels, who was not only a promoter of communist ideology, but also a student of social relations.
Among the maximum works of scientific socialism we can find «The Holy Family», «The German Ideology», «Communist Manifesto», «The 18th Brumaire of Luis Bonaparte» and «The Capital», these last two considered as books clearly Karl Marx, the first because, in fact, it was written by Marx and the second because even though Marx died, Engels ended «The Capital» and attributed the total credit to Marx posthumously and honorably. It should be remembered that Marx only came to see the publication of the first volume of «Capital» and that Engels completed the other two volumes with his own studies and adding notes from Marx. Friedrich Engels was a cornerstone in the Marxist legacy, he was a faithful comrade, an architect of the movement who would then lay the foundations of the workers’ uprising, and the other his promoter.
However, it was not they or the followers of scientific socialism who coined the term «Marxism», but Karl Kautsky, a philosopher and scholar of Austro-Czech origin who was part of the current known as orthodox Marxism, a term that by the way reached to offend Marx himself. The discomfort of the father of scientific socialism dates from the incorrect interpretation that occurred in the Paris Commune to the ideals that he raised along with Engels, this earned him the phrase «I am not Marxist» rejecting the Parisian interpretation.
Engels was even willing to appease the revolutionary and radical moods promoted by Marxism, this is evident in his approach to Eduard Bernstein, one of the great thinkers of social democracy, and who would also be his companion until his death in 1895. We can conclude then that Engels not only fulfilled an important task in the preservation of Marx’s ideal, but also contributed to the study of society but even more important: it served as a reference for the emergence of communist trends that reached their peak with the Soviet Union .