The Origin of the Family Private Property

Author(s): Friedrich Engels; Tristram Hunt (Introduction by)


Engels composed Origin, published in 1884, from notes he and Marx had made from their reading of the anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan's Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery Through Barbarism to Civilization (1877). Regarding Morgan, Engels says, "in his own way he] discovered afresh in America the materialistic conception of history discovered by Marx 40 years ago." Morgan's study involves analysis of the social organization of the Iroquois nation from an anthropological perspective. This analysis of "barbarian" Iroquois society ("barbarian" being a value neutral term for the stage of societal development between "savage" and "civilization"), structured upon a "gens" system (a complicated familial system to be contrasted with the bourgeois, patriarchal, "nuclear" family), is used as the basis from which to trace the emergence of "civilization" and its attendant class divisions, rise of the commodity, suppression of women, and rise of the state. After a description of the Iroquois society, Engels describes the transformation of the gens-based organizations of society in Athens, Rome, and Germany into state organizations with their attendant divisions of classes, development of slavery, etc. All of which would tend to feel like a fall from a state of egalitarianism into an oppressive "civilization." But there is, of course, no return.


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General Fields

  • : 9780141191119
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : June 2010
  • : 1.7 Centimeters X 13 Centimeters X 19.7 Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Friedrich Engels; Tristram Hunt (Introduction by)
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : English
  • : 321.1
  • : 236