Friedrich Engels

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According to Engels, what turns men into brutes? How can they overcome their brutality?

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Engels approaches this issue from both institutional and public perspectives. In The Origin of Family, Private Property, and the State (1884), he argues that violence and brutality became institutionalized upon establishment of the state. Engels asserts that the violence that formed the state predates it, beginning with the first slave-owning civilizations. Engels draws parallels to slave populations and the lower class, who labour under the wealth-controlling upper class. In the 19th century, economic conditions associated with capitalism facilitated this exploitation of the lower class.

Engels asserts that capitalist society can only function if there is a third power that suppresses conflict (i.e., the state, through the army and police forces). Engels describes the state's "monopoly of violence," in that war has become a form of industry and that war leaders translate into leaders of the state:

War and organization for war have now become regular functions of national life . . . The wars of plunder increase the power of the supreme military leader and the subordinate commanders.

Engels co-authored The Communist Manifesto (1848) with Marx, which provides a counter-intuitive solution to this "culture of war" and violence of the state. It is counter-intuitive in that Engels and Marx argue that the proletariat class (industrial workers) must rise above the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) by violent means. Through revolt, the exploitative nature of capitalism would be replaced by socialism and, ultimately, communism.

Engels and Marx argue that the nature of capitalism, established by the Industrial Revolution, allowed the bourgeoisie to accumulate wealth. Conversely, this system gave the proletariat their own means of power to rise against the ruling class. While the bourgeoisie are owners of industry, the proletariat vastly outnumber them and are the labor force crucial to upper-class wealth:

The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.

Within the context of Engels's society, industrial conditions were becoming increasingly demanding, while wages were simultaneously decreasing. The discontent associated with these conditions and the close proximity between proletariat laborers allowed extensive communication between workers. By unifying the proletariat voice and organizing themselves into a violent force, revolt would pave the way for more equal economic conditions and an ultimately more peaceful society.

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