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On Religion

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,332 ratings  ·  68 reviews
When Karl Marx declared religion the opium of the people, he voiced a central tenet of the philosophy that bears his name. In this collection of essays and letters by Marx and his colleague, Friedrich Engels, the founders of Marxism discuss their perspectives on the origins and essence of religion. These writings constitute the theoretical basis of proletarian Marxist athe...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 14th 2008 by Dover Publications (first published 1884)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,887)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I read Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State in the interest of sorting out the Marx-Engels position on the family and for background to the frequently mis-read passage in The Communist Manifesto about the “community of women.”

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 Civilizatio...more
Most of the work outlined in this book has been disproved. It is rudimentary, a great summation of mid-19th century anthropology. I like his analysis of Iroquois tribes as compared with Far Eastern configurations of the family. Basically his argument is that pre-capitalist societies and non-western societies, notably Native American tribes have already understood basic principles of communism, and that in many ways it is more natural to have common property rights, and community based child rais...more
Christoph White
Giving a synopsis of this is turning out to be a struggle. As I read Friedrich Engels' book about the anthropology of family I found myself taking copious amount of notes. And not notes that I care to share in a review of the text it was more as if I was reading this text for a class. I have become increasingly more interested in Socialism over the past few years. I can remember being a Socialist punk teenager, reading the works of Marx and saying F the system. But the truth is I never really re...more
That society has not always been based on money, which is to say, on private property, should be uncontroversial, but it is more often, for many people, perhaps, unthinkable. In what is surely Engels' most profound description of how civilization got 'this way', the reader is guided, with the aid of the anthropologist Morgan's schematic outline for the study of historical stages found in his book, Ancient Society, through the historical permutations and evolutions of such seemingly immovable cat...more
كما يدل العنوان يتناول الكتاب مباحث ثلاثة:

1-الحياة الاجتماعية في المجتمعات البدائية التي تكونت من العشيرة ذات الحق الأمي كوحدة بناء للمجتمع (القبيلة) وكيفية التزاوج وتطورها من الزواج الجماعي إلى الزواج الثنائي ثم بعدها الزواج الفردي، وكيف تحول هذا الوضع الاجتماعي تدريجياً إلى ما نحن عليه الآن من نظام اجتماعي يتكون من الأسرة والعائلة كأصغر وحدة لبناء المجتمع ينتسب فيها الإنسان لأبيه وليس لأمه والزواج فردي يسيطر فيه الرجل على المرآة وعلى العائلة بما يملك من قوة اقتصادية ظهرت بعد اكتشاف الزراعة

Realizar uma análise dos caminhos escolhidos pela sociedade é realmente uma tarefa complicada. Pois uma coisa é dizer o que aconteceu - o que já é complicadíssimo - outra coisa é dizer porque aconteceu. Este porquê só pode ser alcançado por meio de uma visão de mundo específica e necessariamente certeira. Senão, não há porque. Entretanto, costumamos ser bastante inventivos na busca de porquês. Simplesmente somos assim. E, a princípio, isso não é um defeito.

Li que esse livro de Engels chegou a s...more
This is a very interesting work, specially considering the time when it was written. Engels, being very modern for his time, portrays how the first class antagonism in history coincides with the development of a patriarchal society, as man started to settle down and gain private properties. He also shows a parallel between the domination of the male in the household with the antagonism between social classes.

Since I don't have a Marxist Theory shelf, I just put this one on nonfiction.

My friend (a member of the Worker's World Party 40 years ago) strongly suggested I read this book. She even handed me her extra copy so I'd have no excuse for not reading it. (And she was super impressed that I already knew who Freidrich Engels was.)

I would have never read this book without my friend's encouragement, but I'm glad I did. A lot of the information here I already knew, and some parts are dreary boring, but...more
Dr. A
Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of (a thinkPhilosophy Production).

A persistently undervalued work, Friedrich Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State remains a most salient account of the relationship between private property and the marriage compact through which women are subjugated. (The argument is further developed by structural anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and Gayle Rubin; for...more
I re-read this after some 30 years after having recommended it to someone. Engels provides a materialist view of the origin and development of human social structures by linking the then-recent findings of Lewis Morgan on primitive families to the underlying means of procurring food, shelter, and tools.

He traces the origin of the modern male dominated monogamous family through early group marriage, development of the incest taboos, and gens clan structure arriving at the monogamous family with...more

May, 2009

Marxism and Religion, Yesterday and Today

Militant Atheism has recently gone on the offensive (again) in the recent works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. And all our soi-disant radicals are rallying to the cause. But contemporary Marxists have seemed to hold back; indeed, some seem to even admire bits and pieces of l'Infâme. I looked to this volume as a corrective to the current fashionable atheism and also for a deeper understanding of the original Marxi...more
Nov 03, 2012 Public_enemy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historicists
Shelves: philosophy
Although I was reading this book in opposition to it, I learned a lot. Problem is: Communists always diminish the importance of idealistic factors in history. Even the Russian communist revolution can be described primarily ideologically because in Russia, back then in 1917., there was no much of materialistic and historic (empiric) conditions for revolution. There was only an abstract idea (which was generated elsewhere, namely in Western Europe 50 years before). So, divergence between theory a...more
Kw Estes
One of the more impressive works I have set myself to reading. Engels maps out, in a compelling and convincing manner, the process which has brought the human race from a state of nature in which exploitation was not a thought to our current system, in which exploitation is 'good business'. He ties in how the family has changed in this process and, in turn, how the changes in the family have led to the advent of private property. Also makes a great argument against the position in which capitali...more
Gregory W. Allen
Interesting survey

Arm chair anthropology at its finest. I'm sure the field has marched on but this was still a very interesting read, and pretty accessible, though some of the cultural references are so old you need Wikipedia to get the meaning.
Omar Alshuaibi
شرح انجلز التحوّلات الاجتماعية والثقافية بماديّة جدلية ديالكتيكية تاريخية, من الأسرة الأموميّة إلى الأبوية البطريركية التي بدأت مع الملكيّة الخاصة إبان الحكم الإقطاعي حتّى الرأسمالي, قنبلة فكريّة هذا الكتاب
Marx y Engels nos explican por que la monogamia no es natural, como oprime a las mujeres, apoya el capitalismo, promueve la prostitucion y el adulterio.
Sa'id Hassan
انا قريته من زمان , بس اللهم صلي ع النبي يعني , الكتاب حاجة فشيخة , زي ما يكون ربنا باعتلنا فريديرك انجلز عشان يقولنا ما خفي علينا ف المواضيع دي :D
Matt Westbrook
Even if it is a product of the bourgeoisie-legitimating intellectual class, the atheism--it's tone, presentation and argument--in Marx's works sometimes is unbearable, occasionally laughable. This isn't to say that his analysis of what he calls a "materialist reading of history" and of religion's historical role in oppression isn't trenchant--it is. It is applicable to today as well. It's just that the atheism makes it read like a political tract, a polemic designed to score points and humiliate...more
Catherine Armentrout
I gave this a low rating because I highly disagree with the author's assertions and point of view. I read it merely to gain understanding of another view point.
This book added a whole lot to my perspective on the parallels between the development of gender roles and the concept of private property. It's from a historical materialist perspective, certainly, and at least at the time I read it, prompted me to more than one "A-ha" moment. If ideas of communism or socialism offend you, you may not feel the same way, but it's still a fascinating analysis in and of itself.
Read this book and I think than Engels is not a proper historian here. He claims a lot of statements without linking them to culture, religion etc. The book is also impossible to understand without major knowledges of ancient history - Engels reveals only their's very little part.

Ofcourse he lived hundred years ago and you need to filter carefully the information that is fiction nowadays.
Rahmina Hamsuri
Asal usul keluarga, sebuah gambaran awal mengapa muncul pemahaman bahwa perempuan adalah salah satu alat produksi dalam rumah tangga.
Siapa memiliki siapa ? siapa memiliki apa? merupakan perspektif awal terhadap ketidakadilan gender perempuan.
Being a book from the romanticism, shows the very strong tendencies of Friedrich Engels to abandon property an follow a philosophy that is close to Rousseau's. It gives one a great introduction to he communistic manifesto where he is listed as they coauthor with Karl Marx but in actuality he was more responsible for the financial aspect. Can't go wrong with a classic.l
Achille M
Would give it 5 stars if the data weren't horribly outdated. Engels, and we can't blame him for making the most of what was available at his time, relies on very questionable material. Despite this, he manages to put together a work that is still largely defensible using modern ethnographic sources (see Eleanore Leacock's work).
Andrew 'Smitty' Smith
Fantastic compilation of Marx's thoughts on religion, and the struggles to reconcile themes of alienation and oppression to the larger context of Marx's dialectics. This volume is worth purchasing solely for "On the Jewish Question," but it also contains discourses on Hegel (including a critique of Hegel's philosophy of right).
Guilherme Martins
Karl Marx critica a religião sobre a luz do materialismo, e desmistifica a ideia criada no céu, dando importância à análise do real social. Afirmando que é o material que determina a consciência, notando-se aqui o desprezo de que é o além que guia a vida humana, mas antes pelo contrário a construção do material que nos guia.
Erik Graff
Apr 26, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians of Marxism or of anthropology
Recommended to Erik by: no one
This, the first book I ever read by Engels, formed the basis of what I would come to think I knew about early humans and the evolution of their forms of social organization. It is short. It is simple. It explains everything. And it is based on the work of a nineteenth century student of Amerindian peoples.
Muy buen ensayo sobre los pilares del mundo capitalista. El autor demuestra su comunismo en cada palabra y crítica, en cada análisis de cualquier punto.
this is fascinating. right now i'm just finishing up the section that discusses the correlation between the advents of monogamy and prostitution. in some ways it all seems really obvious, but at the same time it's totally mind-blowing.
I hate the language of most of these texts.
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(Arabic: كارل ماركس)
In 1818, Karl Marx, descended from a long line of rabbis, was born in Prussian Rhineland. Marx's' father converted to Protestantism shortly before Karl's birth. Educated at the Universities of Bonn, Jena, and Berlin, Marx founded the Socialist newspaper Vorwarts in 1844 in Paris. After being expelled from France at the urging of the Prussian government, which "banished" Marx in...more
More about Karl Marx...
The Communist Manifesto Capital, Volume 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production (Das Kapital, #1) The Marx-Engels Reader Das Kapital The German Ideology

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“The emancipation of woman will only be possible when woman can take part in production on a large, social scale, and domestic work no longer claims anything but an insignificant amount of her time.” 14 likes
“No soldiers, no gendarmes or police, no nobles, kings, regents, prefects, or judges, no prisons, no lawsuits - and everything takes its orderly course. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole of the community affected, by the gens or the tribe, or by the gentes among themselves; only as an extreme and exceptional measure is blood revenge threatened-and our capital punishment is nothing but blood revenge in a civilized form, with all the advantages and drawbacks of civilization. Although there were many more matters to be settled in common than today - the household is maintained by a number of families in common, and is communistic, the land belongs to the tribe, only the small gardens are allotted provisionally to the households - yet there is no need for even a trace of our complicated administrative apparatus with all its ramifications. The decisions are taken by those concerned, and in most cases everything has been already settled by the custom of centuries. There cannot be any poor or needy - the communal household and the gens know their responsibilities towards the old, the sick, and those disabled in war. All are equal and free - the women included. There is no place yet for slaves, nor, as a rule, for the subjugation of other tribes.” 11 likes
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