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The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan [Paperback]

Friedrich Engels
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tearing Down Social Icons March 17 2002
Format:Paperback
Are the father-centered family, private property, and the state necessary and inevitable part of all human societies?
Frederick Engels, coworker of Karl Marx, says no. Engels demonstrates that these three institutions arose in the fairly recent history of the human race, as a way to establish the rule of the many over the few. And, conversley, when these institutions are an obstacle to human progress, they can be dismantled.
Although this book was written about 125 years ago, the subject matter and his point of view sound surprisingly modern. Evelyn Reed, a Marxist anthropologist, writes a 1972 introduction that updates the original work from the point of view of 20th century anthropology debates abd the rise of modern women's movement. An additional short article by Engels, "The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man" is a lively piece that could be part of today's debates on human origin with almost no hint of its vintage (except maybe for his use of the term "man", instead of gender-neutral "humanity").
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant Today April 21 2002
Format:Paperback
Was human society always overseen by a military and police force?
Was wealth and the means of producing more wealth always the private possession of individuals or a small section of society?
Were women always at the bottom of society, treated primarily as sex objects and machines for child-bearing and child-raising?
And is this humanity's destiny?
In this book published in 1884, Fredrich Engels answers the above questions in the negative. His book is based on anthropological data available in his day from societies around the globe. New discoveries since have confirmed his conclusions and the book is remarkably relevant today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific analysis Oct. 21 2002
By Spagoli
Format:Paperback
Anthro major? You might be surprised how much and how many tools come from Engels, as in Marx and Engels of Capital fame. The same analytical tools they applied to economics (That are used every day) here are applied to anthropological study of the basis of our present day social institutions.
Relevant today, as much as for info as for seeing where the ideas discussed lead to the arguments and theories of today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To change society we have to understand it March 10 2002
By Harvey
Format:Paperback
This is a serious, scientific and materialist analysis of development and change in human society and its institutions. Frederick Engels, who along with Karl Marx was one of the central founders of the modern communist movement, wrote this book in the late 1800s based on the latest developments in the then-new science of anthropology. Studying it can help us understand society and be better prepared to organize and work to change it.
Engels takes up the rise of the state and of the family and the oppression of women as early societies became more productive, making possible the division of groups of human beings into those who produce and those who live off them, and the need of the exploiters to perpetuate this state of affairs.
The Pathfinder Press edition also has a valuable introduction by Evelyn Reed, long-time socialist activist and author of works including "Woman's Evolution," "Sexism and Science," "Cosmetics, Fashion and the Exploitation of Women," and "Problems of Women's Liberation."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tearing Down Social Icons March 17 2002
By Martin Boyers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Are the father-centered family, private property, and the state necessary and inevitable part of all human societies?
Frederick Engels, coworker of Karl Marx, says no. Engels demonstrates that these three institutions arose in the fairly recent history of the human race, as a way to establish the rule of the many over the few. And, conversley, when these institutions are an obstacle to human progress, they can be dismantled.
Although this book was written about 125 years ago, the subject matter and his point of view sound surprisingly modern. Evelyn Reed, a Marxist anthropologist, writes a 1972 introduction that updates the original work from the point of view of 20th century anthropology debates abd the rise of modern women's movement. An additional short article by Engels, "The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man" is a lively piece that could be part of today's debates on human origin with almost no hint of its vintage (except maybe for his use of the term "man", instead of gender-neutral "humanity").
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant Today April 21 2002
By Joanne Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Was human society always overseen by a military and police force?
Was wealth and the means of producing more wealth always the private possession of individuals or a small section of society?
Were women always at the bottom of society, treated primarily as sex objects and machines for child-bearing and child-raising?
And is this humanity's destiny?
In this book published in 1884, Fredrich Engels answers the above questions in the negative. His book is based on anthropological data available in his day from societies around the globe. New discoveries since have confirmed his conclusions and the book is remarkably relevant today.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To change society we have to understand it March 10 2002
By Harvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a serious, scientific and materialist analysis of development and change in human society and its institutions. Frederick Engels, who along with Karl Marx was one of the central founders of the modern communist movement, wrote this book in the late 1800s based on the latest developments in the then-new science of anthropology. Studying it can help us understand society and be better prepared to organize and work to change it.
Engels takes up the rise of the state and of the family and the oppression of women as early societies became more productive, making possible the division of groups of human beings into those who produce and those who live off them, and the need of the exploiters to perpetuate this state of affairs.
The Pathfinder Press edition also has a valuable introduction by Evelyn Reed, long-time socialist activist and author of works including "Woman's Evolution," "Sexism and Science," "Cosmetics, Fashion and the Exploitation of Women," and "Problems of Women's Liberation."
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why doesn't the war of the sexes ever end? Aug. 8 2003
By Nevin Siders - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Why is society so cruel? It seems to be self-defeating. Why doesn't the war of the sexes ever end? In no other species do the two sexes battle against each other.
In this book we learn that things weren't always this way. In fact, oppression and exploitation are recent inventions, if we count that human history dates back EIGHTY thousand years since the rise of homo sapiens sapiens. At one point most cultures suddenly became sedentary and agriculturalist - and private property in the land emerged. Private property of land resulted in an overthrow of the matriarchal family by its male members and in the establishment of a separate group of men who violently protect unequal relationships (the state as we know it today). All happened together in a revolution that occurred in the course of just a few generations some SIX thousand years ago.
Nonetheless, the moral of this story is one of hope. If we were capable of remaking ourselves once, and based on that have advanced dramatically in a limited sense of creating material culture, then humankind can remake itself again and found a culture that enriches all aspects of everyone's lives. But this time the redesign will have to be conscious and conscientious, the beginning of a humane human history in which all participate on an equal basis. Such is the future that socialism and communism promise for us.
As a companion to this volume, be sure to read Women's Evolution, by Reed. Written a century later, it shows that anthropology's evidence overwhelmingly coincides with the theory Engels put forward in this book.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engels would be displeased March 27 2010
By Benjamin C. Paulson - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I like this book, of course. However, Amazon's "Print on Demand" leaves the buyer with a text that is almost incomplete. I guess I was warned, but I did not expect paragraphs of material lost due to the accuracy of the photograph. I could have rated this item five stars simply for the content of the book, however, the mistakes and unreadable content in the book would not allow me to rate it so high.

Here is an example of the mistakes in the text, in case someone is curious:

"1. The consanguine family. The co nganguine familv is th e first step toward the famtl. Heie the niarriage groups. are-arranged by generations: all the grand-fathers and grand-mothers T nt"BTir a certain famijylare. mutual husbands and 5 3 51?? J-the."

As you can see, these mistakes render the text less than intelligible. The frequency of occurrence seemed to be about once a page, with some excerpts worse (harder to understand) than others. There are a few pages that are full of this gibberish, and I was not able to read them. Nevertheless, this book is not common, and it is good to have my own copy (for cheap), albeit slightly incomplete.
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