Written: Between January and March of 1880 Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume 3, p. 95 -151 Publisher: Progress Publishers, 1970 First Published: March, April, and May issues of Revue Socialiste in 1880 Translated: from the French by Paul Lafargue in 1892 (authorised by Engels)
General Introduction and the History of Materialism History of the English middle-class
Among the best explanations of Marxism made by Marx and Engels, Engels wrote this pamphlet from portions of Anti-DÃºhring, with the intention of providing workers with a straight-forward exposition of Marxist thought.
In the three sections of the pamphlet, Engels' explains the three components of Marxist thought: French Socialism, German Philosophy, and English Economics. In the first part of the pamphlet Engels explains that Socialism of the past had been utopian "” holding the belief that as soon as everyone in a society understood Socialism and believed in it, a Socialist society would appear. Engels wrote, "... the Utopians attempted to evolve out of the human brain. Society presented nothing but wrongs; to remove these was the task of reason. It was necessary, then, to discover a new and more perfect system of social order and to impose this upon society from without by propaganda, and, wherever it was possible, by the example of model experiments."
Engels then explains the slow historical development of the dialectical philosophy over thousands of years; knowledge that culminated into what allowed Marx to see and explain the materialist conception of history, which Engels goes onto explain in the third part of this pamphlet.
Engels wrote about the publication of the pamphlet:
"At the request of my friend, Paul Lafargue, now representative of Lille in the French Chamber of Deputies, I arranged three chapters of this book as a pamphlet, which he translated and published in 1880, under the title: "Socialisme utopique et Socialisme scientifique". From this French text, a Polish and a Spanish edition were prepared. In 1883, out German friends brought out the pamphlet in the original language. Italian, Russian, Danish, Dutch, and Roumanian translations, based upon the German text, have since been published. Thus, the present English edition, this little book circulates in 10 languages. I am not aware that any other Socialist work, not even our Communist Manifesto of 1848, or Marx's Capital, has been so often translated. In Germany, it has had four editions of about 20,000 copies in all.