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Engels, Friedrich

Friedrich Engels, the son of a textile manufacturer, was born on November 28, 1820, in Barmen (now Wuppertal), a Rhine province in Germany. His literary career started at the age of 17 when he published a poem, “The Bedouin,” in a newspaper in 1838. The next year he published Letters from Wuppertal, which gave an account of the exploitation and suffering of factory workers in the Rhineland. In this work, Engels argued the factory system had abolished the urban petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, and handcraftsmanship in Barmen and Elberfeld.

Engels’ inborn humanism struggled with the contradictions and conclusions found in the Bible, and he eventually found a solution in the “absolute idealism” of philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Engels wrote to Friedrich Graeber on January 21, ...

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