Fredrick Engels on the Role of Technology today

Fredrick Engels’ expansions upon the views of Marx drive to the brink of prophecy. He builds his views upon the concept that production and distribution methods are the bringer of social change. He believed that technological advancement would be the death knell to the working class, arguing that as social groups have evolved from the feudal age into the current capitalist age lines of delineation can be drawn at technological epoch’s, moving closer and closer to socialism. At this stage, the capitalist mode of production has reared its ugly head, as is illustrated by our 2001 dot com bubble bursting, and the current stagnation of economies around the world.

Engels’ views are in support of current issues that exist in our newly formed/accepted world economy:

Thus it comes about that the overwork of some becomes the preliminary condition for the idleness of others, and that modern industry, which hunts after new consumers over the whole world, forces the consumption of the masses at home down to a starvation minimum, and in doing thus destroys its own home market. (Engels, 1880)

This is coming to pass in the form of outsourcing, and companies like Walmart where their entire business model comes down to importing goods from abroad to bring down prices domestically, and results in off shoring domestic labor. This decreases the domestic market and workforce, causing a chain reaction pushing toward the instability of the supply and demand that Engels’ also argues for.

We can see elements of his philosophy coming to pass in the form of governmental inability to achieve public goals: “State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself.” (Engels, 1880) One such noteworthy public goal is socializing health care, which in spite of whatever social, political or economic pressures are supporting it, nothing of any merit every comes to fruition. We can point to the bills pushed by Hillary Clinton during the 90s and again to the drive for health care reform that date back to before the Regan administration. The Obama administration has been a prime illustrator of the frustrations of politics becoming stagnant, and thus useless – using bad justification for its health care bill, an inability to pass their new jobs bill and the difficulty in closing down Guantanamo Bay or pull out of wars that socially are not supported.

It seems that he would be a strong opposition to today’s Silicon Valley, which exists almost entirely to produce and consume technological innovation. He would surely point to the Solyndra’s and Toyota’s of the world as his philosophy incarnate. Both of the above examples are of prime importance in Engels’ socialist views, and illustrate it quite well.

Works Cited

Engels, F. (1880). Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from Marx/Engels Internet Archive:

  • mgw

    I’m out in DC Bobby Boy. It took a lot of pain and “wah wah my life sucks”, but I think the ju ju has been stripped from Silicon Valley. The public welfare is at stake. That’s how my life feels more acceptable to live, anyway.

    Calling it socialism is bad news, though. It must be completely rebranded because it *is* fundamentally different. Somewhere I dubbed the phrase “information pipes”, lol. Like imagine if your blood vessels were suddenly connected to Africa and every continent simultaneously. Your thoughts aren’t guided by your physical vicinity, but everything exchanges all at once.

    This is where religion and tradition are extremely important from an evolution perspective. As we progress through this change, we have to recall and cherish what our ancestors lived. You dig?

    Our nation is by nature and ideal the antithesis of this. You dig that too? lol

    <3 buddy

    • As much as i wish that cleared up anything i think I am more confused as to your views now than ever.

      This essay was applying the views of Friedrich Engels, who is, for all intents and purposes, the father of Marxist theory of communism/socialism. Engels argues that technology is going to ruin the work force and steals jobs from the labor force.

      Calling it socialism or capitalism is not the problem. Those words have definitions and when something fits that meaning… you have to accept that.

      As for religion and tradition being important from an evolutionary perspective… that is just a crutch.

  • mike

    You know me well enough that I often make huge jumps in what is relevant to a conversation to present an idea I want presented lol

    That said, I probably saw 1 or 2 words and it was enough excuse to put my idea in the basket.

    As for the classification of things, agreed though I’ve learned of myself that dress up is important. The idea mostly for me I think is that i think people are mostly irrational. Avoiding common buzz words I guess I see as important to reduce a conversation. Introducing new buzz words around positive or truthful ideas to redirect irrationality, that’s good…

    Logic is something I’m sure you know I’m capable of. Logic is looking at statistics and stuff. It’s really quite boring. Through the years, I probably have identified an irrationality in you in your commitment to rationality. Mostly I want to just be like Bob I love you dude, let’s have a bro hug, but maybe it would never be so.

    Pura Vida

  • mike

    Ps what happens when the teamsters are replaced by robots lol