First published in 1884, The Origin of the Family is one of the most important works of Marxist theory. Basing himself on the research of anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, Friedrich Engels builds on his revolutionary discovery that the family structure has passed through multiple stages throughout history. He shows that, ultimately, the determining factor in these changes is the economic mode of production.
Using the method of historical materialism, Engels also demonstrates that the oppression of women has not always existed, and is not the product of inherent traits. Rather, it emerged historically with the production of a surplus and the division of society into classes. He also shows that the state, far from being a neutral arbiter in society, arose with the emergence of class society. It is ultimately "armed bodies of men" in defence of the ruling class.
To commemorate 200 years since Engels' birth, we are proud to republish this extraordinarily relevant work of scientific socialism. This new edition includes an introduction by Rob Sewell, placing the text in its historical context and defending the fundamental ideas and method of Marxism, which has stood the test of time. This book is a must-read for all socialists.
Marxist.com version: Wellred print edition November 2020.
Table of Contents
- Introduction by Rob Sewell
- Preface to the First Edition
- Preface to the Fourth Edition
- 1. Stages of Prehistoric Culture
- 2. The Family
- 3. The Iroquois Gens
- 4. The Greek Gens
- 5. The Rise of the Athenian State
- 6. The Gens and the State in Rome
- 7. The Gens Among Celts and Germans
- 8. The Formation of the State Among the Germans
- 9. Barbarism and Civilisation
- Addendum: A Recently Discovered Case of Group Marriage
See also the articles The Origins of the Family and Origin of the family: In Defence of Engels and Morgan. There is also a video available dealing with the subject.