1877: Anti-Duhring - Notes by Engels

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Anti-Dühring by Frederick Engels 1877

Engels' Notes

<"n*1">*1 It is much easier, along with the unthinking mob à la Karl Vogt, to assail the old philosophy of nature than to appreciate its historical significance. It contains a great deal of nonsense and fantasy but not more than the unphilosophical theories of the empirical natural scientists contemporary with that philosophy, and that there was also in it much that was sensible and rational began to be perceived after the theory of evolution became widespread. Haeckel was therefore fully justified in recognising the merits of Treviranus and Oken. In his primordial slime and primordial vesicle Oken put forward as a biological postulate what was in fact subsequently discovered as protoplasm and cell. As far as Hegel is specifically concerned, he is in many respects head and shoulders above his empiricist contemporaries, who thought that they had explained all unexplained phenomena when they had endowed them with some force or power -- the force of gravity, the power of buoyancy, the power of electrical contact, etc. -- or where this would not do, with some unknown substance: the substance of light, of heat, of electricity, etc. The imaginary substances have now been pretty well discarded, but the power humbug against which Hegel fought still pops up gaily, for example, as late as 1869 in Helmholtz's Innsbruck lecture (Helmholtz, Populäre Vorlesungen, Issue II, 1871, p. 190). In contrast to the deification of Newton which was handed down from the French of the eighteenth century, and the English heaping of honours and wealth on Newton, Hegel brought out the fact that Kepler, whom Germany allowed to starve, was the real founder of the modern mechanics of the celestial bodies, and that the Newtonian law of gravitation was already contained in all three of Kepler's laws, in the third law even explicitly. What Hegel proves by a few simple equations in his Naturphilosophie, § 270 and Addenda (Hegel's Werke, 1842, Vol. 7, pp. 98 and 113 to 115), appears again as the outcome of the most recent mathematical mechanics in Gustav Kirchhoff's Vorlesungen uber mathematische Physik, 2nd ea., Leipzig, 1877, p. 10 and in essentially the same simple mathematical form as had first been developed by Hegel. The natural philosophers stand in the same relation to consciously dialectical natural science as the utopians to modern communism.


<"n*2">*2 Since I wrote the above it would seem already to have been confirmed. According to the latest researches carried out with more exact apparatus by Mendeleyev and Boguski, all true gases show a variable relation between pressure and volume; the coefficient of expansion for hydrogen, at all the pressures so far applied, has been positive (that is, the diminution of volume was slower than the increase of pressure); in the case of atmospheric air and the other gases examined there is for each a zero point of pressure, so that with pressure below this point the coefficient is positive, and with pressure above this point their coefficient is negative. So Boyle's law, which has always hitherto been usable for practical purposes, will have to be supplemented by a whole series of special laws. (We also know now -- in 1885 -- that there are no "true" gases at all. They have all been reduced to a liquid form.) [46]


<"n*3">*3 This derivation of the modern ideas of equality from the economic conditions of bourgeois society was first demonstrated by Marx in Capital.


<"n*4">*4 This is already perfectly well known to the Prussian General Staff. "The basis of warfare is primarily the economic way of life of the peoples in general" said Herr Max Jahns, a captain of the General Staff, in a scientific lecture (Kölnische Zeitung, April 20, 1876, p 3)


<"n*5">*5 The perfecting of the latest product of modern industry for use in naval warfare, the self-propelled torpedo, seems likely to bring this to pass; it would mean that the smallest torpedo boat would be superior to the most powerful armoured warship. (It should be borne in mind that the above was written in 1878 [81].) <"177">

<"n*6">*6 And not even this. Rodbertus says (Sociale Briefe Letter 2, p. 59): "Rent according to this" (his) "theory, is all income obtained without personal labour, solely on the ground of possession."


<"n*7">*7 Cf. Philosophy I. [100]


<"n*8">*8 It is hardly necessary in this connection to point out that, even if the form of appropriation remains the same, the character of the appropriation is just as much revolutionised as production is by the changes described above. It is, of course, a very different matter whether I appropriate to myself my own product or that of another. Note in passing that wage-labour, which contains the whole capitalistic mode of production in embryo, is very ancient; in a sporadic, scattered form it existed for centuries alongside slave-labour. But the embryo could duly develop into the capitalistic mode of production only when the necessary historical preconditions had been furnished.


<"n*9">*9 The Condition of the Working-Class in England, p. 109.


<"n*10">*10 I say "have to". For only when the means of production and distribution have actually outgrown the form of management by joint-stock companies, and when, therefore, the taking them over by the state has become economically inevitable, only then -- even if it is the state of today that effects this -- is there an economic advance, the attainment of another step preliminary to the taking over of all productive forces by society itself. But of late, since Bismarck went in for state-ownership of industrial establishments, a kind of spurious socialism has arisen, degenerating, now and again, into something of flunkeyism, that without more ado declares all state ownership, even of the Bismarckian sort, to be socialistic. Certainly, if the taking over by the state of the tobacco industry is socialistic, then Napoleon and Metternich must be numbered among the founders of socialism. If the Belgian state, for quite ordinary political and financial reasons, itself constructed its chief railway lines; if Bismarck, not under any economic compulsion, took over for the state the chief Prussian lines, simply to be the better able to have them in hand in case of war, to bring up the railway employees as voting cattle for the government, and especially to create for himself a new source of income independent of parliamentary votes -- this was, in no sense, a socialistic measure, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously. Otherwise, the Royal Maritime Company, [116] the Royal porcelain manufacture, and even the regimental tailor of the army would also be socialistic institutions.


<"n*11">*11 A few figures may serve to give an approximate idea of the enormous expansive force of the modern means of production, even under capitalist pressure. According to Mr. Giffen, [118] the total wealth of Great Britain and Ireland amounted, in round numbers, in


1814 to £2,200,000,000 = 44 mld marks
1865 to £6,100,000,000 = 122 mld marks
1875 to £8,500,000,000 = 170 mld marks.


As an instance of the squandering of means of production and of products during a crisis, the total loss in the German iron industry alone, in the recent crisis {of 1873-78} was given at the second German Industrial Congress (Berlin, February 21, 1878) as 455,000,000 marks.


<"n*12">*12 The "under-consumption" explanation of crises originated with Sismondi, and in his exposition it still had a certain meaning. Rodbertus took it from Sismondi, and Herr Dühring has in turn copied it, in his usual vulgarising fashion, from Rodbertus.


<"n*13">*13 The TRUCK SYSTEM in England, also well known in Germany, is that system under which the manufacturers themselves run shops and compel their workers to buy their goods there.


<"n*14">*14 It may be noted in passing that the part played by labour-notes in Owen's communist society is completely unknown to Herr Dühring. He knows these notes -- from Sargant -- only in so far as they figure in the labour exchange bazaars [123] which of course were failures, inasmuch as they were attempts by means of the direct exchange of labour to pass from existing society into communist society.


<"n*15">*15 As long ago as 1844 I stated that the above-mentioned balancing of useful effects and expenditure of labour on making decisions concerning production was all that would be left, in a communist society, of the politico-economic concept of value. (Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, p. 95) The scientific justification for this statement, however, as can be seen, was made possible only by Marx's Capital.


<"n*16">*16 This twofold character assumed later on by the divinities was one of the causes of the subsequently widespread confusion of mythologies -- a cause which comparative mythology has overlooked, as it pays attention exclusively to their character as reflections of the forces of nature. Thus in some Germanic tribes the war-god is called Tyr (Old Nordic) or Zio (Old High German) and so corresponds to the Greek Zeus, Latin Jupiter for Diespiter; in other Germanic tribes, Er, Eor, corresponds therefore to the Greek Ares, Latin Mars.