The origins of the family - in defence of Engels

Date: Saturday 26th October
Time: 15:30 - 17:15
Location: Student Central, Room 3E
Speaker: Natasha Sorrell

In 1884, Engels published his classic of historical materialism, The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State. This seminal book was based upon the revolutionary work of American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, whose studies revealed something not understood in the West at the time - that most of human history did not consist of class societies, but classless ones.

Engels linked these findings to the materialist view of history: that, as human society develops, it does not remain the same in its structures or ideas. One particularly important part of Engels' theory - which has been confirmed many times since - is that early human societies not only lacked class divisions, but were also free of any inequality between the sexes. Indeed, such societies were typically matriarchal.

In this session, Natasha Sorrell introduces Engels' ideas about the origins of the family, and explains how these show that the oppression of women is not natural or permanent, but something that can and must be ended as part of the struggle for socialism.

Recommended reading: Engels and the origins of the family

Recommended watching: Origins of the family, private property, and the state