Friday, May 27, 2022

The Texas Massacre at Robb Elementary School

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired
GED/HEO

5-27-22

 

I am sure that there will be some, including friends that disagree with me here and those that agree but think I am not being realistic, that what I suggest will never happen and that we have to do something now. I understand this sentiment and agree we can take some half measures and do some things, like better gun laws, that may temper some of the worst abuses that the so-called free market imposes on us. But our goal should be to make everlasting changes.

 

I once read somewhere that while the idea of revolutions or social transformation of the present is normally seen as almost impossible, after they occur they are remembered as the inevitable reaction to social crises. Also, I try to keep these video thoughts short and there were other points I would have liked to make.  So I’ll add a couple of them here.


One thing when we are talking about violence is to consider how many people die every year in the US because of the pathetic social services we have and in particular, health care. These deaths far outnumber gun deaths you can bet on it. And as Cedric Johnson points out in the preface of the book, The Panthers Can't Save Us Now,  nearly all of the Democratic Party leadership who are screaming about gun laws and safety and how horrible this crime is, and who "took a knee" against racist policies, during the height of Black Lives Matter movement "...have openly opposed Medicare For All, free higher education and the expansion of other public goods."

 

Another important cause of the despair and alienation that consumes people in society is that there seems to be no solution; so there is no hope at all. Combined with all the reasons I refer to in the video this is devastating. Seeing no alternative, people seek solutions in all sorts of ways like religion, hero worship, narcissism, sexual obsession and so on. Religion, which promotes the destructive idea that human nature is selfish, rotten and inherently evil and the escape can only be found in the afterlife assuming you worship the right deity is the most common.

 

In this state, all sorts of conspiracies can find root like the fear that foreigners, people that don’t look like you or speak the same language or worship the same god are about to consume you. The prevalence of identity politics is part of this escape and is an attempt to undermine class solidarity, workers seeing ourselves as having distinct class interests with millions upon millions of others, of being a class un to ourselves, this is a terrifying prospect to the ruling class and proponents of capitalism and the so-called free market. We are in a struggle for the consciousness of the working class. If you want to see how important class is, consider the image of Michelle Obama with her arm around George W Bush referring to him as her “friend” and “partner in crime. Our enemies know all too well what class solidarity is and practice it religiously.

 

As one person commented on Facebook today:

"CLASS is not a demographic. It's not a liberal categorization that fits into intersectionality. It doesn't compete for attention or resources with marginalized groups.

ALL WORKERS of ALL MARGINALIZED GROUPS have CLASS in common.

 

Class politics serve us all."

 

Working class unity is the only solution to eliminating the added oppression marginalized people suffer, or what socialists refer to as the “specially oppressed” peoples, and we fight for all marginalized groups within the framework of uniting the class. We cannot transform society without this approach. But this is different than identity politics or intersectionality, an individualistic reactionary approach no matter what its supporters say or write about it.

 

Also, please subscribe and "like" this video on You Tube if you have a general agreement with it and also share from this blog on FB or on You Tube.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mondoweiss: Inside Israeli Apartheid.

What’s Wrong With Crypto?

Screenshot of the original: Bloomberg

This article is is an op-ed republished from Team Vogue. Read the original here.

What’s Wrong With Crypto? It’s Unreliable, Wasteful, and Downright Sketchy

This op-ed argues that cryptocurrencies are basically a scam.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Ukraine War: Imperialist Rivalry and Global Hunger


Richard Mellor

 

It’s hard to write at times there’s so much to write about and it would be a lot easier to have a pint or two. But I have to do something to ease my mind as so much of the bourgeois media makes one sick that it’s hard to know where to start.  It’s not fake news, it has a class bias which is more perfidious.

 

I have not abandoned the belief that the US working class will enter the stage at some point and am inspired by recent events in the class struggle as young workers are trying to unionize, but the delay means a lot of unnecessary suffering along the way.

 

The first irritating little snippet concerns Michelle Obama’s best friend and “partner in Crime” the mass murderer and war criminal George W. Bush. Reading a report of him speaking to a group of sycophants at his library (all four books were there) in Dallas earlier this week, he was trying to stress the difference between a “democratically” elected Zelenskiy in the Ukraine (Who, were it not for the war wouldn’t have been re-elected according to most reports) and the “rigged elections and despotism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”.  Instead of Ukraine he said Iraq.  Of course, he invaded Iraq not Putin. "I love him to death. He's a wonderful man, he's a funny man." Michelle Obama has said of Bush. These people know what class solidarity is all about and workers should take note. We can learn from our enemies.

 

In his memoirs, the report said, Bush wrote of the invasion of Iraq, “No one was more shocked and angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons”. My guess is that about 20 million Iraqi’s might have been a little angrier and possibly “shocked” somewhat more than the imbecile Bush. After all, the US strategy in Iraq was called “Shock and Awe” and it was simply a mistake; anyone can make a mistake and if you’re the guy with the big guns there’s no consequences for it.

 

Then I have to return to a point I made the other day. The Russian foreign ministry announced that it would consider opening up the Black Sea ports if removing the sanctions on Russia is on the table. The UN is pleading with Russia to do so saying millions will die of starvation due to the blockade.

 

Now let’s not forget that there is a war on and I have stated on more than one occasion that there is no side in this war between competing imperialist powers, the US/NATO bloc and Russian/Chinese competitors, (China is the US’s main target) in which workers have any interest in at all other than as observers and victims. Given the UN’s comments about starving people in the world, if Russia’s offer to open ports were met with a US/NATO bloc willingness to ease the pain of sanctions which are hurting Russian workers, would this not save millions of lives? Not just Russians, but Ukrainians and especially millions in the underdeveloped world who are facing starvation. Would it not ease the tension and fear that people throughout the world have over the possibility of a conflict between two nuclear armed powers? I think it would.

 

Hell, the stock market might even go up.

 

Sanctions after all, do not harm US imperialism's rivals in the Kremlin, Putin or his support network. The US sanctions on Iraq that killed some 500,000, mostly women and children never gave Saddam Hussein hunger pains. These half a million deaths "were worth it",  the former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright said,

 

But no. The US Senate, that undemocratic body if there ever was one, has just approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The US taxpayer, many of whom do not have the luxury of clean drinking water in urban centers, an access to health care, public transportation and other social services, is forking out $6 billion to train the Ukrainian military and $9 billion so the Ukrainian government can replace stocks of US made weapons we’ve already sent (the defense industry lobbyists were there for that one I’m sure). Another almost $9 billion is economic assistance for the Ukrainian government, itself a government of oligarchs and $5 billion for food and to cover the high increase in prices.

 

Military equipment the US is sending includes 18 Howitzers, 18 tactical vehicles to tow them and 18 artillery tubes.  This will not win this war for Ukraine but will prolong it and increase US defense corporations bottom line. In addition, the burden of this deficit spending will be borne by the US workers and middle class for years to come. As Blinken said, weakening Russia is the goal for the US here, not saving lives, people starve all the time due to economic decisions made by world powers. Anyway, China is the main economic rival and economic rivalry is aggression.

 

The Biden Administration (the Europeans don’t matter) is upping the anti-unfortunately and rather than taking that step which would be advantageous to the working class internationally I would think, is aiming to supply Ukraine's ruling oligarchy with anti-ship missiles so it can target Russian ships blocking the Black Sea ports. This is getting perilously close to the US openly at war with Russia.

 

The US body politic, dominated by representatives of the two parties of capital, is a dangerous animal at a time when US imperialism’s global influence is threatened, there is madness among them and Putin has given it a temporary boost as late stage capitalism cannot avoid its wars and conflicts that is heading dangerously close to the abyss.

 

There was some opposition to the aid package. One US Senator objects as it “shortchanges priorities at home.”, this might be a voice in the wilderness, maybe cooler heads prevail,  but……“I mean we could build the border wall twice over and seal it with this amount of money.” says Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri.

 

Oh Well.


Friday, May 20, 2022

Michael Roberts: Australia: turning for the worse

by Michael Roberts

If you agree that there is an imperialist bloc of countries that dominates and controls the world, then Australia should be included.  It may be a new and smaller entrant to the bloc, and it may be just a satellite of US imperialism in the Asia-Pacific, but it still fits the bill as part of the bloc.

And increasingly, the ruling strategists of Australian capital also see it that way.  Australia has a general election tomorrow (21 May); it has one every three years (a leftover from its early days of democratic development) and the ruling National-Liberal Coalition government has been sounding the war bells.  During the election campaign, Australia’s defence minister Peter Dutton told the country to “prepare for war”, capping what analysts have called a “khaki campaign” by Scott Morrison’s right-wing government.  Dutton ramped up the rhetoric, telling Australians: “The only way you can preserve peace is to prepare for war and be strong as a country, not to cower, not to be on bended knee and be weak.” 

And where is the threat of war to come from?  China, of course.  To counter what it sees as a threat from China, the Morrison’s government has in recent years sealed what is called the Aukus security pact with the US and UK and promised billions of dollars of defence and cyber security spending – all designed to resist the ‘threat’ of China – or to be more exact to follow the strategy of US imperialism to ‘contain’ and stop China becoming a rising economic power in the region and globally.

In the public opinion polls, ‘Trumpist’ Morrison trails Labor leader Anthony Albanese, with 54 per cent of voters backing the opposition compared with 46 per cent for the government, according to the latest Newspoll survey.

But don’t expect Albanese to alter Australia’s anti-China strategy.  Labor fully backs the Aukus pact and if he wins, Albanese will join the meeting of the Quad — a security grouping of the US, Australia, India and Japan —which is due to take place in Tokyo only three days after Saturday’s election, with US president Joe Biden set to attend.  Most analysts say that Biden “would be comfortable” with a Labor victory.

While the strategists of imperialism will be happy, Australia’s working people have more pressing problems. There are three issues dominating the election: the huge rise in house prices driven beyond the means of most Australians; the sharply rising cost of living where prices are rising much faster than wages; and climate change, with ever more destructive heatwaves, drought and floods affecting people’s lives.

Australia used to be called the ‘lucky country’ where people could emigrate to and start a new and prosperous life in an economy that had not suffered a recession of any note for decades.  But the signs that this was changing have been there since the Great Recession of 2008-9 and subsequent Long Depression that ensued up to the COVID pandemic slump in 2020.  After taking into account population growth, average annual real GDP per person grew by about 2% a year in Australia up to the Great Recession.  However, since then, per capita growth has averaged half that rate.

Source: IMF, author

Of course, this is a phenomenon found in nearly all major advanced capitalist economies since the Great Recession, but it has affected the ‘lucky country’ too. 

As elsewhere, the slowdown in economic growth can be connected to the slowdown in productive investment growth.  Indeed, investment to GDP has declined sharply since the Great Recession.

Source: IMF, author

What lies behind the slowdown in real GDP and investment growth?  It’s the same cause that applies to all the major capitalist economies in the last two decades: falling profitability of capital.  The great boom and revival of profitability in Australian capital from the 1980s, led by Australia’s exploitation of resources in minerals, agricultural products and energy, and the huge expansion of a skilled workforce with ‘liberalised’ labour markets, started to falter in the late 1990s.  And although there was a short uptick in profitability during the commodity boom up to 2010, driven by demand from China for Australia’s commodities, in the last decade, the decline in profitability resumed.  Profitability is still as high as it was in the Golden Age of the 1960s (unlike most other major capitalist economies), but the trend is downwards.

Source: Penn World Tables 10.0

The irony in the sabre-rattling of the coalition government against China is that Australia had been ‘lucky’ because of its close proximity to China, the fastest growing economy over the last 25 years.  As one commentator put it: “Australia was uniquely placed to benefit from China and Asia’s long-term growth by exporting resources, agricultural produce and services to the region”.  Also the economy benefited from an influx of skilled labour through immigration from all parts but also immigrants who came with wealth of their own to invest.”

And Australia remains heavily dependent on its exports to China and world growth in general.  Until the pandemic, China was the largest source of foreign investment in Australia, leapfrogging the US.  But strategy of American imperialism is now overriding economic reality. 

The domestic issues in the election campaign centre round the sharply rising rate of inflation – something hitting all the major capitalist economies – and with little prospect of any solution from either government or opposition.  Inflation in the prices of goods and services in Australia is rising much faster than wages.  The annual inflation rate is currently 5.1% (a 21-year high) and set to rise further, while average wages are rising at just 2.4%.  So real wages are falling at a rate not seen for decades. 

As in the US and Europe, the only answer offered by the authorities is for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to hike interest rates, while calling for wage restraint.  The RBA has now increased interest rates (by 0.25% to 0.35%) for the first time in more than eleven years – and the first hike in the middle of an election campaign since 2007. 

These rate rises threaten the homes of millions of Australians.  The housing bubble had already reached shocking proportions. 

Australian households are now among the most indebted in the world. Chris Martin, a senior research fellow in UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre, said data from the Bank of International Settlements showed total credit to Australian households amounts to about 120% of annual GDP. 

Major banks have already lifted interest rates for mortgages and other loans, matching the RBA’s 0.25 basis point increase. The RBA governor, Philip Lowe, said the cash rate could increase to 2.5% while investors are tipping it will rise to about 3.75% by May 2023. -If so, it’s estimated that 300,000 Australians could default on their mortgages as repayments increase.  Each percentage point increase adds on average A$323 in monthly repayments, although some cities, such as Sydney are much higher at A$486, according to CoreLogic data. Car loans and credit card debt will also be more costly to repay at a time when the price for fuel and many other goods is rising, adding to families’ financial stress, Martin said.

Supposedly, the saving grace for Australians is ‘full employment’ to pay for these price rises. 

But the headline unemployment rate hides the reality that employment has not recovered yet from the pandemic slump.  Prior to 2020, employment was growing around 4.2% every two years, but since then it has increased just 2.1% – in effect at half the speed it had been in the period up to the pandemic.

Moreover, the working age population beginning to stall. 

Australian capital is running out of more labour, especially as immigration restrictions have stopped net immigration expanding.  The pool of working age people has barely grown at all.

Increasingly, Australian capital must rely on boosting productivity growth to expand and raise profitability.  But investment growth is dropping off and productivity growth has been in a downward trend.

And on top of all this is the disaster of global warming and climate change that is beginning to hit Australia for a cricket six.  Climate change in Australia has been a critical issue since the beginning of the 21st century.  Australia is becoming hotter and will experience more extreme heat and longer fire seasons. In 2014, the Bureau of Meteorology released a report on the state of Australia’s climate that highlighted several key points, including the significant increase in Australia’s temperatures (particularly night-time temperatures) and the increasing frequency of bush firesdroughts and floods, which have all been linked to climate change.

In the past three years, record-breaking bushfire and flood events have killed more than 500 people and billions of animals. Drought, cyclones and freak tides have gripped communities. Queensland has been ravaged by floods in recent months. In February, the state capital Brisbane had more than 70% of its average yearly rainfall in just three days. Australia is facing an “insurability crisis” with one in 25 homes on track to be effectively uninsurable by 2030, according to a Climate Council report. Another one in 11 are at risk of being underinsured. 

Yet the economy depends very much on its fossil fuel exports and developing the mining industry.  Non-renewable fossil fuels still account for about 85 percent of Australia‘s electricity generation. Australia is one of the world’s largest per capita emitters –producing some 1.3 percent of global carbon emissions with only 0.3 of the world’s population.  For a nation so exposed to climate change, Australia remains one of the world’s biggest emitters per head of population. The government has promised to reduce emissions by 26% by 2030. Labor has pledged a 43% cut.  Both promises are below the 50% recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Chinese economy has slowed down, and with it the demand for Australia’s exports.  Anyway, the imperialist bloc wants Australia to disengage from China.  The cost of living is rising sharply; rising interest rates risk a serious housing crisis; and global warming is out of control.  Neither government nor opposition have any answers.  Australia’s luck is turning for the worse.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Happy Birthday Malcolm X



 
“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.” 


Malcom X, Speech to Barnard College and Columbia University  February 18th 1965


by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I remember reading Malcom X's speeches and how as he developed his political thinking he was influenced by the colonial revolutions in Africa and meeting with Nyere, Kenyatta, Nkrumah and others.  He had been sent by Elijah Muhammad to meet with the Klan in December of 1960 as the Nation of Islam was in the process of making deals with the KKK for land in the South. It disgusted him and Malcolm X was never sent back there by the NOI.  "I have never gone along with no Ku Klux Klan" he said.

As a young kid growing up in England I have to say I was not drawn to Malcolm X in any way. Why would I be?  In his his early years he would never have considered working class unity, workers of all colors, nationality, races etc, joining together in struggle against capitalism and the filth that goes with it. Plus, my thinking was tarred by the conditions I found myself in and my mind was not fully open to such politics either; I recall being influenced to a certain degree by the racist politics of Enoch Powell for a brief moment in time. He was a very clever racist intellectual. But as I always tell young workers getting involved in politics today, Malcolm X is an example of how people can change and how objective conditions and world events can transform us.

Over a short period of time since his early childhood and experiencing the horror and brutality of racism, including the murder of his own father, he became a pimp, got involved in drug dealing and other unsavory activity. He then found in a religious cult a theoretical explanation that at the time made some sense of what was happening to him and all black people.

Later on, his travels and the colonial revolutions in Africa had a huge influence on his thinking, broadened his horizons and he became one of the 20th centuries greatest and most influential revolutionary leaders.  The black revolt in the US, the colonial revolutions in Africa as nation after nation drove out the direct rule of European colonialism, these were the events that were taking place around him.

Malcom X's influence has been so powerful that the white racist capitalist class cannot ignore him. But, as they do with Martin Luther King, they create a carnival like atmosphere around these figures as a means of obscuring their ideas, it's just about blackness. How they thought, their differences and how they saw society and what could be done to change the world around them is shoved to the background. This is particularly the case with Malcolm X how his thinking was rapidly shifting and that toward the end of his life was clearly moving towards a socialist view of the world. When asked by Pierre Breton in January 1965:

"But you no longer believe in a black state?",
he replied, "No, I believe in a society in which people can live like human beings on the basis of equality."

Five weeks before his assassination he gave an interview to the Young Socialist Newspaper and was asked to define Black Nationalism. His answer was:

I used to define black nationalism as the idea that the black man should control the economy of his community, the politics of his community, and so forth.


But when I was in Africa in May, in Ghana, I was speaking with the Algerian ambassador who is extremely militant and is a revolutionary in the true sense of the word (and has his credentials as such for having carried on a successful revolution against oppression in his country). When I told him that my political, social and economic philosophy was black nationalism, he asked me very frankly, well, where did that leave him? Because he was white. He was an African, but he was Algerian, and to all appearances he was a white man. And he said if I define my objective as the victory of black nationalism, where does that leave him? Where does that leave revolutionaries in Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania? So he showed me where I was alienating people who were true revolutionaries, dedicated to overthrowing the system of exploitation that exists on this earth by any means necessary.*

So, I had to do a lot of thinking and reappraising of my definition of black nationalism. Can we sum up the solution to the problems confronting our people as black nationalism? And if you noticed, I haven't been using the expression for several months. But I still would be hard pressed to give a specific definition of the over-all philosophy which I think is necessary for the liberation of the black people in this country.


Malcolm X was also speaking to the organized working class. He spoke to members of 1199 supporting their 59 day strike in 1962.  He was clearly moving more towards a position of working class unity, of the unity of all oppressed people against the oppressor.  Malcolm X was not serving the interests of the US ruling class, albeit unintentionally as in the past, when his separatist views and lumping of all white people in one basket were useful to them as a means of weakening and dividing the working class as a whole.

Portraying all black leaders as having the same views was also useful. Clearly, Minister Louis Farrahkhan, the present leader of the Nation of Islam does not have the same world view as Malcolm X. Farrakhan, apart form being a cultish religious figure, is an extremely wealthy man and supports black capitalism. His struggle is for the freedom of black capitalism to exploit workers like their more powerful white counterparts, he knows he cannot be part of the white racists ruling class. It is useful to the white capitalist class to put these two figures with opposing political views in the same basket where their actual ideas can be obscured.

There is a tendency for the black petty bourgeois today, those who claim black capitalism as the solution to racism, to do the same. They will often quote Malcolm X but they rarely if ever quote his statement that, "You can't have capitalism without racism." The reason this class avoids this statement is that the conclusion one must draw from it is that we have to overthrow capitalism and we cannot overthrow capitalism without working class unity.  Working class unity threatens the very existence of capitalism and the white racist bourgeois know it, so do the white petty bourgeois layers and so do the black petty bourgeois. It means class suicide for these layers in society but particularly so for the black capitalist class.

Hundreds of years of isolation and exclusion from "normal" society which also meant an inability to accumulate and have access to capital, suppressed the growth of such a class and it is socially weaker than its white counterparts who have much closer connections to the rulers of society.

The heroic struggle of the black workers and youth during the 50's and 60's forced the white racist bosses' to open some doors, to help strengthen the black middle class as a buffer between them and the revolutionary potential of the black working class and as a counter to working class unity.  In times of increased opposition to racism and oppression in all its forms they can be dragged out to warn that "you can make it, look at us, but you have to work within the system."

How can anyone not look and listen to Malcolm X in this video and not be moved by this person, drawn to him?  He is human you can see it. His home had been bombed, he knew his life was in danger from the state and from the Nation of Islam. That is another thing, how may white workers have read about him, read that autobiography by Haley,  read his speeches? Of course he says things that are not pleasant, I don't agree with them, never did but you will notice his evolution. But I suggest that if you can't understand his history  (the terror of the Klan and the apathy of millions to that terror) and look at him and people like him with that in mind, the problem is yours to solve. But most of all, he is an example of how a person can learn and change if they are willing. He admits his failings, he admits he simply aped what he was told by a cult figure.

He was a beautiful human being.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Frederick Engels and Mary and Lizzy Burns

Order here
Republished from Manchester's Radical History  I am unsure as to who the author of the piece is, Michael Herbert or Sarah Irving. They are both listed as authors that contribute to Radical Manchester. See here.  There is more about Sarah Irving and her work here.  RM

Sisters Mary and Lizzy Burns were two Manchester Irish women who became the lovers of socialist writer Frederick Engels and played a significant role in his life.

After a brief visit as teenager, Frederick Engels came to Manchester in December 1842, aged 22, to work in the family firm Ermen & Engels. Engels had been born in Barmen (now Wuppertal) in Germany in November 1820 into a conservative wealthy family that had made its money in cotton manufacturing. At the age of 18, he had become involved in radical politics, contributing two anonymous articles to a local newspaper which exposed the conditions endured by workers in the mills and factories.

In 1841 Engels did military service in Berlin, though he spent much of his time attending philosophy lectures at the university and debating ideas with the Young Hegelians in numerous drinking establishments.. He also began contributing articles to the radical newspaper Rheische Zeitung, published in Cologne. His family were appalled at his political ideas and hoped that by sending him to work in the family firm in Manchester, he would be cured of them. On his way to Manchester he called into Cologne to meet the new editor of the paper, Karl Marx, though at their first meeting the two men did not get on particularly well.

Mary Burns
Engels worked in the firm’s business office on Southgate (the factory was in Weaste, now demolished). At some point he met Mary Burns, probably early in 1843. They may have met at the Owenite Hall of Science on Deansgate at which Engels was a regular visitor, although some historians have suggested that Mary worked in the Ermen & Engels factory. According to research carried out by Roy Whitfield, Mary and her sister Lydia (known as Lizzy) were the daughters of Michael Burns and Mary Conroy and lived off Deansgate, then an area of foetid courts and narrow alleys.

Marx’s daughter Eleanor described Mary in a letter to Kaut Kautsky written in 1898, as “a Manchester factory girl, quite uneducated, though she could read, and write a little”. She also said Mary was “pretty, witty and altogether charming” and that her parents were very fond of her and always spoke of her with the greatest affection.

Whilst in Manchester Engels made a detailed study of social conditions in Manchester. It seems likely that the Burns sisters guided him around the city, ensuring his safety in areas where a well-to–do foreigner was a rare sight and potential target. Engels left Manchester in August 1844, returned to Germany and finished writing the book. It was published in Leipzig under the title The Condition of the Working Class in England (It was not published in translation in Britain until 1892). The book was dedicated “to the working classes of Great Britain” and Engels wrote that:

“I wanted to see you in your own homes, to observe you in your everyday life, to chat with you on your conditions and grievances, to witness your struggles against the social and political power of your oppressors. I have done so. I forsook the company and the dinner-parties, the port wine and the champagne of the middle-classes and devoted to my leisure hours to meeting plain working men.”

Twenty years later Marx wrote to Engels about the book:

“I have read your book again and I have realised that I am not getting any younger . What power, what incisiveness and what passion drive you to work in those days. That was a time when you were never worried by academic scholarly reservations! Those were the days when you made the reader feel that your theories would become hard facts if not tomorrow then at any rate on the day after. Yet that very illusion gave the whole work a human warmth and a touch of humour that makes our later writings – where ‘black and white’ have become ‘grey and grey’ – seem positively distasteful.”

Engels and Marx became firm, indeed life-long, friends on their second meeting in Paris in the summer of 1844 where Marx has been living since the previous autumn, having been forced to leave Germany. They met again in Brussels in the spring of 1845 – Marx now having been forced to leave France) and then journeyed on to Manchester in July. Here they worked together studying texts in Chetham’s Library. The table at which they worked can still be seen.

In 1870 Engels wrote to Marx “in the last few days I have often been sitting at the four-sided desk where we sat twenty-four years ago. I like this place very much, because of its coloured glass the weather is always fine there.”

On their return to Brussels in August 1845 Mary Burns accompanied Engels. Marx and Engel lived next to each other and spent their time in discussion with other exiles and drinking. Mary seems to have returned to Manchester later that year.

Both Marx and Engels took part in the 1848 revolutions in Germany. After the defeat of the revolutions in the summer of 1849 both men had to leave Germany again. In 1850 they came to Britain which would be their home for the rest of their lives. They struck a deal: Marx would research and write while Engels would support him with the money he earned as a partner at Engels & Ermen.

Frederick Engels arrived back in Manchester in November 1850, living at 70 Great Ducie Street, and re-ignited his relationship with Mary. The firm’s office was at 7 Southgate. In a letter he complained to Marx about the gloomy view over a pub yard, probably that of the Star Hotel. Nearby was another public house where James Belfield was the landlord. Engels sent money regularly to Marx and they corresponded almost every day. Many, but not all, of their letters have survived.

Engels now embarked upon an elaborate double life which was unearthed after meticulous research by local historian Roy Whitfield in his book Frederick Engels in Manchester. For his public life as a respectable businessmen Engels kept a set of rooms in which he entertained his business friends, joined the Albert Club (a club for German businessmen named in hour of Prince Albert; it was situated on Oxford Road) and rode regularly with the Cheshire Hunt.

In the private part of his life Engels lived with Mary Burns who, together with her sister Lizzy, ran boarding houses, moving from time to time to different parts of Manchester. Engels was often registered as a lodger at these houses but used different names, presumably for the purpose of concealing his identity from the prurient. This did not always work. In April 1854 he wrote to Marx “the philistines have got to know that I am living with Mary”, forcing him to take private lodgings once more.

In April 1862 he wrote to Marx, “I am living with Mary nearly all the time now so as to spend as little money as possible. I can’t dispense with my lodgings, otherwise I should move in with her altogether.”

Both Engels’ private and public lodgings are all long since demolished. There is a plaque to him on Thorncliffe House, a University of Manchester student residence, which is built on the site of 6 Thorncliffe Grove, Chorlton-on-Medlock, one of Engels’ “official” residences.

Lizzie Burns
Engels and Mary Burns never married. She died suddenly on 7 January 1863 at 252 Hyde Road, Ardwick. Her burial place is lost. At some point Frederick and Lizzy became lovers. Eleanor Marx was a frequent visitor to the household and friends with Lizzy. She later write to Karl Kautsky that Lizzy “was illiterate and could not read or write but she was true, honest and in some ways as fine-souled a woman as you could meet.” According to Paul Lafargue, Marx’s son-in-law, Lizzy was “in continual touch with the many Irishmen in Manchester and always well informed of their conspiracies.” He even suggested that “more than one Fenian found hospitality in Engels’ house” and that they were involved in the dramatic rescue of the Fenian leaders Kelly and Deasy in September 1867. There is no evidence for this, although their house at 252 Hyde Road was close to the rescue site.

Engels, to his great relief, finally retired from business on 30 June 1869. Eleanor Marx, who was staying with them, later wrote:

“I shall never forget the triumph with which he exclaimed ‘for the last time!’ as he put on hi boots in the morning to go to his office. A few hours later we were standing at the gate waiting for him. We saw him coming over the little field opposite the house where he lived. He was swinging his stick in the air and singing, his face beaming. Then we set the table for a celebration and drank champagne and were happy.”

Frederick and Lizzy left Manchester for London in September 1870, taking a house at 122 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, just ten minutes walk from Marx. The comfortable house was an epicentre for the burgeoning Socialist movement, with endless correspondence and visitors. Lizzy suffered much ill-health in her later years and died on 11 September 1878, being buried in Kensal Green cemetery. She and Frederick had married just before her death. Marx died on 14 March 1883 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery. Finally Engels himself – by now the Grand Old Man of International Socialism – died on 5 August 1895. At his request his ashes were scattered at sea off Beachy Head.