Marx to Engels on Darwin

Marx To Engels In Manchester
[London,] 18 June 1862

I’m amused that Darwin, at whom I’ve been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.

Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 380;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

There is another paper in which Marx and Engels delight in rejecting Darwin, which talks about the highest parts of British society being found at the level of the smallest organism (words to that effect). I will post it when i can relocate it. B.R.

Of course, it must also be added that the grand master narrative fashioned by Marx and Engels is another European/Western ‘trip’ and its relationship with First Peoples and their Ways is extremely problematic.

I do not believe, for a moment, that Marxists (who often presume they know it all by virtue of their internalisation of the model of their modern Master) have a real understanding of the realities of First Peoples and their Ways.


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