American politics and the widening wealth disparity have gotten to the point where more people are calling for the rich to be taxed more. Even the billionaire Warren Buffett agrees. Socialism seems to be more in vogue nowadays. But let’s not confuse socialism with communism, especially in practice. They are nowhere close. And communists aren’t what they used to be. Hence my introduction of Friedrich Engels.
If it wasn’t for Friedrich Engels, nobody would have heard of Karl Marx, a more familiar face of communism. Engels wasn’t only the financial supporter of the poverty-stricken Marx but also the editor of his works in later years. When Marx died, Engels gave Marx’s children the current equivalence of $5 million.
Friedrich Engels was born in 1820 into a Prussian family that owned textile plants in England. Engels had a background very much of a man who benefited from wealth but had empathy toward the working class. Even the most ardent capitalists of today would agree with his opposition of child labor that was quite common in the day.
Describing himself as “knowing everything by halves,” Engels said he has no heroes but has so many heroines that he can’t simply name one. His idea of happiness is a Château Margaux 1848. He also loved poetry and Shakespeare. He listed cheerfulness as his favorite characteristic in a man as well as minding his own business. In short, Engels, a communist, was very much a refined individualist who was against oppression of any kind.
Engels is yet another example of how money is a means to help educate and round out a person. Money enables him or her to think more and become a more considerate and courteous person. In contrast, poverty has a way of instilling envy, hate, and selfishness. This isn’t only theory. I’ve experienced it personally and seen it firsthand countless times. You might have experienced different but that’s ok. We can disagree without accusing each other of being wrong.
Being able to make money is an indication of industrious traits and behavior. It is an indication of the value of contribution. Not always but a lot of times. You are more focused on what you can do, not what others can do. You are simply too busy working to make a better life for yourself and for your family. In trying to make your loved ones happy, you invariably make yourself happy as well. It’s not easy but you know every day you earn your keep. You can then exchange the money you earned for labor and things from others. Call it capitalism, socialism, communism, or whatever you like. I call it trying to live a good life with other people with different experiences in harmony and peace.