Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Engels: My dad doesn't approve

Gawd! Argh! Another Young Communist Harassed by His Parents

Posted by Mike E
March 30, 2011

Young Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was 24 and living at home, when he wrote the following to his friend Karl Marx. It comes at the end of a long sophisticated discussion of communist philosophy and controversies (which were always the heart and soul of their collaboration).

Just now I’m leading a real dog’s life. The business of the meetings and the ‘dissolute conduct’ of several of our local communists, with whom I, of course, consort, have again aroused all my old man’s religious fanaticism, which has been further exacerbated by my declared intention of giving up the huckstering business for good and all — while my public appearance as a communist has also fostered in him bourgeois fanaticism of truly splendid proportions. ….

If I get a letter it’s sniffed all over before it reaches me. As they’re all known to be communist letters they evoke such piously doleful expressions every time that it’s enough to drive one out of one’s mind. If I go out — the same expression.”

If I sit in my room and work — communism, of course, as they know — the same expression.

I can’t eat, drink, sleep, let out a fart, without being confronted by this same accursed lamb-of-God expression.

Whether I go out or stay at home, …remain silent or speak, read or write, whether I laugh or whether I don’t — do what I will, my old man immediately assumes this lamentable grimace …

I spent yesterday evening with Hess in Elberfeld, where we held forth about communism until two in the morning. Today, of course, long faces over my late return, hints that I might have been in a jug. Finally they plucked up enough courage to ask where I had been. — With Hess. — ‘With Hess! Great heavens!’ — Pause, intensified Christian dismay in their faces. — ‘What company you keep!’ — Sighs, etc.

It’s enough to drive one mad. You have no idea of the malice of this Christian persecution of my ‘soul’. ”

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