Marx and Engels are sometimes accused of a “Promethean” imaginative and prescient of human social group — particularly that human beings, utilizing information and technical prowess, can and will impose their will on the planet and what’s referred to as “nature” — for higher or worse.
This cost is especially aimed toward Engels who, it’s claimed, took a bourgeois “positivist” view of science: scientific information was progressive and impartial in ideology, and so was the connection between man and nature. Certainly, the fashionable “inexperienced” critique of Marx and Engels is that they have been unaware that homo sapiens have been destroying the planet and thus themselves. As a substitute, Marx and Engels had a touching Promethean religion in capitalism’s capacity to develop the productive forces and expertise to beat any dangers to the planet and nature.
However in reality, Engels was forward of Marx (but once more) in connecting the destruction and harm to the setting that industrialization was inflicting. Whereas nonetheless dwelling in his hometown of Barmen (now Wuppertal), on the age of eighteen, he wrote a number of diary notes in regards to the inequality of wealthy and poor, the pious hypocrisy of the church preachers, and in addition the air pollution of the rivers.
In Umrisse, Engels famous how the non-public possession of the land, the drive for revenue, and the degradation of nature go hand in hand. As soon as the earth turns into commodified by capital, it’s topic to only as a lot degradation as labor. We now know that COVID-19 and different pathogen pandemics are on account of capitalism’s drive to industrialize agriculture and usurp the remaining wilderness that has led to nature “placing again,” as people come into contact with pathogens to which they haven’t any immunity.
So, at the moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s price returning to considered one of Engels’s nice works: The Half Performed by Labour within the Transition from Ape to Man. On this unfinished piece, Engels reveals the intimate connection between human labor and nature — a connection that if disrupted would devastating to humanity in addition to to the opposite species of the planet. For him,
at each step we’re reminded that we on no account rule over nature like a conqueror over a overseas individuals, like somebody standing exterior nature — however that we, with flesh, blood and mind, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that every one our mastery of it consists in the truth that we’ve the benefit over all different creatures of with the ability to be taught its legal guidelines and apply them accurately.
Engels attacked the view that “human nature” is inherently egocentric and can simply destroy nature. He described that argument as a “repulsive blasphemy towards man and nature.” People can work in concord with and as a part of nature. It requires higher information of the implications of human motion. However as Engels stated: “To hold out this management requires one thing greater than mere information.” Science isn’t sufficient. “It requires an entire revolution in our hitherto current mode of manufacturing, and with it of our entire up to date social order.” The “positivist” Engels, it appears, nonetheless supported Marx’s materialist conception of historical past.