Engels Without Dogmatism

  • John O’Neill


Both friends and critics of Marxism standardly subscribe to what might be characterized as the Andy Pandy theory of the relationship between Marx and Engels. I refer here to a children’s programme, thankfully no more, in which the two central characters, Andy Pandy and Teddy, live in the same box and dance the same steps to the same tune: however, stiff limbed Teddy always does so badly, normally falling flat on his face, that Andy Pandy has to be asked to show him how to do it properly. (The only female character, Looby Loo, is silent throughout and moves only when the menfolk leave, but that is another story.) Thus it is with the relationship between Marx and Engels: the stiff and ponderous Engels attempts the same lines of thought as his intellectually more supple partner, but never quite does it properly, producing crude, dogmatic and indefensible versions of the ideas that Marx, especially in his notebooks (and Marx has become a theorist read through his notebooks), defends in more subtle and undogmatic forms. It is not my aim in this paper to show that there is no truth in the Andy Pandy theory: I think it may well be right about a number of common matters on which both wrote. I do want here to show it to be wrong about one doctrine defended by both Engels and Marx, that is their shared commitment to scientific socialism.


Scientific Socialism Universal Statement Infinite Domain Ultimate Truth Singular Statement 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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  • John O’Neill

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