The Frock-Coated Communist by Tristram Hunt. Biography of Friedrich Engels, who was a fascinating character. As a communist he collaborated closely with Karl Marx, was a huge influence upon him, and Marx's main source of income. As a businessman he worked and part-owned a large mill company in Manchester. The irony of a communist who was a successful capitalist is much-noted, but a bit overstated, since communists regarded capitalism as a necessary preceding stage. Engels was also a bon vivant who enjoyed expensive drinking, fox-hunting, and affairs.
Hunt covers both the life and work of Engels very well.
On work, he seems to think that Engels has been a bit unfairly treated as the origin of Leninist/Stalinist authoritarianism and state centralism, while Marx has been reframed as a gentle near-anarchist, while in fact the two thinkers were nearly identical. He also goes into some detail on Marx and Engels as organizers rather than thinkers or writers, a lot of which was new to me. There was the characteristic left-wing feuding with other organizations, though in later years they were more successful at forming a movement.
On Engel's life, he tells an interesting story well. Engels character was appealing at times, but deeply unattractive at others, as when he took revenge on a rival by having sex with his wife under at least some degree of coercion.
Overall, well worth reading if you're interested in either the character or the politics.
What I'm Watching
Saw The Cabin in the Woods at the cinema. Very good movie, kind of a horror comedy. It starts out with a deliberately clichéd setup of teens taking a weekend vacation to a mysterious cabin, but deftly plays with the horror genre and others. Has some tense moments but not too scary, coming to a glorious conclusion. Very funny in places too.
Well worth seeing.
Socioeconomics. Unemployment: a river not a pool since so many move into/out of employment. If Greece Goes. The housing market and the case for higher inflation targets in the US and the Eurozone.
Random. Obsolete business jargon: proximo, ultimo.
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