Introduction: The Housing Question Revisited
AbstractIn 1842, an impressionable 21 year-old named Friedrich Engels was despatched by his industrialist father from his native Germany to the city of Manchester, England, in order to learn the practices of sound factory management, and in particular, how to extract maximum value from the proletariat. The outcome of that particular parental decision was not what was intended. Engels was so horrified by the abysmal living conditions of the working class labourers of the Manchester cotton mills that his destiny as a cotton lord was arrested and the seeds of communist theory were sewn. As the historian Jonathan Schofield remarked in 2006, “without Manchester, there would have been no Soviet Union, and the history of the 20th century would have been very different” (Jaffries, 2006, n.p.). Engels is of course most famous for his astonishingly productive and profoundly influential collaborations with Karl Marx, and for the poignant eloquence of his masterpiece The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845). The purpose of this special issue, however is to engage with three articles Engels wrote in 1872 for Der Volkstaat, which were published that year as a pamphlet entitled The Housing Question.
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