In May 1970, upon the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Friedrich Engels, the town of Wuppertal had organised an international scientific conference. This occasion brought together around 50 specialists from more than 10 European countries, as well as Israel and the United States whose task was to take stock of modern research on the thought of he who is universally taken to be, alongside his friend Karl Marx, one of the founders of “Marxism”.
After Marx died there grew up a legend that his theory of social causation was too narrowly mechanistic to provide accommodation for any sort of ethics. No doubt Marx, in combating the sentimental "moralising" of certain utopian contemporaries who called themselves "the True Socialists", had leaned so far backward as to give semblance if not substance for fathering on him views whose alleged paternity he would have disclairned.
The purpose of this pamphlet is to show that the capitalist social system is a dynamic and not a static organisation, having developed out of previous social systems. The historical role of capitalism was progressive insofar as the means of production, hitherto small and fragmentary in character, were welded into the gigantic productive organisations we know today. The social powers of production however are not under the control of society and the relations of production do not serve the interests of the producers, the working class. The social classes have been reduced to two, a property-less working class forming the vast majority, and a property owning capitalist class, the minority. The relations of production are anti-social because the object behind production is not the satisfaction of social need but the amassing of profit and the accumulation of capital.