Engels on the housing question

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Against the idea of “decent and affordable housing for all” within capitalism it’s possible to turn to articles that Friedrich Engels wrote on the ‘Housing Question’ in 1872. “It is not the solution of the housing question which simultaneously solves the social question, but only by the solution of the social question, that is, by the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, is the solution of the housing question made possible. To want to solve the housing question while at the same time desiring to maintain the modern big cities is an absurdity. The modern big cities, however, will be abolished only by the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, and when this is once on the way there will be quite other things to do than supplying each worker with a little house and garden.” Having “provided proof of how impractical these so-called ‘practical’ socialists really are” Engels insists that “practical socialism consists rather in correct knowledge of the capitalist mode of production from all its various sides. A working class which is secure in this knowledge will never be in doubt in any given case against which social institutions, and in what manner, its main attacks should be directed.”

WR, 2/7/05.