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(MARXISM) a form of government in capitalist society in which the executive is controlled by a dictator, who in turn controls other institutions of the state and society. For MARX, in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, this form represented a stalemate in class relations with the capitalist class unable to rule through parliamentary means and the working class unable to achieve dominance. The example Marx analysed was of Louis Bonaparte in France, who became Napoleon III in 1851 after a coup d'état. Marx argued that the regime still sought the development of capitalism.

Subsequent writers have seen this as an example of the RELATIVE AUTONOMY (OF THE STATE). Various examples have been claimed in the 20th century especially in THIRD WORLD societies where the relatively weak social class formations may underlie the frequency of military dictatorships stepping in to resolve political conflicts where no one social class is strong enough to dominate over others. Such examples may be distinguished from FASCISM, since mass parties are not used either to come to power or to sustain the dictatorship in power, and there may be no articulated fascist ideology. However, the concept may be too broad to account adequately for all the various circumstances in which dictatorships emerge and hence there is debate about its precise applicability



a term that was originally applied to the military dictatorship established by Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) in France in 1799 after the Great French Revolution and to the dictatorship of Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon III), who came to power in 1851 after the defeat of the Revolution of 1848. Subsequently, the term “Bonapartism” was extended to any counterrevolutionary dictatorship of the upper bourgeoisie that is based on militarism, has the support of the reactionaryminded strata of the backward peasantry, and maneuvers between antagonistic classes in conditions of an unstable balance of class forces. Thus, for example, Lenin characterized the policy of the bourgeoisie in Russia after the July crisis of 1917 as Bonapartist.

In connection with this policy he wrote: “Bonapartism is a form of government that grows out of the counterrevolutionary nature of the bourgeoisie in conditions of democratic reforms and democratic revolution” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34, p. 83).

Bonapartism combines social demagoguery with active chauvinistic propaganda and aggression and a policy of suppressing democratic freedoms and the revolutionary movement through extensive use of the police, bureaucratic machinery, and church. The rule of Bismarck inGermany a nd P. A. Stolypin in Russia had elements of Bonapartism.


Marx, K. “Vosemnadtsatoe briumera Lui Bonaparta.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8.
Engels, F. “Deistvitel’nye prichiny otnositel’noi passivnosti frantsuzskikh proletariev v dekabre proshlogo goda. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8.
Engels, F. “Rol’ nasiliia v istorii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “Ob otsenke tekushchego momenta.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17.
Lenin, V. I. “Nachalo bonapartizma.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34.
Lenin, V. I. “Za derev’iami ne vidiat lesa.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the present circumstances, Bonapartism in Russia is inevitable and Putin's place at the helm of the Russian state has certainly been predetermined, for he is exactly the type of leader that history has unerringly chosen for this role at this time, regardless of whether we like it or not.
One of the world's great tragedies since the fall of the Soviet Union has been Russia's slide back to Bonapartism under Vladimir Putin.
But luckily, after much haggling and interests peddling, the political leadership has answered the second question by passing the 18th constitutional amendment, thus 'slamming the door' on Bonapartism.
Aa Even so, it bears remembering that we have paid dearly for Bonapartism before and there is no reason to think the consequences are going to be any different if we succumb to its temptations once again.
The English-speaking peoples are temperamentally less inclined towards fanaticism, high-flown rhetoric, and Bonapartism than any others in history.
One cannot help but notice a subtext--Wolin's nostalgia for the insurrectionary sixties--as a counterpoint to Tocqueville's failure to join the Paris workers at the barricades in 1848, followed by the hard lesson of Louis Bonaparte's coup of December 2, 1851 (Marx called it "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" as a caricature of his uncle's coup of 1799), which led to a despotic regime despised by Tocqueville, so much so that unlike Marx he saw the second coming of bonapartism as tragedy rather than farce.
Over the course of his career, Burnham had worried from time to time about Bonapartism, Caesarism, and bureaucracy, and he developed these themes in Congress and the American Tradition (1959).
Whilst professional armed forces have a long and colourful history of Bonapartism and Praetorian intervention due, in part, to their estrangement from state and society, the Tiananmen crisis might appear to vindicate the Chinese approach.
On that momentous day, the country defied its own traditions of Bonapartism.
MNA Ayaz Amir also on a point order expressed apprehensions that 'all was not normal' and new efforts of destabilization is a new Bonapartism.
The book has some unusual illustrations like that of a foldout which transforms a fleur-de-lys, the symbol of the Bourbon monarchy, into Bonapartism revealed, including the portrait of the Emperor and the king of Rome.