Bonapartism


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Bonapartism

(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

Bonapartism

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.
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On that momentous day, the country defied its own traditions of Bonapartism.
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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.