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Related to Bonapartism: Caesarism


(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 ?
student, but it is an excellent read for the specialist of the French Revolution as well as the specialist in Bonapartism.
The book under review has many other issues deliberated upon, like the capitalist tsunami, October Revolution, the role of the socialist system, Pakistan and Bonapartism, the Marxist view of the state, etc.
The danger: opening too many fronts at once, going into Waziristan before Swat is fully secured; the temptation: heeding the siren calls of Bonapartism.
If the tone of Hazlitt's portrait of Godwin often sounds a recessive note of bitterness, it should be remembered that Hazlitt was himself a rarity by the mercurial standards of the public life he observed, retaining a stubborn Bonapartism even in the post-Waterloo years.
They respected nobody's opinions but their own, failed to take realistic account of the return of Bonapartism, and were incapable of concession or compromise.
Apart from the idiotic advice that he should try to bribe the Duke of Wellington, Talleyrand spent 1813 distancing himself from Napoleon, while trying to stay in the Emperor's favor should Bonapartism survive.
There's your Napoleon story, my dear lady," he concluded, turning to my grandmother, who had become the center of Bonapartism on our bus of Soviet refugees.
He seemed to have set out to establish a model of political authoritarianism based on free-market principles--a doctrine known in historical terminology as Bonapartism.
The two strands in the formation of the neo-fascist constituency converge on the related demands for a strong state--for a form resembling presidential Bonapartism that would 'get things done' under a 'strong leader'--and for a unitary culture, a cultural form that would restore respect for those who are anxious about the effects of globalisation yet lack the cultural capital to take advantage of the explosion in the services sector.
For a sample of the debate about the nature of the movement, see Kevin Pass-more, "The Croix de Feu: Bonapartism, National Populism or Fascism?
Much of what Haussmann accomplished was prefigured by these earlier proposals, which were nonetheless inspired by political ideas that were incompatible with Bonapartism.