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

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Fairly clearly, this comment situates hope in the unfolding postwar life; any praise or blame for Bonapartism would in fact be a counterproductive discursion (as in Byron's "Napoleon's Farewell," where the violet is a pledge of the emperor's eventual return).
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Excluded by his unreconstructed Bonapartism from military life during the Restoration, Giroudeau wallows for years in a Parisian demimonde of carousing, stage girls, and petty crime.
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student, but it is an excellent read for the specialist of the French Revolution as well as the specialist in Bonapartism. Dwyer's work has a number of excellent portraits and other illustrations, each of which would be more commanding if they were in color instead of a grainy black and white.
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