The Info List - The Eighteenth Brumaire Of Louis Napoleon

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_THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS NAPOLEON_ (German : _Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon_) was an essay written by Karl Marx between December 1851 and March 1852, and originally published in 1852 in _Die Revolution_, a German monthly magazine published in New York City and established by Joseph Weydemeyer . Later English editions, such as an 1869 Hamburg edition, were entitled _THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS BONAPARTE_.

The essay discusses the French coup of 1851 in which Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte assumed dictatorial powers. It shows Marx in his form as a social and political historian, treating actual historical events from the viewpoint of his materialist conception of history .

The title refers to the Coup of 18 Brumaire in which Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in revolutionary France (9 November 1799, or 18 Brumaire Year VIII in the French Republican Calendar ).


* 1 Contents of the book * 2 Impact on the development of Marxism * 3 "History repeats ... first as tragedy, then as farce" * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links


In the preface to the second edition of _The Eighteenth Brumaire_, Marx stated that the purpose of this essay was to "demonstrate how the class struggle in France created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero's part."

This essay contains the most famous formulation of Marx's view of the role of the individual in history, often translated to something like: "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past." Unfortunately this translation obscures the meaning of his line, which should be read more like "People (die Menschen) make their own history, but they do not make it however they want, not under self-selected circumstances, but out of the actual given and transmitted situation. The traditions of all the dead generations burden, like a nightmare, the minds of the living."

_The Eighteenth Brumaire_ catalogs the mass of the bourgeoisie , which Marx says impounded the republic like its property, as composed of: the large landowners , the aristocrats of finance and big industrialists , the high dignitaries of the army , the university, the church , the bar, the academy, and the press.

It also shows more criticism of the proletariat than is typical of his other works, referring to the bureaucracy as a "giant parasitic body" and describing widespread perceptions of the proletariat as a "party of anarchy, socialism, and communism," a party paradoxically established on precepts of an oppositional "party of order."


Along with Marx's contemporary writings on English politics and _The Civil War in France _, the _Eighteenth Brumaire_ is a principal source for understanding Marx's theory of the capitalist state .

Marx's interpretation of Louis Bonaparte's rise and rule is of interest to later scholars studying the nature and meaning of fascism . Many Marxist scholars regard the coup as a forerunner of the phenomenon of 20th-century fascism.


This book is the source of one of Marx's most quoted statements, that history repeats itself, "the first as tragedy, then as farce", referring respectively to Napoleon I and to his nephew Louis Napoleon ( Napoleon III):

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twi