It may be considered the best work extant on the philosophy of history, with an eye especially upon the history of the Movement of the Proletariat, together with the bourgeois and other manifestations that accompany the same, and the tactics that such conditions dictate. The recent populist uprising; the more recent "Debs Movement"; the thousand and one utopian and chimerical notions that are flaring up; the capitalist maneuvers; the hopeless, helpless grasping after straws, that characterize the conduct of the bulk of the working class; all of these, together with the empty-headed, ominous figures that are springing into notoriety for a time and have their day, mark the present period of the Labor Movement in the nation a critical one. The best information acquirable, the best mental training obtainable are requisite to steer through the existing chaos that the death-tainted social system of today creates all around us. To aid in this needed information and mental training, this instructive work is now made accessible to English readers, and is commended to the serious study of the serious.
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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Daniel de Leon. It may be considered the best work extant on the philosophy of history. On the 18th Brumaire Nov. The circumstance that fifty and odd years later similar events aided his nephew, Louis Bonaparte, to take a similar step with a similar result, gives the name to this work-"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
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Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Mar 07, Gregory Sadler rated it it was amazing Shelves: changed-me , philosophy. I'd like to specify before launching into my review of this excellent work of analysis that I'm neither a Marxist nor even someone on the Left though I once was. I do still grant and appreciate the role of economic conditions and relations in conditioning what occurs in politics, culture, law, and religion, but I don't see the economic sphere as determining, or even as predominating, the other dimensions of human existence.
That's actually one of the lessons that comes through in this brilliant I'd like to specify before launching into my review of this excellent work of analysis that I'm neither a Marxist nor even someone on the Left though I once was.
That's actually one of the lessons that comes through in this brilliant little text: economics, class interests, and class consciousness play roles in - but don't fully explain or predict - what happens in politics.
What I particularly like about the mind of Marx seen in this essay is that history, economics, struggle, etc. There is some room for individual decisions and motivations, for the person just as much as a political community to be a place of competing interests which have to make their claims.
In fact, you could say that there's three main lessons Marx teaches here. If the first is the one just noted, the second is that it is inherent to human beings and culture that when they are launching forth into something new, something radical, something revolutionary, they inevitably grope around for historical analogies, idealized precedents, dramatic roles, as it were, within which to locate themselves, their own actions and intentions, their rivals, allies, or enemies, even the basic situation being faced.
The third lesson is one about liberal democracies, the workings of politics in them, and a particular danger always lurking unrealized or in our own time, usually misfigured in the play of power and ideology. Put very succinctly, it is that when ideologically-driven interests are fully engaged in the sort of conflict that pulls at the very fabric of society, becoming plays and ploys for power, carried out to implement this or that set of goals beyond mere power, all of the competing factions are at a disadvantage with respect to the party or person which fundamentally just aims after power.
The story that Marx narrates exemplifies these lessons. A word of warning, though: without some understanding of post-Revolutionary French politics and culture, it can be quite difficult to make sense out of some of the developments and parties within the story.
For example, the "Radicals" in French parlance are really those who are still trying to continue the several-decades-past program of the French Revolution, essentially a party of bourgeois interests, looking for political change, but focused on rights of property, commerce, production, anti-clerical and anti-monarchic, but certainly not "radical" in the sense that an American reader might expect.
The situation as Marx depicts it is one in which competing parties, each driven by their own class-interests and class-consciousness -- which will keep them, of course, from engaging in anything more than alliances of expediency, unable to seek any genuinely common good together -- are engaged in struggle with each other, carried out partly through elections and the power that electoral victories bring, through their involvements with important institutions or significant portions of French society, through public opinion and at times through force.
Each group is willing -- indeed at times eager -- to use what power they have against their perceived opponents and for the remaking of a society in clear crisis along their ideal lines.
Put very bluntly, each group wants to gain power, in order to use power to attain ends which are themselves beyond power. They regard power instrumentally. And, this struggle opens the door for someone who sees things quite differently, Napoleon III -- who Marx depicts as interested in power for its own sake, not laboring under the sorts of restraints or illusions holding back the other players on the political stage.
Gaining the support of the Army, itself an venerable French institution with multiple roles, different ideological resonances, but also a keen conception of the need for some social order in the face of external threats, Bonaparte steers the different political factions against each other -- none of them realizing that what he intends not only does not align with their interests but ultimately entirely negates them -- preparing the way for his rise to complete power, a military-backed autocracy.
Bonaparte and the Army themselves were not immune to the temptation of historical mimesis Marx points out -- numerous enough parallels suggested themselves. You might say that one of the ways the various competing parties went wrong was in not seeing what historical analogy they were actually acting within -- they thought they were involved in a very different game than the one it turned out they were in fact playing.
A last note: One of my areas of work is study of totalitarian movements. But this is, and has been, one of those works by Marx that does present problems for Marxists and Marxism -- perhaps that's why it's one of his best.
View 1 comment. Dec 24, Anthony Buckley rated it it was amazing Shelves: politics , philosophy , favourites. Just the best piece of political analysis ever written. Doubly relevant with the contemporary fascist upsurge. Jan 20, Willow L rated it really liked it. Finished this on the day of Trump's inauguration - apposite. Jun 25, tom bomp rated it liked it Shelves: history , non-fiction , politics , marxist.
Idiosyncratic and often tough to follow but ultimately valuable as an example of Marx's historical method. Sometimes loses focus or doesn't really make itself clear - there were quite a few sentences that seemed to be missing a clause, a few times he describes a class acting against its class interest as if it's normal, some other stuff I should have noted down. The last couple sections are the best, I think, although I might just have been in a better mood reading them. He often assumes knowled Idiosyncratic and often tough to follow but ultimately valuable as an example of Marx's historical method.
He often assumes knowledge of events which is a bit annoying. At the same time, it does give an interesting perspective, gives a useful idea of class analysis and does provide a decent amount of information on the era. It contains a few bits of brilliance too. It's quite possible that my reading of this was terrible, I'll admit I didn't read it under the best of circumstances. I recommend reading if you're a Marxist, anyway. I'll end with one of my favourite Marx quotes which are the opening words.
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire. 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. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.
And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. The first chapter has made a massive impact on me and I think of some of the quotes over and over.
It's massively influenced how I view a lot of politics and it's inspiring and good. I dunno. I think I underrated it last time This is Marx at his most poetic.
A stunning account of the rise of Napoleon III from a standpoint that does more to elucidate the mechanism of historical materialism than it does to account for one mere revolution in its own right.
Marx assumes a hefty knowledge of the events in France from the reader, and this is in my view an error on his part - as such, many of the allusions will fly over the first time reader's head, and the onslaught of French names are often not explained in their context.
This is the only thing preventing me from giving this book 5 stars, although I hope to come back to it and give it that highest rating after learning more about the period from other sources. Immensely quotable work, especially in the first and last chapters, this book provides a way for understanding how the working class can be co-opted by reactionary elements, and the gross incompetence of the Party of Order corresponds almost exactly with the Democratic Party's obsession with style over substance in contemporary America.
Aug 25, Jules rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: communists and socialists. Shelves: favourites , academic-essentials. This piece is a demonstration of a social scientist's theoretical evolution over time. For my first couple years in college, I was unsure of my theoretical standing. On my good days, I believe in the good of humanity and anarchy in its true sense; on bad days, I know people are terrible and am a communist even though democracy is still probably the most plausible if it actually worked.
Then I began reading Marx fully, not just the required segments. I realized that this piece is the mile-marker This piece is a demonstration of a social scientist's theoretical evolution over time. I realized that this piece is the mile-marker of his writing. He may have began believing in the possibility of true revolution but became disillusioned. Jaded even. But reading the change in his tone and growth of ideas over time makes me feel much better about my teeter-tottering beliefs.
May 25, David Nichols rated it liked it Shelves: reviewed , classicss. It's probably not a good idea to attempt this long essay unless one is A comfortable with the author's heavy, Germanic prose style, and B familiar with the history of the short-lived, unlamented Second French Republic.
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
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. 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. The Eighteenth Brumaire taxonomises the mass of the bourgeoisie , which Marx says impounded the republic like its property, as consisting 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.
THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS BONAPARTE
While revolutionary turning points such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence in , the storming of the Bastille in , the Emancipation Proclamation of , or even the Paris Commune of retain some place in popular consciousness, the same cannot be said of the events of — the uprising in Vienna, the June Days in Paris, the Siege of Rome, or the nationalist revolt in Hungary. Particularly for Marxists, however, the revolutions of have huge significance. For one thing, these upheavals represented the first examples of independent working-class political action in European history—they marked the moment at which something resembling the modern socialist movement began to take shape. Secondly, the revolutions of gave Karl Marx and Frederick Engels their first major opportunity to put their revolutionary theories into practice—both men participated as central actors in the German wing of the revolutionary movement. Finally, and most importantly for the purposes of this review, the revolution of in France gave Marx his first chance to analyze and write about the development of the revolutionary movement using the method of historical materialism. While this review will focus on the latter text, readers are strongly recommended to read the two books together. The origins of revolution Europe was experiencing major economic and social change in the middle of the nineteenth century.