The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte - Book Review Essay Example

Published: 2022-06-08
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte - Book Review Essay Example
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  History Karl Marx
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 997 words
9 min read

"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" is Karl Marx's 19th-century essay, which is a crucial text when it comes to exploring social and political events which dominated Europe during the period. The work was initially published in the magazine: Revolution, which is based in New York. The author approaches the actual historical events from a materialist perspective, which is significant in highlighting some of the popular formulations of Marx's opinion regarding the role of people in the history. According to the author, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please..." (p.1). This work focuses on Revolution of 1848 in France, which is significant in demonstration Marx's views on socioeconomic and political matters in Europe. It can, therefore, be asserted that the book presents a clear periodization of the historical events characterizing the revolution and analysis of France's conservative politics during the revolutionary years.

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The setting of the book is characterized by critical socioeconomic changes, in the 19th century. The earlier bourgeois revolutions such as English revolution in the 17th century and the Dutch Revolt of 16th century removed the feudal order, ultimately paving the way for industrial and commercial development throughout the Atlantic World (James 2). The growing introduction of factories and textile mills facilitated the transformation of the urban cities such as Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Manchester, and London. This prompted many people (peasant farmers and landless laborers) to migrate to new industrial cities in Europe. According to the Author's views, Industrialization in Europe led to dislocation and economic woes to the bourgeois in the society, which demonstrates Marx's description of capitalism and its adverse impact on the economy.

The Eighteenth Brumaire tries to account for the reasons behind 1848 revolution in France, ultimately resulting in Louis Bonaparte's coup d'etat in 1851. The Bonapartist coup is portrayed as the manifestation of the escalating class antagonisms present in the bourgeois and proletariat. According to the assertions of the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe, "The demands of the Paris proletariat are utopian nonsense, to which an end must be put..." (p.8), which attests the discontent between the bourgeois and proletariat. The bourgeois had immediately renounced its own form of rule called 'bourgeois republic' after becoming worried of the growing power of the proletariat.

The author portrays Bonapartism as the dictatorial system, which depends on counterrevolutionary approaches of the bourgeoisie to survive. Bonapartism is characterized by maneuvering policies between various classes, independence of state authority and power and crude demagoguery which enables the elites to perpetuate the exploitation of the peasants in the society (Krylov 3). The book also highlights vices such as bribe, blackmail, venality, crime, and corruption. From this perspective, it is implied that the upheavals represented by 1848 revolutions in France demonstrated political actions of independent working class individuals in the society. The author is using historical materialism approach to explore the development of a revolutionary movement.

The living conditions of the peasantry class in the French society is given essential attention. It is revealed that the dual nature of the peasants prompted them to vote for Louis Bonaparte. The peasants depicted revolutionary trends and desires which indicated showed they were ready to abandon their perceived traditional existence (Krylov 3). Initially, the Peasants the prejudices had compelled Peasants to seek refuge from Bonaparte, eventually uniting with the working class, which was an unexpected move, according to Marx. During the era of Napoleon rule, the interests of the Peasants depended on their coexistence of with bourgeois. However, by breaking away from their status of quo, the Peasants opposed the bourgeois interest thus finding "...their natural ally and leader in the urban proletariat, whose task it is to overthrow the bourgeois order" (p.64). The newfound alliance between proletarian and peasantry enhanced Karl Marx's postulation formulated in his Class Struggles in France (1850).

The author perceives a revolution as a critical accelerator of a particular social process. The book has highlighted significant differences observed in bourgeois and proletarian revolutions. The bourgeois revolutions are portrayed to be brief and short-lived, thus climaxing quickly. "...from the merely periodic state of siege and the transient rescues of society at the bidding of this or that bourgeois faction..." (p.15). On another, the proletarian revolutions are perceived to be long periods of drastic transformations across the society. The author contends that the evaluation of the relationship between bourgeois and proletarian revolutions enhanced Marx's revolutionary theory which asserts that proletariat can only be a success if it eradicates the old regime.

"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" provided a precise chronological account of events which epitomized the events of 1848 Revolution in France. The book has excellently explored the socioeconomic and political setting of the France society from historical materialism point of view. According to the authors' revelations, the proletariat can only challenge and overcome capitalism through the urban class leadership. The peasantry is required to assume the role of revolutionary anti-capitalist, as highlighted by the inception of the socialist movement during the period after Louis Bonaparte's coup d'etat in 1851.

Works Cited

Bieler, Andreas. "Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France and historical materialist methodology!" Trade unions and global restructuring (2012): 1-3. Print.

Davidson, Neil. "Bourgeois Revolutions: On the Road to Salvation for all Mankind." Socialist Review (2004): 1-5. Print.

Hayes, Peter. "Utopia and the Lumpenproletariat: Marx's Reasoning in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte." Review of Politics (1988): 445-465. Web.

James, Lingworth. "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte." International Socialist Review (2013): 1-5. Web.

Krylov, B. A. "The Great Soviet Encyclopedia 3rd Edition (1970-1979)." The Gale Group, Inc. (2010): 1-4. Web.

Marx, Karl. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. New York;: Mark Harris,, 2010. print.

Rummel, R.J. "Understanding Conflict and War: Marxism, Class Conflict." University of Hawaii System (2001): 1-3Web.

Sewell, Rob. "The 1848 Revolutions: The Hoped-For Prelude to The Proletarian Revolution." In Defence of Marxism (2008): 2-4. Print.

E. Bernstein, The Prerequisites for Socialism and the Tasks of the Social-Democratic Party, German ed., Berlin 1923, p. 11.

Marx, K. "Klassovaia bor'ba vo Frantsii s 1848 po 1850 g." In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 7.

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