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The Eighteenth Brumaire Of Louis Bonaparte Paperback – June 28, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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About the Author

Described as one of the most influential figures in human history, Karl Marx was a German philosopher and economist who wrote extensively on the benefits of socialism and the flaws of free-market capitalism. His most notable works, Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto (the latter of which was co-authored by his collaborator Friedrich Engels), have since become two of history s most important political and economic works. Marxismthe term that has come to define the philosophical school of thought encompassing Marx s ideas about society, politics and economicswas the foundation for the socialist movements of the twentieth century, including Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism. Despite the negative reputation associated with some of these movements and with Communism in general, Marx s view of a classless socialist society was a utopian one which did not include the possibility of dictatorship. Greatly influenced by the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, Marx wrote in radical newspapers from his young adulthood, and can also be credited with founding the philosophy of dialectical materialism. Marx died in London in 1883 at the age of 64. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438245920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438245928
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,794,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This translation of Marx's _18th Brumaire_ is practically unreadable. Not only is the prose confusing, even nonsensical, but there are grammatical and spelling errors throughout. The translation is from 1897, and the book is inexpensive because this translation is in the public domain. Be aware that several other publishers are printing this translation with fancy covers but the interior contents unaltered. There is another translation that is much more readable; I'm not sure of the publisher, but it has an orange cover with white letters and an image of Daumier's sculpture "Ratapoil".
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Format: Paperback
This fascinating extended essay was originally prepared as a series of newspaper articles. It is Marx's careful analysis of the hijacking of the 1848 revolution in France by Louis Bonaparte, the nephew and self styled successor of the great Napoleon. Many readers are dimly aware of this work because it is the source of two of Marx's most quoted remarks; "history occurs as tragedy and recurs as farce," and "man makes his future, only not as he chooses." Marx discusses why the 18th Brumaire occurred, how it occurred, and why it succeeded. Marx deployed all his considerable intellectual tools to produce this analysis and the quality of writing is much more accessible than much of his more scholarly work, proof that he could write well. What is most impressive is Marx's use of class based social analysis combined with an incisive understanding of the intersections of class interests, ideology, and even personality. Individuals, both on the right and left, who have reduced Marx's thinking to sterile economic determinism have never encountered this brilliant work. A model of what can be done when Marxist concepts are used as a point of departure rather than a form of theology.
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Format: Paperback
Many general readers don't know that Marx's paid employment most of his life was as a journalist writing on current events of his day. His "Eighteenth Brumaire" was originally a series of newspaper articles for a New York based left-wing paper for the German immigrant community there. Its chapters are thus short, pithy and very readable. Marx's witty, sparkling and fast-paced literary style here makes the events examined, how and why President Louis Bonaparte of France was able to pull off a coup in 1851, hasn't lost any of its freshness after more than a 150 years. Its worth reading for it literary qualities alone.

But this is also an excellent introduction to Marx's social theories: how the interplay of economic developments, class interests and conflicts, high politics and ideological cleavages produced the circumstances in which Louis Bonaparte, nephew of the famous General/Emperor, became the democratically elected President of France in 1848, then moved in 1851 to suppress democratic politics with the backing of the petty and upper bourgeoisie when these classes concluded that democracy could not secure their control over the state. There is no better demonstration of Marxian social analysis in action.

This essay is also worth reading for what it can suggest about more recent history. From the advent of Mussolini in Italy 1922 to Pinochet in Chile in 1973 to the failed coup against Chavez in Venezuela in 2002 and beyond, bourgeoisies and allied classes have repeatedly acted to suppress democratic regimes if and when these regimes spin out of their control. This essay will help you understand why.
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Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1808-1873; aka Napoleon III or "Napoleon the Little") was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I. He was elected President of France by popular vote in 1848, and seized control of France in a coup d'etat on December 2, 1851. He ruled as Emperor of the French until 1870.

This book was first published in 1852. (The "18th Brumaire" simply means the date, which was November 9, 1799 on our calendars.) In it, Karl Marx (1818-1888) gives a detailed and specific application of his "historical materialism" to a concrete subject. Marx begins by saying that "Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please... but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past." (Pg. 15)

He charges that in the then-current situation, the inscription of the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) should be replaced by "the unambiguous words: Infantry, Calvary, Artillery!" (Pg. 59)

He comments that "The bourgeois (i.e., capitalists, the ruling class) and, above all, the bourgeois inflated into a statesman, supplements his practical meanness by theoretical extravagance." (Pg. 85) He charges that France seems "to have escaped the despotism of a class only to fall back beneath the despotism of an individual," and that "all classes, equally impotent and equally mute, fall on their knees before the rifle butt." (Pg. 121)

With pretended modesty, he says that what he did that was "new" was to prove (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, and (3) that this dictatorship only constitutes the transition to the "abolition of all classes and to a classless society." (Pg. 139)

This book is an important one in the development of Marxist thought.
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