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The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

(Fransız Üçlemesi #2)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,052 ratings  ·  120 reviews
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" is one of Karl Marx' most profound and most brilliant monographs. It may be considered the best work extant on the philosophy of history. On the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9th), the post-revolutionary development of affairs in France enabled the first Napoleon to take a step that led with inevitable certainty to the imperial throne. The ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by MONDIAL (first published 1852)
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Gregory Sadler
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Anthony Buckley
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just the best piece of political analysis ever written.
Karlo Mikhail
Classic. Doubly relevant with the contemporary fascist upsurge
Willow L
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finished this on the day of Trump's inauguration - apposite.
tom bomp
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Hunter Tidwell
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: communists and socialists
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
David Nichols
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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. Assuming both conditions pertain, the EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE repays the time invested in it; it contains some of Marx's bitchiest invective and concludes with a startling observation about the first French Revolution. (Namely, that its winners were not the bourgeoisie but the small ...more
Daniel Wright
I have no idea how accurate the history of the events described in this book actually is. The analysis is extremely dense and difficult to follow, but this is slightly beside the point. This book is an attempt to put into practice the principle stated so famously at the beginning of The Communist Manifesto: 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.'

The problem is, that this is nonsense. While it is certainly the case that class antagonism can be a driving
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterwork, where Marx applied dialectical materialism to a blow-by-blow analysis of the 1851 coup in France that took everyone by surprise. He observed it as it was happening and then wrote this right after. It portrays the numerous contradictions between the various class factions inter-playing. On the left the Republicans, including the pure republicans, the Montagne (social democrats) sell-outs, the petty bourgeois, the proletariat. On the right the Royalists, the Party of Order, the ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
excellent work of history; went into this knowing essentially nothing of the Bonaparte the nephew or 19th century France post-Restoration and feel as if I've come out with a decent base knowledge of events. Marx excellently elucidates his often oversimplified theories of capitalism and historical materialism here, hashing out some of the idiosyncrasies of bourgeois rule in the particular context. i believe a focus on the particular (actors, events and contexts) as opposed to the basic structural ...more
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-theory
I really struggled with this - but I had downloaded it from and it didn't really have an introduction or notes - I think Marx is making many very clever asides and observations throughout which, due to my complete lack of knowledge of post-Nepoleon French politics, barely made a whizzing sound as they flew straight over my head. I'll have to track down a penguin edition of this or something that explains all his jokes.
Bernardo Kaiser
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some eerie similarities with the current state of events in Brazil
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It opens with the famous supplement to the Hegelian repetition: facts and personages of great importance in world history first occur tragically and then occur farcically. One perhaps underexplored aspect of this text is the extent to which it takes this theatrical framing quite literally. Louis Bonaparte "conceives the historical life of the nations and their performances of state as comedy in the most vulgar sense, as a masquerade where the grand costumes, words, and postures merely serve to ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very difficult read if, like me, you lack prior knowledge on the historical context. still, there are some very illuminating passages!
Ali Reda
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The parliamentary republic, in its struggle against the revolution, found itself compelled to strengthen the means and the centralization of governmental power with repressive measures. All revolutions perfected this machine instead of breaking it. The parties, which alternately contended for domination, regarded the possession of this huge state structure as the chief spoils of the victor".

Karl Marx wrote this book, on an entirely different event 52 years later, It dealt with the 2 December
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading understanding Marxism and not yet able to devote the necessary time and attention to Das Capital, I decided to read one of his shorter works to better understand Marx and his thought. I chose this text because Dr. Greg Salyer once suggested that it is Marx coming to terms with the failure of the French Revolution. I found this suggestion interesting and certainly positional for this pamphlet's collection of Marx's articles.

Indeed, Marx is trying to work through the French
Jul 07, 2012 rated it liked it
one can not read this book without knowing its context and background. from historical viewpoint, it's a document. it is translated to Persian by Bagher Parham
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure this was a compelling read for its time, but it's like wading through a mass of irrelevant and dead pedantic facts, to reach far and few moments of absolute brilliance.

But it truly is a fantastic analysis of populist fascism: how empty signifiers are mobilised towards mass affective responses, that ultimately, harm those who most believed in them. In other words, how authoritarian leaders bring about the submission of both bourgeois and proletariat classes, however, to the continuation
Each paragraph of the Constitution contains its own antithesis freedom as a generalization, the abolition of freedom as a specification.


The parliament had pronounced itself for him, but the Constitution pronounced itself against the parliament. Accordingly, he acted both in the sense of the parliament when he tore up the Constitution and in the sense of the Constitution when he chased away the parliament.

Marx depicts in charming verse the foolish contradictions which create political
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brilliant and beyond comprehensive. Every sentence, every clause is packed with information and revelation in that inexorable Marxist fashion. Not only does Marx portray the [in retrospect, inevitable] self-dissolution of the Parisian bourgeoisie and representative democracy, but he outlines the fundamental factors encouraging such a reflexive abrogation in a way that's eerily prescient. The specter of a class dictatorship outweighed the prospect of dictatorship in one man, and the result was ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: socialists who hate podcasts
The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content. There the phrase went beyond the content here the content goes beyond the
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I would like just to add some of Marx's sayings in this book.

"Hegel remarks somewhere1 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."

"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
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not familiar with Marx work. Two things that strike me the most: how it feel contemporary and the critique on overcentralized government.

By looking at the world right now, politics don't seem to have changed that much. Struggle for power, institutions crumbling, populism. It is all there. Even quoting "The Economist". It makes the opening statement still more ironic: history repeats itself: first as a tragedy, then as farce.

And there is the critique to the big, central government. Many
Griffin Wilson
Of the works I have read by Marx so far (about 5 or 6), I would say that this is one of the most insightful pieces of political commentary (after the German Ideology). Most of the philosophical insights relevant to the doctrine of historical materialism are laid forth in the first chapter, while the rest presents a play-by-play of the 1851 coup of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte interpreted through the lens of historical materialism.

The reader would do well to familiarize themselves historical
Thomas Breen
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trenchant, profound, incisive, critical. Marx the historian, the journalist, the social critic, and the philosopher all in one. The relevance of this analysis, and of the story it analyzes, to contemporary American politics is remarkable. Particularly in the superficial differences between factions of the same bourgeois class who in fact share the exact same interest of perpetuating capitals political control; the use of history, looking to history as a necessary catalyst and vindication of ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still digesting it. Highly contextual to the second republic of France, and yet... highly through provoking in the age of Trump and a Labour movement that i feel is loosing the working class.

the 18th Brumair is a sample of Marx historical theory in practice, and its more reflexive then People usually associate it to to be
Sophie Wieland
[We read only the first section.] Unlike the Communist Manifesto, this is a book designed for more specific commentary on revolutions. As such, it is chock full of allusions and references.

Though it is not the text's fault (more my own for being born much later and having little interaction with German or French revolutions), I could barely understand anything that was occurring.
Hakki Sarikaya
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the rarely known writings of Marx. Read this many years ago. Helped shooing away the idealist b.s out of my mind -this book is of the reality. Got to oust stories, fictional enemies and fictional heroes away from politics. Marx and Engels did it first, for they were no a couple of homo fictus. They hadnt tell the truth, they revealed it. Simple. ...more
In his book Thinking the 20th Century Tony Judt says this is the place to start reading Marx, because it has his best thought on history and revolution and such.
That may be true (I'm no Marx expert) in terms of it having his best thought, but I suggest not starting here unless you're an expert in mid-19th century French history.
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Karl Marx, Ph.D. (University of Jena, 1841) was a social scientist who was a key contributor to the development of Communist theory.

Descended from a long line of rabbis, Marx born in Prussian Rhineland. His father converted to Protestantism shortly before Karl's birth. Educated at the Universities of Bonn, Jena, and Berlin, Marx founded the Socialist newspaper Vorwarts in 1844 in Paris. After

Other books in the series

Fransız Üçlemesi (3 books)
  • The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850
  • The Civil War in France

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Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” 358 likes
“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.” 306 likes
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