Coat of Arms of Bonaparte

Bonapartism is the political ideology of Napoleon Bonaparte and his followers and successors. It was later used to refer to people who hoped to restore the House of Bonaparte and its style of government. In this sense, a Bonapartiste was a person who either actively participated in or advocated conservative, monarchist and imperial political faction in 19th century France. After Napoleon, the term was applied to the French politicians who seized power in the coup of 18 Brumaire, ruling in the French Consulate and subsequently in the First and Second French Empires. The Bonapartistes desired an empire under the House of Bonaparte, the Corsican family of Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I of France) and his nephew Louis (Napoleon III of France).[1]

The term was used more generally for a political movement that advocated a dictatorship or authoritarian centralized state, with a strongman charismatic leader based on anti-elitist rhetoric, army support, and conservatism.

Marxism and Leninism developed a vocabulary of political terms that included Bonapartism, derived from their analysis of the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. Karl Marx was a student of Jacobinism and the French Revolution, and was a contemporary critic of the Second Republic and Second Empire. He used "Bonapartism" to refer to a situation in which counter-revolutionary military officers seize power from revolutionaries, and use selective reforms to co-opt the radicalism of the popular classes. Marx argued that in the process, Bonapartists preserve and mask the power of a narrower ruling class.

More generally, "Bonapartism" may be used to describe the replacement of civilian leadership by military leadership within revolutionary movements or governments. Many modern-day Trotskyists and other leftists use the phrase "left Bonapartist" to describe those, such as Stalin and Mao, who controlled 20th-century bureaucratic socialist regimes. In addition, Leon Trotsky was accused of using his position as commander of the Red Army to gain top-level power after Lenin's death.

Noted political scientists and historians greatly differ on the definition and interpretation of Bonapartism. Sudhir Hazareesingh's book The Legend of Napoleon explores numerous interpretations of the term. He says that it refers to a "popular national leader confirmed by popular election, above party politics, promoting equality, progress, and social change, with a belief in religion as an adjunct to the State, a belief that the central authority can transform society and a belief in the 'nation' and its glory and a fundamental belief in national unity."[citation needed] Hazareesingh believes that although recent research shows Napoleon used forced conscription of French troops, some men must have fought believing in Napoleon's ideals. He says that to argue Bonapartism co-opted the masses is an example of the Marxist perspective of false consciousness: the idea that the masses can be manipulated by a few determined leaders in the pursuit of ends.


Philosophically, Bonapartism was Napoleon's adaptation of principles of the French Revolution to suit his imperial form of rule. Desires for public order, French national glory, and emulation of the Roman Empire had combined to create a Caesarist coup d'etat for General Bonaparte on 18 Brumaire. Though he espoused adherence to revolutionary precedents, he "styled his direct and personal rule on the Old Regime monarchs."[2] For Bonapartists, the most significant lesson of the Revolution was that unity of government and the governed was paramount.

The honey bee was a prominent political emblem for both the First and Second Empires.[3] It represents the Bonapartist ideal of devoted service, self-sacrifice and social loyalty.[4]

The defining characteristics of political Bonapartism were flexibility and adaptability. Napoleon III once commented on the diversity of opinions in his cabinet, united under the banner of Bonapartism. Referring to the leading figures in the government of the Second Empire, he remarked: "The Empress is a Legitimist, Morny is an Orléanist, Prince Napoleon is a Republican, and I myself am a Socialist. There is only one Bonapartist, Persigny – and he is mad!"[5]

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Tiếng Việt: Chủ nghĩa Bonaparte