[Marxism] Bonapartism now and then
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 12 08:50:07 MST 2004
The Passionless Campaigner
By Peter Lavelle :: Recent publications
Published on March 10, 2004
This article was written for Transitions Online
The consummate campaigner who refuses to campaign has shown his appeal
to almost the entire Russian electorate.
With Russia’s presidential election only days away, Vladimir Putin is
coasting toward a landside victory. This presidential campaign, the
third for the Russian Federation, has widely been described as colorless
and managed in favor of the incumbent. The result is a formality. The
president has barely bothered to campaign.
Nonetheless, Vladimir Putin is a consummate campaigner, if not in a
conventional sense. Entering the 2000 presidential contest, he was prime
minister as well as acting president and sought to appear too busy
steering the ship of state to hit the campaign stump. The approach
served him well. This campaign is no different: Putin has taken every
advantage of his high office to avoid any contact with his rivals, and
again he is prospering.
Instead of debating with the other candidates, Putin is shown wearing a
military uniform while observing one of the largest naval exercises in
post-Soviet history. Instead of shaking hands and kissing babies, Putin
is seen having an informal chat with students. Instead of directly
appealing to the electorate, Putin is shown busy reorganizing the
government to support his long-term economic plans for Russia.
Politicking, it would seem, is beneath Russia’s head of state.
Driven by the contradictory demands of his situation, and being at the
same time, like a juggler, under the necessity of keeping the public
gaze on himself, as Napoleon's successor, by springing constant
surprises — that is to say, under the necessity of arranging a coup
d'etat in miniature every day — Bonaparte throws the whole bourgeois
economy into confusion, violates everything that seemed inviolable to
the Revolution of 1848, makes some tolerant of revolution and makes
others lust for it, and produces anarchy in the name of order, while at
the same time stripping the entire state machinery of its halo,
profaning it and making it at once loathsome and ridiculous. The cult of
the Holy Tunic of Trier [A Catholic relic, allegedly taken from Christ
when he was dying, preserved in the cathedral of Marx's native city —
Ed.] he duplicates in Paris in the cult of the Napoleonic imperial
mantle. But when the imperial mantle finally falls on the shoulders of
Louis Bonaparte, the bronze statue of Napoleon will come crashing down
from the top of the Vendome Column.
Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire
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