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The Eighteenth Brumaire of Barack Obama

Louis Bonaparte, Barack Obama: history repeats itself.

Abraham H. Miller


March 25, 2013 - 12:00 am

Even for non-Marxists, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte is considered one of the most profound analyses of revolution. Marx’s imagery is taken from the coup of Napoleon Bonaparte on November 9, 1799 (the Eighteenth of Brumaire in the revolutionary calendar), but his seminal analysis is about the reign of the general’s nephew, Louis Bonaparte, who was brought to power by a coup against the Second French Republic on December 2, 1851.

The work is most commonly known for its play on Hegel’s aphorism that history repeats itself. But what is commonly overlooked is Marx’s addition to Hegel’s adage: for Marx, history didn’t just repeat itself, it manifested itself first as tragedy and then as farce.

Louis Bonaparte’s presence on the stage of history was a farce. By culture he was a foreigner. By political inclination he was a pretender, a man who was all things to all people, and a man who was carried into political life by plying the outcasts of society with sausages. Then, as Marx so aptly put it, he plied them with sausages anew. Bonaparte represented no class interest and no transcendent interest except his own.

To Marx’s disgust, Bonaparte ruled by creating dependency on the state, by expanding the machinery of government. The organs of the state, the bureaucracy, and their ever-growing tentacles expanding into private life were Bonaparte’s substitution for a class or transcendent interest. Remember, the young Marx is the Marx of revolution who was appalled by the state as the corruption of humanity. Marx himself was a participant in the revolutionary skirmishes of 1848 and proclaimed the wrecking of the state — not its extension — as the road to the emancipation of humanity.

Confronting Marx was a political situation where no one class could achieve power. The bourgeois had failed to consummate its revolution, and the proletariat had marched too quickly on the bourgeois’ heels. This situation was ripe for exploitation by the foreigner, the pretender, who was all things to all people. To some scholars of this period, this was a description of what would later become known as fascism. The template for Hitler, Mussolini, and Peron is to be found in an examination of the reign of Louis Bonaparte.

So too, in a sense, is the presidency of Barack Obama.

As I have argued elsewhere, Obama is not a communist, even in the twentieth century meaning of the term. Communism is about state ownership of the means of production. The Obama administration does not seek ownership. In fact, where it acquired ownership through the bailout, the administration now works to divest itself. What Obama is building is a large government bureaucracy whose expanding limbs find their way into every facet of human existence, a government that does not own the means of production but controls them by increased and oppressive regulation and taxation. Obama’s political inspiration is more likely to be Mussolini or Peron, even Hugo Chavez, than Lenin or Stalin.

Obama has successfully done what few American presidential candidates have been able to do. He has mobilized the electoral periphery — the previously uninvolved youth, the apathetic poor, and the marginalized minorities. In politics, the agenda of the previous non-participants seldom resembles that of those traditionally involved in political struggles. This was one of Marx’s central considerations in his analysis of the Eighteenth Brumaire, and the one leftist political theorist Antonio Gramsci drew upon in comparing the rise of Mussolini to the rise of Louis Bonaparte.

How is it that a sitting president presiding over a damaged economy with high unemployment and no sign of recovery can get reelected? In part, the answer is that he has expanded access to the federal trough, made people dependent on the largess of the government, and caused them to be fearful that the “nasty” opposition is going to terminate the government programs upon which they are increasingly dependent.

Mitt Romney articulated it poorly and somewhat exaggerated the number, but the reality is that a large part of the population, especially the growing number of poor, is locked into the party that can be counted on to ply them with sausages. On the other side of the creation of dependency is an ever-growing government bureaucracy that administers those programs.

Mussolini and Peron, not to mention the recently departed Hugo Chavez, were popular with the social periphery. These dictators were the tragedy. As demagogues, they aggressively expanded state-created dependency on one hand and make-believe jobs on the other, giving many the comfort of a mediocre and predictable standard of living, while draining the real economy, borrowing incessantly, and perpetuating a dysfunctional system until its collapse could not be avoided. Obama, with his elitist pretensions and his insufferable allusions to the middle class, follows in their vein as farcical imitator.

The Peronist government managed the relationships between various interest groups and pretended to speak in the name of each of them, while micromanaging the economy with the promise of reducing income inequality. Ultimately, this policy led to one economic crisis after another.

The expanding role of government means a mutual dependency between a government bestowing favors and businesses and interest groups seeking them. This spawns an incestuous crony capitalism that produces Solyndras and causes the devastation of GM bondholders in favor of a United Auto Workers union that — like the Service Employees International Union — represents a Peronist-style syndicalism united with the Obama administration.

Louis Bonaparte came to power through a coup, as did Mussolini, but both Hitler and Peron were elected. Elections are not the only measure of democracy, especially when the incoming regime uses elections to expand power and seize wealth.  Peron, like Hugo Chavez, raided the private retirement funds of individuals and coerced them into government social security in order to pay for a government increasingly burdened with debt from pandering to the social periphery. There is a move now in leftist Democratic circles to have the Obama administration implement similar policies.

The monetizing of the government debt by aggressively and artificially lowering interest rates and falsifying real inflation has created problems for those dependent on interest-bearing instruments for their income. Meanwhile, programs for the social periphery are expanded in the name of compassion, where compassion has become a shibboleth that really means the government takes from some and gives to others.

The ultimate goal of such programs is neither compassion nor social justice, but building a political base of dependents made up of program recipients and program administrators on one hand and crony capitalists on the other. And so, we are in the era of another purveyor of an alien culture, a pretender who is all things to all people, and a demagogue who is hoisted on the shield of the social periphery that is constantly plied with sausages and then sausages anew. Welcome to the Eighteenth Brumaire of Barack Obama.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

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Top Rated Comments   
"..........How is it that a sitting president presiding over a damaged economy with high unemployment and no sign of recovery can get reelected?"...........

HE CHEATED ... C-H-E-A-T-E-D ! that is how he won. and he is a communist.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course he's a communist.

We delude ourselves when we say that Communism doesn't evolve. Bill Ayers coined the phrase "small c communist".

First, EVERYONE surrounding Obama of influence, was an anti-capitalist.

His mother, his father, his grandfather, Frank Marshall Davis, the radicals and the radical professors, Bill Ayers, the Midwest Academy, the New Party, Carl Davidson, Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah, the Socialist Scholars, Don Warden, Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, UNO, Sam Graham Felsen.

You don't run in those circles almost accident. Birds of a feather.

Leftist fascism and small c communism are not mutually exclusive. They drink from the same mother's milk. This is similar to suggesting that Michael Moore's anarchism isn't communist. Of course it is. Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are all aligned, we should not get hung up on semantics.

Our Propaganda Machine that is an active co-conspirator in the daily acts of leftist also actively anti-capitalist. Anything to destroy the free market constitutional democracy is in their playbook.

Tom Friedman and Anita Dunn as well as Carl Davidson are Maoists. Walter Duranty and all his offspring at the Daily Duranty today...were and are Stalinists.

The millions dead, imprisoned and tortured in Mao and Uncle Joe's wake are swept under the leftist propaganda rug. As well as Cambodians, Haitians, and Cubans.

We constantly trip over ourselves when we use the terms "Socialist" or "Communist"...because the left hides itself and wears a mask that WE help them put on "liberals" or "progressives"...or soft, Euro-left compassionates. They are nothing of the sort.

If Bill Ayers wants them to be called "small c communists" that's fine with me.

I just call them traitors. And, I will not help them put their masks on, I will strive every unmask them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well after all, Barack Obama, he’s an ordinary liberty grabbing fascist man
Who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance
To make all people live exactly as he wishes, and do precisely what he wants…
An average fascist man is he, of no especially clever whim

He just wants to control everyone else's life
While he goes golfing or on yet another royal vacation with his parasitic wife
With everyone supinely doing whatever he commands
Well… just an ordinary fascist man is he …
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (52)
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".... and a demagogue who is hoisted on the shield of the social periphery that is constantly plied with sausages and then sausages anew. "

Only noble warriors are hoisted on their shields and only when they die in battle. This fool does not fill the role.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are two essays I’ve found that are especially fascinating to read in context with one another, and I encourage you to read them now before I make comment on the two taken together:

The first is from historian Victor Davis Hanson titled Iraq – Agony, Ordeal, and Recovery at

The second is from political scientist Abraham H. Miller titled The Eighteenth Brumarie of Barack Obama at
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I neglected to reference my own comments here which can be read at
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The author says that,
"Communism is about state ownership of the means of production".
but that is the definition of socialism, not communism :
"Communism (from Latin communis - common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless[1][2] and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.[3] "

Note: "Common" ownership of the means of production, not state ownership of the means of production. Marx's theory rationalized that socialism would be a step towards communism, but that there has to be a violent revolution to achieve a state of total communal ownership of property.

The problem with Marx's theory is that whenever there is a violent revolution, the winners are not likely to relinquish power and allow common ownership of the means of production. Anyone who says that is the plan is lying, and those that believe it is possible are delusional.

The fallacy in Miller's thinking is that we can determine Obama's ideologies before he is out of office or dead. To call Obama a communist means that he would have to be willing to settle for everyone owning everything. But to believe that, Obama would have to believe that the people are capable of doing everything in complete harmony with each other. If he believed that he would believe in individual freedom, not groupthink/groupact.

Is he a fascist? Thus far he does fit the definition of a would be fascist dictator, as the article implies he is; but, how can anyone know now whether he plans to take over the means of productio at some time in the future. His cronyism with big business might just be a means of consolidating power.

Is quibbling about ideological definitions at this point pointless and unproductive? There can be little doubt that Obama is for humongous government, that controls as much as possible. That makes Obama a totalitarian, a Statist, a control freak. a Mafioso, but an unlikely communist.

As for being a fascist, as a totalitarian/Statist he is using wealth and power (bribery) to enable the cooperation of businesses. So, for the time being, there is no need to take outright control. If he sees the need to do so, though, he probably will.

Furthermore, Obama is not necessarily the end game. The totalitarians have been working for decades to undermine the freedom of Americans. We are more likely to find that Obama is just another step, albeit a big step, towards their goal of control. But since it is pretty obvious that Obama and his kind want to be in control, they cannot be communists. They are worse. They are Statists/Fascists/Totalitarians, but not communists, because true communism as envisioned by Marx is where everyone is in charge of everything and thus no one is in charge of anything. Everyone owns everything and no one owns anything. True communism is a pipe dream that will never materialize, unless someone waves a magic wand and makes all people exactly the same, and able to function without a queen ant.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I half agree with Homero's top rated comment above.

First, the half I don't agree with.

NO, he's not a "communist". He's a socialist.

I am about the same age as Obama, went to schools of comparable prestige during comparable time frames. His sort is a dime a dozen in the liberal arts departments of what passes for "elite" academia nowadays. What his iilk wants is to remake the U.S.A. into some variation on Belgium (or Denmark, or the Netherlands, or the UK, etc.). They think that is "Utopia". High taxes for they can't afford too much "stuff" that strains the world's resources. And, cradle-to-grave social welfare programs, that, by the way, make it impossible to afford a serious military (by design). Low economic growth, chronically high unemployment, little or no upward mobility, these are small prices to pay for the West European socialist "ideal" pined for by such types. Oh, and let's not leave out obsessive bashing of Israel..they want to re-create that part of Western Europe here, too.

BUT, he's not a "communist".

As to the part of Homero I AGREE with:


For cryin' out loud, when are people like this Abe Miller going to get their heads out of the sand of denial, and face up to the fact that this election was STOLEN! Whatever problems we have, we are NOT in the socio-economic shape of immediate pre-Peron Argentina, or pre-Chavez Venezuela, or pre-Mussolini Italy. GIVE ME A BREAK!!

This was the crime of the century, people, hidden by a criminally negligent and complicit national media (and I'd include the "pretend opposition" FOX in that).

Obama "won" with less votes than McCain got in '08!! Romney got - allegedly - two and half million votes LESS THAN McCain got in '08!!! How can that be ??? Look at all the advantages Romney had in '12 compared with McCain in '08 against, Obama's horrid record to run against, the Tea Party mobilized behind him once he got the nomination, etc., etc., etc. And how is it that Obama won EVERY swing state, despite volatile polling right up to the election???? And Romney wins EVERY state - except Virginia - that had a photo voter ID requirement???

I live in a swing county of the swing state of Ohio. Romney yard signs outnumbered Obama yard signs AT LEAST five to one!!! Right before the election, some Obama operatives were even ARRESTED for STEALING Romney yard signs, the sure sign of a desperate campaign! And Obama "wins" Ohio??? MY area???? No flippin' way people, was this arrived at honestly, no way.

I say to you all, eventually, even if it takes 20 years, this will come out. Obama should be impeached and thrown in jail. He has utterly perverted our democracy, or what is left of it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are right, the election was stolen. We need to make every effort to do away with electronic voting machines and reinstitute the paper ballot.

If the country survives Obama, and I think it will, some day we will watch documentaries on TV with interviews of statisticians explaining how this election was most certainly stolen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well written article. Øbama's job is to create as much dependency as possible for the democrat party's future and his own.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What, exactly, is the point of this article? Give the man a gold star for knowing his revolutionist factoids so well. "Farcical" is a cutesy intellectual word. What is farcical about the damnable lawlessness of this roll call of godless monsters. What is farcical about people losing their their homes, jobs, and savings, not to mention their freedom. What is farcical about losing their health and even their lives because of a debauched health care system. What is farcical about sending people to death and maiming in military operations that serve no purpose other than political grandstanding. Does anybody who's really paying attention not know what Obama is about at this point? What is the point of this intellectual parsing of theories and agendas? Do we not know utter moral depravity when we see it?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would like to note also Mr. Miller that these so called so called socially marginalized fringe minorities have been affirmative actioned with preferential hiring and promotion for the last 40 years and are now firmly in control of many of these private sector businesses and corporations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Miller, another writer who can't seem to see the forest for the trees. Pathetic that PJM after all these years has devolved to making space for an Obama apologist/Explainer.

Earth to Miller. BO has Communists crawling all over the White House, he hangs out with them, his best friends are Reds and he is one.

He'd gut this country and the first two amendments in a second if he had the power. Since the Constitution is getting in the way, it's taking him a little longer.

52% of the registered voters like his objectives. And no one is quite sure what to make of it except for the ones who admit the nation has gone to hell in a handout basket.

We're involved in a battle for our freedoms and Herr Miller is here; a staunch member of the Frequent Liar Club. And most of us have the urge to shove him out of the plane sans parachute. His writing reveal him to be a moron.

If PJM wants to make a left turn, tell us and we'll find another website.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama is a "communist" in the same way that Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic. It's cultural more than anything else. Neither is a true believer. Neither worships with regularity. It's just the way they were brought up.People rarely escape from their youth. To this day Obama is more comfortable around Muslims than Christians, men rather than woman, whites rather than blacks. Take a quick look at his government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"government takes from some and gives to others." you mean they give only a fraction of what they've taken to others. The majority always goes to the apparatchiks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another commenter pointed out that “…our current President Nancypants is not the "Marxist" he is accused by some of being”
I think it is relevant to point out that, above all else, Our President appears to be a clinical Narcissist, and can any ideology, spiritual or material, trump the Ego of a fully-formed Narcissist?

But Obama used and uses the Marxist infrastructure of Academia to further his career. Perhaps he sees them as “fellow travelers” (and vice-versa). He also is comfortable in enlisting Marxists in staffing his Administration, who are then in position to seize the opportunity to promote The Cause.

One characteristic of classical Fascism is the reliance on the Cult of Personality. The regimes of Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, et al did not really survive the deaths of their founders. The Obama Cult per se will similarly not really survive him, but his appointees and the entrenched Bureaucracy will linger on until the final collapse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good points, at least in Hitler and Mussolini's cases, the fight between Fascism and Communism was mostly for show. They both need "opposition" to be heroic against. There was the question of course of nationalism. Fascism believing in a nations welfare, and Communism in a worldwide workers movement without borders.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They are both factions on the Socialist Left.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have always been struck at Stalin's characterization of Great Britain as "pre-mature anti-fascists".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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