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Napoleon, a progressive figure?

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 02 Apr 2013, 01:45
Excuse me if the question is a bit ignorant. I wonder what do people here think of Napoleon? Was he a progressive figure of sorts? What would have France's complete victory in Europe and Russia meant for Europe and the world as a whole?
Last edited by Loz on 02 Apr 2013, 02:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2007, 06:31
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Post 02 Apr 2013, 02:06
Napoleon seems like a reactionary, and a thawing influence on the revolution. Yet he gave European feudalism a damn good rockin' and smashed the Holy Roman Empire, and the wake of his defeat (or perhaps earlier) pretty much inaugurated the new era, which would be defined by the struggles of nationalists and liberals against the old, monarchist reactionaries.

But I don't really know much about him or France at that time and can't answer anything else.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Post 02 Apr 2013, 17:47
lol interesting you'd be pro-Napoleon conscript. Old Napo's rise to power is the original Thermidor, and for all his rocking of feudalism he's what justified the reintroduction of Bourbon rule.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
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Post 03 Apr 2013, 00:55
He was both: a progressive against monarchy, and a reactionary against the people, against the most revolutionary wing of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Oct 2007, 15:55
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Post 05 Apr 2013, 04:22
OP-Bagration wrote:
a progressive against monarchy


I doubt it.. I mean, he did replace the King of Spain with his brother didn't he? He was just wanted to replace the Hasburgs, Bourbons, Hohenzollerns, and Romanovs with Napoleons (himself).
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Feb 2004, 06:15
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Post 05 Apr 2013, 16:46
Jose Bonaparte was light-years more progressive than any of his predecessors were before him (or after him, barring armed coercion into liberalism). If you ask me the liberals should have supported him instead of Ferdinand of Bourbon
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Post 05 Apr 2013, 18:17
During WW2 comparisons were made between Hitler's Barbarossa, and Napoleon's 1812 Invasion. Despite some military similarities, Stalin made clear that the material social forces behind Napoleon and Hitler could not be further apart, he said the following-

" Reference is made to Napoleon and it is said that Hitler is acting like him, that he resembles Napoleon in every way. But, firstly, Napoleon's fate must not be forgotten. And, secondly, Hitler no more resembles Napoleon than a kitten resembles a lion. For Napoleon fought against the forces of reaction and relied on progressive forces, whereas Hitler, on the contrary, relies on the forces of reaction and fights the forces of progress. Only the Hitlerite fools in Berlin fail to realize that the enslaved peoples of Europe will fight"- JV STALIN
Kamran Heiss
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
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Post 06 Apr 2013, 14:30
Quote:
I doubt it.. I mean, he did replace the King of Spain with his brother didn't he? He was just wanted to replace the Hasburgs, Bourbons, Hohenzollerns, and Romanovs with Napoleons (himself)

But Napoleons were none of them. They were not part of the old aristocracy, and the Empire herited much of the Republic.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53
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Post 07 Apr 2013, 05:45
Yes, Napoleon was progressive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleonic_Code
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
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Post 08 Apr 2013, 20:27
Reactionary to France, progressive to the rest of Europe?

heiss93 wrote:
During WW2 comparisons were made between Hitler's Barbarossa, and Napoleon's 1812 Invasion. Despite some military similarities, Stalin made clear that the material social forces behind Napoleon and Hitler could not be further apart, he said the following-

" Reference is made to Napoleon and it is said that Hitler is acting like him, that he resembles Napoleon in every way. But, firstly, Napoleon's fate must not be forgotten. And, secondly, Hitler no more resembles Napoleon than a kitten resembles a lion. For Napoleon fought against the forces of reaction and relied on progressive forces, whereas Hitler, on the contrary, relies on the forces of reaction and fights the forces of progress. Only the Hitlerite fools in Berlin fail to realize that the enslaved peoples of Europe will fight"- JV STALIN


This is great. I'll have to remember this next time someone tells me that Stalin was some Russian nationalist who treated the entire war as a national struggle.
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Komsomol
Post 08 Apr 2013, 21:30
Well actually Marx did not consider the Revolution to be over even after Brumaire. He argued that Napoleon's campaigns were a continuation of the Reign of Terror and the liberal bourgeoisie despised him as much as they did Robespierre.

Marx's use of the phrase permanent revolution originally referred to Napoleon's forceful revolutionizing of occupied Europe.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...y/ch06_3_c.htm

Quote:
"
Napoleon represented the last battle of revolutionary terror against the bourgeois society which had been proclaimed by this same Revolution, and against its policy. Napoleon, of course, already discerned the essence of the modern state; he understood that it is based on the unhampered development of bourgeois society, on the free movement of private interest, etc. He decided to recognise and protect this basis. He was no terrorist with his head in the clouds. Yet at the same time he still regarded the state as an end in itself and civil life only as a treasurer and his subordinate which must have no will of its own. He perfected the Terror by substituting permanent war for permanent revolution. He fed the egoism of the French nation to complete satiety but demanded also the sacrifice of bourgeois business, enjoyments, wealth, etc., whenever this was required by the political aim of conquest. If he despotically suppressed the liberalism of bourgeois society — the political idealism of its daily practice — he showed no more consideration for its essential material interests, trade and industry, whenever they conflicted with his political interests. His scorn of industrial hommes d'affaires was the complement to his scorn of ideologists. In his home policy, too, he combated bourgeois society as the opponent of the state which in his own person he still held to be an absolute aim in itself. Thus he declared in the State Council that he would not suffer the owner of extensive estates to cultivate them or not as he pleased. Thus, too, he conceived the plan of subordinating trade to the state by appropriation of roulage [road haulage]. French businessmen took steps to anticipate the event that first shook Napoleon’s power. Paris exchange- brokers forced him by means of an artificially created famine to delay the opening of the Russian campaign by nearly two months and thus to launch it too late in the year.
Just as the liberal bourgeoisie was opposed once more by revolutionary terror in the person of Napoleon, so it was opposed once more by counter-revolution in the Restoration in the person of the Bourbons. Finally, in 1830 the bourgeoisie put into effect its wishes of the year 1789, with the only difference that its political enlightenment was now completed, that it no longer considered the constitutional representative state as a means for achieving the ideal of the state, the welfare of the world and universal human aims but, on the contrary, had acknowledged it as the official expression of its own exclusive power and the political recognition of its own special interests."
Kamran Heiss
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
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Post 10 Apr 2013, 02:15
Which is hilarious since Stalin was supposed to be the Thermidor of the Bolshevik revolution according to Trotsky himself.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
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Philosophized
Post 11 Apr 2013, 16:52
Napoleon was a Caesar figure with a career that was extremely (if largely unintentionally) progressive in its effects (destroying the "Holy Roman Empire", seriously compromising the power of the Papacy, selling off the Louisiana Territory, and inspiring all manner of progressive action in Italy, Greece, and the New World).

Napoleon also had a massive effect on culture and the arts (everything from Byron and Keats' Romantic poetry to American Civil War generals all having a habit of being photographed with one hand in their side pocket, a la Bonaparte's favorite pose). Philosophers from Kant and Hegel forward owe a massive debt to the chaos and disorder Napoleon whipped up all over Europe. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky would lack inspiration for some of their greatest works without him.

So is Napoleon a truly progressive figure? In and of himself, not so much. But the historical forces that he came to personify were extremely progressive in their effects.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Feb 2004, 06:15
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Post 11 Apr 2013, 18:35
Quote:
Philosophers from Kant..


Not to be a nitpick, but

Quote:
Immanuel Kant (German: [ɪˈmaːnu̯eːl kant]; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804)


I doubt Kant in particular owes a lot to Napoleon, as most of his work (and his life) predates the Napoleonic wars.
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Post 11 Apr 2013, 23:10
True enough, not so much Kant. Hegel for sure, though, as well as all of his various successors, from Marx all the way through to Nietzsche. The legacy of Napoleon became like a restless ghost that stalked all of Europe throughout the 19th century, and was only exorcised by the coming of the World War in 1914.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Komsomol
Post 22 Apr 2013, 15:42
General Giap called Bonaparte one of his great revolutionary heroes, but Napoleon a reactionary traitor.

I'm currently watching the 1970 Soviet film Waterloo. And seeing the beautiful scene where Napoleon makes his triumphant return to France overthrowing the fat Bourbon king (played by Orson Welles). To me it is a powerful answer to the question, was Napoleon a progressive? Seeing the torchlit parade and the chants of the Jacobin hymn Ca Ira.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo_(1970_film)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKmqRqY0RLg
Kamran Heiss
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