January 27, 2001
3:20 AM   Subscribe

"...all great [historical figures] appear, so to speak, twice...the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."
-- Karl Marx from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

The Marx & Engels Internet Archive for all your smart-arsed pseudo-intellectual quoting requirements.
posted by lagado (10 comments total)
Misquote! Misquote! I knew you were trying to pull our legs, lagado. It's not simply "historical figures" but "world-historic facts and personages" which, at least to my mind, gives a different -- not to mention, more coherent -- meaning to the opening line.
posted by leo at 4:01 AM on January 27, 2001

Okay, you absolutely got me there. I should have left well alone:

The original:

"Hegel remarks somewhere 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. "
posted by lagado at 5:03 AM on January 27, 2001

To classify either of those jokers (father or son) as "great...personages" is the ultimate farce.
posted by crunchland at 5:08 AM on January 27, 2001

Napoleon at the head of a massed citizens' army coming straight for the old farts who had lorded it over your peasant/tradesman's ass since the days of Charlemagne -- the prospect, as you can imagine, had a certain invigorating quality to it.
posted by leo at 5:44 AM on January 27, 2001

Well, perhaps: but the XVIII Brumaire was, like every French revolution after and including 1789, a palace coup that drew upon the false hopes of the mob. Napoleon's first years as consul, and the Emperor, were about as close as you can get to "reforming reactionary". It was that kind of sell-out that characterised the 1830 and 1848 coups in Paris: the absolute springboards for Marx's political analysis of class relations.
posted by holgate at 1:46 PM on January 27, 2001

I was thinking more along the lines of the Code Civil which he happily shoved down the throats of the various feudal monarchies he trampled over. This was major good news for many who up until the French army marched in had never known civil rights or citizenship. Pas Mal, I'd say.
posted by leo at 3:16 PM on January 27, 2001

Speaking of Marx misquotes, I wish I had a nickle every time I hear the 'Religion is opium for the masses' quote used improperly. Please, do yourself a favour and read in in the context. Marx is not talking about addiction, but killing the pain.

However I agree that 'Religion is Aspirin for the masses' does sound less catchy.
posted by ikalliom at 4:23 PM on January 27, 2001

well, follow Eels and say "Religion is the Novocaine of the Soul."
posted by holgate at 5:30 PM on January 27, 2001

I was thinking more along the lines of the Code Civil

I have to agree with that sentiment. It may have only been a "palace coup" but nothing could restore the world that had gone before it.

I should mention however that Marx in this passage is referring to Napoleon I only in passing.

"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon" is about the reemergence of the Bonaparte family to power in France after the 1848 revolution with Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon's nephew).

Leon Trotsky, elsewhere in the archive, draws a similar analogy between rise of Napoleon and the rise of Joseph Stalin.

posted by lagado at 11:35 PM on January 27, 2001

There is only one Napoleon.
posted by rodii at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2001

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