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Beyond Tradition: The Flaws of a ‘Neo-Capitalist Post-Democracy’

Περίληψη

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. – Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) The quote above comes from Karl Marx’s critique of the French President turned Emperor Napoleon III, the nephew of the French Emperor of the early eighteenth century. Napoleon III was democratically elected president of the Second French Republic before leading a coup d’état to become the Emperor of the Second French Empire. Marx’s abrasive critique of Napoleon III’s rise to power is, in my opinion, one of Marx’s best writings. One of the major problems he had with Napoleon III and the Second French Empire was that it appealed to French tradition of the Napeolonic Era, which French people adorned as a time of its great power and influence. Napoleon III lacked the leadership skills of his uncle, but he shared the name and appealed to that tradition, which gave him credibility with many French. Marx’s point was that — in a time of revolutionary distress — instead of embracing progressive or radical change, the French people and Napoleon III looked to the past to find names, symbols, imagery, that provided nostalgia for a supposed better time. In short, traditions of past generations haunt the beliefs of the living generation who cling to symbols of the past to find comfort during times of change. Marx’s quote relates to and can explain many conservative beliefs that continue to look to the past to resolve political problems.

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