The Drama of Revolution and Reaction: Marxist History and the Twentieth Century

Alex Callinicos

in Marxist History-writing for the Twenty-first Century

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264034
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734601 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

The Drama of Revolution and Reaction: Marxist History and the Twentieth Century

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Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte was written not as a history but as an insight to the present – as a piece of contemporary political analysis. The The Eighteenth Brumaire aims to explain the political turmoil of 1848 to 1849 that ended in Napoleon's coup d' état. It was part of the first genre of historical writing to take as its object the most important political episodes of the century. The The Eighteenth Brumaire seeks to make sense of some contemporary event by constructing a narrative of it informed by the Marxist theory of history. This chapter considers specific cases of the dynamics of revolution, including the processes through which revolution is prevented and reaction institutionalized. It also discusses Marxist interpretations of the twentieth century, with emphasis on the Marxist thesis proposed by Perry Anderson, Eric Hobshawn, and Francis Fukuyama. Within the framework of Marxist historiography, the chapter measures how Marx's theory of history confronts the present as a historical problem.

Keywords: The Eighteenth Brumaire; history; historical writing; contemporary event; theory of history; dynamics of revolution; revolution; Marxist interpretations; twentieth century; Perry Anderson

Chapter.  9724 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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