Constantin Frantz and the intellectual history of Bonapartism and Caesarism: a reassessment

McDaniel, Iain (2017) Constantin Frantz and the intellectual history of Bonapartism and Caesarism: a reassessment. Intellectual History Review. ISSN 1749-6977

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Abstract

The conservative German publicist and political theorist, Constantin Frantz (1817-1891), occupies an ambiguous place in German intellectual history. Some, such as Friedrich Meinecke, located him within the rich intellectual tradition of German federalism, highlighting his hostility to the idea of the “nation-state” and the traditions of nationalism, Realpolitik and militarism. Others, by contrast, have situated him within a long genealogy of German fascism, identifying his remarkable 1852 work, Louis Napoleon, as a kind of precursor or antecedent of twentieth-century fascist ideology. This interpretation raises broader questions about the historiography on Bonapartism and Caesarism, which has often been motivated by an interest in the intellectual origins of modern fascism. The present article supplies a reinterpretation of Frantz’s thinking about Bonapartism (Napoleonismus) and Caesarism by focusing on a much broader range of his intellectual output and by tracking the development of his view of Bonapartism’s significance between 1851 and the early 1870s. The main outcome is not just to question Frantz’s place in the “prehistory” of fascism, but also to show how deeply nineteenth-century debates about Bonapartism were connected to concerns about liberalism, democracy, nationalism and imperialism.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Constantin Frantz Caesarism Bonapartism Germany Intellectual History Political Thought Nineteenth Century
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Intellectual History
Depositing User: Iain McDaniel
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 14:08
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 14:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68209

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