“Some critics complain that we use the term Bonapartism very broadly and very differently. Those critics don’t notice that the same holds good for our use of other terms in the vocabulary of politics, such as “democracy” and “dictatorship”, not to speak of “state”, “society”, “governments”, etc. We speak of the democracy of the past (based on slavery), democracy of the medieval corporations, bourgeois democracy, proletarian democracy (in the sense of the state), as well as of democracy in the parties, the trade unions, guilds, etc, etc. Marxism cannot renounce such established, economic notions and cannot refuse to apply them to new phenomena; otherwise the transmission of human thought would, in general, be impossible. Marxism has, under pain of error, to define in every case the social content of the notion and the direction of its evolution. Let us recall that Marx and Engels characterized not only the regime of Napoleon III but also that of Bismarck (204) as Bonapartist. On April 12, 1890, Engels wrote to Sorge, «Every government today is becoming Bonapartist, nolens volens». That was more or less true for a long period when agriculture was in crisis and industry depressed. The new upsurge of capitalism from about 1895 on weakened the Bonapartist tendencies; the decline of capitalism after the [First World] War strengthened them considerably. In his ‘History of the Great Russian Revolution’, Chernov (205) brings forward statements by Lenin and Trotsky describing the Kerensky regime as embryonic Bonapartism and, rejecting this characterization, he notes sententiously, “Bonapartism takes flight with wings of glory”. This “flight” of theory is Chernov’s manner completely; but Marx and Engels and Lenin defined Bonapartism not by wings but by a specific class relationship. By Bonapartism we mean a regime in which the economically dominant class, having the qualities necessary for democratic methods of government, finds itself compelled to tolerate – in order to preserve its possessions – the uncontrolled command of a military and police apparatus over it, of a crowned “savior”. This kind of situation is created in periods when the class contradictions have become particularly acute; the aim of Bonapartism is to prevent explosions. Bourgeois society has gone through such periods more than once, but these were, so to speak, only rehearsals. The present decline of capitalism not only has definitively undermined democracy but also has disclosed the total inadequacy of Bonapartism of the old type; in its place has come fascism. However, as a bridge between democracy and fascism (in Russia, 1917, as a “bridge” between democracy and Bolshevism), there appears a “personal regime” that rises above democracy and tacks between the two camps – while safeguarding, at the same time, the interests of the ruling class; it is sufficient to give this definition for the term Bonapartism to be fully settled” [Leon Trotsky, ‘Again on the question of Bonapartism. Bourgeois Bonapartism and Soviet Bonapartism’ (March 1935)] [(in) L. Trotsky, ‘Writings of Leon Trotsky, 1934-35′, New York, 1971] [(204) Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was the reactionary head of the Prussian government, 1862-71, and chancellor of the German Empire, 1871-90. He organized the unification of Germany through the Seven-Weeks’ War against Austria and the Franco-Prussian War; (205) Viktor Chernov (1876-1952) was a founder and leader of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party. He participated in the Zimmerwald conference, served as minister of agriculture in the Kerensky government and opposed the Bolshevik Revolution]