Was Napoleon Bonaparte good or bad? What do you think?

Discussion in 'Off-topic Discussion' started by Resilience personified, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. Buonaparte (yes I refuse to use his pretentious French spell of his name) certainly was a brilliant general. But his love for war led to a lot of people dying needlessly. Just like every other "conqueror". He may have spread Enlightenment ideas which ameliorated to some extent the oppression of the ancien regime countries, but a lot of innocent people paid a huge cost.

    Also... Buonaparte was kind of a hypocrite. Back in his youth in Corsica when he and Joseph called themselves the Gracchi brothers after the famous Roman reformers during Rome's Senate period he was a dye-in-the-wool Jacobite, against any form of oppression even slavery. Years later when Toussaint Loverture defeated the British and the Spanish in Haiti declared himself governor and sent off a nice letter to Napoleone, Napoleone instead sent an invasion force to defeat him and reinstitute slavery on the island. It's a good thing he lost... but the war devastated the country and an argument can be made that the effects of this are still being felt in that country today.
    Perseverance 16 likes this.
  2. matt2k12

    matt2k12 Fapstronaut

    if you really want to know, read "War and Peace" by Tolstoi. Best Book ever written. Let's you understand that Napoleon was neither a brilliant general, nor a "good" man, nor, actually, an "evil" man.
    History tends to blow up people's personas or diminish them, because it is people with opinions that live after them, who write about them, and especially before the 20th century historians were - to put it bluntly - a bunch of self righteous, proud and arrogant preachers. Seldomly you can read a historian piece from that time without what in literature we refer to as "pathos" or even "eros". It's full of exaggeration.
    History is written by the winners, also. Do not forget that.
    Also, remember the saying: "As long rabbits do not have historians, history will only tell about them rogues."
    Scrutinize, question everything you hear, and more than reading the words and into the meaning, ask yourself this: why are those words and meanings put there. If you can do so, successfully, you can detect bias and untruth everywhere.
    So, in other words, what I'm trying to say is simply: your question is pretty silly.

    Go to Page 1410, 1667 and read the whole chapter, it will give you the answer:

    While this was taking place in Petersburg the French had already passed Smolensk and were drawing nearer and nearer to Moscow. Napoleon’s historian Thiers, like other of his historians, trying to justify his hero says that he was drawn to the walls of Moscow against his will. He is as right as other historians who look for the explanation of historic events in the will of one man; he is as right as the Russian historians who maintain that Napoleon was drawn to Moscow by the skill of the Russian commanders. Here besides the law of retrospection, which regards all the past as a preparation for events that subsequently occur, the law of reciprocity comes in, confusing the whole matter...
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
    Perseverance 16 likes this.
  3. Tbh I was always tempted to skip those sections of the book. Tolstoy is a great writer but I found him tiresome when he talks philosophy, especially the philosophy of history. I think there is merit in his thesis that events have their own cause and impetus irrespective of the people that play the parts in them; but I think he overstates it. Its all a bit too teleological for me. That events happen and express themselves through actors that move them to their inevitable ends. I think Tolstoy may have let his own perspective of looking back on the events he was describing and knowing how they turned out bleed into what he had to say about them.

    I on the other hand think there is more freedom in what happens, the end is not so clear and there are really opportunity for people in positions of power to make changes. Napoleone could have made a real difference for Haiti I think by recognizing Toussaint Loverture and working with him instead of throwing the country into bloody war again and destroying the country. He could have made the peace of Amiens a lasting peace by agreeing to open trade relationships with Britain, then let the stability and popularity of France and all things French spread the ideas of the Enlightenment more organically. His ambition got the better of him though. Tolstoy might have said that the events that were happening would not have chosen Napoleone if he didn't have that ambition because they needed to work themselves out through him (mass movement of people east, then counter movement of people west) but again I feel this puts too much emphasis on the end.

    That's how I read him at least, feel free to push back on anything I said.
  4. Perseverance 16 likes this.
  5. somuchforsubtlety

    somuchforsubtlety Fapstronaut

    in cases like this it is best to read a military book, whatever else napoleon might have been he is still one earth's best military leader no question 'bout that.

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