Marx’s interest in studying the dynamic relationship of present social realities as rooted from past social phenomena; and focus on current social conflicts and contradictions as a source to understand the possible future reality is called the dialectic method. His approach presented how the French revolution from 1848 has affected the events after it, specifically the coup d’état lead by Louis Bonaparte, and why that certain revolution is a farce compared to the 1789 rise of Napoleon Bonaparte with dictatorial power.
For Marx, developments in history occurred because of people’s struggle to provide for their material needs and interests. And there were different characters (classes, factions, institutions) that played role in the revolution to represent their social and economic interests. Among them is the French bourgeoisie who participated in both the revolution of 1789 (to abolish the monarchy and to establish a parliamentary republic) and of 1848 (to control the magnitude of another revolution and to prevent their downfall) with their goal to become and to maintain their place as the superior faction. However, due to the format as republic, the bourgeois class lived in fear that the political activity of the French proletariat will lead to the bourgeois’ demise. Thus, the petty bourgeoisie made an effort to reconcile the class antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat but its action is futile given its history with the working class and its connection with the capitalist. And that fear of the bourgeoisie allowed for the dictatorship of Louis Bonaparte. Thus given their poor decision, the powers and privileges of the ruling class is destroyed but then transferred and exercised by Bonaparte.
Another class in conflict with the capitalists, is the French Peasantry. Freed by the 1789 revolution, it came in conflict with the domination of the bourgeoisie and struggled to survive in their condition. With neither wealth nor social relations to perform a revolt, they supported the younger Bonaparte (who they have associated with the other who has “helped” them). However, the peasantry failed to see that the preservation of the bourgeois order is the interest of the leader. Napoleonic ideals came to dominate the mind of the second Bonaparte. With the state as independent from any social class and with the use of confusion, it was able to continually exploit the lower classes.
By continuous struggle, the working class was slowly gaining power. However, given the limitations of the French peasantry, it would need to unite with the other working class, the French proletariat, and then perform their role to revolt against the leadership of capitalists and overthrow the bourgeois order. Nonetheless, the work of Marx further provided and justified history—in this case, the history of France—as a history of class struggle.