Marxism and Leninism
According to most historians, “history is told by the victors”, which would explain why most people equate communism with Vladimir Lenin. He was the backbone of Russia’s communist revolution, and the first leader of history’s largest communist government. It is not known, or discussed by most, that Lenin made many reforms to the original ideals possessed by many communists during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He revised Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles’ theories to fit the so-called ‘backwardness’ of the Russian Empire. Lenin’s reforms were necessary to carry out a socialist revolution in Russia, and the contributions he made drastically changed the course of history. It can be assumed that, the Soviet Union would not have been as powerful if it was not for Lenin’s initial advocacy of violence and tight organization.
Marxism is a philosophy coined by Karl Marx with the help of Friedrich Engles in the early nineteenth century. Marx’s writings inspired many progressive thinkers throughout the European continent and the United States. The Marxist doctrine stated that first a bourgeoisie revolution, which will ignite a capitalist fire. The political philosopher believed that communism could only thrive in a society distressed by “the political and economic circumstances created by a fully developed capitalism” With industry and capitalism growing a working class develops and begins to be exploited. According to Marx, the exploiting class essentially is at fault for their demise, and the exploited class eventually comes to power through the failure of capitalism:
“But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians.”
In the perfect world proletarians, or workers, would naturally climb to the top of the socioeconomic food chain when the time was right. But their monarchy, unlike France and Britain, was still run by a strict autocrat.
“Russian Tsars possessed the widest real authority of any European monarch in the mid-nineteenth century…[t]he Russian state did not possess any form of representative assembly, nor any proper type of cabinet government. It was not law which guided the activities of the state, but the conscience and, indeed, the whims of the monarchs themselves.”
The Tsars constant cycle reform and counter-reform prevented industrialization and maintained an economy dependent upon agriculture, and hostile to any kind of opposing political doctrine; although, many underground political parties were forming illegally. The large empire had so many inhabitants that the tsars were in fear of what the citizen could do given the opportunity. Monarchs banned foreign literature to prevent progressive thinking. This of course did not work in the monarchy’s favor. The oppression only angered citizens, and eventually led to the demise of Tsarist regime.