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The Failure Of Marxism In Russia

2095 words - 8 pages

Iain Pearson, 1st year, Modern History (BA Hons)'Far from being the creature of ideology, in its essential features the Soviet state defied Marxist theory,' Discuss.When the Tsarist regime in Russia was overthrown and the Bolshevik party under Lenin ruledas a single party government, it was claimed by many that a Marxist regime had beenestablished. Many within the Bolshevik party were firm believers in the Marxist theory andthought that the Soviet state would agree with Marx's ideas. There are some modernhistorians who agree with this view, embracing the ideas of equality and fraternity andbelieving that the Soviet state was the living embodiment of these beliefs. There are alsothose who see that the Soviet state was something quite different from what Marx and indeedLenin had intended it to be. To find out whether the Soviet state defied Marxist theory or not,is hardly a simple task of comparing the elements of the Soviet state with that of an idealMarxist state. One must look at how the regime arose, and in what circumstances, howpopular it was, and whether it was an inevitable manifestation. It is clear that the chiefcoordinator of the revolution and founder of the movement, Vladimir Illyich Lenin died earlyon in the regime. Therefore the change of rulers must be looked at closely to see whetherthere were any major changes or internal disputes, which may cast doubt on the direction andbeliefs of the party. It is clear, therefore that to understand and assess whether the Soviet statedefied Marxist theory or not, one has to look at a number of features and assess theirimportance. Perhaps also, it is worth considering how important Marxism is as an ideology,that is to say, was it bound to fail? Has it ever succeeded in other regimes? If not then whynot? These are the issues that I will attempt to deal with in this essay.The revolution of 1917 can clearly be seen as something, which was inevitable inRussian history. However to simply say that it was a Marxist revolution of the working classagainst the wealthy would be wrong. As Figes and Kolonitskii put it, "there were too manyother self-identities which could not be simply subsumed under class". By this, they meanthat other divisions such as those between rival towns and cultures appeared far moreimportant. These people were revolting against a number of things such as the aristocracywith its embarrassments such as the Russo-Japanese war, a lack of money and a sense ofpoverty. In no way can the people of Russia be said to be devout Marxists they just wantedchange. This is backed up by the fact that the Bolsheviks did not gain power straight away,they still had to fight against two other major forces, the whites (Mensheviks) and the greens.The only reason they gained power was because they had superb leaders who couldorchestrate a successful takeover of power. This disagrees with Marxist theory in one sense.Marx believed the revolution would be a realisation by the "working class" of who they...

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