Lenin and World Revolution

Lenin and World Revolution

Lenin and World Revolution

Lenin and World Revolution

Excerpt

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Lenin by pseudonym, was born in 1870, just at the time when a socialist movement was getting under way in Russia. The Socialists of that day labeled themselves champions of the peasants' cause, or Narodniki, and they hoped in general to see the day when the gentry-dominated Romanov Empire would be converted into a paradise of agrarian collectivism. The teachings of Marx, having no seeming application to the muzhik's way of life, were little known in Russia. In 1872 Das Kapital appeared in a Russian edition. The censors of the tsar, swift to ban anything pertaining to revolution, found Marx's writings on socialism so scientific in character as to be "immune from prosecution."

On March 13, 1881, a member of the People's Will, a terrorist branch of the Narodnik movement, hurled the bomb that sent Tsar Alexander II to his death in the streets of St. Petersburg. That event was to have important effects upon the rise of Marxism in Russia. Intended as a stimulant to rebellion, the murderous bomb proved a dud. The masses, bewildered by the assassination, failed to react, and the government wrought thorough vengeance upon the People's Will. Cloak-and-dagger machinations having proved worthless, less fanatical members of the Narodniki turned to Marxism for guidance. In a country where the industrial wheels had just begun to turn, this teaching could promote revolutionism only to the extent that the industrial proletariat increased in number. Although Marxism offered no early hope for an alleviation of popular sufferings, it seemed to promise more in the way of eventual success than the haphazard process of terrorism. In 1883 George Plekhanov, "Father of Russian Marxism," together with Vera Zasulich and Paul Axelrod, founded the League for the Liberation of Labor. Established in Switzerland, this organization had for its purpose the propagation of Marxist ideas in Russia.

The Marxian movement in the first decade of its Russian existence

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