The subject of this work is the world-wide movement which was initially brought into being by Vladimir Ilich Lenin when he organized his Bolshevik faction of Russian revolutionaries in the years 1902-1904. Earlier doctrines and movements going under the name "communism" are not of concern except as they were relevant to the thinking of the specific contemporary Communist movement founded by Lenin and developed in Russia after the revolution of 1917. This applies particularly to the philosophy of Marx and Engels, of which Russian communism was by no means a simple, uncomplicated application (nor the only school of followers, for that matter). Marxism is of interest here insofar as, and only so far as, it contributed to Communist thought, policies and problems. By itself, Marxism is wholly inadequate either to define or explain the Communist movement.
There is one essential point on which the whole matter of the correct understanding of communism rests. Contrary to every assertion, the Communist movement is not truly described by its doctrine. Broadly speaking, the doctrine is a picture of history, past, present and future, which gives the present movement that definite place which was forecast by the original authors of the picture a century ago. Very strong doubts can be cast upon the present validity of the picture as a whole. But it can be shown beyond any reasonable question that within the terms of the Marxist picture itself, the present Communist movement does not occupy the place which its official spokesmen ascribe to it. As a picture of Communist society and a map of its intentions, Communist doctrine is not a free and honest ap