Courtesy Reuters

Lenin's Democracy, and Stalin's

IT IS impossible to understand the essence of the Soviet system without constantly keeping in mind Lenin's psychology. In 1905 Lenin had dreamed and planned a revolution achieved by a minority group of "modern social-democratic Jacobins" or "professional revolutionists," but achieved as a democratic revolution -- a democratic republic oriented from the Socialist point of view in the interests of the working class. He held the classical Marxian concept of the Zusammenbruch, or breakdown of the capitalist order as a result of an international movement of the working class. Such a movement would be, according to Marx' and Engels' "Communist Manifesto" of 1848, "a movement of the tremendous majority." Marxism strove to assimilate the principles of democracy with dictatorship. Socialism or Communism was looked upon as a step which developed out of bourgeois democracy -- a fulfilment of democracy which would come in spite of the bourgeoisie. When he arrived in Russia in 1917, however, Lenin was planning a Socialist revolution, within the frame of democracy if possible, but in spite of democratic principles if necessary. His concept which had come into being during the World War held that the Socialist transformation of society need not wait for democracy to grow into Socialism. Under such a concept, the dictatorship of the proletariat became a flat negation of bourgeois-democratic principles.

Lenin arrived in Petrograd a month after the March Revolution had triumphed over Tsarism. The next day, April 4 (17), he appeared in the Workers' and Soldiers' Soviet with a report "On the task of the proletariat in the present revolution." Its content was summarized in ten "theses." The fifth of them read as follows: "Not a parliamentary republic -- a return to it from the Soviet of Workers' Deputies would be a step backwards -- but a republic of Soviets of Workers, Agricultural Laborers and Peasants' Deputies, throughout the land, from top to bottom."[i] The report and these theses were an extreme surprise even for the nearest of Lenin's partisans and friends. Many of them literally

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