Courtesy Reuters

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.

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  • MARK VISHNIAK, formerly Professor of Public Law in the Pedagogical Institute of Moscow and member of the Russian faculty of law in the Institute of Slavic Studies in Paris
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