Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years (1917–1924), as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a socialist economic system.
As a politician, Lenin was a persuasive orator, as a political scientist his extensive theoretic and philosophical developments of Marxism produced Marxism–Leninism, the pragmatic Russian application of Marxism. After he died his philosophy was replaced with Stalinism.
Marxism–Leninism is the belief that a communist/socialist political party should lead the country. Lenin was aiming for the USSR to be a Soviet Democracy. A soviet democracy is the idea that workers councils or soviets should control society. The soviets start from local and move their way up into national assemblies. The soviets will consist of workers and are there to provide direct democracy to the people. Therefore, making it the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat . However, when Stalin took power he abandoned the idea and turned the USSR into a totalitarian state.
Lenin's Views on The Revolutionary Vanguard
In his book What is to be Done?, Lenin derides the abandoning of the larger Social-Democratic struggle on the part of some self-proclaimed Marxists in favor of the laborer's own spontanety, which he perceived as merely leading to what he called "trade-unionism" and ultimately a servile concession to bourgeiosse liberalism. To this effect, he quoted an earlier Marxist theorist, Karl Katusky:
"Of course, socialism, as a doctrine, has its roots in modern economic relationships just as the class struggle of the proletariat has, and, like the latter, emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty and misery of the masses. But socialism and the class struggle arise side by side and not one out of the other; each arises under different conditions. Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia [K. K.’s italics]: it was in the minds of individual members of this stratum that modern socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow that to be done. Thus, socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without [von Aussen Hineingetragenes] and not something that arose within it spontaneously."
Wanting to correct what he perceived as as perhaps an over-emphasis on this (due his earlier social-historical conditions) on the part of his teacher, Lenin went on to note: "This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, but as socialist theoreticians, as Proudhons and Weitlings; in other words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and develop that knowledge. But in order that working men may succeed in this more often, every effort must be made to raise the level of the consciousness of the workers in general; it is necessary that the workers do not confine themselves to the artificially restricted limits of 'literature for workers' but that they learn to an increasing degree to master general literature. It would be even truer to say 'are not confined', instead of 'do not confine themselves', because the workers themselves wish to read and do read all that is written for the intelligentsia, and only a few (bad) intellectuals believe that it is enough 'for workers' to be told a few things about factory conditions and to have repeated to them over and over again what has long been known."
He led a revolution against the Russian Czar, but apparently became one of them and turned into a talking pig. See Animal Farm. If only Lenin hadn't died in 1924, or Trotsky chosen/forced as his successor, the USSR might have became one of the most fun and paradise-like countries in the world. Instead, we got a near-Fascist totalitarianism that I'm glad I wasn't part of.