Communism: Lenin Vs. Marx
Communism is a political and economic system of organization. In theory, property is owned by the community and all citizens share in the common wealth according to their need. In practice, this was difficult to achieve. German philosopher Karl Marx saw communism as the end result of an essential historical process. Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin built on Marx’s theories and sought ways of applying those theories. Ultimately, however, Lenin’s communist state—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—became a one-party, totalitarian system. This chart compares how Marx and Lenin viewed communism.
EVOLUTION OF COMMUNIST THOUGHT
Karl Marx Vladimir Lenin
History was the story of class struggle.
The struggle Marx saw was between capitalists and the proletariat, or the workers.
The proletariat’s numbers would become so great and their condition so poor that a spontaneous revolution would occur.
The revolution would end with a “dictatorship of the proletariat”—the communal ownership of wealth. History was the story of class struggle.
The struggle Lenin saw was capitalists against the proletariat and the peasants.
The proletariat and the peasants were not capable of leading a revolution and needed the guidance of professional revolutionaries.
After the revolution, the state needed to be run by a single party with disciplined, centrally directed administrators in order to ensure its goals.
Comparing and Contrasting How did Lenin’s ideas about communism differ from those of Marx?