The Importance of Organization

Vladimir Lenin was born into a wealthy upper-middle class family in 1870. His parents were monarchists who supported the tsarist regime. When Lenin was 16, his brother was executed for joining a revolutionary group dedicated to assassinating Tsar Alexander III. Lenin was influenced by his brother’s left wing ideas and became involved in a socialist revolutionary cell at Kazan University. Lenin was one of the first to translate Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto into Russian and became interested in Marxism.… Read the rest here

Nationalism in a Multiethnic Country

Karl Marx writes on how the revolution of the proletariat will bring down national boundaries, and that class will unite and bring people together in the same way that nations did in the past. With a land mass as extensive as the Soviet Union had, the number of cultures, languages, and traditions are nearly infinite. However, the problem that the Bolsheviks faced was that they needed to unite the peasants in some manner to get them to overthrow the tsarist regime, so they attempted to unite under a common Russian identity. … Read the rest here

A Nation Divided

The early nineteen twenties were a challenging time for the leaders of the new Soviet Union. Not only were they trying to learn how to lead a country while already being in control, they were also trying to find balance between all their internal contradicting ideas. The six main leaders were Lenin, Stalin, Bukharian, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev. Because of their different backgrounds and skill sets their ideas regarding the future of Soviet Union were very diverse.… Read the rest here

Same Party, Different Views

Despite being of the same political party, Stalin and Lenin express very different opinions on the Soviet Union’s issues. Stalin’s document “Concerning the Presentation of the National Question” from May 8th 1921 describes the differences of the national questions as given by the Communists in relation to the national question adopted by the leaders of the Second and Two and-a-Half Internationals, Socialists, Social-Democrats, Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries, and other parties. He explains that they differ in four points, then goes on to explain those points.… Read the rest here

Lenin, What is to be Done

Lenin asserted five points regarding what a successful revolution needs. Firstly, he stated that no movement could succeed without “a stable organization of leaders to maintain continuity.” Secondly, that revolutionary organization becomes more important “as the masses are spontaneously drawn into the struggle,” which basically means that the larger the movement is, the more cohesive it must be. Thirdly, that the revolutionary organization must “consist chiefly of persons engaged in revolutionary activities as a profession.” Fourthly, that in countries with autocratic governments, the revolutionary organization would be harder to catch if it restricted people “who have been professionally trained in the art of combating the political police.” Fifthly, that if the revolutionaries “professionally trained in the art of combating the political police” were restricted, a larger amount and a wider variety of people would support the revolution.… Read the rest here

What is to be Done?

In Vladimir Lenin’s What is to be Done?, he articulated his views regarding the composition and organizational structure of the SocialDemocratic Party. He believed that a proper revolution required a small, tightly knit, highly select, and politically well-versed group of individuals at the top to lead the party in the manner they saw most fit. He argued that a true revolutionary is somebody whose profession is that of a revolutionary. This true revolutionary is somebody who can commit their wholehearted time, energy, and passion to the cause, without being simultaneously hampered by the responsibilities of a “regular” job.… Read the rest here

What Makes a Revolution

In Lenin’s What Makes a Revolution, he discussed the differences between the economic and socialist view of a revolutionary. His friend, an economist, discussed revolutionaries in terms of trade unions and mutual aid societies. However, a true revolutionary, in the eyes of Lenin, is far more than a union member. Unions, while they may be illegal, still have certain standards they must uphold. In addition, unions have goals such as improving wages or working conditions, but they do not seek to change to system entirely.… Read the rest here

Shhhh…It’s a Secret Speech

Khrushchev’s secret speech, given to party officials but not published for the general public, showed his desire for de-Stalinization.  Basically, Khrushchev has the same criticisms about Stalin that the rest of the world had: he was paranoid, rude, and killed too many people. Khrushchev believed that Stalin had given the world a bad example of socialism.  He also stated that many innocent lives had been lost.

When Khrushchev is speaking, he is careful to maintain the language of the party.  … Read the rest here

The USSR as a Communal Apartment

Author Yuri Slezkine poses an interesting view of the USSR in the late 1920’s and early 30’s in his chapter “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism” in the book Stalinism: New Directions. The chapter details the “Great Transformation” of 1928-1932, during which ethnic diversity was highlighted and celebrated; it then explains the “Great Retreat” during the 1930’s, when nationalism as a whole was discouraged except those select nationalities that reinforced socialist ideas and contributed to the overall success of the USSR.… Read the rest here

Socialism and Battleship Potemkin

While watching the film, Battleship Potemkin (1925), directed by Sergei Eisenstein, I found it so interesting how it mimicked the Russian Revolution on a small scale. One of the first lines of dialogue was “We must stand in front of revolution”. This line came from one of the sailors and, in my opinion, was the most defining line in the movie. It represents the crucial role the working class played in not only this movie, or even in the revolution itself, but in socialism as a whole.… Read the rest here