Lenin – Mouthpiece for the Future

Vladmir Lenin, a Russian Communist and revolutionary, was one of the most crucial, yet controversial, individuals of the twentieth century. Despite being born into a wealthy middle class family, he became interested in socialism and communism after Russian officials executed his brother in 1887.[1] Lenin wrote the text, What is to Be Done, just before the split of his party, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.[2] In his writing, Lenin depicted the type of revolutionary and system of organization that he wanted most and thought would work the best. He argued that the list of potential revolutionaries should be as wide and public as possible, that is, inclusive not solely of the working class, but others that wanted to join the cause as well. Lenin envisioned having revolutionaries based in multiple sectors of society. Furthermore, Lenin wanted his revolutionaries to treat the situation as an additional profession, if not their only profession. That meant that individuals who wished to become revolutionaries had to go through training and learn the necessary skills to be reliable and efficient. Lenin believed that if revolutionaries were trained, the organization would be harder to track down and it would allow more people to join up.  Lastly, Lenin emphasized that revolutionaries need to be willing to organize and work together, promoting stability; and thus allowing leaders to maintain continuity. Lenin concluded with a plea that demonstrated that too many current “revolutionaries” were using excuses and were not trained enough to complete their assignments. With his efficient system in place, Lenin believed that the revolution would work out better and that there would be no excuses for failure.

What makes Lenin’s theories so intriguing is that he essentially wants his revolutionaries to be trained like police officers or those in the military. While Lenin was not the first necessarily to propose this idea, it is apparent that other revolutions do not carry this form of revolutionary organization. Peasants and factory workers carried out the French Revolution. Factory workers especially pushed through the Revolutions of 1848. What’s further intriguing is that Lenin lays out a modern take on how to carry out a revolution. From the French resistance movement in WWII to the Chinese Communist Revolution, future revolutionaries follow Lenin’s guidelines. Furthermore, terrorist cells today are run on the exact same principles: include everyone you can who is willing, train them well, and respect authority, so as to keep stability and continuity. While Lenin may not be the first to try these tactics, it is his role as a mouthpiece to and for the future that makes his ideas so important.


Question for Commenters: Are there any other examples of those who may follow Lenin’s ideas on what it means to be a revolutionary?

[1] “Vladmir Lenin.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 24, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Lenin.

[2] Ibid.