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Marxism-Leninism. The Divisions within Marxism – Peaceful, or Violent Revolution. Orthodox Marxism – Karl Kautsky – “scientific socialism” makes the coming of communist society inevitable and opens the door to both political and revolutionary evolution toward this goal

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The Divisions within Marxism – Peaceful, or Violent Revolution

  • Orthodox Marxism – Karl Kautsky – “scientific socialism” makes the coming of communist society inevitable and opens the door to both political and revolutionary evolution toward this goal

  • Marxism of the Right – Eduard Bernstein – Evolutionary socialism – Most goals of Marxism could be satisfied through ballot

  • Marxism of the Left – V.I. Lenin – Marxists should clash with the capitalists instead of cooperating with them


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The Readiness of the Proletariat

  • Orthodox Marxists believed in spontaneous uprising of the proletariat – Revolution is historically inevitable

  • Revisionists disavowed violence

  • Leftist embrace the need to prepare and lead the proletariat toward revolutionary action


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Twentieth Century Russia

  • Backward – Half Asian and half European

  • Intelligentsia alienated from power and open to a wide range of radical ideas

  • Three million proletariats out of 129 million citizens – 80 percent of citizens are peasants

  • First major Russian Marxist group formed in Switzerland by Georgi V. Plekhanov

  • Spontaneous revolution unlikely


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Lenin’s Life

  • Vladmir Ilich Ulyanov - 1870-1924

  • Alexander III highly reactionary Czar

  • Lenin’s brother executed for role in plot to assassinate Czar

  • Lenin becomes radicalized and becomes spokesman for Marxism in Russia

  • Spends time in prison and exile

  • Lenin becomes leader of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Marxists advocating for a close knit organization of revolutionaries

  • Revolution of 1905

  • Revolution of 1917 brings Lenin home to pursue power within the chaos of Russia


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Four Themes from Leninism

  • Revolutionary Leadership and the Party

  • The Doctrine of Permanent Revolution

  • The State and Revolution – Dictatorship of the Proletariat

  • The Theory of Imperialism


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Revolutionary Leadership and the Party

  • Communist party should be a close knit, revolutionary organization, dedicated to bringing about the revolution, p. 152-153

  • Alliance between workers and peasants essential to successful revolution

  • Class consciousness can be produced by revolutionary leadership


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The Doctrine of Permanent Revolution

  • The special circumstance of Russia required that the revolution bring Russia through capitalism to socialism

  • Speed the bourgeois revolution along to bring about the proletarian revolution

  • Democratic centralism allowed Lenin’s party to take leadership when other parties were still debating the crisis


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The State and Revolution

  • Initial optimism and hope of revolution for universal revolution confronts reality

  • Lenin tried to balance the needs for state survival with the needs of universal revolution

  • The dictatorship of the proletariat becomes the mechanism for realizing state power – a transfer culture is needed to bring about the development of capabilities to bring abut a genuine socialist society


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The Theory of Imperialism

  • Why are the proletariats of the West not revolutionary?

  • Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916

  • Competition requires colonies and civil war at home is avoided by exploiting those in less developed countries – Super profits enable capitalists to bribe labor elites – Eventually wars for colonies will reveal the crisis of capitalism

  • Wars of national liberation become an important part of laying the groundwork for worldwide revolution


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