Saying Lenin created a communist state is, in itself, oxymoronic, as communism in its purest form is defined by statelessness. The question is, however, whether he did succeed in creating a proletariat state, and the extent of his role in this creation. There is no argument that his version of communism differed to existing forms – so much so that it has since been accepted as referred to as Leninism – as communism, its purest form stresses economic revolution, while Lenin focused on a political revolution that would bring about economic revolution. Furthermore, the theory of communism characterises a nation’s journey towards achieving communism as a gradual and automatic process that saw an organic end to capitalism, whereas Lenin believed that capitalism had to be destroyed in order for communism to flourish. However, Lenin’s model for what has since grown to be referred to as Leninism had many characteristics of communism – the centralisation of the state, the introduction of a command economy and public ownership of the means of production. Since Marx’s popularised form of communism expected for it to develop in extremely developed Western countries, it called for a dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin made this a significant part of his policy, but since the Russian proletariat was small and peasants accounted for around 80% of the population, he amended this dictatorship of the proletariat to one that included that of poor peasants too.

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The nature of his seizure of the Russian state and the consequent establishment of communist rule is a significant determinant of the extent to which the state Lenin created was a communist one. Though Lenin proclaimed Soviet power, he did not exercise power through the Soviet and make it the main body of the government, though people expected him to. Instead, he formed an entirely new body – the Council of the People’s Commissars or the “Sovnarkom” – exclusively made up of Bolsheviks. In keeping with the true definition of communism, he did not wish to share power with the Mensheviks, Socialist Revolutionaries ad other socialist groups in the Soviet as power-sharing would entail delegation which was, inherently, the decentralisation of the state.

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Despite his conducting of affairs being, to a large extent, in keeping with communist principles, Lenin’s forceful seizure of power and establishment of a communist state undermines the argument that his state was a communist one. His secret organisation of factory workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors into Red Guards – a volunteer paramilitary force – that captured Provisional Government buildings in an – albeit bloodless – coup d’état went against the communist principle of an economy’s automatic and inevitable transition from capitalism to socialism to communism. Furthermore, the enormous pressure on the Bolsheviks to create a democratic government representing all socialist parties drove Lenin, unwillingly, to send representatives to talks with other parties about a power sharing government.

Did Lenin create a communist state?

Yes                                                                                             NO

Seizure of Power for Communists                                   NEP: private trade, private business

Establish of Communist rule                                              Terror –

Class War                                                                                  Lower living standards

War Communism: command economy                              Bolshevik Dictatorship: no socialist democracy

Collectivisation                                                                       War Communism: State Control

Nationalisation                                                                       No self-determination

Party Democracy — No Tsar                                              No equality: bourgeois experts, NEPmen

Improved ling standards under NEP                                Wage differentials

Land decree                                                                             Kronstadt Rebellion & Workers’ Opposition

Dictatorship of Proletariat                                                   Bureaucracy: Party hierarchy, secretariat

Worker Control                                                                       Centralisation

Marxist-Leninism                                                                    Premature Revolution

Social Change: women, religion

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