The Rise of Communism in Russia


"Unless we accept the claim that LeninŐs coup dŐŽtat gave birth to an
entirely new state, and indeed to a new era in the history of mankind, we must
recognize in todayŐs Soviet Union the old empire of the Russians -- the only
empire that survived into the mid 1980\'s" (Luttwak, 1).
In their Communist Manifesto of 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
applied the term communism to a final stage of socialism in which all class
differences would disappear and humankind would live in harmony. Marx and
Engels claimed to have discovered a scientific approach to socialism based on
the laws of history. They declared that the course of history was determined
by the clash of opposing forces rooted in the economic system and the ownership
of property. Just as the feudal system had given way to capitalism, so in time
capitalism would give way to socialism. The class struggle of the future would
be between the bourgeoisie, who were the capitalist employers, and the
proletariat, who were the workers. The struggle would end, according to Marx,
in the socialist revolution and the attainment of full communism (Groiler\'s
Encyclopedia).
Socialism, of which "Marxism-Leninism" is a takeoff, originated in the
West. Designed in France and Germany, it was brought into Russia in the middle
of the nineteenth century and promptly attracted support among the country\'s
educated, public-minded elite, who at that time were called intelligentsia
(Pipes, 21). After Revolution broke out over Europe in 1848 the modern working
class appeared on the scene as a major historical force. However, Russia
remained out of the changes that Europe was experiencing. As a socialist
movement and inclination, the Russian Social-Democratic Party continued the
traditions of all the Russian Revolutions of the past, with the goal of
conquering political freedom (Daniels 7).
As early as 1894, when he was twenty-four, Lenin had become a
revolutionary agitator and a convinced Marxist. He exhibited his new faith and
his polemical talents in a diatribe of that year against the peasant-oriented
socialism of the Populists led by N.K. Mikhiaiovsky (Wren, 3).
While Marxism had been winning adherents among the Russian
revolutionary intelligentsia for more than a decade previously, a claimed
Marxist party was bit organized until 1898. In that year a "congress" of nine
men met at Minsk to proclaim the establishment of the Russian Social Democratic
Worker\'s Party. The Manifesto issued in the name of the congress after the
police broke it up was drawn up by the economist Peter Struve, a member of the
moderate "legal Marxist" group who soon afterward left the Marxist movement
altogether. The manifesto is indicative of the way Marxism was applied to
Russian conditions, and of the special role for the proletariat (Pipes, 11).
The first true congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers\' Party
was the Second. It convened in Brussels in the summer of 1903, but was forced
by the interference of the Belgian authorities to move to London, where the
proceedings were concluded. The Second Congress was the occasion for bitter
wrangling among the representatives of various Russian Marxist Factions, and
ended in a deep split that was mainly caused by Lenin -- his personality, his
drive for power in the movement, and his "hard" philosophy of the disciplined
party organization. At the close of the congress Lenin commanded a temporary
majority for his faction and seized upon the label "Bolshevik" (Russian for
Majority), while his opponents who inclined to the "soft" or more democratic
position became known as the "Mensheviks" or minority (Daniels, 19).
Though born only in 1879, Trotsky had gained a leading place among the
Russian Social-Democrats by the time of the Second party Congress in 1903. He
represented ultra-radical sentiment that could not reconcile itself to Lenin\'s
stress on the party organization. Trotsky stayed with the Menshevik faction
until he joined Lenin in 1917. From that point on, he acomidated himself in
large measure to Lenin\'s philosophy of party dictatorship, but his reservations
came to the surface again in the years after his fall from power (Stoessinger,
13).
In the months after the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Party
Lenin lost his majority and began organizing a rebellious group of Bolsheviks.
This was to be in opposition of the new majority of the congress, the
Menshiviks, led by Trotsky. Twenty-two Bolsheviks, including Lenin, met in
Geneva in August of 1904 to promote the idea of the highly disciplined party
and to urge the reorganization of the whole Social-Democratic movement on
Leninist lines (Stoessinger, 33).
The differences between Lenin and the Bogdanov group of revolutionary
romantics came