Lenin‘s October 1917 Revolution: limited accomplishments, yet a turning point in 20th century history
In 1917, Lenin led factory workers in St. Petersburg, Russia, in taking over the government, expecting to spark the rapidly spreading revolution to abolish capitalism predicted by Marx and Engels. Unexpected relationships among the nations impeded that spread,. Once having become the leader of the vast territories that had formed the Russian Empire and having created a constitution nearly approaching democracy, Lenin was further surprised when the large majority of the populace failed to be inspired by the ideals of Communism, leading Lenin to regretfully become totalitarian in order to protect the revolution. At his death, succeeded by the unabashedly totalitarian Stalin ruling what was de facto state capitalism, only a few of Lenin’s antidiscrimination efforts survived.
In 1917, the Russian Lenin led factory workers in St. Petersburg, Russia, in taking over the government, expecting to spark the rapidly spreading revolution to abolish capitalism predicted by Marx and Engels; however, as it turned out, his accomplishments fell radically short of this expectation. This paper argues that the three main causes of this limitation were the following: the location of his revolution differed from those stipulated by Marx and Engels; relationships among nations differed from those discussed by the two great philosophers; the visionary ideals of communism failed to inspire enough of the populace to join Lenin‘s cause. The background of Lenin’s initiative will be presented followed by his initial successes and then by the obstacles he came to encounter and his responses to them.
Lenin, hoping that his revolution’s accomplishment would be the pivotal step predicted by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto towards the realization of a society of Communism, had been a revolutionary activist for thirty years, had thoroughly studied and written major philosophical texts developing many of Marx’s ideas, and had become prominent as a strategist and leader in revolutionary circles in several nations. Lenin had several times been arrested and exiled within Russia and to foreign lands. In two countries, he had organized and led other exiled Russian revolutionaries.
Karl Marx’s personal vision was for a society in which each individual would be psychologically whole, and free to exercise his creative powers and receive joy. Lenin’s writing focused only on general economic freedom, to be naturally accompanied by equality among all persons. His general writings on revolution followed Marx’s ideas with some important exceptions.
Marx and Engels predicted that increasingly impoverished and desperate workers along with other economically struggling classes in an industrialized nation would successfully overthrow an autocratic ruler and establish a basically democratic society, necessarily operating a capitalist economy. They should then stop consolidation of power in the newly formed society. The workers would then overthrow the democratic government, forming a workers’ party that would rule and would change econmc and social relations, forcefully depriving exploiters of the possibility of exploitation. As this was accomplished, government power would weaken and, finally, there would be no more governmental coercion: Thus, the revolution would be permanent. In an already existent democratic society, as industrial technology developed bringing with it increased disparity of wealth and increasing dehumanization of factory work, workers would rise up and seize power one way...
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