Russian Social-Democrats, led by George Plekhanov (1856–1918) and
Vladimir Lenin, believed that the introduction of capitalism in
Russia would be made difficult by the vestiges of the feudal system.
But the shining prospect of socialist society inflamed their
imagination, and they were determined to attain it by means of a
proletarian revolution that would sweep away both nascent capitalist
patterns and feudal remnants.
deep conviction in the scientific correctness of Marxist predictions
gave Lenin and his followers a sense of purpose that many other
revolutionary or reform-minded groups lacked. In 1917 Lenin’s
Bolsheviks, who represented the radical wing of Russian
Social-Democrats, took power in Russia. They hoped that by
concentrating control over productive resources in their hands, they
would be able to use their knowledge of the “objective laws” of
human society to steer the country toward the “Communist” stage of
development, when all property and power would be held in common and
all people would be equal.
collapse of the Communist experiment in the Soviet Union has
seriously discredited the idea of socialism as an alternative to
capitalism. Those who still cling to the socialist ideal as a model
of social development try to dissociate Marx from Lenin, the founder
of the Soviet state, insisting that the Bolshevik leader made a
radical revision of classical Marxism and completely transformed it
into a militant ideology of a totalitarian state. They find
instances of complete reversals of Marx’s conclusions, for example,
in Lenin’s assertion about Russia’s readiness for a proletarian
revolution. They say that Marx repeatedly emphasized that the new
Communist society would be the result of a highly developed
capitalism. In this regard, Russia was viewed by Marx as a very
unlikely place in which to have a proletarian revolution, because
the industrial revolution there had hardly started.