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Many analysts, however, are convinced that Leninism rests firmly on the doctrinal foundations of classical Marxism. It is possible to list a range of Marxist principles by which Lenin was guided in his activities, first as the leader of the Russian proletarian revolution and later as the head of the victorious workers’ government. These ideas formed part and parcel of Leninism and were thoroughly assimilated by it. They became the immutable dogmas that underpinned the construction of socialism in the former USSR. Only the most central of them will be summarized here: 

  • Humankind in its development passes through five formations, with communism being the highest and final of them.

  • Humankind advances to communism, the essence of which will be “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.

  • Private ownership of the means of production is connected with exploitation; with the abolition of private property, exploitation will disappear.

  • Class struggle is the essence of world development: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle” (Marx).

  • Class struggle is waged by two main classes: the exploited working class and the exploiting class of the bourgeoisie.

  • Due to its social position, the working class is naturally attracted to socialism.

  • The state is an instrument created to protect the exploiters from the exploited.

  • Democracy under capitalism is merely one of the forms of the exploiting bourgeois state.

  • The road to socialism lies through a violent revolution, the aim of which is the destruction of the bourgeois state and private ownership and the creation of a workers’ state—the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

  • The state of the dictatorship of the proletariat is a necessary stage in the transition to a classless society, a society without the state.

  • The essence of socialism and of the transition to communism is a gradual abolition of money-commodity relations (in other words, of the market).

  • The essence of a socialist economy is a high degree of centralization and of planning in all aspects of the economy.

  • The dictatorship of the proletariat is unthinkable without the Communist Party’s dominant position within the state.

Marxist tenets with Lenin’s amendments became gospel in the Soviet Union, and the ruling ideology was frequently referred to as “Marxism-Leninism.” The Soviet model of socialism was not just the result of Soviet rulers’ policies. It was a logical end product of the implementation of the principles elaborated by the founders of Marxism. Their ideas, such as a nonmarket economy, the dictatorship of one class, and the predominance of a single, Communist ideology, provided the cornerstones of the new social system. The practical implementation of these ideas in every country, which followed the Soviet model, led to the alienation of people from power, their estrangement from property, and the rise of an authoritarian state.

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Soviet Ideology


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