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Leninism Vs Marxism

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#1 oilcan

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 07:54 PM

I'm really confused about the similarities and differents between Leninism and Marxism. I should be able to understand it, in theory, as I am also a sociologist, but I can't find anywhere which has a simple breakdown of what each entails and their major differences. Can you help?

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 12:23 AM

There is a short answer here, but I am not sure that it addresses all the issues, and I am not even sure I agree that it is correct.

This site - http://encyclopedia....age/le/Leninism - offers an extended explanation of how Leninism differs from Marxism, without being very clear what Marxism is.

This site - http://www-formal.st...ss/marxism.html - offers a detailed view of Marxism, and then a list of elements which Lennin added.

Rosa Luxembourg argued (Marxism vs Leninism) that the KEY difference was the Leninism was more centralistic and absolutist, but then she had an axe to grind.

Finally, when I was googleing this, I came across this post on a now-deleted forum, which I thought was quite helpful. The author - 'DesdichadaFV' - compared Marx/Engels's ten steps for a transitional period with what actually happened in the Russian revolution, and then went on to make further comments about the difference between Marx's and Lenin's view on revolution in Russia. I found this very interesting because - instead of the usual approach which compares Marx's THEORIES with Lenin's THEORIES - it seemed to be saying that Marxism was the THEORY, but Leninism was the practical IMPLEMENTATION of it in one country.

-----From Communist Manifesto, section II "Proletarians and Communists:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
---- Completely implemented in the USSR,
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
---- USSR went way further then that, implementing government pay scale for all, removing any income from private activity
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
---- this one was almost implemented, since there was no private ownership of means of production left. Inheritance was retained only in a sense that the government would still allow children to live in the apartment where parents used to live
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
----- That one was complete by mid 1920-s
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
----- Same here. Nationalization of banks was complete in the early 1920s.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
----- There was no private communication or transportation means. Except for an occasional private car owner illegally acting as black market taxi.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
--- Fully implemented in the USSR, including huge nation-wide efforts at cultivation of waste lands. (Virgin Lands program in Kazakhstan, 1955-1965) All of it in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
--- Failure to work (to have a government job) was a crime in the USSR. Joseph Brodsky was imprisoned for exactly that, since he claimed he was a poet, but the judge said he did not have a job, so he was guilty.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
The most difficult of them all, but finally implemented in the USSR by the 1970-s with full scale transition from collective farms (kolkhoz) where at least some relation between productivity and pay was retained, to soviet farms (sovkhoz) where agricultural workers received salaries just like their industrial counterparts.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
The last sentence is the key here. Industrial production was an integral part of education in the USSR. Starting at 15, most of the students were moved from regular schools to "technical" schools where curriculum was heavily slanted towards machining, lathing, etc. Pupils would spent significant portion of their time at work, rather then in a classroom.

Those were Marx's ideas, you tell me if these ideas were distorted in Russia and how. Again, your original claim was not that Marx's ideas were not fully implemented, but what happened in Russia was "a distortion of his views". Before you started talking about full implementation.


Lenin felt that Russia was ready for a revolution, but Marx didn't feel that the economy was advanced enough, according to him the standard cycle of a society in its progression included capitalism in its most advanced form right before the proletariat revolution - Marx wasn't convinced Russia was there yet.

You are close, but this only illustrates how superficial your knowledge of the subject is and should make you think twice before making claims. You sound like they were contemporaries. By the time Lenin started thinking Revolution Marx was long gone. It was Lenin's idea altogether that a proletarian revolution can occur in a single country. To support this, Lenin came up with a new form of capitalism - State Monopolism (Imperialism) and claimed it to be the final stage of capitalist development. Marx expected revolutions to start all over capitalist world. Both of them were it turned out fundamentally wrong.

PS if you come up with a list of, say ten, key differences, why not post them on this forum?

#3 oilcan

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 06:17 PM

Thanks for all your hard work, doing that for me. It makes more sense, but I am still not 100% sure, so will ask History teacher tomorrow, try and get a list of 10 key differences and post it when I can :)

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