Karl Marx was a German philosopher who wrote the Communist Manifesto, which encouraged workers to unite and seize power by revolution. His views became known as Marxism and influenced the thinking of socialists throughout Europe in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Marx believed that history was evolving in a series of stages towards a perfect state – Communism. These stages started with Feudalism – with the aristocrats controlling politics. Next would come Capitalism – with the bourgeoisie in control of politics. Finally the "perfect state" would arrive Communism – with the proletariat in control of politics.
Marx believed that a Communist state would come about in countries such as Russia that were still feudal or did not have fully developed capitalist societies. He urged the proletariat to join the capitalists in revolting against the aristocrats and complete a capitalist revolution and then continue until the proletarian revolution occurred leading to a communist state. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, also known as Lenin, was born in 1870 in Simvrisk, Russia. Lenin had a turbulent start to his life. At the age of 17 Lenin had to deal with the fact that his brother Alexander Ulyanov was hung for plotting to assassinate Tsar Alexander III.
He then studied at the University of Kazan, where he converted to Marxism, but was expelled for revolutionary activities. Then in 1895 Lenin was exiled to Siberia for distributing revolutionary pamphlets. During his exile, the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDWP) was formed in Minsk in 1898. After Lenin's return from exile in 1900, he founded a newspaper, Iskra, with Julius Tsederbaum, also known as Martov. The idea of the paper was to establish it as the leading underground revolutionary paper that would push forward the revolutionary movement.
In 1902 he published a pamphlet called " What is to be done? " This pamphlet contained his radical ideas towards the nature of a revolutionary party. In this pamphlet, there were three main points that Lenin made in relation to the role of a revolutionary party. "An organisation of revolutionaries must contain primarily and chiefly people whose occupation is revolutionary activity… This organisation must necessarily be not very broad, and as secret as possible. " This idea was stating that he wanted the party to consist of activists.
He wanted people to go out and do something for the party rather than sit around and do nothing to help the cause of the party. This idea was later to contribute towards the split of the RSDWP. Lenin also stated; "The one serious organisational principle for workers in our movement must be the strictest secrecy, strictest choice of members, training of professional revolutionaries. " Lenin wanted the party to be professional and didn't want the country to know that there was a revolutionary party being constructed that was to revolt against the current government. The third major point that Lenin made in his pamphlet was;
"We must break completely with the tradition of a purely workers or trade union type of social democratic organisation down to factory groups inclusive. The factory groups or committee …… must consist of a very small number of revolutionaries, receiving direct from the committee, orders and powers to conduct the whole social democratic party work in the factory. " This statement showed that Lenin wanted to create a dictatorial party that was to take orders from the top and no one else. He wanted to control the party and maintain it as a fully organised and prepared revolutionary organisation.
In these three statements Lenin has already added to Marxism. Marx did not state what the role of the communist party would be. But here Lenin has said what he wants the party to do and how he wants it to be controlled. Marx also did not comment on how the party would operate and how it would gain power. Here in his pamphlet Lenin has shown that he wants a dictatorial party that will be run from the top and that they will take power with a highly organised and secret movement. Karl Marx never stated how and when revolution would take place. Lenin though did mention this. He made three changes to Marx's theory.