Vladimir Lenin

Marxism-Leninism is an ideology that resulted from Vladimir Lenin’s modifications to the theories of Karl Marx. This ideology was instrumental in the first successful Russian Revolution in 1917, which established the communist government of the Soviet Union. As a result, communist revolutions in other parts of the world in the twentieth century established their rule using Marxism-Leninism as their foundation.

Marxism became known as the ideology that grew out of Karl Marx’s theories on capitalism and communism. The main doctrine of Marxism is the abolition of the bourgeoisie, or capitalists, and its replacement with a socialist government that will be ruled by the proletariat, or working class.

Marx claimed that the state is an apparatus used by capitalists to maintain their wealth and their hold on the means of production. When the proletariat overthrows the capitalist system, the state will be removed, and an ideal society will be created. This ideal society will not have social classes. It will be a classless society and will look after the welfare of the masses. 

However, Marxism has been criticized by scholars as lacking in details. Sometimes, it has been accused of being deliberately unclear. Marxism never offered an explanation as to how the state would eventually dissolve. Also, it did not provide sufficient information about the proletariat’s revolution. The Russian revolutionary and political theorist Vladimir Lenin turned his attention to Marxism’s vague aspects, and the resulting ideology, Marxism-Leninism, tackled many of these unclear parts.

Marxism-Leninism’s Aims

Marxism-Leninism aimed to overthrow the capitalist system and create a socialist society in its place. The dismantling of the old society will come about because of the workers’ revolution, which is unpreventable. The government that the workers will establish will then implement a proletarian rule in which the ideologies of the workers will be promoted and upheld. This stage is important as the new society needs to strengthen its foundation while there is a threat that the capitalists might retaliate and regain their place. When the new society is secure enough, the next stage will be put in place, which is communism. In communism, the process of production will be under public ownership, eliminating the appearance of social classes.

Marxism-Leninism asserts that socialism was more modern than capitalism, but communism was more modern than socialism. The objective is to create a communist, classless society, with Marxism-Leninism guiding the people through the transition from capitalism to socialism.

Marxism-Leninism addresses the question of why workers in wealthy capitalist nations have not revolted. The ideology asserts that capitalism has expanded its greed and has already reached poor nations and is exploiting their resources and labor. Because of these new areas of exploitation, capitalists have been able to generate more wealth and therefore provide better salaries to workers in developed nations. Marxism-Leninism claims that advanced nations are the main battlefields in the war against capitalism. These advanced economies are expected to implode, to be followed by communist uprisings.

In the Soviet Union

Marxism-Leninism was the official ideology of the Soviet Union. The Soviets assert that their ideology is not only an explanation of society and knowledge but also a workable method of reshaping their society. However, different interpretations of Marxism-Leninism appeared during the existence of the Soviet Union, and these varying interpretations depended on who was leading the communist society. The main author of Soviet totalitarianism, Joseph Stalin, advocated the glorification of government leaders to hero status. Though Stalin was able to transform Russia from an agricultural society to a world superpower, millions died during his rule because of forced labor. Nikita Khrushchev opposed this personality cult, stating that it was not one of the principles of Marxism-Leninism. He publicly criticized Stalin and his crimes. During his time, he relaxed censorship and allowed the entry of some foreign films and literature; the Soviet space program also achieved its first success.

The Foundations of the State

Marxism-Leninism holds that the inevitable proletarian revolution will be commanded by a single party, the communist party. The party will be responsible for guiding the workers in laying the foundations of the new socialist system — the economic, political, and social foundations.

The economic goal of Marxism-Leninism is to liberate both men and women workers from the degrading conditions of capitalist labor. This degradation is caused by being forced to work like mere parts of a machine while being paid low wages. These low wages keep the workers poor, enabling them to acquire only the basic necessities in life. The aim is to free these workers from this drudgery so they can use more time for personal fulfillment. 

Marxism-Leninism believes that improving technology will help these workers be more productive and reduce the time they need to be at work. To promote the development of these labor-saving technologies, Marxism-Leninism looks to superior education to stimulate the minds of its people. Marxism-Leninism will use a planned economy to address the people’s material needs. This controlled economy will determine the production and allocation of products and services according to the needs of society. An individual’s level of skills and participation in the economy will be the basis of what he receives in the form of wages. Then, the value of products and services will be based on the actual value of their usage rather than on the expenses incurred during production. 

Concerning the political foundation, direct elections will be implemented to determine the assignment of officials in the government. In a communist system, the state would look after the well-being of the masses. Social assistance will take the form of healthcare for all and free public education. These programs for the people should keep them healthy, secure, and motivated to work. Education will improve the intellectual life of the working class and will be decidedly based on analysis and collaborative activities. Learning will revolve around students instead of teachers and will not be a lifeless assimilation of information. The areas that will be focused on are politics and technology. Family laws will be put in place of patriarchal culture in order to liberate women from the harmful belief that they are lesser humans than men. Cultural modifications will foster a modern outlook among the masses and will help in eliminating social classes. These cultural transformations will be implemented through the spread of information and education. Finally, communist society will not be sponsored by any form of religion. Marxism-Leninism’s vision is of a society composed of human beings who determine the course of their lives and do not depend on and fear the supernatural entity.

International Affairs

Marxist-Leninist societies do not conduct international relations with capitalist states. Marxism-Leninism views foreign relations as an expansion of a society’s economic forces. Insatiable capitalists drain their local resources and then extend their means of production to other nations to manipulate and bleed those nations’ resources. 

In the Modern World

Many communist societies today acknowledge their indebtedness to the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism. They state that the ideology of Karl Marx, as developed and adapted by Vladimir Lenin, helped them realize what they set out to accomplish with their societies. Nonetheless, the ideology has undergone so many changes to make it workable in modern global politics. Present-day Marxist-Leninist nations include Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, North Korea and China have downplayed to some extent their links to Marxism-Leninism but have never refuted the doctrines of the communist movements that shaped whole societies.