Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology
and the main communist movement
throughout the 20th century.
[Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: Cavendish Square Publishing. pp. 9–24, 36–44. . "By 1985, one-third of the world's population lived under a Marxist–Leninist system of government in one form or another."]
Marxism–Leninism was the formal name of the official state ideology adopted by the Soviet Union
, its satellite states
in the Eastern Bloc
and various self-declared ''scientific socialist
'' regimes in the Non-Aligned Movement
and Third World
during the Cold War
as well as the Communist International
. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of several communist parties
and remains the official ideology of the ruling parties of China
as unitary one-party socialist republic
and of Nepal
in a people's multiparty democracy
. Generally, Marxist–Leninists support proletarian internationalism
, socialist democracy
and oppose anarchism
and liberal democracy
. Marxism–Leninism holds that a two-stage communist revolution
is needed to replace capitalism
. A vanguard party
, organised hierarchically through democratic centralism
, would seize power "on behalf of the proletariat
" and establish a communist party-led socialist state, which it claims to represent the dictatorship of the proletariat
. The state would control the economy and means of production
, suppress the bourgeoisie
, promote collectivism
in society and pave the way for an eventual communist society
, which would be both classless
[Cooke, Chris, ed. (1998). ''Dictionary of Historical Terms'' (2nd ed.). pp. 221–222.] [Morgan, W. John (2001). "Marxism–Leninism: The Ideology of Twentieth-Century Communism". In Wright, James D., ed. ''International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences'' (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 657, 659: "Lenin argued that power could be secured on behalf of the proletariat through the so-called vanguard leadership of a disciplined and revolutionary communist party, organized according to what was effectively the military principle of democratic centralism. ..The basics of Marxism–Leninism were in place by the time of Lenin's death in 1924. ..The revolution was to be accomplished in two stages. First, a 'dictatorship of the proletariat,' managed by the élite 'vanguard' communist party, would suppress counterrevolution, and ensure that natural economic resources and the means of production and distribution were in common ownership. Finally, communism would be achieved in a classless society in which Party and State would have 'withered away.'"] [Busky, Donald F. (2002). ''Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union''. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 163–165.] [Albert, Michael; Hahnel, Robin (1981). ''Socialism Today and Tomorrow''. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. pp. 24–26.] [Andrain, Charles F. (1994). ''Comparative Political Systems: Policy Performance and Social Change''. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. p. 140: "The communist party-states collapsed because they no longer fulfilled the essence of a Leninist model: a strong commitment to Marxist-Leninist ideology, rule by the vanguard communist party, and the operation of a centrally planned state socialist economy. Before the mid-1980s, the communist party controlled the military, police, mass media, and state enterprises. Government coercive agencies employed physical sanctions against political dissidents who denounced Marxism-Leninism."] [Evans, Alfred (1993). ''Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology''. ABC-CLIO. p. 24: "Lenin defended the dictatorial organization of the workers' state. Several years before the revolution, he had bluntly characterized dictatorship as 'unlimited power based on force, and not on law', leaving no doubt that those terms were intended to apply to the dictatorship of the proletariat. ..To socialists who accused the Bolshevik state of violating the principles of democracy by forcibly suppressing opposition, he replied: you are taking a formal, abstract view of democracy. ..The proletarian dictatorship was described by Lenin as a single-party state."]
As a result, Marxist–Leninist states have been commonly referred to by Western academics as ''communist states''
As an ideology and practice, it was developed further by Joseph Stalin
in the 1920s based on his understanding and synthesis of orthodox Marxism
[Lisichkin, G. (1989). "Mify i real'nost'" . ''Novy Mir'' (3): 59.] [Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: Cavendish Square Publishing. p. 17. .]
After the death of Vladimir Lenin
in 1924, Marxism–Leninism became a distinct movement in the Soviet Union when Stalin and his supporters gained control of the party. It rejected the common notions among Western Marxists of world revolution
, as a prerequisite for building socialism, in favour of the concept of socialism in one country
. According to its supporters, the gradual transition from capitalism to socialism was signified by the introduction of the first five-year plan
and the 1936 Soviet Constitution
. By the late 1920s, Stalin established ideological orthodoxy among the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
, the Soviet Union and the Communist International to establish universal Marxist–Leninist praxis
[Lisischkin, G. (1989). "Mify i real'nost'" . ''Novy Mir'' (3): 59.]
The formulation of the Soviet version of dialectical
and historical materialism
in the 1930s by Stalin and his associates such as in Stalin's book ''Dialectical and Historical Materialism
'' became the official Soviet interpretation of Marxism
and taken as example by Marxist–Leninists in other countries. In the late 1930s, Stalin's official textbook ''History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)
'' (1938) popularised ''Marxism–Leninism'' as a term.
The internationalism of Marxism–Leninism was expressed in supporting revolutions in other countries, initially through the Communist International and then through the concept of socialist-leaning countries
. The establishment of other communist states after World War II resulted in Sovietisation
and these communist states tended to follow the Soviet Marxist–Leninist model of five-year plans
and rapid industrialisation
, political centralisation and repression. During the Cold War, Marxism–Leninism was a driving force in international relations
for most of the 20th century.
With the death of Stalin and de-Stalinisation, Marxism–Leninism underwent several revisions and adaptations such as Guevarism
, Ho Chi Minh Thought
, socialism with Chinese characteristics
. This also caused several splits between Marxist–Leninist states, resulting in the Tito–Stalin split
, the Sino–Soviet split
and the Sino–Albanian split
. The socio-economic nature of Marxist–Leninist states, especially that of the Soviet Union during the Stalin era
, has been much debated, varyingly being labelled a form of bureaucratic collectivism
, state capitalism
, state socialism
, or a totally unique mode of production
. The Eastern Bloc, including Marxist–Leninist states in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Third World socialist
regimes, have been variously described as "bureaucratic-authoritarian systems" and China's socio-economic structure has been referred to as "nationalistic state capitalism."
Criticism of Marxism–Leninism largely overlaps with criticism of communist party rule
and mainly focuses on the actions and policies implemented by Marxist–Leninist leaders, most notably Stalin, Mao Zedong
and Pol Pot
. In practice, Marxist–Leninist states are marked by a high degree of centralised
control by the state and communist party, political repression
, state atheism
and use of forced labour
and labour camp
s as well as free universal education and healthcare, low unemployment and lower prices for certain goods. Historians such as Silvio Pons and Robert Service
argue that repression and totalitarianism
came from Marxist–Leninist ideology.
Historians such as Michael Geyer
and Sheila Fitzpatrick
propose other explanations and criticise the focus on the upper levels of society and use of Cold War concepts such as totalitarianism which have obscured the reality of the system.
While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally communist state led to communism's widespread association with Marxism–Leninism and the Soviet model
[Busky, Donald F. (2000). ''Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey''. Praeger. pp. 6–8. . "In a modern sense of the word, communism refers to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. ..e adjective ''democratic'' is added by democratic socialists to attempt to distinguish themselves from Communists who also call themselves socialists. All but communists, or more accurately, Marxist-Leninists, believe that modern-day communism is highly undemocratic and totalitarian in practice, and democratic socialists wish to emphasise by their name that they disagree strongly with the Marxist-Leninist brand of socialism."]
several academics, economists and intellectuals argue that in practice the Marxist–Leninist model was a form of state capitalism, or a non-planned administrative-command system
or command economy
In the establishment of the Soviet Union
in the former Russian Empire
was the ideological basis. As the only legal vanguard party
, it decided almost all policies, which the communist party
represented as correct. Because Leninism
was the revolutionary means to achieving socialism in the praxis of government, the relationship between ideology and decision-making inclined to pragmatism and most policy decisions were taken in light of the continual and permanent development of Marxist–Leninist ideology, i.e. ideological adaptation to actual conditions. The Bolshevik Party
lost in the 1917 Russian Constituent Assembly election
, where it obtained 23.3% of the vote, to the Socialist Revolutionary Party
, who obtained 37.6%. On 6 January 1918, the Draft Decree on the Dissolution of the Constituent Assembly was issued by the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets, a committee dominated by Lenin. Lenin had previously supported multi-party free elections. After the Bolshevik defeat, Lenin started referring to the assembly as a "deceptive form of bourgeois-democratic parliamentarism." This would lead to the development of vanguardism in which an hierarchical party-elite party controlled society.
Within five years of the death
of Vladimir Lenin
, Joseph Stalin
completed his rise to power and was the leader of the Soviet Union
who theorised and applied the socialist theories of Lenin and Karl Marx
as political expediencies used to realise his plans for the Soviet Union and for world socialism
[Butenko, Alexander (1996). ''Sotsializm segodnya: opyt i novaya teoriya'' . ''Zhurnal Al'ternativy'' (1): 2–22.]
''Concerning Questions of Leninism'' (1926) represented Marxism–Leninism as a separate communist ideology and featured a global hierarchy of communist parties and revolutionary vanguard parties in each country of the world.
With that, Stalin's application of Marxism–Leninism to the situation of the Soviet Union became Stalinism
, the official state ideology
until his death in 1953. In Marxist political discourse, Stalinism, denoting and connoting the theory and praxis of Stalin, has two usages, namely praise of Stalin by Marxist–Leninists who believe Stalin successfully developed Lenin's legacy and criticism of Stalin by Marxist–Leninists and other Marxists who repudiate Stalin's political purges, social-class repressions and bureaucratic terrorism.
As the Left Opposition
to Stalin within the Soviet party and government, Leon Trotsky
argued that Marxist–Leninist ideology contradicted Marxism and Leninism in theory, therefore Stalin's ideology was not useful for the implementation of socialism in Russia. Moreover, Trotskyists within the party identified their anti-Stalinist communist ideology as Bolshevik–Leninism and supported the permanent revolution
to differentiate themselves from Stalin's justification and implementation of socialism in one country
After the Sino-Soviet split
of the 1960s, the Communist Party of China
and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
claimed to be the sole heir and successor to Stalin concerning the correct interpretation of Marxism–Leninism and ideological leader of world communism
[Lenman, B. P.; Anderson, T., eds. (2000). ''Chambers Dictionary of World History''. p. 769.]
In that vein, Mao Zedong Thought
, Mao Zedong
's updating and adaptation of Marxism–Leninism to Chinese conditions in which revolutionary praxis is primary and ideological orthodoxy is secondary, represents urban Marxism–Leninism adapted to pre-industrial China. The claim that Mao had adapted Marxism–Leninism to Chinese conditions evolved into the idea that he had updated it in a fundamental way applying to the world as a whole. Consequently, Mao Zedong Thought became the official state ideology
of the People's Republic of China
as well as the ideological basis of communist parties around the world which sympathised with China.
[Bullock, Allan; Trombley, Stephen, eds. (1999). ''The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought'' (3rd ed.). p. 501.]
In the late 1970s, the Peruvian communist party Shining Path
developed and synthesised Mao Zedong Thought into Marxism–Leninism–Maoism
, a contemporary variety of Marxism–Leninism that is a supposed higher level of Marxism–Leninism that can be applied universally.
Following the Sino-Albanian split
of the 1970s, a small portion of Marxist–Leninists began to downplay or repudiate the role of Mao in the Marxist–Leninist international movement in favour of the Albanian Labour Party
and a stricter adherence to Stalin. The Sino-Albanian split was caused by Albania
's rejection of China's ''Realpolitik
'' of Sino–American rapprochement, specifically the 1972 Mao–Nixon meeting
which the anti-revisionist
Albanian Labour Party perceived as an ideological betrayal of Mao's own Three Worlds Theory
that excluded such political rapprochement with the West. To the Albanian Marxist–Leninists, the Chinese dealings with the United States indicated Mao's lessened, practical commitments to ideological orthodoxy and proletarian internationalism
. In response to Mao's apparently unorthodox deviations, Enver Hoxha
, head of the Albanian Labour Party, theorised anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism, referred to as Hoxhaism
, which retained orthodox Marxism–Leninism when compared to the ideology of the post-Stalin Soviet Union.
In North Korea
, Marxism–Leninism was superseded by ''Juche
'' in the 1970s and was made official in 1992 and 2009, when constitutional references to Marxism–Leninism were dropped and replaced with ''Juche''. In 2009, the constitution was quietly amended so that not only did it remove all Marxist–Leninist references present in the first draft, but it also dropped all references to communism
. ''Juche'' has been described by Michael Seth as a version of "Korean ultranationalism
" which eventually developed after losing its original Marxist–Leninist elements. According to ''North Korea: A Country Study'' by Robert L. Worden, Marxism–Leninism was abandoned immediately after the start of de-Stalinisation
in the Soviet Union and it has been totally replaced by ''Juche'' since at least 1974. According to Daniel Schwekendiek, what made North Korean Marxism–Leninism distinct from that of China and the Soviet Union was that it incorporated national feelings and macro-historical elements in the socialist ideology, opting for its "own style of socialism."
[Schwekendiek, Daniel (2011). ''A Socioeconomic History of North Korea''. Jefferson: McFarland & Company. p. 31.]
The major Korean elements are the emphasis on traditional Confucianism
and the memory of the traumatic experience of Korea under Japanese rule
as well as a focus on autobiographical features of Kim Il-sung
as a guerrilla hero.
In the other four existing Marxist–Leninist socialist state
s, namely China, Cuba
, the ruling parties hold Marxism–Leninism as their official ideology, although they give it different interpretations in terms of practical policy. Marxism–Leninism is also the ideology of anti-revisionist, Hoxhaist, Maoist and neo-Stalinist
communist parties worldwide. The anti-revisionists criticise some rule of the communist states by claiming that they were state capitalist
countries ruled by "revisionists
". Although the periods and countries defined as state capitalist or revisionist vary among different ideologies and parties, they generally accept that the Soviet Union was socialist during Stalin's time. Maoists believe that the People's Republic of China became state capitalist after Mao's death. Hoxhaists believe that the People's Republic of China was always state capitalist and uphold the People's Socialist Republic of Albania as the only socialist state after the Soviet Union under Stalin.
''Class Struggles in China''
(revised ed.). London. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
Definition and terminology
and ideas have acquired a new meaning since the Russian Revolution
as they became equivalent to the ideas of Marxism–Leninism,
namely the interpretation of Marxism
by Vladimir Lenin
and his successors.
Endorsing the final objective, namely the creation of a community-owning means of production
and providing each of its participants with consumption "according to their needs
", Marxism–Leninism puts forward the recognition of the class struggle
as a dominating principle of a social change
In addition, workers (i.e. the proletariat
) were to carry out the mission of reconstruction of the society.
Conducting a socialist revolution
led by what its proponents termed the "vanguard of the proletariat
", defined as the communist party
organised hierarchically through democratic centralism
, was hailed to be a historical necessity by Marxist–Leninists.
Moreover, the introduction of the proletarian dictatorship
was advocated and classes deemed hostile were to be repressed.
In the 1920s, it was first defined and formulated by Joseph Stalin
based on his understanding of orthodox Marxism
Marxist–Leninist philosophy has been criticised by a broad political spectrum both on the left and right. Marxist–Leninist rule has been especially criticised, including by other socialists
such as anarchists
, democratic socialists
, libertarian socialists
. Marxist–Leninist states have been described as authoritarian
, or accused of being totalitarian
, for suppressing and killing political dissidents and social classes
(so-called "enemies of the people
"), religious persecution
, ethnic cleansing
, forced collectivisation
and use of forced labour
in labour camp
[Service, Robert (2007). ''Comrades!: A History of World Communism''. Harvard University Press. pp. 3–6.]
Such states have been accused of genocidal
acts in China
. Anti-Stalinist left
and other left-wing
critics see it as an example of state capitalism and have referred to it as a "red fascism
" contrary to left-wing politics. Other leftists, including Marxist–Leninists, criticise it for its repressive state actions while recognising certain advancements such as egalitarian
achievements and modernisation
under such states.
[Milne, Seumas (16 February 2006)]
"Communism may be dead, but clearly not dead enough"
''The Guardian''. Retrieved 18 April 2020. "The dominant account gives no sense of how communist regimes renewed themselves after 1956 or why western leaders feared they might overtake the capitalist world well into the 1960s. For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality."
Some academics such as Stéphane Courtois
(''The Black Book of Communism
''), Steven Rosefielde
'') and Rudolph Rummel
(''Death by Government
'') wrote of mass killing
under Marxist–Leninist regimes. These authors defined the political repression by communists as a "Communist democide
", "Communist genocide", "Red Holocaust" or used "victims of Communism" narrative. Some of them compared communism to Nazism
and described deaths under Marxist–Leninist regimes (civil wars, deportations, famines, repressions and wars) as being a direct consequence of communism. Some of these works, particular ''The Black Book of Communism'' and its 93 or 100 millions figure, are cited by political groups
and Members of the European Parliament
Without denying the tragedies of the events, other scholars critique the interpretation that sees communism as the main culprit as presenting a biased or exaggerated anti-communist narrative. Some academics propose a more nuanced analysis of Marxist–Leninist rule, arguing that anti-communist narratives have exaggerated the extent of political repression and censorship in Marxist–Leninist states and drawn comparisons with what they see as atrocities that were perpetrated by capitalist countries
, particularly during the Cold War. These academics include Mark Aarons
, Noam Chomsky
, Jodi Dean
, Kristen Ghodsee
[Ghodsee, Kristen (Fall 2014)]
"A Tale of 'Two Totalitarianisms': The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism"
''History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History''. 4 (2): 115–142. . .
[Ghodsee, Kristen R.; Sehon, Scott; Dresser, Sam, ed. (22 March 2018)] Seumas Milne
"The merits of taking an anti-anti-communism stance"
''Aeon''. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
and Michael Parenti
Ghodsee, Nathan J. Robinson
and Scott Sehon
write about the merits of taking an anti anti-communist
position that does not deny the atrocities but make a dinstiction between anti-authoritarian
communist and other socialist currents, both of which have been victims of Marxist–Leninist repression.
Historiography of Marxist–Leninist states is similarly polarised. According to John Earl Haynes
and Harvey Klehr
, historiography is characterised by a split between "traditionalists" and "revisionists". "Traditionalists", who characterise themselves as objective reporters of an alleged "totalitarian" nature of communism and Marxist–Leninist state
s, are criticised by their opponents as being anti-communist
, even ''fascist
'', in their eagerness on continuing to focus on the issues of the Cold War
. Alternative characterisations for traditionalists include "anti-communist", "conservative", "Draperite" (after Theodore Draper
), "orthodox" and "right-wing". Norman Markowitz, a prominent "revisionist", referred to them as "reactionaries", "right-wing romantics", "romantics" and "triumphalist" who belong to the "HUAC
school of CPUSA
scholarship." According to Haynes and Klehr, "revisionists" are more numerous and dominate academic institutions and learned journals. A suggested alternative formulation is "new historians of American communism", but that has not caught on because these historians describe themselves as unbiased and scholarly and contrast their work to the work of anti-communist traditionalists whom they would term biased and unscholarly. Academic Sovietology
after World War II
and during the Cold War was dominated by the "totalitarian model" of the Soviet Union, stressing the absolute nature of Stalin's power. The "revisionist school" beginning in the 1960s focused on relatively autonomous institutions which might influence policy at the higher level.
Matt Lenoe describes the "revisionist school" as representing those who "insisted that the old image of the Soviet Union as a totalitarian state bent on world domination was oversimplified or just plain wrong. They tended to be interested in social history and to argue that the Communist Party leadership had had to adjust to social forces."
These "revisionist school" historians challenged the "totalitarian model" approach to Marxist–Leninist history, as outlined by political scientist Carl Joachim Friedrich
, which argued that the Soviet Union and other Marxist–Leninist states were totalitarian
systems, with the personality cult and almost unlimited powers of the "great leader".
Bolsheviks, February Revolution and Great War (1903–1917)
Although Marxism–Leninism was created after Vladimir Lenin
's death during the regime of Josef Stalin
in the Soviet Union, continuing to be the official state ideology after de-Stalinisation and of other Marxist–Leninist states, the basis for elements of Marxism–Leninism predate this. The philosophy of Marxism–Leninism originated as the pro-active, political praxis of the Bolshevik
faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
in realising political change in Tsarist Russia. Lenin's leadership transformed the Bolsheviks into the party's political vanguard which was composed of professional revolutionaries who practised democratic centralism
to elect leaders and officers as well as to determine policy through free discussion, then decisively realised through united action.
of proactive, pragmatic commitment to achieving revolution was the Bolsheviks' advantage in out-manoeuvring the liberal and conservative political parties who advocated social democracy
without a practical plan of action for the Russian society they wished to govern. Leninism
allowed the Bolshevik party
to assume command of the October Revolution
[Bottomore, p. 54.]
Twelve years before the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks had failed to assume control of the February Revolution of 1905 (22 January 1905 – 16 June 1907) because the centres of revolutionary action were too far apart for proper political coordination.
[Bottomore, p. 259.]
To generate revolutionary momentum from the Tsarist army killings on Bloody Sunday
(22 January 1905), the Bolsheviks encouraged workers to use political violence in order to compel the bourgeois social classes (the nobility, the gentry and the bourgeoisie) to join the proletarian revolution
to overthrow the absolute monarchy
of the Tsar of Russia
. Most importantly, the experience of this revolution caused Lenin to conceive of the means of sponsoring socialist revolution through agitation, propaganda and a well-organised, disciplined and small political party.
[Ulam, p. 207.]
Despite secret-police persecution by the Okhrana
(Department for Protecting the Public Security and Order), émigré Bolsheviks returned to Russia to agitate, organise and lead, but then they returned to exile when peoples' revolutionary fervour failed in 1907.
The failure of the February Revolution exiled Bolsheviks, Mensheviks
, Socialist Revolutionaries
and anarchists such as the Black Guards
[Ulam, p. 269.]
Membership in both the Bolshevik and Menshevik ranks diminished from 1907 to 1908 while the number of people taking part in strikes in 1907 was 26% of the figure during the year of the Revolution of 1905, dropping to 6% in 1908 and 2% in 1910.
[Ulam, p. 270.]
The 1908–1917 period was one of disillusionment in the Bolshevik party over Lenin's leadership, with members opposing him for scandals involving his expropriations and methods of raising money for the party.
This political defeat was aggravated by Tsar Nicholas II
's political reformations of Imperial Russian government. In practise, the formalities of political participation (the electoral plurality of a multi-party system
with the State Duma
and the Russian Constitution of 1906
) were the Tsar's piecemeal and cosmetic concessions to social progress
because public office remained available only to the aristocracy
, the gentry
and the bourgeoisie
. These reforms resolved neither the illiteracy
, the poverty
, nor malnutrition
of the proletarian majority of Imperial Russia.
In Swiss exile, Lenin developed Marx's philosophy and extrapolated decolonisation
by colonial revolt
as a reinforcement of proletarian revolution
[Bottomore, p. 98.]
In 1912, Lenin resolved a factional challenge to his ideological leadership of the RSDLP by the Forward Group in the party, usurping the all-party congress to transform the RSDLP into the Bolshevik party. In the early 1910s, Lenin remained highly unpopular and was so unpopular amongst international socialist movement that by 1914 it considered censoring him.
Unlike the European socialists who chose bellicose nationalism to anti-war internationalism, whose philosophical and political break was consequence of the internationalist–defencist schism
among socialists, the Bolsheviks opposed the Great War
[Anderson, Kevin (1995). ''Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism: A Critical Study''. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 3.]
That nationalist betrayal of socialism was denounced by a small group of socialist leaders who opposed the Great War, including Rosa Luxemburg
, Karl Liebknecht
and Lenin, who said that the European socialists had failed the working classes for preferring patriotic war to proletarian internationalism
To debunk patriotism
and national chauvinism
, Lenin explained in the essay ''Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
'' (1917) that capitalist economic expansion leads to colonial imperialism
which is then regulated with nationalist wars such as the Great War among the empires of Europe. To relieve strategic pressures from the Western Front
(4 August 1914 – 11 November 1918), Imperial Germany
impelled the withdrawal of Imperial Russia
from the war's Eastern Front
(17 August 1914 – 3 March 1918) by sending Lenin and his Bolshevik cohort in a diplomatically-sealed train, anticipating them partaking in revolutionary activity.
October Revolution and Russian Civil War (1917–1922)
In March 1917, the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II led to the Russian Provisional Government
(March–July 1917), who then proclaimed the Russian Republic
(September–November 1917). Later in the October Revolution
, the Bolshevik's seizure of power against the Provisional Government resulted in their establishment of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
(1917–1991), yet parts of Russia remained occupied by the counter-revolutionary White Movement
of anti-communists who had united to form the White Army
to fight the Russian Civil War
(1917–1922) against the Bolshevik government. Moreover, despite the White–Red civil war, Russia remained a combatant in the Great War that the Bolshevik's had quit with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
which then provoked the Allied Intervention to the Russian Civil War
by the armies of seventeen countries, featuring Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States and Imperial Japan.
Elsewhere, the successful October Revolution in Russia had facilitated the German Revolution of 1918–1919
and revolutions and interventions in Hungary (1918–1920)
which produced the First Hungarian Republic
and the Hungarian Soviet Republic
. In Berlin, the German government and their Freikorps
mercenaries fought and defeated the Spartacist uprising
which began as a general strike
. In Munich, the local Freikorps fought and defeated the Bavarian Soviet Republic
. In Hungary, the disorganised workers who had proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic were fought and defeated by the royal armies of the Kingdom of Romania
and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
as well as the army of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia
. These communist forces were soon crushed by anti-communist forces and attempts to create an international communist revolution failed. However, a successful revolution occurred in Asia, when the Mongolian Revolution of 1921
established the Mongolian People's Republic
(1924–1992). The percentage of Bolshevik delegates in the All-Russian Congress of Soviets
increased from 13%, at the first congress
in July 1917, to 66%, at the fifth congress
As promised to the Russian peoples in October 1917, the Bolsheviks quit Russia's participation in the Great War on 3 March 1918. That same year, the Bolsheviks consolidated government power by expelling the Mensheviks, the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries
from the soviets
[Lee, p. 37.]
The Bolshevik government then established the Cheka
(All-Russian Extraordinary Commission) secret police to eliminate anti–Bolshevik opposition in the country. Initially, there was strong opposition to the Bolshevik régime because they had not resolved the food shortages and material poverty of the Russian peoples as promised in October 1917. From that social discontent, the Cheka reported 118 uprisings, including the Kronstadt rebellion
(7–17 March 1921) against the economic austerity of the War Communism imposed by the Bolsheviks.
The principal obstacles to Russian economic development and modernisation were great material poverty
and the lack of modern technology which were conditions that orthodox Marxism considered unfavourable to communist revolution. Agricultural Russia was sufficiently developed for establishing capitalism, but it was insufficiently developed for establishing socialism.
[Ulam, p. 249.]
For Bolshevik Russia, the 1921–1924 period featured the simultaneous occurrence of economic recovery, famine (1921–1922) and a financial crisis (1924). By 1924, considerable economic progress had been achieved and by 1926 the Bolshevik government had achieved economic production levels equal to Russia's production levels in 1913.
[Lee, p. 39.]
Initial Bolshevik economic policies from 1917 to 1918 were cautious, with limited nationalisation
s of the means of production
which had been private property of the Russian aristocracy during the Tsarist monarchy.
[Lee, p. 38.]
Lenin was immediately committed to avoid antagonising the peasant
ry by making efforts to coax them away from the Socialist Revolutionaries, allowing a peasant takeover of nobles
' estates while no immediate nationalisations were enacted on peasants' property.
The Decree on Land
(8 November 1917) fulfilled Lenin's promised redistribution of Russia's arable land to the peasants, who reclaimed their farmlands from the aristocrats, ensuring the peasants' loyalty to the Bolshevik party. To overcome the civil war's economic interruptions, the policy of War Communism
(1918–1921), a regulated market
, state-controlled means of distribution and nationalisation of large-scale farms, was adopted to requisite and distribute grain in order to feed industrial workers in the cities whilst the Red Army was fighting the White Army's attempted restoration of the Romanov
dynasty as absolute monarchs
Moreover, the politically unpopular forced grain-requisitions discouraged peasants from farming resulted in reduced harvests and food shortages that provoked labour strikes and food riots. In the event, the Russian peoples created an economy of barter
and black market
to counter the Bolshevik government's voiding of the monetary economy
In 1921, the New Economic Policy
restored some private enterprise to animate the Russian economy.
As part of Lenin's pragmatic compromise with external financial interests in 1918, Bolshevik state capitalism
temporarily returned 91% of industry to private ownership or trusts
until the Soviet Russians learned the technology
and the techniques required to operate and administrate industries. Importantly, Lenin declared that the development of socialism would not be able to be pursued in the manner originally thought by Marxists.
A key aspect that affected the Bolshevik regime was the backward economic conditions in Russia that were considered unfavourable to orthodox Marxist theory of communist revolution.
At the time, orthodox Marxists claimed that Russia was ripe for the development of capitalism, not yet for socialism.
Lenin advocated the need of the development of a large corps of technical intelligentsia to assist the industrial development of Russia and advance the Marxist economic stages of development as it had too few technical experts at the time. In that vein, Lenin explained it as follows: "Our poverty is so great that we cannot, at one stroke, restore full-scale factory, state, socialist production."
He added that the development of socialism would proceed according to the actual material and socio-economic conditions in Russia and not as abstractly described by Marx for industrialised Europe in the 19th century. To overcome the lack of educated Russians who could operate and administrate industry, Lenin advocated the development of a technical intelligentsia
who would propel the industrial development of Russia to self-sufficiency.
Stalin's rise to power (1922–1928)
As he neared death after suffering strokes, Lenin's Testament
of December 1922 named Trotsky and Stalin as the most able men in the Central Committee, but he harshly criticised them. Lenin said that Stalin should be removed from being the General Secretary
of the party and that he be replaced with "some other person who is superior to Stalin only in one respect, namely, in being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more attentive to comrades."
[Lee, p. 41.]
Upon his death
on 21 January 1924, Lenin's political testament was read aloud to the Central Committee,
who choose to ignore Lenin's ordered removal of Stalin as General Secretary because enough members believed Stalin had been politically rehabilitated in 1923.
[Lee, pp. 41–42.]
Consequent to personally spiteful disputes about the praxis of Leninism
, the October Revolution veterans Lev Kamenev
and Grigory Zinoviev
said that the true threat to the ideological integrity of the party was Trotsky, who was a personally charismatic political leader as well as the commanding officer of the Red Army
in the Russian Civil War
and revolutionary partner of Lenin.
To thwart Trotsky's likely election to head the party, Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev formed a troika
that featured Stalin as General Secretary, the ''de facto'' centre of power
in the party and the country.
[Lee, p. 42.]
The direction of the party was decided in confrontations of politics and personality between Stalin's troika and Trotsky over which Marxist policy to pursue, either Trotsky's policy of permanent revolution
or Stalin's policy of socialism in one country
Trotsky's permanent revolution advocated rapid industrialisation, elimination of private farming and having the Soviet Union promote the spread of communist revolution abroad.
[Lee, p. 43.]
Stalin's socialism in one country stressed moderation and development of positive relations between the Soviet Union and other countries to increase trade and foreign investment.
To politically isolate and oust Trotsky from the party, Stalin expediently advocated socialism in one country, a policy to which he was indifferent.
In 1925, the 14th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
chose Stalin's policy, defeating Trotsky as a possible leader of the party and of the Soviet Union.
In the 1925–1927 period, Stalin dissolved the troika and disowned the centrist
Kamenev and Zinoviev for an expedient alliance with the three most right-wing
from the Bolshevik period, namely Alexei Rykov
(Premier of Russia, 1924–1929; Premier of the Soviet Union, 1924–1930),
and Mikhail Tomsky
(leader of the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions).
In 1927, the party endorsed Stalin's policy of socialism in one country as the Soviet Union's national policy and expelled the leftist Trotsky and the centrists Kamenev and Zinoviev from the Politburo
In 1929, Stalin politically controlled the party and the Soviet Union by way of deception and administrative acumen.
In that time, Stalin's centralised, socialism in one country régime had negatively associated Lenin's revolutionary Bolshevism
with Stalinism, i.e. government by command-policy to realise projects such as the rapid industrialisation of cities and the collectivisation of agriculture.
Such Stalinism also subordinated the interests (political, national and ideological) of Asian and European communist parties to the geopolitical interests of the Soviet Union.
In the 1928–1932 period of the first five-year plan
, Stalin affected the dekulakisation
of the farmlands of the Soviet Union, a politically radical dispossession of the kulak
class of peasant-landlords from the Tsarist
social order of monarchy.
As Old Bolshevik
revolutionaries, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky recommended amelioration of the dekulakisation to lessen the negative social impact in the relations between the Soviet peoples and the party, but Stalin took umbrage and then accused them of uncommunist philosophical deviations from Lenin and Marx. That implicit accusation of ideological deviationism
licensed Stalin to accuse Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky of plotting against the party and the appearance of impropriety then compelled the resignations of the Old Bolsheviks from government and from the Politburo.
Stalin then completed his political purging of the party by exiling Trotsky from the Soviet Union in 1929.
Afterwards, the political opposition to the practical régime of Stalinism was denounced as Trotskyism
(Bolshevik–Leninism), described as a deviation from Marxism–Leninism, the state ideology of the Soviet Union.
Political developments in the Soviet Union included Stalin dismantling the remaining elements of democracy from the party by extending his control over its institutions and eliminating any possible rivals.
[Lee, p. 49.]
The party's ranks grew in numbers, with the party modifying its organisation to include more trade unions and factories.
The ranks and files of the party were populated with members from the trade unions and the factories, whom Stalin controlled because there were no other Old Bolsheviks to contradict Marxism–Leninism.
[Lee, p. 49.]
In the late 1930s, the Soviet Union adopted the 1936 Soviet Constitution
which ended weighted-voting preferences for workers, promulgated universal suffrage
for every man and woman older than 18 years of age and organised the soviets (councils of workers) into two legislatures, namely the Soviet of the Union
(representing electoral districts) and the Soviet of Nationalities
(representing the ethnic groups of the country).
By 1939, with the exception of Stalin himself, none of the original Bolsheviks of the October Revolution of 1917 remained in the party.
Unquestioning loyalty to Stalin was expected by the regime of all citizens.
Stalin exercised extensive personal control over the party and unleashed an unprecedented level of violence to eliminate any potential threat to his regime.
[Lee, p. 47.]
While Stalin exercised major control over political initiatives, their implementation was in the control of localities, often with local leaders interpreting the policies in a way that served themselves best.
This abuse of power by local leaders exacerbated the violent purges and terror campaigns carried out by Stalin against members of the party deemed to be traitors.
With the Great Purge
(1936–1938), Stalin rid himself of internal enemies in the party and rid the Soviet Union of any alleged socially dangerous and counterrevolutionary person who might have offered legitimate political opposition to Marxism–Leninism.
[Pons, p. 447.]
Stalin allowed the secret police NKVD
(People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) to rise above the law and the GPU
(State Political Directorate) to use political violence
to eliminate any person who might be a threat, whether real, potential, or imagined. As an administrator, Stalin governed the Soviet Union by controlling the formulation of national policy, but he delegated implementation to subordinate functionaries. Such freedom of action allowed local communist functionaries much discretion to interpret the intent of orders from Moscow, but this allowed their corruption. To Stalin, the correction of such abuses of authority and economic corruption were responsibility of the NKVD. In the 1937–1938 period, the NKVD arrested 1.5 million people, purged from every stratum of Soviet society and every rank and file of the party, of which 681,692 people were killed as enemies of the state
To provide manpower (manual, intellectual and technical) to realise the construction of socialism in one country, the NKVD established the Gulag
system of forced-labour
camps for regular criminals and political dissidents, for culturally insubordinate artists and politically incorrect intellectuals and for homosexual people and religious anti-communists
Socialism in one country (1928–1945)
Beginning in 1928, Stalin's five-year plans for the national economy of the Soviet Union
achieved the rapid industrialisation (coal, iron and steel, electricity and petroleum, among others) and the collectivisation of agriculture.
It achieved 23.6% of collectivisation within two years (1930) and 98.0% of collectivisation within thirteen years (1941). As the revolutionary vanguard, the communist party organised Russian society to realise rapid industrialisation programs as defence against Western interference with socialism in Bolshevik Russia. The five-year plans were prepared in the 1920s whilst the Bolshevik government fought the internal Russian Civil War (1917–1922) and repelled the external Allied intervention to the Russian Civil War (1918–1925). Vast industrialisation was initiated mostly based with a focus on heavy industry
During the 1930s, the rapid industrialisation of the country accelerated the Soviet people's sociological transition from poverty to relative plenty when politically illiterate peasants passed from Tsarist serfdom
to self-determination and became politically aware urban citizens.
[Lee, p. 62.]
The Marxist–Leninist economic régime modernised Russia from the illiterate, peasant society characteristic of monarchy to the literate
, socialist society of educated farmers and industrial workers. Industrialisation led to a massive urbanisation
in the country.
[Lee, p. 62.] Unemployment
was virtually eliminated in the country during the 1930s.
Social developments in the Soviet Union included the relinquishment of the relaxed social control and allowance of experimentation under Lenin to Stalin's promotion of a rigid and authoritarian society based upon discipline, mixing traditional Russian values with Stalin's interpretation of Marxism.
[Lee, p. 63.]
Organised religion was repressed, especially minority religious groups.
Education was transformed. Under Lenin, the education system allowed relaxed discipline in schools that became based upon Marxist theory, but Stalin reversed this in 1934 with a conservative approach taken with the reintroduction of formal learning, the use of examinations and grades, the assertion of full authority of the teacher and the introduction of school uniforms.
Art and culture became strictly regulated under the principles of socialist realism
and Russian traditions that Stalin admired were allowed to continue.
Foreign policy in the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1941 resulted in substantial changes in the Soviet Union's approach to its foreign policy. In 1933, the Marxist–Leninist geopolitical perspective was that the Soviet Union was surrounded by capitalist and anti-communist enemies. As a result, the election of Adolf Hitler
and his Nazi Party
government in Germany initially caused the Soviet Union to sever diplomatic relations that had been established in the 1920s. In 1938, Stalin accommodated the Nazis and the anti-communist West by not defending Czechoslovakia, allowing Hitler's threat of pre-emptive war for the Sudetenland
to annex the land and "rescue the oppressed German peoples" living in Czecho.
[Lee, p. 74.]
To challenge Nazi Germany
's bid for European empire and hegemony, Stalin promoted anti-fascist
front organisations to encourage European socialists and democrats to join the Soviet communists to fight throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, creating agreements with France to challenge Germany.
After Germany and Britain signed the Munich Agreement
(29 September 1938) which allowed the German occupation of Czechoslovakia
(1938–1945), Stalin adopted pro-German policies for the Soviet Union's dealings with Nazi Germany.
In 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agreed to the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, 23 August 1939) and to jointly invade and partition Poland
, by way of which Nazi Germany started the Second World War (1 September 1939).
In the 1941–1942 period of the Great Patriotic War
, the German invasion of the Soviet Union
(Operation Barbarossa, 22 June 1941) was ineffectively opposed by the Red Army
, who were poorly led, ill-trained and under-equipped. As a result, they fought poorly and suffered great losses of soldiers (killed, wounded and captured). The weakness of the Red Army was partly consequence of the Great Purge
(1936–1938) of senior officers and career soldiers whom Stalin considered politically unreliable.
[Lee, p. 80.]
Strategically, the Wehrmacht
's extensive and effective attack threatened the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union and the political integrity of Stalin's model of a Marxist–Leninist state, when the Nazis were initially welcomed as liberators by the anti-communist and nationalist populations in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic
and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
The anti-Soviet nationalists' collaboration
with the Nazi's lasted until the ''Schutzstaffel
'' and the ''Einsatzgruppen
'' began their ''Lebensraum
'' killings of the Jewish populations, the local communists, the civil and community leaders—the Holocaust
meant to realise the Nazi German colonisation of Bolshevik Russia. In response, Stalin ordered the Red Army to fight a total war
against the Germanic invaders who would exterminate Slavic Russia. Hitler's attack against the Soviet Union (Nazi Germany's erstwhile ally) realigned Stalin's political priorities, from the repression of internal enemies to the existential defence against external attack. The pragmatic Stalin then entered the Soviet Union to the Grand Alliance
, a common front against the Axis Powers
(Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy
and Imperial Japan
In the continental European countries occupied by the Axis powers
, the native communist party usually led the armed resistance (guerrilla warfare
and urban guerrilla warfare
) against fascist military occupation. In Mediterranean Europe, the communist Yugoslav Partisans
led by Josip Broz Tito
effectively resisted the German Nazi and Italian Fascist occupation. In the 1943–1944 period, the Yugoslav Partisans liberated territories with Red Army assistance and established the communist political authority that became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
. To end the Imperial Japanese occupation of China in continental Asia, Stalin ordered Mao Zedong
and the Communist Party of China
to temporarily cease the Chinese Civil War
(1927–1949) against Chiang Kai-shek
and the anti-communist Kuomintang
as the Second United Front
in the Second Sino-Japanese War
In 1943, the Red Army began to repel the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, especially at the Battle of Stalingrad
(23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) and at the Battle of Kursk
(5 July – 23 August 1943). The Red Army then repelled the Nazi and Fascist occupation armies from Eastern Europe until the Red Army decisively defeated Nazi Germany in the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation
(16 April–2 May 1945).
[Lee, p. 81.]
On concluding the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), the Soviet Union was a military superpower with a say in determining the geopolitical order of the world.
Apart from the failed Third Period
policy in the early 1930s, Marxist–Leninists played an important role in anti-fascist resistance movement
s, with the Soviet Union contributing to the Allied victory in World War II. In accordance with the three-power Yalta Agreement
(4–11 February 1945), the Soviet Union purged native fascist collaborators
and these in collaboration with the Axis Powers
from the Eastern European countries occupied by the Axis Powers and installed native Marxist–Leninist governments.
Cold War, de-Stalinisation and Maoism (1945–1980)
Upon Allied victory concluding the Second World War (1939–1945), the members of the Grand Alliance
resumed their expediently suppressed, pre-war geopolitical
rivalries and ideological tensions which disunity broke their anti-fascist
wartime alliance through the concept of totalitarianism
into the anti-communist Western Bloc
and the Marxist–Leninist Eastern Bloc
. The renewed competition for geopolitical hegemony
resulted in the bi-polar Cold War
(1945–1991), a protracted state of tension (military and diplomatic) between the United States and the Soviet Union which often threatened a Soviet–American nuclear war
, but it usually featured proxy war
s in the Third World. With the end of the Grand Alliance and the start of the Cold War, anti-fascism became part of both the official ideology and language of Marxist–Leninist states, especially in East Germany
'' and ''anti-fascism'', with the latter used to mean a general anti-capitalist
struggle against the Western world
, became epithets widely used by Marxist–Leninists to smear their opponents, including democratic socialists
, libertarian socialists
, social democrats
and other anti-Stalinist left
The events that precipitated the Cold War in Europe were the Soviet and Yugoslav, Bulgarian and Albanian military interventions to the Greek Civil War
(1944–1949) on behalf of the Communist Party of Greece
; and the Berlin Blockade
(1948–1949) by the Soviet Union. The event that precipitated the Cold War in continental Asia was the resumption of the Chinese Civil War
(1927–1949) fought between the anti-communist Kuomintang
and the Communist Party of China
. After military defeat exiled Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
and his Kuomintang nationalist government to Formosa island (Taiwan
), Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China
on 1 October 1949.
In the late 1940s, the geopolitics of the Eastern Bloc countries under Soviet predominance featured an official-and-personal style of socialist diplomacy that failed Stalin and Tito when Tito refused to subordinating Yugoslavia to the Soviet Union. In 1948, circumstance and cultural personality aggravated the matter into the Yugoslav–Soviet split
(1948–1955) that resulted from Tito's rejection of Stalin's demand to subordinate the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
to the geopolitical agenda (economic and military) of the Soviet Union, i.e. Tito at Stalin's disposal. Stalin punished Tito's refusal by denouncing him as an ideological revisionist of Marxism–Leninism; by denouncing Yugoslavia's practice of Titoism
as socialism deviated from the cause of world communism
; and by expelling the Communist Party of Yugoslavia
from the Communist Information Bureau
(Cominform). The break from the Eastern Bloc allowed the development of a socialism with Yugoslav characteristics which allowed doing business with the capitalist West to develop the socialist economy
and the establishment of Yugoslavia's diplomatic and commercial relations with countries of the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc. Yugoslavia's international relations matured into the Non-Aligned Movement
(1961) of countries without political allegiance to any power bloc
At the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev
became leader of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and then consolidated an anti-Stalinist government. In a secret meeting at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and Stalinism
in the speech ''On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences
'' (25 February 1956) in which he specified and condemned Stalin's dictatorial excesses and abuses of power such as the Great purge
(1936–1938) and the cult of personality
. Khrushchev introduced the de-Stalinisation
of the party and of the Soviet Union. He realised this with the dismantling of the Gulag archipelago of forced-labour camps and freeing the prisoners as well as allowing Soviet civil society greater political freedom of expression, especially for public intellectuals of the intelligentsia
such as the novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
, whose literature obliquely criticised Stalin and the Stalinist police state
. De-Stalinisation also ended Stalin's national-purpose policy of socialism in one country
and was replaced with proletarian internationalism
, by way of which Khrushchev re-committed the Soviet Union to permanent revolution
to realise world communism
. In that geopolitical vein, Khrushchev presented de-Stalinisation as the restoration of Leninism as the state ideology of the Soviet Union.
In the 1950s, the de-Stalinisation of the Soviet Union was ideological bad news for the People's Republic of China because Soviet and Russian interpretations and applications of Leninism and orthodox Marxism contradicted the Sinified Marxism–Leninism of Mao Zedong—his Chinese adaptations of Stalinist interpretation and praxis for establishing socialism in China. To realise that leap of Marxist faith in the development of Chinese socialism, the Communist Party of China developed Maoism
as the official state ideology. As the specifically Chinese development of Marxism–Leninism, Maoism illuminated the cultural differences between the European-Russian and the Asian-Chinese interpretations and practical applications of Marxism–Leninism in each country. The political differences then provoked geopolitical, ideological and nationalist tensions, which derived from the different stages of development, between the urban society of the industrialised Soviet Union and the agricultural society of the pre-industrial China. The theory versus praxis arguments escalated to theoretic disputes about Marxist–Leninist revisionism and provoked the Sino-Soviet split
(1956–1966) and the two countries broke their international relations (diplomatic, political, cultural and economic).
In Eastern Asia, the Cold War produced the Korean War
(1950–1953), the first proxy war between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc, resulted from dual origins, namely the nationalist Koreans' post-war resumption of their Korean Civil War
and the imperial war for regional hegemony sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union. The international response to the North Korean invasion of South Korea was realised by the United Nations Security Council
, who voted for war despite the absent Soviet Union and authorised an international military expedition to intervene, expel the northern invaders from the south of Korea and restore the geopolitical ''status quo ante'' of the Soviet and American division of Korea
at the 38th Parallel of global latitude. Consequent to Chinese military intervention in behalf of North Korea, the magnitude of the infantry
warfare reached operational and geographic stalemate
(July 1951–July 1953). Afterwards, the shooting war was ended with the Korean Armistice Agreement
(27 July 1953); and the superpower Cold War in Asia then resumed as the Korean Demilitarised Zone
Consequent to the Sino-Soviet split, the pragmatic China established politics of détente
with the United States in an effort to publicly challenge the Soviet Union for leadership of the international Marxist–Leninist movement. Mao Zedong's pragmatism permitted geopolitical rapprochement and facilitated President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China
which subsequently ended the policy of the existence to Two Chinas
when the United States sponsored the People's Republic of China to replace the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the representative of the Chinese people at the United Nations. In the due course of Sino-American rapprochement, China also assumed membership in the Security Council
of the United Nations.
In the post-Mao period of Sino-American détente, the Deng Xiaoping
government (1982–1987) affected policies of economic liberalisation
that allowed continual growth for the Chinese economy. The ideological justification is socialism with Chinese characteristics
, the Chinese adaptation of Marxism–Leninism.
Communist revolution erupted in the Americas in this period, including revolutions in Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay. The Cuban Revolution
(1953–1959) led by Fidel Castro
and Che Guevara
deposed the military dictatorship (1952–1959) of Fulgencio Batista
and established the Republic of Cuba
, a state formally recognised by the Soviet Union. In response, the United States launched a coup against the Castro government in 1961. However, the CIA's unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion
(17 April 1961) by anti-communist Cuban exiles impelled the Republic of Cuba to side with the Soviet Union in the geopolitics of the bipolar Cold War. The Cuban Missile Crisis
(22–28 October 1962) occurred when the United States opposed Cuba being armed with nuclear missiles by the Soviet Union. After a stalemate confrontation, the United States and the Soviet Union jointly resolved the nuclear-missile crisis by respectively removing United States missiles from Turkey and Italy and Soviet missiles from Cuba.
Both Bolivia, Canada and Uruguay faced Marxist–Leninist revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. In Bolivia, this included Che Guevara as a leader until being killed there by government forces. In 1970, the October Crisis
(5 October – 28 December 1970) occurred in Canada, a brief revolution in the province of Quebec
, where the actions of the Marxist–Leninist and separatist Quebec Liberation Front
(FLQ) featured the kidnap of James Cross, the British Trade Commissioner in Canada; and the killing of Pierre Laporte
, the Quebec government minister. The political manifesto of the FLQ condemned English-Canadian imperialism in French Quebec and called for an independent, socialist Quebec. The Canadian government's harsh response included the suspension of civil liberties in Quebec and compelled the FLQ leaders' flight to Cuba. Uruguay faced Marxist–Leninist revolution from the Tupamaros
movement from the 1960s to the 1970s.
In 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN) led by Daniel Ortega
won the Nicaraguan Revolution
(1961–1990) against the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle
(1 December 1974 – 17 July 1979) to establish a socialist Nicaragua. Within months, the government of Ronald Reagan
sponsored the counter-revolutionary Contras
in the secret Contra War
(1979–1990) against the Sandinista government. In 1989, the Contra War concluded with the signing of the Tela Accord at the port of Tela, Honduras. The Tela Accord required the subsequent, voluntary demobilisation of the Contra guerrilla armies and the FSLN army. In 1990, a second national election installed to government a majority of non-Sandinista political parties, to whom the FSLN handed political power. Since 2006, the FSLN has returned to government, winning every legislative and presidential election in the process (2006, 2011 and 2016).
The Salvadoran Civil War
(1979–1992) featured the popularly supported Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
, an organisation of left-wing parties fighting against the right-wing military government of El Salvador. In 1983, the United States invasion of Grenada
(25–29 October 1983) thwarted the assumption of power by the elected government of the New Jewel Movement
(1973–1983), a Marxist–Leninist vanguard party led by Maurice Bishop
In Asia, the Vietnam War
(1945–1975) was the second East–West war fought during the Cold War (1945–1991). In the First Indochina War
(1946–1954), the Việt Minh
led by Ho Chi Minh
defeated the French re-establishment of European colonialism in Vietnam. To fill the geopolitical power vacuum caused by French defeat in southeast Asia, the United States then became the Western power supporting the client-state Republic of Vietnam
(1955–1975) headed by Ngo Dinh Diem
. Despite possessing military superiority, the United States failed to safeguard South Vietnam from the guerrilla warfare of the Viet Cong
sponsored by North Vietnam. On 30 January 1968, North Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive
(the General Offensive and Uprising of Tet Mau Than, 1968). Although a military failure for the guerrillas and the army, it was a successful psychological warfare
operation that decisively turned international public opinion against the United States intervention to the Vietnamese civil war, with the military withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam in 1973 and the subsequent and consequent Fall of Saigon
to the North Vietnamese army on 30 April 1975.
With the end of the Vietnam War, Marxist–Leninist regimes were established in Vietnam's neighbour states. This included Kampuchea
. Consequent to the Cambodian Civil War
(1968–1975), a coalition composed of Prince Norodom Sihanouk
(1941–1955), the native Cambodian Marxist–Leninists and the Maoist Khmer Rouge
(1951–1999) led by Pol Pot
established Democratic Kampuchea
(1975–1982), a Marxist–Leninist state that featured class warfare
to restructure the society of old Cambodia and to be effected and realised with the abolishment of money
and private property, the outlawing of religion, the killing of the intelligentsia
and compulsory manual labour for the middle class
es by way of death-squad state terrorism
[Bullock, Allan; Trombley, Stephen, eds. (1999). ''The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought'' (3rd ed.). p. 458.]
To eliminate Western cultural influence, Kampuchea expelled all foreigners and effected the destruction of the urban bourgeoisie
of old Cambodia, first by displacing the population of the capital city, Phnom Penh; and then by displacing the national populace to work farmlands to increase food supplies. Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge purged Kampuchea of internal enemies (social class and political, cultural and ethnic) at the Killing Fields
, the scope of which became crimes against humanity
for the deaths of 2,700,000 people by mass murder and genocide
[Cook, Chris, ed. (1998). ''Dictionary of Historical Terms'' (2nd ed.). pp. 192–193.]
That social restructuring of Cambodia into Kampuchea included attacks against the Vietnamese ethnic minority of the country which aggravated the historical, ethnic rivalries between the Viet and the Khmer peoples. Beginning in September 1977, Kampuchea and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
continually engaged in border clashes. In 1978, Vietnam invaded Kampuchea and captured Phnom Penh in January 1979, deposed the Maoist Khmer Rouge from government and established the Cambodian Liberation Front for National Renewal as the government of Cambodia.
A new front of Marxist–Leninist revolution erupted in Africa between 1961 and 1979. Angola
became Marxist–Leninist states governed by their respective native peoples during the 1968–1980 period. Marxist–Leninist guerrillas fought the Portuguese Colonial War
(1961–1974) in three countries, namely Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. In Ethiopia, a Marxist–Leninist revolution deposed the monarchy of Emperor Haile Selassie
(1930–1974) and established the Derg government (1974–1987) of the Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia
. In Rhodesia
(1965–1979), Robert Mugabe
led the Zimbabwe War of Liberation
(1964–1979) that deposed white-minority rule and then established the Republic of Zimbabwe.
In Apartheid South Africa
(1948–1994), the Afrikaner government of the Nationalist Party
caused much geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union because of the Afrikaners' violent social control and political repression of the black and coloured populations of South Africa exercised under the guise of anti-communism and national security. The Soviet Union officially supported the overthrow of apartheid while the West and the United States in particular maintained official neutrality on the matter. In the 1976–1977 period of the Cold War, the United States and other Western countries found it morally untenable to politically support Apartheid South Africa, especially when the Afrikaner
government killed 176 people (students and adults) in the police suppression of the Soweto uprising
(June 1976), a political protest against Afrikaner cultural imperialism
upon the non-white peoples of South Africa, specifically the imposition of the Germanic language of Afrikaans
as the standard language
for education which black South Africans were required to speak when addressing white people and Afrikaners; and the police assassination of Steven Biko
(September 1977), a politically moderate leader of the internal resistance to apartheid
in South Africa.
Under President Jimmy Carter
, the West joined the Soviet Union and others in enacting sanctions against weapons trade and weapons-grade material to South Africa. However, forceful actions by the United States against Apartheid South Africa were diminished under President Reagan as the Reagan administration
feared the rise of revolution in South Africa as had happened in Zimbabwe against white minority rule. In 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan to establish a Marxist–Leninist state, although the act was seen as an invasion by the West which responded to the Soviet military actions by boycotting the Moscow Olympics of 1980
and providing clandestine support to the Mujahideen
, including Osama bin Laden
, as a means to challenge the Soviet Union. The war became a Soviet equivalent of the Vietnam War to the United States and it remained a stalemate throughout the 1980s.
Reform and collapse (1980–1992)
Social resistance to the policies of Marxist–Leninist regimes in Eastern Europe accelerated in strength with the rise of the Solidarity
, the first non-Marxist–Leninist controlled trade union in the Warsaw Pact that was formed in the People's Republic of Poland
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev
rose to power in the Soviet Union and began policies of radical political reform involving political liberalisation, called perestroika
. Gorbachev's policies were designed at dismantling authoritarian elements of the state that were developed by Stalin, aiming for a return to a supposed ideal Leninist state that retained one-party structure while allowing the democratic election of competing candidates within the party for political office. Gorbachev also aimed to seek détente with the West and end the Cold War that was no longer economically sustainable to be pursued by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and the United States under President George H. W. Bush
joined in pushing for the dismantlement of apartheid and oversaw the dismantlement of South African colonial rule over Namibia
Meanwhile, the Cental and Eastern European Marxist–Leninist states politically deteriorated in response to the success of the Polish Solidarity movement and the possibility of Gorbachev-style political liberalisation. In 1989, revolts began across Central and Eastern Europe and China against Marxist–Leninist regimes. In China, the government refused to negotiate with student protestors, resulting in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre
that stopped the revolts by force. The Pan-European Picnic
, which was based on an idea by Otto von Habsburg
to test the reaction of the Soviet Union, then triggered a peaceful chain reaction in August 1989, at the end of which there was no longer East Germany and the Iron Curtain
and the Marxist–Leninist Eastern Bloc
had collapsed. On the one hand, as a result of the Pan-European Picnic, the Marxist–Leninist rulers of the Eastern Bloc did not act decisively, but cracks appeared between them and on the other hand the media-informed Central and Eastern European population now noticed a steady loss of power in their governments.
The revolts culminated with the revolt in East Germany
against the Marxist–Leninist regime of Erich Honecker
and demands for the Berlin Wall
to be torn down. The event in East Germany developed into a popular mass revolt with sections of the Berlin Wall being torn down and East and West Berliners uniting. Gorbachev's refusal to use Soviet forces based in East Germany to suppress the revolt was seen as a sign that the Cold War had ended. Honecker was pressured to resign from office and the new government committed itself to reunification with West Germany. The Marxist–Leninist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu
was forcefully overthrown in 1989 and Ceaușescu was executed. The other Warsaw Pact regimes also fell during the Revolutions of 1989
, with the exception of the Socialist People's Republic of Albania
that continued until 1992.
Unrest and eventual collapse of Marxism–Leninism also occurred in Yugoslavia
, although for different reasons than those of the Warsaw Pact. The death of Josip Broz Tito
in 1980 and the subsequent vacuum of strong leadership allowed the rise of rival ethnic nationalism in the multinational country. The first leader to exploit such nationalism for political purposes was Slobodan Milošević
, who used it to seize power as president of Serbia
and demanded concessions to Serbia and Serbs
by the other republics in the Yugoslav federation. This resulted in a surge of Slovene
nationalism in response and the collapse of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia
in 1990, the victory of nationalists in multi-party elections in most of Yugoslavia's constituent republics and eventually civil war between the various nationalities
beginning in 1991. Yugoslavia was dissolved in 1992.
The Soviet Union itself collapsed between 1990 and 1991, with a rise of secessionist nationalism and a political power dispute between Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin
, the new leader of the Russian Federation
. With the Soviet Union collapsing, Gorbachev prepared the country to become a loose federation of independent states called the Commonwealth of Independent States
. Hardline Marxist–Leninist leaders in the military reacted to Gorbachev's policies with the August Coup
of 1991 in which hardline Marxist–Leninist military leaders overthrew Gorbachev and seized control of the government. This regime only lasted briefly as widespread popular opposition erupted in street protests and refused to submit. Gorbachev was restored to power, but the various Soviet republics were now set for independence. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev officially announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ending the existence of the world's first Marxist–Leninist-led state.
Post–Cold War era (1992–present)
Since the fall of the Eastern European Marxist–Leninist regimes, the Soviet Union and a variety of African Marxist–Leninist regimes, only a few Marxist–Leninist parties remained in power. This include China
. Most Marxist–Leninist communist parties outside of these nations have fared relatively poorly in elections, although other parties have remained or became a relative strong
force. This include Russia
, where the Communist Party of the Russian Federation
has remained a significant political force, winning the 1995 legislative election
, almost winning the 1996 presidential election
and generally remaining the second most popular party. In Ukraine
, the Communist Party of Ukraine
has also exerted influence and governed the country after the 1994 parliamentary election
and again after the 2006 parliamentary election
. However, the 2014 parliamentary election
following the Russian invasion of Ukraine
and the annexation of Crimea
resulted in the loss of its 32 members and no parliamentary representation.
In Europe, several Marxist–Leninist parties remain strong. In Cyprus
, Dimitris Christofias
won the 2008 presidential election
. AKEL has consistently been the first and third most popular party, winning the 1970
legislative elections. In the Czech Republic
, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
and the Portuguese Communist Party
have been the second and fourth most popular parties until the 2017
legislative elections, respectively. Since 2017, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia supports the ANO 2011
–ČSSD minority government
while the Portuguese Communist Party has provided confidence and supply
along with the Ecologist Party "The Greens"
and Left Bloc
to the Socialist minority government
from 2015 to 2019. In Greece
, the Communist Party of Greece
has led an interim and later national unity government between 1989 and 1990, constantly remaining the third or fourth most popular party. In Moldova
, the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova
won the 2001
and April 2009
parliamentary elections. However, the April 2009 Moldovan elections results were protested
and another round was held in July
, resulting in the formation of the Alliance for European Integration
. Failing to elect the president, new parliamentary elections were held in November 2010
which resulted in roughly the same representation in the parliament. According to Ion Marandici, a Moldovan political scientist, the Party of Communists differs from those in other countries because it managed to appeal to the ethnic minorities and the anti-Romanian Moldovans. After tracing the adaptation strategy of the party, he found confirming evidence for five of the factors contributing to its electoral success, already mentioned in the theoretical literature on former Marxist–Leninist parties, namely the economic situation, the weakness of the opponents, the electoral laws, the fragmentation of the political spectrum and the legacy of the old regime. However, Marandici identified seven additional explanatory factors at work in the Moldovan case, namely the foreign support for certain political parties, separatism, the appeal to the ethnic minorities, the alliance-building capacity, the reliance on the Soviet notion of the Moldovan identity, the state-building process and the control over a significant portion of the media. It is due to these seven additional factors that the party managed to consolidate and expand its constituency. In the post-Soviet states
, the Party of Communists are the only ones who have been in power for so long and did not change the name of the party.
In Asia, a number of Marxist–Leninist regimes and movements continue to exist. The People's Republic of China has continued the agenda of Deng Xiaoping
's 1980s reforms by initiating significant privatisation of the national economy. At the same time, no corresponding political liberalisation has occurred as happened in previous years to Eastern European countries. The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency
has continued between the governments of Bangladesh
against various Marxist–Leninist movements, having been unabated since the 1960s. In India, the Manmohan Singh
government depended on the parliamentary support of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
which has led state governments in Kerala
and West Bengal
. The armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist)
has been fighting a war against the government of India since 1967 and is still active in half the country. Maoist rebels in Nepal
engaged in a civil war
from 1996 to 2006 that managed to topple the monarchy there and create a republic. Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist)
leader Man Mohan Adhikari
briefly became prime minister
and national leader from 1994 to 1995 and the Maoist
guerrilla leader Prachanda
was elected prime minister by the Constituent Assembly of Nepal
in 2008. Prachanda has since been deposed as prime minister, leading the Maoists, who consider Prachanda's removal to be unjust, to abandon their legalistic approach and return to their street actions and militancy and to lead sporadic general strike
s using their substantial influence on the Nepalese labour movement. These actions have oscillated between mild and intense. In the Philippines
, the Maoist-oriented Communist Party of the Philippines
and its armed wing, the New People's Army
, have been waging armed revolution
against the existing Philippine government since 1968 and are still participating in a low-scale guerrilla insurgency.
In Africa, several Marxist–Leninist states reformed themselves and maintained power. In South Africa
, the South African Communist Party
is a member of the Tripartite alliance
alongside the African National Congress
and the Congress of South African Trade Unions
. The Economic Freedom Fighters
is a pan-African, Marxist–Leninist party founded in 2013 by expelled former president of the African National Congress Youth League Julius Malema
and his allies. Sri Lanka
has had Marxist–Leninist ministers in their national governments. In Zimbabwe
, former President Robert Mugabe
of the ZANU–PF
, the country's long standing leader, was a professed Marxist–Leninist.
In the Americas, there have been several insurgencies. In North America, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
led by its chairman Bob Avakian
organises for a revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and replace it with a socialist state
. In South America, Colombia
has been in the midst of a civil war
which has been waged since 1964 between the Colombian government and aligned right-wing paramilitaries
against two Marxist–Leninist guerrilla groups, namely the National Liberation Army
and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
. In Peru
, there has been an internal conflict
between the Peruvian government and Marxist–Leninist–Maoist militants such as the Shining Path
Collectivism and egalitarianism
were an important part of Marxist–Leninist ideology in the Soviet Union
, where it played a key part in forming the New Soviet man
, willingly sacrificing his or her life for the good of the collective. Terms such as "collective" and "the masses" were frequently used in the official language and praised in agitprop
literature by Vladimir Mayakovsky
(''Who needs a "1"'') and Bertolt Brecht
'' and ''Man Equals Man
The fact that Marxist–Leninist regimes confiscated private businesses and landholdings radically increased income and property equality in practice. Income inequality
dropped in Russia under the rule of the Soviet Union, then rebounded after its demise in 1991. It also dropped rapidly in the Eastern Bloc
after the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. Similarly, inequality went back up after the collapse of the Soviet system. According to Paul Hollander
, this was one of the features of communist state
s that was so attractive to egalitarian Western intellectuals that they quietly justified the murder of millions of capitalists
and supposedly wealthy kulaks
in order to achieve this equality. According to Walter Scheidel
, they were correct to the extent that historically only violent shocks have resulted in major reductions in economic inequality.
Marxist–Leninists respond to this type of criticism by highlighting the ideological differences in the concept of freedom
. It was noted that "Marxist–Leninist norms disparaged ''laissez-faire
(as when housing is determined by one's ability to pay)" and condemned "wide variations in personal wealth as the West has not" whilst emphasizing equality, by which they mean "free education and medical care, little disparity in housing or salaries, and so forth." When asked to comment on the claim that former citizens of socialist states
now enjoy increased freedoms, Heinz Kessler
, former East German Minister of National Defence
, replied: "Millions of people in Eastern Europe are now free from employment, free from safe streets, free from health care, free from social security."
The goal of Marxist–Leninist political economy
is the emancipation of men and women from the dehumanisation
caused by mechanistic work that is psychologically alienating
(without work–life balance) which is performed in exchange for wage
s that give limited financial-access to the material necessities of life (i.e. food and shelter). That personal and societal emancipation from poverty
(material necessity) would maximise individual liberty by enabling men and women to pursue their interests and innate talents (artistic, industrial and intellectual) whilst working by choice, without the economic coercion of poverty. In the communist society
of upper-stage economic development, the elimination of alienating labour (mechanistic work) depends upon the developments of high technology
that improve the means of production and the means of distribution. To meet the material needs of a socialist society, the state uses a planned economy
to co-ordinate the means of production
and of distribution to supply and deliver the goods and services required throughout society and the national economy. The state serves as a safeguard for the ownership and as the coordinator of production through a universal economic plan.
[Pons, p. 138.]
For the purpose of reducing waste and increasing efficiency, scientific planning replaces market mechanism
s and price mechanism
s as the guiding principle of the economy.
The state's huge purchasing power replaces the role of market forces, with macroeconomic equilibrium
not being achieved through market forces but by economic planning based on scientific assessment
[Pons, p. 139.]
of the worker are determined according to the type of skills and the type of work he or she can perform within the national economy.
[Pons, p. 140.]
Moreover, the economic value of the goods and services produced is based upon their use value
(as material objects) and not upon the cost of production
(value) or the exchange value
(marginal utility). The profit motive
as a driving force for production is replaced by social obligation to fulfil the economic plan.
s are set and differentiated according to skill and intensity of work. While socially utilised means of production are under public control, personal belongings or property of a personal nature that does not involve mass production of goods remains unaffected by the state.
Because Marxism–Leninism has historically been the state ideology of countries who were economically undeveloped prior to socialist revolution
, or whose economies were nearly obliterated by war such as the German Democratic Republic
and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
, the primary goal before achieving communism was the development of socialism in itself. Such was the case in the Soviet Union, where the economy was largely agrarian and urban industry was in a primitive stage. To develop socialism, the Soviet Union underwent rapid industrialisation
with pragmatic programs of social engineering
that transplanted peasant populations to the cities, where they were educated and trained as industrial workers
and then became the workforce of the new factories and industries. Similarly, the farmer populations worked the system of collective farms
to grow food to feed the industrial workers in the industrialised cities. Since the mid-1930s, Marxism–Leninism has advocated an austere social-equality based upon asceticism
[Pons, p. 731.]
In the 1920s, the Bolshevik party
semi-officially allowed some limited, small-scale wage inequality to boost labour productivity in the economy of the Soviet Union
. These reforms were promoted to encourage materialism and acquisitiveness in order to stimulate economic growth.
This pro-consumerist policy has been advanced on the lines of industrial pragmatism as it advances economic progress through bolstering industrialisation.
[Pons, p. 732.]
In the economic praxis of Bolshevik Russia, there was a defining difference of political economy between socialism and communism. Lenin explained their conceptual similarity to Marx's descriptions of the lower-stage and the upper-stage of economic development, namely that immediately after a proletarian revolution in the socialist lower-stage society the practical economy must be based upon the individual labour contributed by men and women and that paid labour would be the basis of the communist upper-stage society that has realised the social precept of the slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
Marxism–Leninism aims to create an international communist society.
[Albert, Michael; Hahnel, Robin (1981). ''Socialism Today and Tomorrow. Boston: South End Press. pp. 24–25.]
It opposes colonialism
and advocates decolonisation
and anti-colonial forces.
[Pons, p. 258.]
It supports anti-fascist
international alliances and has advocated the creation of popular front
s between communist and non-communist anti-fascists against strong fascist movements. This Marxist–Leninist approach to international relations
derives from the analyses (political, economic, sociological and geopolitical) that Lenin presented in the essay ''Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
'' (1917). Extrapolating from five philosophical bases of Marxism, namely that human history is the history of class struggle
between a ruling class and an exploited class; that capitalism creates antagonistic social class
es, i.e. the bourgeois
exploiters and the exploited proletariat
; that capitalism employs nationalist war
to further private economic expansion; that socialism
is an economic system that voids social classes through public ownership
of the means of production and so will eliminate the economic causes of war; and that once the state (socialist
) withers away, so shall international relations wither away because they are projections of national economic forces, Lenin said that the capitalists' exhaustion of domestic sources of investment profit by way of price-fixing trusts
s, then prompts the same capitalists to export investment capital
to undeveloped countries to finance the exploitation of natural resources
and the native populations and to create new markets. That the capitalists' control of national politics ensures the government's military safeguarding of colonial investments and the consequent imperial competition for economic supremacy provokes international wars to protect their national interests.
[Evans, Graham; Newnham, Jeffrey, eds. (1998). ''Penguin Dictionary of International Relations''. pp. 316–317.]
In the vertical perspective (social-class relations) of Marxism–Leninism, the internal and international affairs of a country are a political continuum, not separate realms of human activity. This is the philosophic opposite of the horizontal perspectives (country-to-country) of the liberal
and the realist
approaches to international relations. Colonial imperialism is the inevitable consequence in the course of economic relations among countries when the domestic price-fixing of monopoly capitalism
has voided profitable competition in the capitalist homeland. The ideology of New Imperialism
, rationalised as a civilising mission
, allowed the exportation of high-profit investment capital to undeveloped countries with uneducated, native populations (sources of cheap labour), plentiful raw materials for exploitation (factors for manufacture) and a colonial market to consume the surplus production
which the capitalist homeland cannot consume. The example is the European Scramble for Africa
(1881–1914) in which imperialism was safeguarded by the national military.
To secure the economic and settler colonies, foreign sources of new capital-investment-profit, the imperialist state seeks either political or military control of the limited resources (natural and human). The First World War (1914–1918) resulted from such geopolitical conflicts among the empires of Europe over colonial spheres of influence
. For the colonised working classes who create the wealth (goods and services), the elimination of war for natural resources (access, control and exploitation) is resolved by overthrowing the militaristic capitalist state
and establishing a socialist state because a peaceful world economy is feasible only by proletarian revolution
s that overthrow systems of political economy
based upon the exploitation of labour
Marxism–Leninism supports the creation of a one-party state
led by a communist party
as a means to develop socialism and then communism.
[Shtromas, Alexander; Faulkner, Robert K.; Mahoney, Daniel J., eds. (2003). ''Totalitarianism and the Prospects for World Order: Closing the Door on the Twentieth Century''. Oxford, England; Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 18.]
The political structure of the Marxist–Leninist state involves the rule of a communist vanguard party
over a revolutionary socialist state
that represents the will and rule of the proletariat
. Through the policy of democratic centralism
, the communist party is the supreme political institution of the Marxist–Leninist state.
In Marxism–Leninism, elections are held for all positions within the legislative structure, municipal councils, national legislatures and presidencies.
[Pons, p. 306.]
In most Marxist–Leninist states, this has taken the form of directly electing representatives to fill positions, although in some states such as People's Republic of China
, the Republic of Cuba
and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
this system also included indirect elections such as deputies being elected by deputies as the next lower level of government.
Marxism–Leninism asserts that society is united upon common interests represented through the communist party and other institutions of the Marxist–Leninist state.
Marxism–Leninism supports universal social welfare
. The Marxist–Leninist state provides for the national welfare with universal healthcare
, free public education
(academic, technical and professional) and the social benefits
(childcare and continuing education) necessary to increase the productivity of the workers and the socialist economy to develop a communist society. As part of the planned economy, the Marxist–Leninist state is meant to develop the proletariat
's universal education (academic and technical) and their class consciousness
(political education) to facilitate their contextual understanding of the historical development of communism as presented in Marx's theory of history
Marxism–Leninism supports the emancipation of women
and ending the exploitation of women. Marxist–Leninist policy on family law has typically involved the elimination of the political power of the bourgeoisie
, the abolition of private property
and an education that teaches citizens to abide by a disciplined and self-fulfilling lifestyle dictated by the social norms of communism as a means to establish a new social order.
[Pons, p. 319.]
The judicial reformation of family law
from the legal system. This facilitates the political emancipation of women
social inferiority and economic exploitation
. The reformation of civil law
secular into a "free and voluntary union" between persons who are social-and-legal equals; facilitated divorce
; legalised abortion
, eliminated bastardy
("illegitimate children"); and voided the political power of the bourgeoisie and the private property-status of the means of production
. The educational system imparts the social norms for a self-disciplined and self-fulfilling way of life, by which the socialist citizens establish the social order necessary for realising a communist society. With the advent of a classless society and the abolition of private property, society collectively assume many of the roles traditionally assigned to mothers and wives, with women becoming integrated into industrial work. This has been promoted by Marxism–Leninism as the means to achieve women's emancipation.
Marxist–Leninist cultural policy modernise
s social relations among citizens by eliminating the capitalist value system of traditionalist conservatism
, by which Tsarism classified, divided and controlled people with stratified social classes
without any socio-economic mobility. It focuses upon modernisation and distancing society from the past, the bourgeoisie and the old intelligentsia. The socio-cultural changes required for establishing a communist society are realised with education and agitprop
(agitation and propaganda) which reinforce communal and communist values.
[Pons, pp. 250–251.]
The modernisation of educational and cultural policies eliminates the societal atomisation, including anomie
and social alienation
, caused by cultural backwardness
. Marxism–Leninism develops the New Soviet man
, an educated and cultured citizen possessed of a proletarian class consciousness
who is oriented towards the social cohesion
necessary for developing a communist society as opposed to the antithetic bourgeois individualist associated with social atomisation.
[Pons, p. 581.]
The Marxist–Leninist worldview is atheist
, wherein all human activity results from human volition
and not the will of supernatural beings
(gods, goddesses and demons) who have direct agency
in the public and private affairs of human society. The tenets of the Soviet Union's national policy of Marxist–Leninist atheism
originated from the philosophies of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
(1770–1831) and Ludwig Feuerbach
(1804–1872) as well as that of Karl Marx
(1818–1883) and Vladimir Lenin
As a basis of Marxism–Leninism, the philosophy of materialism
(the physical universe
exists independently of human consciousness
) is applied as dialectical materialism
(considered by its proponents a philosophy of science
) to examine the socio-economic relations among people and things as parts of a dynamic, material world that is unlike the immaterial world of metaphysics
. Soviet astrophysicist Vitaly Ginzburg
said that ideologically the "Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists, but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists" in excluding religion from the social mainstream, from education and from government.
Marxism–Leninism has been widely criticised, particularly in its Stalinist
variants, across the political spectrum, including by other Marxists. Most Marxist–Leninist states have been regarded as authoritarian
and accused of being totalitarian
[Service (2007), pp. 5–6: "Whereas fascist totalitarianism in Italy and Germany was crushed in 1945, communist totalitarianism was reinforced in the USSR and other Marxist-Leninist states ... enough was achieved in the pursuit of comprehensive political monopoly for the USSR – as well as most other communist states – to be rightly described as totalitarian".]
especially the Soviet Union
under Joseph Stalin
under Mao Zedong
under the Khmer Rouge
under Nicolae Ceaușescu
[Gray, Daniel; Walker, David (2009). ''The A to Z of Marxism''. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 303–305.]
Rival ideologies were persecuted and most elections had only one candidate.
Marxist–Leninist regimes have carried out mass repression
and mass killing
of political dissidents and social classes (so-called "enemies of the people
") such as the Red Terror
and Great Purge
in the Soviet Union and the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries
[Pons, p. 307.]
According to Daniel Gray, Silvio Pons and David Martin Walker, these were partly a result of Marxist–Leninist ideology
and justified as a means of maintaining "proletarian power." According to Gray and Walker, political dissidents were deemed to be "distorting the true path to communism." According to Pons, repression of social groups was deemed a necessary part of class struggle
against the "exploiting classes."
In addition, Marxist–Leninist states have been responsible for mass religious persecution
such as in the Soviet Union
and in China
motivated by Marxist–Leninist atheism
Several Marxist–Leninist states carried out ethnic cleansing
[Pons, pp. 308–310: "The linkages between ethnic cleansing and the history of communism in power are manifold. Communist governments, wherever they arose, sought to increase the purview of their states by homogenizing, categorizing and making more transparent their populations. … The state would weed out the weak and ungovernable ... and eliminate those ethnicities or nationalities that proved able to perpetuate their cultural, political and economic distinctiveness. ... Ethnic cleansing and communism are linked not only in the history of the Soviet Union and Stalin ... Communist governments saw it in their interests to establish ethnically-homogeneous states and territories, sometimes even claiming that 'national' expulsions constituted a 'social' revolution, since those expelled were the bourgeois or aristocratic 'oppressors' of the native peoples".]
most notably the forced population transfer in the Soviet Union
and the Cambodian Genocide
For Pons, this was partly an effort to extend state control by homogenising their populations and removing ethnic groups that maintained their "cultural, political and economic distinctiveness."
Marxist–Leninist states enforced collectivisation
and made widespread use of forced labour
in labour camps
such as the Soviet gulag
s and Chinese laogai
[Service (2007), p. 301: "The labor camps developed in the USSR were introduced across the communist world. This was especially easy in eastern Europe where they inherited the punitive structures of the Third Reich. But China too was quick in developing its camp network. This became one of the defining features of communism. It is true that other types of society used forced labour as part of their penal system … What was different about communist rulership was the dispatch of people to the camps for no reason other than the misfortune of belonging to a suspect social class".]
Although some non-communist states used forced labour, what was different, according to Robert Service
, was "the dispatch of people to the camps for no reason other than the misfortune of belonging to a suspect social class."
According to Pons, this was justified by Marxist–Leninist ideology and seen as a means of "redemption". According to Service, their economic policies are blamed for causing major famine
s such as the Holodomor
and Great Chinese Famine
Scholars disagree on the Holodomor genocide question
and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen
puts the Great Chinese Famine in a global context, arguing that lack of democracy
was the major culprit and comparing it to other famines in capitalist countries
Writing about the Stalinist era
of Marxism–Leninism and its repressions, historian Michael Ellman
states that mass deaths from famines are not a "uniquely Stalinist evil" and compares the behavior of the Stalinist regime vis-à-vis the Holodomor to that of the British Empire
) and even the G8
in contemporary times, arguing that the latter "are guilty of mass manslaughter or mass deaths from criminal negligence because of their not taking obvious measures to reduce mass deaths" and that a possible defense of Joseph Stalin
and his associates is that "their behaviour was no worse than that of many rulers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
and orthodox Marxists
as well as council
and left communists
are critical of Marxism–Leninism, particularly for what they see as its authoritarianism. Polish Marxist Rosa Luxemburg
dismissed the Marxist–Leninist idea of a "vanguard", arguing that a revolution could not be brought about by command. She predicted that once the Bolsheviks had banned multi-party democracy and internal dissent, the "dictatorship of the proletariat" would become the dictatorship of a faction, and then of an individual.
[Morgan, W. John (2001). "Marxism–Leninism: The Ideology of Twentieth-Century Communism". In Wright, James D., ed. ''International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences'' (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. p. 658.] Trotskyists
believe Marxism–Leninism leads to the establishment of a degenerated
or deformed workers' state
, where the capitalist elite have been replaced by an unaccountable bureaucratic elite and there is no true democracy or workers' control of industry. American Marxist Raya Dunayevskaya
dismissed Marxism–Leninism as a type of state capitalism
because of state ownership
of the means of production
[Howard, M. C.; King, J. E. (2001)]
"State capitalism" in the Soviet Union"
and dismissed one-party rule as undemocratic. She further argued that it is neither Marxism
, but rather a composite ideology that Stalin used to expediently determine what is communism and what is not communism for the countries of the Eastern Bloc
[Todd, Allan (2012). ''History for the IB Diploma: Communism in Crisis 1976–89'', p. 16.]
Italian left communist Amadeo Bordiga
dismissed Marxism–Leninism as political opportunism that preserved capitalism because of the claim that the exchange of commodities would occur under socialism. He believed the use of popular front
organisations by the Communist International
[Bordiga, Amadeo (1952)]
"Dialogue With Stalin"
and a political vanguard organised by organic centralism
were more effective than a vanguard organised by democratic centralism. The anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin
criticised Marxism–Leninism as centralising and authoritarian.
Philosopher Eric Voegelin
sees Marxism–Leninism as inherently oppressive, arguing that the "Marxian vision dictated the Stalinist outcome not because the communist utopia was inevitable but because it was impossible."
[. "There remains another theory of Marxism's evil ideological influence that has come into vogue in recent years. This is the argument advanced by the American Catholic political philosopher Eric Voegelin, among others, that the commitment of Marxists to a political belief at one and the same time both deterministic and utopian was a form of "gnosticism," a heresy of hubris, leading them inexorably to the monumental crimes of Stalinism. In this view, the Marxian vision dictated the Stalinist outcome not because the communist utopia was inevitable but because it was impossible."]
Criticism like this has itself been criticised for philosophical determinism, i.e. that the negative events in the movement's history were predetermined by their convictions, with historian Robert Vincent Daniels
arguing that Marxism was used to "justify Stalinism, but it was no longer allowed to serve either as a policy directive or an explanation of reality" during Stalin's rule. In contrast, E. Van Ree argues that Stalin considered himself to be in "general agreement" with the classical works of Marxism until his death. Graeme Gill argues that Stalinism was "not a natural flow-on of earlier developments; t was a
sharp break resulting from conscious decisions by leading political actors." However, Gill notes that "difficulties with the use of the term reflect problems with the concept of Stalinism itself. The major difficulty is a lack of agreement about what should constitute Stalinism." Historians such as Michael Geyer
and Sheila Fitzpatrick
criticise the focus upon the upper levels of society and the use of Cold War concepts such as totalitarianism which have obscured the reality of Marxist–Leninist systems such as that of the Soviet Union.
Marxist–Leninists respond there was generally no unemployment in Marxist–Leninist states and most citizens were guaranteed housing, schooling, healthcare and public transport at little or no cost. In his critical analysis of Marxist–Leninist states, Ellman notes that they compared favorably with Western states in some health indicators such as infant mortality and life expectancy. posits there was a rise in living standards throughout Eastern Bloc countries as the result of modernisation programs under Marxist–Leninist governments. Sen found that several Marxist–Leninist states made significant gains in life expectancy and commented "one thought that is bound to occur is that communism is good for poverty removal." Olivia Ball and Paul Gready report that Marxist–Leninist states pressed Western governments to include economic rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
. Others such as Michael Parenti
state that Marxist–Leninist states experienced greater economic development than they would have otherwise, or that their leaders were forced to take harsh measures to defend their countries against the Western Bloc
during the Cold War
. Parenti also argues that accounts of political repression are exaggerated by anti-communists and that communist party rule provided some human rights such as economic, social and cultural rights
not found under capitalist states
, including the rights that everyone is treated equal regardless of education or financial stability; that any citizen can keep a job; or that there is a more efficient and equal distribution of resources. David L. Hoffmann
argues that many forms of state interventionism used by Marxist–Leninist governments, including social cataloging, surveillance and internment camps, pre-dated the Soviet regime and originated outside Russia. Hoffman further argues that technologies of social intervention developed together with the work of 19th-century European reformers and were greatly expanded during World War I, when state actors in all the combatant countries dramatically increased efforts to mobilise and control their populations. As the Soviet state was born at this moment of total war, it institutionalised state intervention as permanent features of governance.
Writing for ''The Guardian
states the result of the post–Cold War
narrative that Stalin and Hitler were twin evils, therefore communism is as monstrous as Nazism
, "has been to relativise the unique crimes of Nazism, bury those of colonialism and feed the idea that any attempt at radical social change will always lead to suffering, killing and failure."
[Milne, Seumas (12 September 2002)]
"The battle for history"
''The Guardian''. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
Other leftists, including some Marxist–Leninists, apply self-criticism
and have at times criticised Marxist–Leninist praxis and some actions by Marxist–Leninist governments while acknowledging its advancements, emancipatory
acts such as their support of labour rights
, women's rights
and the creation of mass social program
s for education, health, housing and jobs as well as the increase of living standards
According to Parenti, these revolutionary governments "extended a number of popular freedoms without destroying those freedoms that never existed in the previous regimes" such as democracy
and individual rights
, citing the examples of the "feudal regime" of Chiang Kai-shek
in China, the "U.S.-sponsored police state" of Fulgencio Batista
in Cuba, the "U.S.-supported puppet governments" of Bảo Đại
and others in Vietnam as well as French colonialism
in Algeria, but they nonetheless "fostered conditions necessary for national self-determination
, economic betterment, the preservation of health and human life, and the end of many of the worst forms of ethnic
, and class oppression
* History of the People's Republic of China
* History of the Soviet Union
* List of socialist states
* Bottomore, Thomas
(1991). ''A Dictionary of Marxist Thought''. Malden, Massachusetts; Oxford, England; Melbourne, Victoria; Berlin, Germany: Wiley-Blackwell. .
* Lee, Stephen J. (2000)''European Dictatorships, 1918–1945''
(2nd edition). London, England; New York, New York: Routledge. .
* Morgan, W. John (2015). "Marxism-Leninism: The Ideology of 20th Century Communism". In Wright, James D., ed. ''International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences'' (2nd ed.). 14. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 656–662. .
* Pons, Silvo; Service, Robert
(eds.). ''A Dictionary of 20th Century Communism''. Princeton, New Jersey; Oxfordshire, England: Princeton University Press .
* Ulam, Adam
br>''The Bolsheviks: The Intellectual and Political History of the Triumph of Communism in Russia''
Cambridge: Harvard University Press. .
* Buzuev, Vladimir; Gorodnov, Vladimir (1987)''What Is Marxism–Leninism?''
Moscow: Progress Publishers
. Retrieved 31 December 2020 – via Wayback Machine
''Encyclopedia of Marxism''. Marxists Internet Archive
. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
* Kuusinen, Otto Will
(1963)''Fundamentals of Marxism–Leninism''
(2nd revised ed.). Translated and edited from Russian by Dutt, Clemens. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House.
* Stalin, Joseph
(1924)''The Foundations of Leninism''
''Works''. 6. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. Retrieved 31 December 2020 – via Marxists Internet Archive.
* Spirkin, Alexander
(1990)''Fundamentals of Philosophy''
Translated by Syrovatkin, Sergei. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Retrieved 31 December 2020 – via Wayback Machine.
Category:Eponymous political ideologies
Category:Ideology of the Communist Party of China
Category:Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Category:Marxist schools of thought
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Category:Types of socialism