Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov (April 22, 1870 – January 21, 1924).
Better known as Vladimir Lenin, he was a Russian political leader, recognized for having founded the Bolshevik Party, leading the October 1917 revolution, founding the Third Communist International and having been the highest commander of the Soviet Union.
His political ideas, in conjunction with Marx’s, have given rise to the line of thought called Marxism-Leninism, inspiring hundreds of popular revolutions from the left in the world, which is why he is also considered one of the most influential figures of History.
Lenin was born on April 22, 1870, in Simbirsk, Russia, into a bourgeois intellectual family, being the fourth of six children of Illia Ulyánov and Maria Alexandrovna Blank.
His father served as a school inspector, devoting much of his time to popular education. His adolescence was marked by two tragic events. In 1886, his father died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage.
A year later, his brother was hanged, as punishment for participating in a plot to assassinate Tsar Alexander III. The family moved to Kokuchkino, near Kazan.
In 1887 he began his law studies at the University of Kazan, where he related to groups opposing the Tsarist regime. In December of that year, he was arrested and expelled, due to his participation in a public demonstration against the tsar.
From then on he devoted himself to training politically, reading with great interest the works of Marx and Engels, and finally knowing The Capital, which was crucial to his definitive adherence to Marxism.
In 1889, he moved with his family to Samara, where he was able to continue his studies, graduating in law three years later, with the highest qualifications. He enrolled as an instructor at democratic universities, and tried to form revolutionary labor cadres.
Exile in Switzerland
In April 1895 he visited Switzerland, Berlin and Paris, in order to meet with leaders of the labor movements of Western Europe. On his return to Russia, he was arrested. In 1897 he was banished to Siberia. A year later he married Nadezda Krupskáia, a revolutionary militant.
At the time he wrote his first book, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, in which he denounced how Russia was heading towards industrial capitalism. After three years in Siberia, the couple went into exile in Switzerland. In this country, together with Martov, he worked in the edition of the social democratic newspaper Iskra.
At that time, he also published his famous text What to Do,” in which he outlined his idea of turning the Workers’ Party into an organization of professional cadres that served as the vanguard of the revolution.
This text produced a profound debate within the Congress of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, where the sides were divided into two: some in favor of Martov, who were baptized “mensheviks”; and others in favor of the ideas of Lenin, who were called “Bolsheviks,” which could be translated as “the majority.”
After the 1905 revolution, caused by “Bloody Sunday,” political conditions led Lenin to return to Russia. However, the spirits seemed to have calmed down after the legalization of the Bolsheviks.
Faced with further attempts to apprehend him, he moved to Finland, and then to Switzerland, beginning his second exile in Western Europe, where he remained until 1917.
In 1909 he published Meterialism and Empirocriticism, where he captured his reflections on Marxist thought. In 1912 he moved to Krakow, in order to be much closer to Russia.
From this city he edits the working-class newspaper Pravda and receives the Bolshevik deputies. In the face of the outbreak of World War I, Lenin denounced the war as a bourgeois ruse.
He summoned the Socialists to a conference held in September 1915 in Zimmerwald. Lenin then became an international figure, renewing Marxism and proposing it as a political solution to Russia.
A month after the fall of the Tsarist regime, the formation of an interim government and the working-class organization in Soviets, Lenin returned to Russia in April 1917, where he was received as a hero.
However, the new government saw it as a threat, again having to flee to Finland. At this time he wrote his work The State and the Revolution, where he proposed the dictatorship of the proletariat and communism as the only way to end bourgeois domination.
In Russia, russia, the spirits continued to shake, while Lenin advised to take on the armed struggle. On 2 October 1917, Lenin returned clandestinely to Russia. On October 7th, the revolution broke out.
On 8 October he was appointed Head of Government, taking on the mission of overcoming Russia’s backwardness and building socialism, circumscribed in the world revolution. At the height of World War I, Lenin considered it essential, in order to defend the revolution, to sign peace with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. On 3 March Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
Considered a real threat, counter-revolutionary forces, supported by the United States and France, led to attacks on Lenin and led Russia into a Civil War between 1918 and 1920. The revolutionaries won, but Russia was devastated.
Lenin raised a new Economic Policy, halted expropriations, and encouraged a controlled market economy.
In 1919 he realized his dream of founding the Third International. In March 1921 he finally attended the Party Congress, in which Stalin was appointed secretary general. In June he led the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
After two strokes and the writing of his Testament – in which he stoked the future rivalries between Trotsky and Stalin – finally, on 21 January 1924 he died of a cerebral haemorrhage. His body was embalmed and taken to a mausoleum in Red Square.
Image source: laizquierdadiario.com
July 31, 2019