Friday, October 21, 2011

Vladimir Lenin

Russian Revolutionary & Head of Communist Party
Born on          04 May 1870
Born in            Simbirsk (Today's Ulyanovak)
Died on          21 January 1924

Vladimir Lenin was a Russian revolutionary and communist who led the famous October Revolution in Russia. Lenin was a driving force in overthrowing the Czarist autocracy and was de facto first leader of the Soviet Union. In 1902, Vladimir Lenin published a pamphlet, What Is To Be Done?, where he argued for a party of professional revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of the autocracy of the Czars. Following the 1917 revolution, the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democratic Labor Party, headed by Lenin emerged victorious and subsequently formed the government. While in power, Lenin howled against the oppression of peasants and workers and emerged as the strongest force against capitalism in the world. He was criticized for establishing dictatorship of the Communist Party in Russia. Lenin died on January 21, 1924. The reverend leader was also the first head of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Vladimir Lenin was the son of Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov and Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova. His father was a successful teacher and one of the proponents of democracy. After finishing his elementary education, Lenin went on to study law. At the university, Lenin was exposed to radical thinking and he would interact with members of the revolutionary group. In 1886, Lenin’s father died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and the very next year, his eldest brother Alexander was executed for participating in terrorist activities to murder Czar Alexander III.

Lenin's law studies at the University of Kazan were interrupted when he was expelled for associating with revolutionary groups. He completed his studies independently. Lenin was influenced by the teachings of Karl Marx who had believed in an international revolution of the lower-class workers (proletariat) who would lead the way to a new system of power. Under this system, according to Marx, property would not be owned by any individual but the workers.

Active Revolutionary and Exile
By 1893, Lenin had also become a revolutionary by profession. To propagate the theories of communist among workers, Lenin moved to St Petersburg and became a professional revolutionary.

For his involvement in various revolutionary activities, in 1895, Lenin was exiled to Siberia. In March 1898, Lenin, formed the Social Democratic Party, Russia’s first Marxist political party. In 1900, after the end of the exile, he went to Europe, where he met Plekhanov, another Russian revolutionary. After few days, they launched the newspaper, “Iskra”, meaning “The Spark”. The newspaper primarily targeted the economists and their policies of serving the capitalists. They accused the policy framers of ignoring the interest of the masses. Simultaneously, Lenin also edited series of journals aiming to form new revolutionary groups and organize the existing one. Iskra, later became the official journal of the Social Democratic Labor Party.

In 1902, Vladimir Lenin published a pamphlet, What Is To Be Done?, where he argued for a party of professional revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of the autocracy of the Czars.

In 1903, following a difference of opinion between Lenin and his long time friend Jues Martov, the party split up. The faction led by Lenin came to be known as Bolsheviks while those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks. When revolution broke out in Russia in 1917, he led the Bolsheviks to control the government. In 1907, when the monarch crushed the revolutions, Lenin was sent to exile. Until the revolutions of 1917, he spent the majority of his time exiled in Europe.

Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday was an incident, took place in Russia. On January 22 1905 in St. Petersburg, when unarmed, peaceful demonstrators were marching to present a petition to Czar Nicholas II, they were gunned down by the Royal soldiers. Bloody Sunday was a big error on the part of Czars and became an event that scripted grave consequences for the Czarist regime.

Return to Russia
In 1917, exhausted by the First World War, Russia was longing for a change. In March, steelworkers in St. Petersburg went on strike. It grew until thousands of people lined the streets. The Czars collapsed and the Duma led by Alexander Kerensky, took power. Lenin was then exiled to Switzerland. The Swiss communist Fritz Platten managed to negotiate with the German government for Lenin and his associates to travel through Germany by rail. The reason for Germans’ assistance was the hope that Lenin would pull Russia out of war. Lenin also assured Germany of signing an armistice. Meanwhile, Kerensky, acting as the head of the state, refused to pull Russian troops out of the First World War. He also rejected the idea of signing an peace-treaty with Germany. Meanwhile, the opponents of the Bolsheviks accused Lenin and other revolutionaries of being paid German agents.

October Revolution
Lenin eventually led what was soon to be known as the October Revolution, but was effectively a coup d'etat. After almost three years of civil war, the Bolsheviks emerged as victorious and assumed total control of the country. On November 8, 1917, Lenin was elected as the Chair of the Council of People’s Commissars by the Russian Congress of Soviets. Keeping his promise, Lenin also signed a temporary armistice with Germany.

New Economic Policies
Although Lenin was ruthless he was also pragmatic. He introduced the New Economic Policy, where a measure of private enterprise was still permitted. In order to revive the declining economy of Russia, Lenin put into effect the New Economic Plan. Lenin’s new policies, included, government's seizing of land from its owners and redistributing it to the peasants, forming a peace treaty with Germany, and the nationalization of banks and industry. From 1919 to 1921 famine and typhus (an infectious disease) ravaged Russia and left over 27 million people dead. He was also very concerned about creating a free universal health care system for all.

In 1918 Lenin survived an assassination attempt. In May 1922, Lenin suffered the first of a series of strokes, less than a year later he suffered a second one. In his two remaining years he tried correct some of the excesses of the regime. He saw that it would be necessary to learn coexistence with capitalist countries and eliminate the inefficiency of his bureaucracy. He also tried to ensure that Trotsky and not Stalin succeeded him. In this endeavor he failed. Stalin was far too clever and astute even for Lenin. 1923 saw him decline further as he had another stroke which left him paralyzed and speechless. He never fully recovered and died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 21, 1924.

Many political thinkers of that time criticized Lenin for establishing a dictatorship of the Communist party in Russia. At the time of revolution, war and famine, he was accused of demonstrating a chilling disregard for the sufferings of his fellow countrymen and mercilessly crushed any opposition. He, however, controlled the hierarchy of local, regional, and central soviets. He retained the post of chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and was a member of the ruling Politburo of the Communist party until his death.

From :