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As the nineteenth century was coming to a close, Russia as an Empire also began to decline rapidly. In 1888, Tsar Alexander II was assassinated which left his son, Alexander III, to claim the throne. Alexander III was not like his father however and things went from bad to worse in Russia under his rule. In the 1890’s there was a great famine in Russia which severely crippled the country’s economy and developed more dislike for the tsar. Tsar Alexander III also tended to more traditional in his “reforms” and therefore also put himself in disfavor with the intelligentsia for not being progressive enough. But things were rapidly changing in Russia, particularly among the intelligentsia and the new working class. French and German philosophies began to creep their way into Russian minds and people began to whisper about creating reform themselves. Out of the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s came the rise of the Russian socialists, a movement spearheaded by Vladimir Lenin, who sought to reform society even more than others had previously thought possible. Fueled by Marx and Engels and others, Lenin and his compatriots quietly (at first) embellished their ideas and disseminated them among the Russian intelligentsia and populace. In 1902 he published a little book called What is to be done? which sought to answer the “burning answers of our movement” and argue for socialism in Russia. Within this book, Lenin argues that Russia’s revolution must be led by a small group of professional, highly disciplined revolutionaries.

Throughout this book, Lenin expostulates this theories on social democracy and economics, mentioning here and there the workers and how they are to be organized in a socialist society. In discussing these workers and the process of educating them. Lenin arrives at the situation that their must be organization of these people. He quotes the postulate that “without organization…there can be no talk of a systematic plan of activity”, viz. there can be no revolution without some form of leadership (47). One of his reasons for having well disciplined revolutionaries at the head of the movement is that as the masses increase in favor of socialism, there is a greater need for organization (52). He also discusses the qualities of one of these leaders in comparing him to an English trade-union secretary due to his responsibility of training the masses (78). His biggest argument for having a small group of well disciplined revolutionaries is to educate the masses (79). Finally he argues that only “circles of heroes” “are able to fulfill political tasks”(100). Thus why they need a small group of well trained individuals to lead the group.

Whilst Lenin argues that revolution is happening now in a controlled state, Leopold Haimson argues differently. He states that it was a long historical process that began at the beginning of the nineteenth century or even earlier (27). He states that both Western and Socialist historians agree that the ideals of revolution began to speed up during the 1910’s industrial boom (29). He also makes a connection between the French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution and their similarities.