Marxism and the Russian revolution
Thesis: “The theories of Marxism should be realized in the Russian Revolution, by skipping the stage of capitalism.”
The theories, written by Karl Marx and to a lesser extent by Friedrich Engels, were later called the theories of Marxism. These theories consist of three major interrelated ideas. These are: a philosophical view of man, a theory of history, and an economic and political program.
The philosophical view of man, in the ideas of Marx, is that creativity is most important characteristic of humanity. Creativity in his view is the ability to extend labour in order to satisfy one’s needs. He says, that one person does not labour for himself, but more for the whole species. Man is a species and the species as a whole should enjoy the fruits of its labour.
Marx says that this ideal situation is not entirely in the control of mankind. Also it has never been achieved yet. The achievement of this situation has to go through five stages. In the first three stages he always sees two classes. There is always an upper class that has the control over a lower one. The first stage is in ancient histories, in which the slave-owners controlled the slaves. Then there came a revolution and feudalism became the new model. Here the landowners had the control over the peasants and serfs. After the industrial revolution, capitalism was the new form. Here the factory owners controlled the working class. The next stage would be socialism, in which the upper class, the party, and the lower class, the workers, were not in opposition anymore, but worked together. Everything that belonged to the factory-owners before the revolution belongs to everybody now. Nobody is discriminated against in this system. There is still a power that controls, the party, but only for the benefit of mankind. The fifth and final stage of history’s development is communism.
The stage that we are currently in is the one of capitalism. Its success is based on its ability to increase productivity in a worldwide system. The problem of capitalism, according to Marx’ theories, is that the lower class, the proletariat, is being dehumanised by the bourgeoisie. By doing so, it prepares its way to its own destruction. His political and economic programs were results of all of this. Politically Marx said that there should be no real leader, but further that everybody has to discipline himself. Economically everybody has to work for everybody. In the Russian revolution the people of Russia were rebelling against Czarism. The Czar was making bad decisions, concerning the First World War. Industry didn’t have enough capacity to produce adequate
food, necessities and weapons for the people in Russia and the soldiers who were fighting at the frontline. In Russia itself, there was a growing shortage of goods. Everybody was getting mad at the Czar. Also the Duma, the Russian parliament, told him to do something for the benefit of the people, but he didn’t.
At the beginning of 1917, the workers in Petrograd (today St. Petersburg) went to strike. On 3 rd March (18 th February in the Julian calendar) the workers of the Putilow factory, the biggest one in Russia, went on strike as well. The whole situation got out of control, when Nikolaus II, the Czar, gave orders to his troops, to end the strike. That was on March 11 th . On March 12 th , he dissolved the Duma and set up a new cabinet. But all of this didn’t help. On the same day, the troops started to rally together with the revolting people. Then they voted in the Soviet. This was a group of people consisting of workers and army members. So now, the powers were in the hands of two new groups and that of the old “dictator”(the Czar) was taken over by them. Now there were two powers. On the one hand the Bolsheviks, who were convinced that the revolution in February was going to lead straight into socialism and then the Mensheviks, who said that first capitalism needed to be installed until socialism could be introduced. In October, the leaders Lenin and Trotsky were enforcing a new revolution against the emergency government. Lenin was certain that in fair elections, the Bolsheviks would never be able to gain a majority. On October 23 rd , the party of Lenin decided that an armed revolution would be necessary to lead the Bolshevik party to power. This coup happened on January 18 th, 1918. The parliament was taken over by Lenin’s troops.
Now Lenin decided for a so-called “Soviet council system” and against a parliamentary one.
In the following years the power of the Bolshevik communist party became stronger and stronger. In December 1922 the USSR was established.
All in all there was a civil war between the two sides. The one side, which wanted to establish communism by skipping the stage of capitalism (Bolsheviks). On the other side the party of Mensheviks tried to follow the theories of Marxism in establishing a communist society (That meant to establish first a capitalist economic system). In the end, the first party under Lenin und Trotsky forced through its opinion through.
1.) Karl Ploetz, Der farbige Ploetz, Würzburg: Verlag Ploetz KG, 1976
2.) „Russian Revolution (1917)“, „ Marxism“, „Russian Revolution (1905)“, Microsoft Encarta 99 Enzyklopädie. 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation
3.) Marxism, http://www.stile.lut.ac.uk/~gyedb/STILE/, (20 November 2000)