THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Vladimir Lenin Was Born...

Lenin was one of the most influential figures in contemporary history. For better or for worse, he altered a monarchical system that had been established for centuries in one of the most extensive countries of his time: Russia. History would make him go down in history for being the theoretical and practical leader of Leninism, a political, social, and economic theory he created.

The future leader of Russia was born Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov in Simbirsk (Russia) in April 1870. From an early age, he excelled in the study of Latin and Greek but his youth had two key moments: the death of his father in 1886 and the shooting of his brother in May 1887.

There are theories that relate Lenin's resentment with the tsars, due to the execution of his brother at the hands of the tsarist police.

In any case, that point was vital for the young Lenin.

After finishing his studies with great acclaim at the lyceum, he entered the law faculty of the University of Kazan. It was there that he came into contact with the revolutionary movement and began to make a Marxist critique of populism.

In 1895 he was arrested by the authorities and deported to Siberia under police surveillance. This imprisonment lasted five years and served him to write his work "The Development of Capitalism in Russia". When he returned, he was forced into exile. This was another of the most important moments of his life, since abroad he reinforced and expanded his theses, to the point of writing several works.

His first refuge was Switzerland. There he coincided with Plekhanov, with whom he founded a newspaper called Iskra ("The Spark"). In addition, he wrote a pamphlet called "What to do?" between 1901 and 1902 to later participate in the II Congress of the POSDR (Social-Democratic Workers Party of Russia).

There the fraction between Bolsheviks (the majority) and Mensheviks (the minority) took place, due to the theses of Lenin, who offered a new conception of the internal organization of the party, inspired by "What to do?".

This spoke of composing the party on the basis of the so-called "Professional Revolutionaries", i.e., people who should be the vanguard of the working class and direct their efforts to the seizure of power to achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat advocated by Karl Marx.

In 1905, Lenin took his thesis of party organization to the Second International. But after the revolution of January 1905, a strike broke out in Russia, and for the first time, a completely spontaneous organization appeared: the soviets or workers' councils.

These were controlled by the Bolsheviks and composed of workers and peasants. However, the tsar crushed the strikes organized by the soviets, and Lenin had to go into exile again.

His new destination this time was Finland, although he did not stay there for long, but visited other countries such as Switzerland and France. In 1908 he settled in Geneva, where he wrote "Materialism and Empirocriticism". Empirocriticism" was a theory that had been spreading for some years in socialist circles in Germany and Russia.

Lenin fervently criticized this theory and therefore wrote his text. Over the years he moved to Paris, where he remained until 1912. There he received a great deal of correspondence from revolutionaries who had remained in Russia, so he was always aware of what was happening in his country.

At the Prague congress of 1912, as they had already done in the St. Petersburg strike and in the autumn elections, the Bolsheviks prevailed over the Mensheviks, while Lenin advocated participation in the Duma elections, the rejection of collaboration with the bourgeois democrats and the alliance of the workers and peasants of Russia. With these measures, the bourgeois and Mensheviks united, beginning to carry out postulates against the Bolsheviks.

For their part, the opposition of Lenin and the Bolsheviks to the Social-Democrats became evident during the Great War.

The Soviet leader's analysis of imperialism enabled him to show that war was indispensable for the imperialist countries and that in Russia, the smallest link in their chain, it was possible to transform the imperialist war into a civil war. These ideas he collected in his book "Imperialism, the supreme stage of capitalism" in 1917.

While the social democrats collaborated with the war governments and with the Provisional Government, Lenin and his supporters accentuated their action in relation to the military. Exiled again in Switzerland, he learned in March 1917 of an uprising in Petrograd in which the Mensheviks, allied with Kerensky, managed to dominate the soviet that was formed there.

To turn this situation in his favor, Lenin returned again to Petrograd in April and published the so-called "April Theses": "Bread, Land, and Peace". From this point on, the majority of the RDRP joined him. In August, in the face of the counterrevolutionary offensive, he had to flee again to Finland, where he wrote his work "The State and the Revolution". But this time the exile was short-lived, for in October he returned clandestinely.

The Bolsheviks seized power in the so-called Red October and began to establish their political, social, and economic system throughout the country. In December 1917, the Brest-Lotovsk peace negotiations were interrupted by the German offensive and Lenin demanded peace, despite the importance of the territorial losses it would cause.

With the international front closed, Lenin turned his attention to the civil war in which Russia was immersed. The VIII Party Congress gathered in March 1919 and organized the so-called "war communism". But it did not reach the maximum possible extreme, since Lenin successively opposed Trotsky's theses on the militarization of the trade unions and those of Kollontái, advocating workers' control of the rank and file.

The political crisis of the country suffered a decisive turn with the uprising and the crushing of the Kronstadt sailors. It was at that time that the repression exercised by the Bolsheviks caused the pro-revolutionary anarchists to oppose Leninism for decades.

Seeing the abysmal social, economic and political state of the country, Lenin decided to reestablish the freedom of trade and small industries. This was the step prior to the abandonment of war communism and the establishment of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

But there appeared a rather important problem that would mark the future of the Soviet Union until its end: the bureaucratization of the party. The Soviet leader saw the danger it posed, so he wrote:


But Lenin was unable to develop this line of action, due to the hemiplegia attack he suffered in May 1922.

As it has become known over the years, in March 1923 he broke with Stalin, and in his will, he asked the Party Congress to replace Stalin. But this was not known until 1956 when his will was made public.

Finally, on January 21, 1924, he died in Gorki, a village near Moscow.

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