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The intellectual leader whose ideas led to the fall of the Tsar and the Russian revolution of 1917, which led to the formation of the USSR.
Lenin (oil on canvas by Brodsky)
Lenin with a group of soldiers in red square
In the last decades of the 19th century, the gap between the zar Alejandro III, defender of the Byzantine absolutism of their ancestors, and the cultivated kind had deteriorated to such an extent that the struggle against tsarism had become, among educated Russians, a duty and an honour. The political opposition and the revolutionary movement grew under the push of an "intelligentsia" making acolytes in schools, factories, newspapers and offices. Six years after the death of his predecessor, Alejandro II, precisely on March 1, 1887, a group of nihilistic young tried to end the life of the Tsar. The attack failed and the terrorists were arrested. Among those sentenced to death was Alexander Uliánov, the older brother of the future Lenin. To learn from the press that the Group had been hanged in Petersburgo, the boy received an indelible impression, which eventually would be transformed into the most firm and resolute opposition to czarism. But already then, with the lucidity of a visionary, summed up the situation in this sentence of condemnation of individual terrorism methods: «we will not go down this road. It is not good.
In the path of revolution
Vladimir il'ich Ulyanov, known as Lenin, was born on April 22, 1870, in a typical family of Russian intellectuals at the end of the 19th century. It was the fourth of six children held by llia Ulyanov and María Alexandrovna Blank, who had established the year before his birth in Simbirsk, a provincial poor, backward, on the banks of the Volga River City. The father, a primary school inspector, shared the ideas of revolutionary Democrats in 1860 and had devoted to popular education, participating in the life of Russian peasants in misery and ignorance. The mother, of German descent, loved music and closely followed the school activities of their children. By its gentle and tender - character never imposed punishments or raising the voice-, woke up in his own love bordering on worship.
Environment scholar of the House, where it was not missing a good library, resulted in the development of the sense of duty and discipline. Vladimir followed the example of his older brother, was a persevering and tenacious boy, a regular and methodical student who got the best grades and excelled in chess. At the age of fourteen began to read «forbidden» books - Russia lived then under the blackest repression and large Democrats reading was considered a crime.
When Alexander was hanged, in the following year that died the father, family had moved forcibly to the village of Kokuchkino, near Kazan. At that time, Vladimir abandoned religion, because, as he would say later, the fate of his brother «had marked him destiny to follow». In Kazan, he began his studies of law at the imperial University, one of the hotbeds of greater opposition to the autocratic regime. The same year of its income, 1887, Vladimir was arrested for participating in a protest against the Tsar. When one of the policemen guarding it asked why mixing in these uprisings, why was your head against a wall, his answer was: "Yes, it is a wall, true, but with a kick-off will come down".
Lenin (oil on canvas by Brodsky)
Expelled from the University, he devoted himself entirely to the revolutionary theories, began to study the works of Marx and Engels directly from German, and read for the first time the capital, vital reading for its adherence to Orthodox Marxism. Already in his early writings he defended Marxism against the theories of the "narodniki", Russian populists. In May of 1889 the family moved to the province of Samara, where, after many requests, Lenin received the authorization to examine laws as a free student. Three years later he graduated with the highest qualifications and began to practice law and poor peasants and artisans.
Already at that time, in the Marxist Group that was part said you the old by his vast erudition and his Socratic front, prematurely bald. The face of some Mongolian Court, with wide cheekbones and eyes of Tartarus, squinted and ironic, the robust port and powerful neck gave the appearance of a peasant. Lawyer without lawsuits, Lenin signed up in working-class circles, called 'democratic colleges' instructors lists. He organized libraries, study programs, and boxes of aid with the aim of teaching methods of the revolutionary struggle, to form so workers, propagandistic and organizers pictures of social-democratic circles, with a view to shaping a future party. To do this he needed to have the support of the Marxists who emigrated, directed by Grigori Plejánov groups, and in April 1895 traveled abroad, decided to study the labor movement of the West. He spent a few weeks in Switzerland, then he visited Berlin and Paris, where he had as partners to Karl Liebknecht and Paul Lafargue.
Upon his return, he was detained with his future rival Julij Martov by the Ochrana, the Czar's secret police. In prison, Lenin quickly got to work. He communicated with the outside through his sister Anna and Nadezda Krupskáia, a student on the Marxist circle, which, to be able to visit him in prison, had declared to be his girlfriend. Later, in 1898, a year after he was deported to southern Siberia, near the border with China, he married Nadezda in a religious ceremony.
In exile, the couple led an orderly life, smoothly, which helped Lenin finished writing his first fundamental work, the development of capitalism in Russia, which argues that the semi-feudal country moving decisively toward industrial capitalism.
After nearly thousand days in Siberia, shortly after starting the century and thirty years of age, Lenin began his first exile in Switzerland. Reunited with Martov, there, launched a long-cherished project: the publication of a periodic Social Democrat of national scope. The first issue of Iskra (the spark) was born on December 21, 1900, with an editorial of Lenin topping the first page. In his adventures, between Munich and Geneva, was at this time when it became the leader of Russian Marxists, especially after the publication of the book what to do, one of his most important works, which demanded the need of an organization of professional revolutionaries and synthesized the idea of the party as vanguard of the working class.
It was just the debate around how structured the party that caused deep divergences in the 11 Congress of the workers party social democratic Russian inaugurated by Plekhanov in July 1903. It is consummated the rupture between Martov and Lenin. Since the supporters of the latter called «Bolshevik», by a majority against the "Mensheviks", minority group. And since then the party of professional pictures, centralized and disciplined, was the basic pillar of Bolshevism.
The revolution of 1905, which had exploded in Petersburgo after 'Bloody Sunday' in which the Tsar's troops fired upon defenseless demonstrators, causing more of thousand dead and 5,000 wounded, stunned Lenin in Switzerland. The pressure of the masses forced decadent tsarist rule to make some liberal concessions: now the Bolsheviks acted on the legality, and this allowed Lenin returned to Russia in October of that year to get in front of his supporters. But hopes of new uprisings occurred is not concreted, and to police attempts to arrest him, at the end of the following summer, Lenin fled to Finland. The insurrectionary process had been a failure and the tsars Government returned to toughen its methods, to completely liquidate the gains achieved by the revolution. Mired in pessimism and internal quarrels, the Bolshevik fraction suffers with the defeat, to such an extent that the old militants abandoned.
Fleeing the police, Lenin moved from Finland to Geneva, where he began his second exile, which would last until 1917. At that time made their appearance the insomnia and headaches that would pursue him for the rest of his days. The wandering life of exiles took him to Paris, where he and Nadezda endured hard economic hardships that forced them to teach or write reviews to earn some money, in the midst of a series of difficulties. The hardness of those days in the French capital was partly relieved by the presence of Inés Armand, a Parisian, smart and feminist, activist who said joined a deep love. The result of his second exile is the work published in 1909, materialism and Lovins, in which Lenin exposes its fundamental philosophical reflections, in an attempt to complete the theory of Marxist knowledge.
Last stage harsh reaction, which lasted until 1911, they began to get encouraging news from Petersburgo. A strike launched in the fields of the wood was brutally suppressed with hundreds of deaths, giving rise to great discontent and a general strike. Lenin sensed loomed a wave of revolutionary ferment and left Paris in June 1912 to settle closer to their supporters, in Krakow. There the Bolsheviks members visited to inform you about the internal situation and ask for instructions. In March of that year had released the first issue of Pravda (truth), daily worker that Lenin directed from abroad and which soon enjoyed a great diffusion. Thus, while the great powers finished their preparations for the first world war, between the proletarian Russians grew the influence of Lenin.
The outbreak of the first World War marked a turning point in the history of socialism. Lenin, who had relied on German social democracy, when he learned that members of German - and French - voted unanimously in favor of the credits of war to their respective countries, immediately denounced the betrayal. For Lenin, the war was nothing more than a «bourgeois and imperialist and dynastic conflagration... a struggle for a prey of foreign countries and markets ". Western socialism, since by a German revisionists, was a clear collaboration with bourgeois democracy, and hence the international movement was broken. It was necessary to prepare a Conference of Socialists who opposed the war, to finally challenge the revisionist sector.
The meeting was held in Zimmerwald, in September 1915, and in it Lenin tried unsuccessfully to persuade the representatives to adopt the slogan: «Transform the imperialist war into civil war». It was in this period of defection of political leaders and of bewilderment to the Socialist workers, when the Russian revolutionary, which until then was little known outside circles Marxists of his country, became a leading international figure. In his hands, the doctrine Marxist regained its sense of transformer and its revolutionary force, as seen in the work written during the war, imperialism, capitalism upper phase, which uses the Marxist economic analysis tools to test the revolution, unlike what postulated by Marx and Engels, is also possible in countries behind as Russia.
The October revolution
Fatigue and general defeatism in the belligerent at the beginning of 1917 Nations resulted in the Empire of the tsars in a broad revolutionary movement that, shouting "Viva freedom and the village!", won major cities. The workers of Petrograd organized themselves into soviets, or councils of workers, and the garrison of the city, led by the same regiments of the imperial guard, joined in mass movement. Without that nobody dared to defend it, in the week of 8 to 15 March the Tsarist regime succumbed to be replaced by an interim Government made up of parties belonging to the bourgeoisie and supported by the Petrograd soviet
Through Pravda, Lenin published his "letters from exile", with instructions to advance the revolution, destroying root old machinery of the State. Military, police and bureaucracy should be replaced by "an organization emanating from the set of the armed people who understand all its members without exception". A month after the abdication of the Tsar, in April 1917, Lenin arrived at station Finland in Petrograd, after passing through Germany on an armored car provided by the German staff. Despite the political disputes which originated its negotiation with the Government of the kaiser, Lenin was received in the Russian capital by an enthusiastic crowd that welcomed him as a hero. But the head of the Bolsheviks not committed himself to the provisional Government, and conversely, ended his speech from the station with a defiant "Viva international socialist revolution!".
Many of his comrades had accepted the authority of that Government, that Lenin described as 'imperialist and bourgeois', coming closer to the current leftists of the working class, increasingly radical, and with the support of an important ally, Trotsky. While the Bolsheviks still constitute a minority within the soviets, Lenin then launched the slogan: «all power to the soviets", despite the obvious disinterest of the Mensheviks and the revolutionary Socialists for taking such power.
To deal with the alleged threat of a coup by the followers of Lenin, in the month of July the Presidency of the provisional Government passed into the hands of a strong man, Kerensky replaced Prince Lvov. Within a few days he ordered them to stop and Lenin was forced to flee to Finland: he crossed the border as a Stoker of a locomotive, no beard and wig, and was established in Helsingfors. This was his last period of secrecy, which would last for three months. In them he wrote the work that, over time, Lenin, the State and revolution, would be described as utopia by his conception of the State as an apparatus of bourgeois rule, designed to disappear after the transitional stage of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the advent of communism.
As the internal situation is aggravated, Lenin from abroad urged the party to prepare the armed uprising: "the Government wobbles, must deliver the coup de grace no matter what". Already the Bolsheviks controlled the soviet of Moscow and Petrograd was under the chairmanship of Trotsky, when, on 2 October, Lenin returned to enter clandestinely in the Russian capital. Four days later it was disguised at the headquarters of the party to direct the uprising. Day 7 exploding the insurrection and the masses they assaulted the Winter Palace. As he writes Trotsky, Lenin realized then that the revolution had been defeated, and smiling said: 'the passage of underground, with its eternal wander, power is too sharp, you tide'. And that was his only personal comment before returning to everyday tasks. The next day it was named head of Government and threw his famous proclamation to citizens of Russia, to the workers, soldiers, peasants, ratifying the major objectives set by the revolution: build socialism within the framework of world revolution and to overcome the backwardness of Russia.
The revolution had come to power, but now had to save her, and the most urgent task to do so, according to Lenin, was to sign the immediate peace. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed by Trotsky on March 3, 1918, concluded the unilateral peace of Russia with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. The Treaty go further divergences with the revolutionary socialists - who in August attempted against the life of Lenin-, and contributed to intensify the decision of the counter-revolutionary forces to bring down the new Government with the support of the allies, especially France and the United States. For two years, between 1918 and 1920, the civil war led to the Soviet Government to the brink of disaster; Finally, the army of counter-revolutionaries, "whites", led by former Czarist General, was defeated by the Red Army, formed by peasants and workers and directed by Trotsky. But the country was devastated, the ailing economy and hunger is once in large regions. The biggest challenge of the revolution became then the economic reconstruction of Russia, task that Lenin was addressed through the NEP (new economic policy), which stopped the peasant expropriation and meant an opening towards a market controlled economy.
Despite the hardships of the civil war, Lenin made his old dream of founding a new international in 1919. In his opinion, the fate of Russia depended on the world revolution, and especially the future of the movement carried out in Germany by the Spartacists. On March 2, 1919, in Moscow, opened the first of the III International Congress, calling on the leaders of German communism killed: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. The Comintern elevated Russian communism to the category of model to imitate by all the Communist countries of the world, and to defend the movements of national liberation of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples of Asia, was able to greatly expand the number of allies of the Soviet Revolution.
At the end of 1921, Lenin's health was seriously affected: he suffered from insomnia progressively accused and his headaches were becoming increasingly frequent. In March of the following year he attended a Party Congress, which was elected Stalin Secretary general of the Organization for the last time. The following month it intervened surgically to extract the bullets that were still housed in his body from the attack suffered in 1918. Although he recovered quickly from the operation, few weeks later suffered a serious attack that, for a time, prevented speech and movement of the right extremities. In June his health partially improved and directed the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But in December he suffered a second attack of apoplexy that prevented any possibility of influencing the practical policy. Still, had the force of several letters, including its so-called "testament" which expresses their great fear at the power struggle brought between Trotsky and Stalin in the bosom of the party. On January 21, 1924 a brain haemorrhage ended his life. The man who hated the personality cult and loathed religion was embalmed and placed in a rich red square mausoleum. The fight against Lenin's flesh and blood had not done more to start.
Chronology of Lenin
|1870||Born in Simbirsk.|
|1887||He studied law in Kazan. Sentenced for participating in an antizarista House and it is expelled from the University.|
|1889||It occurs right as an unofficial student examinations at the University of St. Petersburg.|
|1895||He founded the Union for the struggle for the liberation of the working class.|
|1897||Exile to Siberia.|
|1899||He writes his first work, the development of capitalism in Russia.|
|1900||It begins the first exile in Switzerland|
|1903||He heads the Bolshevik fraction of the Social Democratic Party of Russia.|
|1909||He published his philosophical work materialism and empirocriticismo.|
|1917||Triumph of the October revolution.|
|1918||Attack on his life.|
|1919||Founding Congress of the third international.|
|1922||It proclaims the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.|
|1924||Dies in Gorki.|
Lenin and the Russian Revolution
During the first years of the 20th century, Russia lived a series of economic hardship that pushed the State to a struggle for control of the Pacific, possible solution to place products and pay credits that had been requested from the French and the Belgians, for example, for the promotion of industrialization. Japan tried to stop the expansion of the Russians in its area of influence, and broke out the Russo-Japanese war which showed, once again, the Russian inability; the country fell into a deep crisis, since it could not bear huge costs without the reward of victory. The population suffered, as well as disillusionment, hardship and especially hunger. In these circumstances, the Tsar opposition parties organized a revolution, which triumphed not but that tested models of action for the future.
Lenin with a group of soldiers in red square
The troops of the Tsar could submit to revolutionaries who had organized in committees of workers and soldiers in large cities, to be called Soviets, and that would be a system of organization of great significance later. On the other hand, the Tsar had no choice that demonstrate willingness to reform to create a Consultative Assembly, the Duma, in which politicians put their hopes that was completed by establishing a Constitution.
In 1914 World War broke out and Russia from the very beginning participated alongside British and French. His role, from the beginning, was unhappy, so it began to pour criticism to the Russian work, which have joined the demonstrations by the scarcity of products of first necessity and continuous cams.
The February revolution
Prior to the revolutionary outbreak, the Tsar had dissolved the Duma, but in February 1917, the soviets and the press pushed the people to the taking of the Winter Palace, residence of the Tsar, with the support of part of the army. Tsar Nicolás II decided to abdicate in the Prince Lvov, who began to rule with representatives of the Duma. A moderate stage of the revolution was opened. At this stage, he ruled Lviv, but shortly after he was replaced by Kerensky, who formed an interim Government in which took part moderate and Mensheviks, and the radicals and the Bolsheviks were excluded. The most important decisions of this time were the follow the Covenants established with France and England, so Russia continued with their commitments in the world war; In addition, began meetings for the formation of a constituent Assembly, i.e. He was the drafting of a Constitution, but this work was conditioned by the war.
Problems are were happening, especially because there was a parallel government, the soviets, controlled by councils of workers and soldiers, that it does not recognize the laws of the provisional Government as legitimate. The soviets called for the solution of the problems of the peasants and encouraged the occupation of the lands, while they demanded that employers labor improvements.
It is at this time when Lenin wrote April thesis that supports a new stage for the revolution, which boils down to "Peace, land, and all power to the soviets".
The conditions of the Kerensky Government increasingly were more delicate, since the Czarist military tried to regain power. In this context occurred the coup of general Kornilov, aborted by the Government, but had a very serious consequence, since the Bolsheviks from then completely controlled the soviets
The October revolution
In October the Bolsheviks gathered at a Conference, where he prepared the final revolution. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin took the Winter Palace and dismissed the interim Government. Established a Government of Commissioners of the people, led by Lenin, who ruled over different soviets. Trotsky, head of soviet Petrograd (Saint Petersburgo), occupied the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. From this post he established negotiations with Germany for peace.
The first measures of the new Government outlined the need for peace, which was negotiated and signed in Brest-Litovs. Russia, according to this document, left the war and ceded part of its territory, since it considered priority to save the revolution rather than preserve the territorial integrity. Other measures of the new Government were the signing of decrees on land that put an end to the great property; the factories were controlled by workers; the banks were nationalized, and elections were held to choose a constituent Assembly.
The elections that were held were a failure for the Bolsheviks, so they decided to cancel them and write the Government a Constitution: the Constitution of 1918. She established the separation of the Executive and the legislature, through the following bodies: Supreme Soviet and Congress of Soviets, Central Committee, Presidium or Commissioners of the people. Following the adoption of the Constitution was a stage known as Guerra communism, since he lived a civil war which did not end until 1921, since opponents had the support of troops from Western countries. It was at this time when the Red Army, an institution defending the revolution organised by Trotsky was created.