Civilization Week 25 The Russian Revolution and It’s Aftermath

Question 1: What are the primary differences discussed in this week’s videos between Marxism and Marxism-Leninism?

Marx believed that communism was bound to happen after capitalism has peaked within a society. His view was that once a society has experienced the flaws of capitalism they will stand up against it and create a communistic society. This process of communism could be quickened or slowed, but Marx believed it to be inevitable. Lenin on the other hand believed that left to their own devices workers would not rise up and overthrow capitalism, but would rather put their efforts towards becoming more comfortable within capitalism. To truly overthrow capitalism, Lenin believed intellectuals would have to take charge and steer the way towards communism. Lenin created a “Vanguard of the Proletariat”, or in other words a group of people that could become professional revolutionaries against capitalism. He instructed them to complete a violent and bloody uprising, then seize control and create a dictatorship. Lenin’s final goal was liken to totalitarianism, which he saw as the only true path towards communism.

Question 2: Historian Richard Pipes Wrote, “Soviet Russia was the first society in history to outlaw law.” What did he mean by that?

The court system in the time of the Bolshevik’s rule was extremely tainted. For one, the only requirement to become a judge was literacy. No study of law or history was required, one must simply be able to read and write. Since the judges had no knowledge of law they were instructed to make legal decisions based on their “revolutionary conscience”. So basically the judges could rule in whatever way they felt like, and it would always be supported by law. Lenin’s opinion on this was that it would scare away anyone opposing communism, in fact anyone who did support capitalism was immediately arrested and sent to the nearest mental hospital. Things got so corrupted that Lenin was quoted saying the justice system “was not to eliminate terror, but to substantiate and legitimize it.” Instead of providing the people with courage and justice, the legal system of that time rewarded false narratives and belittled, executed, and locked away anyone who dared to question the new revolutionary system.

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