In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism. Developed by, and named for, the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, 1870–1924), Leninism comprises political and socialist economic theories, developed from Marxism, and Lenin’s interpretations of Marxist theory, for practical application to the socio-political conditions of the agrarian Russian Empire (1721–1917) of the early 20th century. In February 1917, for five years, Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, effected and realised by the Bolshevik party, the vanguard party who led the fight for the political independence of the working class.
Functionally, the Leninist vanguard party provided to the working class the political consciousness (education and organisation), and the revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in Imperial Russia. After the October Revolution of 1917, Leninism was the dominant version of Marxism in Russia, and then the official state ideology of Soviet democracy (by workers’ council) in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), before its unitary amalgamation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), in 1922. Moreover, in post–Lenin Russia, in the 1925–29 period, Joseph Stalin integrated Leninism to Marxist economics, and developed Marxism–Leninism, which then became the Communist state ideology of the USSR.
As a political-science term, Leninism entered common usage in 1922, only after infirmity ended Lenin’s participation in governing the Russian Communist Party. Two years later, in July 1924, at the fifth congress of the Communist International (Comintern), Grigory Zinoviev popularized the use of the term Leninism to denote vanguard-party revolution. Leninism was composed as and for revolutionary praxis, and originally was neither rigorously proper philosophy nor discrete political theory. After the Russian Revolution (1917), in History and Class Consciousness (1923), György Lukács ideologically developed and organised Lenin’s pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution (Leninism). As a work of political science and of political philosophy, History and Class Consciousness illustrated Lenin’s 1915 dictum about the commitment to the cause of the revolutionary man, and said of György Lukács:
One cannot be a revolutionary Social–Democrat without participating, according to one’s powers, in developing this theory, and adapting it to changed conditions.
— Lenin and the Russian Revolution (1971) p. 35.
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