Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich: Theoretician and Revolutionary
Theoretician and Revolutionary
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Lenin was in Switzerland during the early years of World War I. In his view the war was an imperialist struggle; since imperialism was “the final stage of capitalism,” it was a historical necessity that the war would offer opportunities for a revolution of the proletariat. Consequently, Lenin urged the proletariat to oppose the war by an international civil war against the capitalist class. After the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of Feb., 1917, the German government allowed Lenin to cross Germany en route from Switzerland to Sweden in a sealed railway car. By aiding his return to Russia, the Germans hoped (correctly) to disrupt the Russian war effort.
Lenin concluded that Russia was now ripe for a socialist revolution, arguing that the moderate provisional government represented the bourgeoisie whereas the soviets represented, in his words, a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. In July, 1917, after an abortive mass uprising in Petrograd, Lenin was forced to flee to Finland. Although the Bolsheviks were represented only by a minority in the first all-Russian Soviet congress (June, 1917), they soon gained decisive power. In Nov., 1917 (October according to the Old Style), the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who had returned to Petrograd, overthrew Kerensky's weak and disorganized regime and established a Soviet government.
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