Leninism as ideological current within Marxism emerged after Lenin's death. Following the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, Leninism was contrived under Stalin's leadership to manufacture continuity between his rule and Lenin's (and therefore Marx's) thought. In reaction to this, Leon Trotsky coined 'Bolshevik-Leninism' to emphasise continuity between his theories and thoughts and Lenin. Leninism thus branched off into Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism) and "Bolshevik-Leninism" (or Trotskyism)
Lenin's political theory included the use of a vanguard party and the notion of 'trade union consciousness', democratic centralism, and imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.
In his unfinished The State and Revolution, Lenin popularized what Marx named 'the first phase of communism' being called 'socialism'. As its name implies, in this work, Lenin describes how a proletarian Social revolution is to occur, arguing against Revisionism of Marxism by Bernstein and others, as well as how the Dictatorship of the Proletariat should operate, drawing on the experience of the Paris Commune.
Leninism as a distinct political current
It is much debated in Marxist circles as to what extend "Leninism" is truly Marxist or even based on Lenin. Some Marxists consider themselves pro-lenin but not "pro-leninist," in that they feel that Leninism is merely a distortion of what Lenin actually stood for (which they believe to be Orthodox Marxism that was determined by the circumstances of the Russian Revolution), based on soon-outdated texts such as "What is to be Done?" This work, these Marxists argue, was meant to be placed only in the context of 1905 Russia, and not to be applied to all socialist revolutions. The book that helped popularize this view was Lars T. Lih's Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done? In Context.
"Leninism," therefore, did not emerge until after his death with the Trotsky-Stalin split in the party, coming into being as a doctrine with Stalin's text Foundations of Leninism.
However, Marxist-Leninists and Trotskyists consider Leninism merely an extension of Marxism into the age of imperialism.
Main works in Leninism
Works by Vladimir Lenin
- What is to be done
- State and Revolution
Works by Leon Trotsky
- The Revolution Betrayed
Works by Joseph Stalin
- The Foundations of Leninism
- Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR