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About this book

A political and intellectual biographical study of Lenin which focuses on those aspects of his thought and political activities that had a bearing on the accession of the Bolsheviks to power in Russia in 1917 and the creation of the Soviet state. The book places Lenin in the context of his times and shows his relationship to other socialist thinkers. In particular it locates Lenin within the development of Marxist thought in Russia. Its historiographical chapter reveals the political factors which influenced the way biographies of Lenin were written in the Soviet Union. The book makes extensive use of first-hand materials including sources from the Russian archives.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
Much of what Lenin did and wrote, especially in his early political career, was determined by the previous development of the Russian revolutionary movement and by the history of Marx’s ideas in Russia. His approach to revolutionary practice and theory are also to be explained by the peculiar way in which Marxist doctrine and the Russian revolutionary movement interacted in the period during Lenin’s childhood and youth. It was at that time that Marx’s ideas began to circulate in Russia, and their implications discussed for the country’s future economic development and for the tactics which revolutionaries might adopt. Lenin entered the Russian revolutionary movement at a time when both its politics and its ideology were in a state of flux. As a result he was able to make a profound impact on both. Examining historically the interrelationship of Marxism and the Russian revolutionary movement provides the political context in which Lenin operated and gives an insight into what Lenin’s relationship to Marx was.
James D. White

1. The Making of A Revolutionary

Abstract
Writing in 1927, Lenin’s sister Anna recalled that when she was four years old or thereabouts, in 1868 or 1869, her parents took her and her little brother Alexander on a steamer trip down the Volga from Nizhnii Novgorod to Astrakhan, the home of her father’s relations. She remembered the small two-storey house in which her grandmother and her uncle Vasilii lived, the warm welcome they received there, and the great fuss made over Alexander and herself. The trip stood out in Anna’s memory because it was the first and last visit ever paid by the Ulyanovs to the Astrakhan branch of the family.1
James D. White

2. A Party of A New Type

Abstract
Lenin was in prison when in July 1896 30 000 St Petersburg textile workers went on strike. The ‘elders’ helped the strikers by printing and distributing leaflets for them. For her part in this activity Krupskaya was arrested and imprisoned. In May of 1897 Lenin arrived at his place of Siberian exile, the village of Shushenskoe in the Minusinsk district of the Enisei province. Krupskaya, who had been sentenced to three years’ exile in the Ufa province, requested a transfer to Shushenskoe, describing herself for this purpose as Lenin’s fiancée. The permission was given on condition that the marriage take place immediately after Krupskaya’s arrival in Shushenskoe. Lenin and Krupskaya were duly married on 10 July 1898 in the local church.1
James D. White

3. The 1905 Revolution and its Aftermath

Abstract
Lenin’s relationship with Alexander Bogdanov repeats the pattern of his association with Martov. It began with a phase of close friendship and fruitful cooperation, eventually to be replaced by one of alienation and hostility. Lenin, apparently, could not tolerate rivals, but he could not achieve what he wanted without them.
James D. White

4. The First World War

Abstract
In June 1912 Lenin and Krupskaya had moved from Paris to Cracow in the Austrian part of Poland to be nearer to the Russian frontier. This location afforded better opportunities for sending articles to Pravda and maintaining contact with organisations inside Russia, particularly as the elections to the Fourth Duma were in the offing. In fact the election campaign was successful from Lenin’s point of view, as six Bolshevik deputies were elected. Unfortunately one of these deputies was Malinovskii, who was soon to be exposed as a police spy. It was in Cracow that Lenin first made the acquaintance of the young Marxist Nikolai Bukharin, who was then living in Vienna. Another visitor to Cracow was Stalin, whom Lenin had met previously at party congresses, and whom he encouraged to write a book on the national question.
James D. White

5. Lenin as Revolutionary

Abstract
Four weeks went by between the time Lenin first received news of the revolution in Russia and his arrival at the Finland Station in Petrograd. In those four weeks the tsarist regime had fallen, the tsar had abdicated, the Provisional Government had been established and the Petrograd Soviet had simultaneously come into being, creating the situation of ‘dual power’ in the country.
James D. White

6. Lenin In Power

Abstract
Before the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, Lenin had been confident that conditions in the country were right for a socialist revolution, and that a socialist economic system could be established on the basis of the structures which Russian capitalism had already laid down. He also expected to be able to implement the conception of a‘commune state’ that he had elaborated in State and Revolution. Once the Bolsheviks had taken power, however, Lenin’s prerevolutionary vision of Russia’s future very rapidly evaporated, and the country gravitated more and more towards the repression and authoritarian rule that Russians had thought superseded with the end of the tsarist regime. One reason for this outcome is that any plans that Lenin had turned out to be entirely inadequate to deal with the situation as it then existed, and the other is that even those plans were based on misconceptions about how capitalism developed and what the nature of Russian society was.
James D. White

7. The Lenin Legend

Abstract
The starting point in studying Lenin’s intellectual and political biography is the conventional interpretation of Lenin as the man who by his pamphlet What Is To Be Done? inspired the creation of the Bolshevik party, a centralised and tightly controlled organisation of professional revolutionaries, which in October 1917 seized power in Russia. This conception was neatly summed up by Merle Fainsod as follows: ‘In 1902 in What Is To Be Done? Lenin had written, “Give me an organisation of revolutionaries, and we shall overturn the whole of Russia”. On 25 October 1917, the wish was fulfilled and the deed accomplished.’ 1
James D. White
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