as a single party government, it was claimed by many that a Marxist regime had been
established. Many within the Bolshevik party were firm believers in the Marxist theory and
thought that the Soviet state would agree with Marx's ideas. There are some modern
historians who agree with this view, embracing the ideas of equality and fraternity and
believing that the Soviet state was the living embodiment of these beliefs. There are also
those who see that the Soviet state was something quite different from what Marx and indeed
Lenin had intended it to be. To find out whether the Soviet state defied Marxist theory or not,
is hardly a simple task of comparing the elements of the Soviet state with that of an ideal
Marxist state. One must look at how the regime arose, and in what circumstances, how
popular it was, and whether it was an inevitable manifestation. It is clear that the chief
coordinator of the revolution and founder of the movement, Vladimir Illyich Lenin died early
on in the regime. Therefore the change of rulers must be looked at closely to see whether
there were any major changes or internal disputes, which may cast doubt on the direction and
beliefs of the party. It is clear, therefore that to understand and assess whether the Soviet state
defied Marxist theory or not, one has to look at a number of features and assess their
importance. Perhaps also, it is worth considering how important Marxism is as an ideology,
that is to say, was it bound to fail? Has it ever succeeded in other regimes? If not then why
not? These are the issues that I will attempt to deal with in this essay.
The revolution of 1917 can clearly be seen as something, which was inevitable in
Russian history. However to simply say that it was a Marxist revolution of the working class
against the wealthy would be wrong. As Figes and Kolonitskii put it, "there were too many
other self-identities which could not be simply subsumed under class". By this, they mean
that other divisions such as those between rival towns and cultures appeared far more
important. These people were revolting against a number of things such as the aristocracy
with its embarrassments such as the Russo-Japanese war, a lack of money and a sense of
poverty. In no way can the people of Russia be said to be devout Marxists they just wanted
change. This is backed up by the fact that the Bolsheviks did not gain power straight away,
they still had to fight against two other major forces, the whites (Mensheviks) and the greens.
The only reason they gained power was because they had superb leaders who could
orchestrate a successful takeover of power. This disagrees with Marxist theory in one sense.
Marx believed the revolution would be a realisation by the "working class" of who they were
and who the enemy was. The revolution would be unstoppable and irresistible due to the
overwhelming majority of the working class. This was not the case because there was
actually only a small clique of people who 'stormed' the winter palace. This on its own is not
enough to discredit the regime as non-Marxist, indeed some may argue that such a radical
regime would be met with opposition whatever it represented. The point I am trying to make
here, is that the government is normally representative of the people, and if the people do not
believe in the Marxist principles then the government cannot implement them or they will
face the public's wrath.
It would be important here, to briefly mention Marx's teleological theory of history.
Marxism views history in terms of several basic periods: primitive communism, slave-owning
societies, feudalism, capitalism, and communism. Primitive communism is the system used
by societies with communal foundations and little conception of property....