Lenin

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The Life and Times of Vladimir Lenin

The Russian Revolution, we know how it began, why it began, and the outcome of it. We know that without it Russia would have not become to powerhouse that it was during World War II and beyond (and without it might have been completely taken over by the Nazis). However, unlike the French Revolution which had no clear leader or originator of the revolution at the very beginning of Russia’s toppling of the monarchy and rise of Communism was one man: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

Vladimir Lenin (from now on referred to as “Lenin”) on April 22, 1870 in Simbirsk (current day Ulyanovsk) of the Russian Empire. He was born into a middle class family and had several siblings. When Lenin was 16 years old his father, Ilya Ulyanov died of brain hemorrhage. After this Lenin’s behavior became erratic confrontational, during this period he renounced his belief in God and became an atheist (a belief he would keep until his death). During this period Lenin began to have an extreme fascination with extreme leftist such as Dimitry Pisarev, Nikolay Dobrolyubov, and most importantly Karl Marx. It was during this time that Lenin’s older brother Aleksander Ulyanov joined a socialist revolutionary cell that was determined to assassinate Tsar Nicolas the II, Lenin’s brother was eventually captured and sentenced to death by hanging. Despite this and his father’s death Lenin continued studying and went to study law at Kazan University. In August of 1887 Lenin entered Judicial Faculty at Kazan University. While there he started to become very interested in his late brother’s radical ideals and as a result he began meeting with a revolutionary cell that was run by Lazar Bogoraz. In September of 1889 Lenin and his mother moved to Samara for the winter it was here that Lenin came into contact with many political dissidents and started cementing his beliefs in communism.

In 1893 Lenin moved to St. Petersburg under the employment as a lawyer’s assistant. During this time he joined another revolutionary cell that like Lenin, were Marxists. He climbed their social ladder pretty quickly and became a senior member of the group. Hoping to cement ties between this group (the Social Democrats) and other leftist Marxist groups Lenin traveled to Switzerland to meet with the leaders of the Emancipation of Labor group. He then stayed there for several months before traveling to Berlin, Germany where he studied for six weeks before returning to Russia with a plethora of illegal writings from revolutionaries. Almost immediately upon his return to Russia he was constantly under surveillance from the secret police and was put under house arrest. During this time he mused the idea of a revolution that was begun by the working class and had begun work on his book The Development of Capitalism in Russia. In February of 1897 without trial, Lenin was sentenced to exile for three years

In 1900 with his exile over Lenin was banned from returning to St. Petersburg instead he settled in the town of Pskov. During this time Lenin founded a newspaper called Iskra (The Spark). In July of the same year Lenin left for Western Europe, In Switzerland and Germany Lenin gave many lectures on the Russian situation and gained much support from fellow Marxists. During this time Lenin’s newspaper began publication in Munich with the first issue decrying European intervention in the Boxer Rebellion. The paper began to take off with many Marxists writers contributing to it, including a young Ukrainian by the name of Leon Trotsky.

In 1903 Lenin attended the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in Brussels before relocating to London, England. Here is where the parties began to split between the Bolsheviks under Lenin and the Mensheviks led by Julius Martov. The break originated from a book Lenin published the year prior titled What is to Be Done? and from Lenin’s belief that a worker-peasant alliance force is what should overthrow...
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