- The term “Leninism” is in effect a shortened version of “Marxism–Leninism” since Leninists view Leninism as simply the development of Marxism and its application to Russian conditions. Leninists view Vladimir Ilich Lenin as the true heir of Karl Marx and as true to Marx’s theories. In particular Leninism emphasizes Marx’s belief in a dialectical and materialist philosophical approach, his scientific method and discovery of scientific laws relating to history and society, and his class analysis and commitment to class struggle. What Leninism adds to Marxism is a development of a theory of imperialism, a theory of the party, and a class analysis adapted to Russian conditions. Lenin’s theory of imperialism directed attention to the potential of Russia and other relatively backward countries (in terms of economic and class development) as locations for revolution. The “weakest link” of capitalism, according to his theory, lies in these underdeveloped countries. This view ties up with the Leninist view of the peasantry, the predominant class in underdeveloped countries, as having revolutionary potential. Leninism gives greater weight to the peasantry in such phrases as “revolutionary toilers” referring to the peasantry as well as the proletariat. The Leninist theory of the party argues for a “vanguard party” of dedicated, professional revolutionaries who will lead the masses, guiding and educating them. Most subsequent Marxists have claimed a link to Lenin, most notably Stalinists, Trotskyists and Maoists.
Historical dictionary of Marxism. David Walker and Daniel Gray . 2014.