Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin (;, – 21 January 1924), was a Russian communist revolutionary politician and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Republic from 1917 to 1918, of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1918 to 1924, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, the former Russian Empire (including both Russia as well as various non-Russian territories it had controlled) became a one-party communist state governed by the Bolshevik Communist Party. Ideologically a Marxist, his political theories are known as Leninism. Born to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Lenin became interested in revolutionary socialist politics following his brother’s execution in 1887. Expelled from Kazan Imperial University for participating in protests against the Russian Empire’s Tsarist regime, he devoted the following years to a law degree. In 1893, he moved to Saint Petersburg and became a senior figure in the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party . Arrested for sedition and exiled to Shushenskoye for three years, there he married Nadezhda Krupskaya. After his exile, he moved to Western Europe, where he became a prominent party theorist through his publications. In 1903, he took a key role in a RSDLP ideological split, leading the Bolshevik faction against Julius Martov’s Mensheviks. Encouraging insurrection during Russia’s failed Revolution of 1905, he later campaigned for the First World War to be transformed into a Europe-wide proletarian revolution, which as a Marxist he believed would cause the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with socialism. After the 1917 February Revolution ousted the Tsar and established a Provisional Government, he returned to Russia to campaign for the new regime’s replacement by a Bolshevik-led government of the soviets. Lenin played a leading role in the October Revolution of 1917, which overthrew the Provisional Government and established a one-party state under the new Communist Party. His government abolished Russia’s elected Constituent Assembly, withdrew from the First World War by signing a treaty with the Central Powers, and granted temporary independence to non-Russian nations under Russian control. Ruling by decree, it redistributed land among the peasantry and nationalized banks and large-scale industry. Opponents were suppressed in the Red Terror, a violent campaign orchestrated by the state security services; tens of thousands were killed and many others interned in concentration camps. Lenin’s government defeated anti-Bolshevik armies in the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1922. Responding to famine and popular uprisings, in 1921 Lenin introduced a mixed economic system with the New Economic Policy. Creating the Communist International and waging the Polish–Soviet War to promote world revolution, Lenin’s government also united Russia with neighboring territories to form the Soviet Union in 1922. In increasingly poor health, Lenin expressed opposition to the growing power of his successor, Joseph Stalin, before dying at his dacha in Gorki. Widely considered one of the most significant and influential figures of the 20th century, Lenin was the posthumous subject of a pervasive personality cult within the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991. He became an ideological figurehead behind Marxism-Leninism and thus a prominent influence over the international communist movement. A controversial and highly divisive individual, Marxist-Leninists view Lenin as a champion of socialism and the working classes, while critics on both the left and right see him as the founder of a totalitarian dictatorship responsible for civil war and mass human rights abuses.

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