Communism in Russia and China

Communism in Russia and China

Communism in Russia and China


In both the modern and past political and economic systems, communism continues to be a debate among millions of people. Communism could be traced back to 1917 when Russia entered a state of communist dictatorship led by Lenin bearing the theory of Leninism. However, the modern approach towards communism is mainly attributed to the theoretical works of Karl Marx, the father of Marxism. The two approaches portray differing attributes. Marxism insisted on the revolutions of the working class in the industrialized and capitalist countries. Karl Marx was keen to note that such a revolution could not be effective in a country like Russia which was not industrialized and had high reliance of agriculture. On the other hand, Lenin argued that the underdeveloped Russian Empire could be the first to benefit from communism. These among other differences develop a debate on whether Leninism played a role in the adaptation of Marxism in the Russian conditions. Mao Zedong introduced Maoism as he disagreed with Karl Marx that communism could only be achieved in industrialized countries. Maoism seem to apply the ideas presented by Leninism but in way that fit the reality of the Chinese society. This paper aims at evaluating on whether Leninism lead to the adaptation of Marxism in Russia putting in mind the internal and international conditions by comparing and contrasting between the two theories. Additionally, the paper aims at giving a verdict whether Maoism constituted the adaptation of Leninism in the Chinese conditions, both internal and international.

Leninism and Marxism in Russia


Both Marxism and Leninism aimed at a revolution in the social setting whereby communism would be fully embraced. The two individuals behind the theories, Marx and Lenin had a similar goal of bringing a permanent change in the society. The common idea was to come up with an economical and democratic community of workers with Karl Marx portraying a more Anarchist vision than Lenin. Leninism demonstrated a logical development of Marxism and adding the latter’s practice and adaptation in the Russian conditions. The fact that Leninism focused on both political and socialistic economic theories means that it acted as a development of Marxism. Additionally, the implementation of Marxism to develop Leninism in Russia clearly shows that the latter is a dominant version of the former.

Contrasting view

Karl Marx presented and developed many ideas that would eventually result in the revolution of communism in Russia. However, Lenin was the one who played the major role in the implementation of these ideas. Although Marxism insisted on the revolution of industrialized countries, the revolution kicked off in Russia. Leninism embraced this idea but in a different way. It would be important to note that Karl Marx presented the ideology of proletariat revolution with an intent of making it an international condition. However, Leninism countered the ideology by insisting that the revolution could only occur in a single country and in this case could perfectly suit Russia. To ensure that the idea succeeded, Lenin introduced Capitalism, a condition that Marx did not introduce in his theory. Lenin believed that an administration formed by wealthy and educated people would be key towards the success of the revolution. Leninism introduces dictatorship in the Russian administrative setting an aspect that contrasted the Marxists’ idea of communism. This shows that some of the ideas introduced by Leninism weakened rather than strengthening Marxism in Russia.

The contrast between Marxism and Leninism seems evident in the latter’s perception on the role of the state. Marxism viewed a state as a platform for the politically-able working class to transfer power and be later abolished. In contrary, Lenin viewed the state as permanent and vital part of socialism and had to be strengthened. As a result, Leninism lead to the enlargement of the Russian state and its arms. Additionally, there was brutal dictatorship approved by Lenin and mainly practiced by Stalin. Lenin said the following in a speech he presented on the 31st March 1920,

“Now we are repeating what was approved by the Central EC two years ago . . . Namely, that the Soviet Socialist Democracy (sic!) is in no way inconsistent with the rule and dictatorship of one person; that the will of a class is at best realized by a Dictator who sometimes will accomplish more by himself and is frequently more needed” (Lenin 89).

The results of the new idea presented by Lenin contrasted with Karl Marx’ goals. Rather than the adaptation of Marxism, Leninism created a completely new ideology that borrowed various aspects from Marxism. Leninism ideology strengthened brutal dictatorship, mainly after the Bolshevik coup. The new set of rulers during this period exploited the working class (whom Marx was protecting) and denied any democratic platforms. The denial stretched all the way to their safety in independent organizations including trade unions.

Leninism and Maoism in China


Both Leninism and Maoism portray various common stands that seem to strengthen the adaptation of Leninism in the establishment of Maoism in the Chinese setting. First, Lenin ad Mao disagreed with Marx that communism revolution could only succeed in industrialized countries. This common aspect between the two theories allowed them to perform the revolution in a different way and implementing different strategies. In China, for example, city workers did not contribute in the revolution. Most participants were the peasant farmers, a situation which was also similar in Russia as propelled by Leninism.  Both the Maoism and Leninism adopted socialist revolutions. Therefore, it was easier for Maoism to adapt to Leninism in its implementation in the Chinese setting. The two theories seemed to act as pillars for stable organizational principles whereby the political bodies highly pursued them.

Contrasting view

Leninism was keen to highlight the importance of Soviet version of communism which held that urban workers should join together and come up with the revolutionary vanguard. On the other hand, Maoism aimed at a community whereby revolutions the rural peasants where key players and could later join their urban mates. Maoists had massive distrust towards urban industrialization. The thought originated from the Great Leap Forwards of 1959. Mao’s suspicion and disagreement with the Soviets’ urban industrialization program lead to a famine and death of millions in China. Therefore, it is clear that Mao did not fully comply with Leninism in its establishment in both China and internationally.

One of the reasons why the adaptation of Leninism by Maoism could be challenging is their different perception on the relation between the people and the party. Leninism believed that the people could rely on the party as the vanguard teaching them about the social revolution with their best interest as the priority. In contrast, Maoism as depicted by Mao, had more faith in the people than he had in the party. Mao stressed that people possessed inherent revolutionary traits and that it was important to always learn from the people (Lin 296).

Additionally, the implementation of organizational principles between the two theorists differed. Lenin implemented and strictly followed a centralized administrative model of party organization which ensure that the administration in Russia was secretive. On the other hand, Mao did not implement the Leninists’ organizational principles in the Chinese conditions. Maoist preached the gospel of having a party and people who are in close communication (Mass Line).


In conclusion, it is evident that each of the theories portray special attributes that differ with each other. To start with, Marxism and Leninism played a key role in ensuring a successful communism revolution in Russia. Although Leninism came later, the impact of Marxism on the Russian setting was still alive. Leninism borrowed a lot from Marxism. In other words, Leninism implemented Marxism ideologies but in a different way. Marxism acted original work while Leninism was the developer. The changes introduced by Lenin however, lead to a couple of differences between Leninism and Marxism. It was simply adapting Marxism but from a different angle. On the other hand, Maoism seems to adopt to the styles used by Leninism in Russia in ensuring that the Chinese community fights capitalism. Although Mao was against urban workers being the main players in the revolution, he implemented a similar strategy by Lenin. However, in this case it was towards the consideration of the rural peasants. Although Mao implemented various principles that contrast those in by Lenin, it is evident that Maoism constituted the adaptation of Leninism to Chinese conditions.



Works Cited

Lenin. Collected Works. 1910-1912.

Lin, Chun. The Transformation of Chinese Socialism. Duke University Press, 2006.