Lenin’s Model To Becoming Revolutionaries

Lenin had a very different perspective as to how a revolution should begin. He believed that spontaneous sparks from the working class were only the very first step into organization. Lenin saw the lone acts of spontaneity as being pointless, however. These spontaneous acts of individuals did not cause change to occur as was hoped. These acts were merely blips in the large scheme of things. Lenin agrees that the worker may become aware of their situation at hand, but that all the workers spontaneous awareness must be harnessed in becoming a conscious rebellion. A conscious rebellion requires organization and planning. A time and place for meetings and the demands need to be made aware. Lenin believed that this form conscious form of organization is the only way to gain progress in the rebellious movement.

At this time there were only two forms of ideology seen, one being bourgeois ideology and the socialist ideology. Lenin argued that by workers and anyone who was sympathetic to workers needed to side with the socialist ideology; otherwise, the bourgeois ideology would be strengthened further. One of the problems that social-democrats faced is that the ideology is only beginning and it would be very easy for the bourgeois to put down without a mass of support. This makes it all the more important for the rebellion to a conscious effort and not spontaneous. An aspect special to social-democracy is that it is not limited to just the support of the workers themselves, but to anyone who is wanting to help the workers. Lenin sees this as the key separation between social-democracy and the formation of trade unions. A member of social-democracy must have the commitment as if it were their job. Trade unions try to pit the worker directly against the employers, but social-democracy only represents the struggles workers face from their employers or the government. The idea is that a trade union must have the support of social-democrats; however, that does not mean they are one in the same thing. Lenin wants to use social-democracy as a way to bring workers up to a level at which they may understand what is at stake and give them the ability to revolt in unison. For Lenin, rebellion must start with spontaneous awareness then mold into a conscious rebellion using the ideology of social-democracy.


Lenin, Vladimir. “The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Consciousness of the Social-Democrats.” In What Is to Be Done? 1902.

Lenin, Vladimir. “Chapter IV; Organisation of Workers and Organisation of Revolutionaries.” In What Is to Be Done? 1902.

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  1. I wrote my post of the Revolution of 1905 mostly because I wasn’t 100% confident that I understood what Lenin’s perspective was well enough to write about it, but I’m really glad you wrote about this. It reiterated the things I did understand as well as explain the things I didn’t. Good post can’t wait to see more!

  2. This post was really interesting. So based on Lenins views would it be correct in stating that he believed if a person wasn’t with the Socialist movement they were then with the Bourgeoisie movement, and no one was in between.

  3. You tackle an interesting perspective here. By breaking down Lenin’s view of social democracy you clearly outline the difference between what the trade union stands for and Lenin’s vision for Russia. This was an interesting angle that was not covered by many people. Good use of sources and presenting the material you found in a clear way.

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