4. Lenin

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Book Chapter

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Marx' theory of revolutionary tactics, moreover, could not easily be applied to Russian conditions. After the revolutions of 1848 he had abandoned reliance on small, secret societies aimed at the immediate seizure of power, holding that they could not be successful without popular understanding and support. The task, as he saw it, involved long-range preparations in which educating the working classes had to take precedence over organizing for violence. Consequently, Marx favored the creation of large political parties, functioning openly. Such an approach presupposed a relatively benign political environment, such as that of England. Where ideas could not be circulated freely, it could not be adopted. This was the situation in tsarist Russia. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Excerpts from Lenin's What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement were removed from the attached chapter because of copyright restrictions. You can read a different version of Lenin's text available here.


This is a part of Section XVI: Developments in Socialism, (1848-1914). The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.