How successful was Lenin’s attempt to create an alternative modernity in Russia by 1929? Overview The aim of this essay is to discuss how successful Lenin’s policies were in his attempt to create an alternative modernity in Russia by his death in 1924. By scrutinizing his actions and their individual impacts in relation to the desired modernity, historians can assess whether Lenin achieved the socialist dream he sought for. I will break down the essay into three components from which I can individually conclude their successfulness as an alternative modernity.
These shall be established in the introduction. Introduction The introduction will firstly discuss the crisis of modernity in the inter-war period in order to put Lenin’s rise to power and subsequent desire for a new society in context. This includes the general political and social crisis surrounding the propagating theories of nineteenth century thought. I will introduce the notion of a ‘socialist utopia’ and state the aims such a society seeks to establish.
I will indicate that my concluding thoughts are to be that Lenin undoubtedly created an alternative modernity in Russia; however it is clear that by the time of his death he regarded Russia as communist work in progress and realized that much had to be done in order to reach the preferred modernity envisioned by Marx and Engels. Russia achieved a society which was, in practice, a form of success but ideologically was less successful at achieving the state it required. Section 1
The first section will convey the new means and ways of the Russian government and compare this to what Lenin wanted for his party at the time and what Lenin had hoped would happen to the government eventually according to Marxist beliefs. I will consider the success of the revolution in 1917 and the way in which the government consolidated its power in the years thereafter. In order to do this I will need to examine the ways in which Lenin secured emancipation of the working class according to Marx teachings because it is using these beliefs that a utopia hoped to be established.
This includes the interpretation that authoritarianism would fix inter-war society in a time of fear and doubt. Other successes to consider include the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, the support for the Bolshevik Party and communism, uniting the workers of the world for revolution, the ability to spread communism, and the path to the ultimate stateless society. Section 2 The second section refers to the economic alternative that communism had to offer and assesses the success of the new method in following the socialist tradition.
I will note how the new forms of economic control were successful in that it transformed Russian economy into a more ‘modern’ system, however even though the system was undoubtedly communist, there were still capitalist elements that were not characteristic of the alternative modernity that Russia claimed allegiance to. I will discuss the success of Lenin’s policies such as ‘War Communism’ and the ‘New Economic Policy’ (NEP), considering how they adhered to the ideology on which they were based and whether they were economically successful or not. Section 3
The last section will establish whether society and culture was also revolutionized in the endeavor to create a new form of society. Modernism attempts to create culture and indeed, anything that could influence culture was used in order to consolidate and maintain support of communism from the Russian people. The egalitarian option that socialism offers was applied in many areas of society in the hope that it would create a better, stronger and more content social order. This includes the emancipation of women which is an ideological consideration concerning the communist ideas of equality between the sexes.
In this case practical needs were judged more important than ideological needs as reversal of many reforms concerning women were deemed essential to the regimes survival. Other cultural revolts that must be assessed include the attitude and dealings with the Orthodox Church, the use of arts and popular culture and the rise of propaganda. Conclusion The conclusion will state that Lenin did create of form of modernity that was different from anything politics had ever seen and that he did enjoy variations of success in comparison to the state of tsar ruled Russia, however this success was often limited and short lived.
Lenin had to adapt his Marxist beliefs many times in order to make them a feasible option for Russia. Indeed, he did successfully create an alternative modernity but he failed to obtain the socialist utopia which was his ultimate goal as practical want trumped the ideological battle. The quest for an alternative modernity was never meant to happen in Lenin’s lifetime, he was merely the instigator for what he hoped would develop into his idea of a perfect community. In this light, historians must conclude that Lenin was successful in achieving the starting point from which a utopia could emerge.