Politics in Minutes (2016)

Revolutionary socialism

Marx developed his influential theories in a period of history shaped by revolutions – social, cultural, industrial and economic. However, other than the short-lived Paris Commune of 1871, no revolution succeeded in his lifetime to replace capitalism with socialism. But his ideas were vindicated in the 20th century, when Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky led the Russian workers into revolution and established a socialist state. They believed this could not have happened without a vanguard of revolutionary socialists to help the proletariat to achieve class consciousness and mobilize them into action. Although Marx and his fellow revolutionary socialists advocated revolution, they did not necessarily mean the sort of hard-fought and bloody battle of the Russian Revolution. Rather, they refer to a rapid removal of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, and complete social and economic transformation. In practice, however, this usually involves the use of force, and far from being a swift overthrow of capitalism, is often a protracted armed struggle against the forces of the establishment.