I'm interested in what specific differences in Lenin's writing might address what he perceived to be the shortcomings of Marx's work. Wikipedia is weak on this topic.

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    I believe an important difference was that Marx had an industrialized society in mind where his class struggle was expected to lead to a classless state through a revolution of the industrial proletariat, not a mainly agrarian society like Russia; but Lenin tried to incite various non-industrial segments of society to bring about a classless state in agrarian Russia. – Cerberus Oct 30 '11 at 2:23
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    I can only use the Russian Wikipedia article myself. According to that, the main difference was that Lenin described imperialism as the last development stage of capitalism. Also, Lenin (necessarily) described a revolution through a union of workers and peasants under the leadership of workers whereas Marx only considered workers as the revolutionary force. In general, Lenin mostly adapted Marx to the conditions of Russian Empire or extended his theory. – Wladimir Palant Oct 30 '11 at 21:03
  • @Wladimir Palant, the article is simply the set of official CPSU propagandas and dogmas in interpretation of Stalin. By them, Lenin is one of the idols of Marxism-Leninism who, by dogma, could not have any criticisms/differences with Marx. what you have written about imperialism is not Lenin's description. He just used the works of other marxists (like Kautsky) for his doctrine. Why haven't you posted your own answer instead of trying to iterpret the interpretations of others? – Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Oct 31 '11 at 0:02
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    @WebMAOhist: I don't know the topic myself and I don't have reliable sources (I see very well that most of the Wikipedia article I linked to is non-sense) - meaning that I don't have an answer to post. As to Lenin's description of imperialism, it might very well be taken over from predecessors but it was clearly a position that set Lenin apart from Marx. – Wladimir Palant Oct 31 '11 at 6:33
  • @WebMAOhist Despite the dogmatic nature of the CPSU, Marxism-Leninism does not require unquestioning obedience <i>to Marx</i>. That said, there is a very strong argument to be made that the doctrine of Democratic Centralism (a specific feature of Marxist-Leninism) can naturally lead to very dogmatic decisions and the assists the development of a powerful elite (such as the <i>nomenklatura</i> commonly found in the Soviet bloc countries). I've noticed that Marxists and socialists of all stripes will often save some of their most vehement criticism for their socialist <i>contemporaries</i>. – BrotherJack Mar 26 '12 at 23:54

In my reading of Lenin, he very rarely criticizes Marx. He is much more interested in developing the dialectical concepts of Marx (ie. Speaking to the development of capitalism, the worker's struggle , and the tactics of the of socialist movements. ). That said , his major theoretical developments was to challenge the overly mechanical interpretation of historical development by contemporary Marxists. Marx had divided historical development into 5 successive stages (primarive communism, imperial city state, feudalism, capitalism, and communism). Many Marxists held out that different regions were at different stages of economic development and that it was necessary for each region to proceed through each stage in order. Lenin's disagreement with this was important in the development of the Bolshevik movement, as most socialists agreed that Russia was in the feudalist stage and needed to develop capitalism (see primative accumulation) before developing socialist policies.

One of his other noteworthy innovations was the concept of the vanguard. He believed that without an intellectual class distinct from the working masses that the highest level of worker organization possible was that of the trade union. The vanguard was necessary to organize and instruct the uneducated and distracted worker.

As noted earlier his theory on capitalist development are outlined in Imperialism: The Highest stage of Capitalism, his tactical thoughts on organizing are best found in Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder and What Is To Be Done. Particularly relevant to this post is Karl Marx: A Brief Biological Sketch with an Exposition on Marxism. All can be found at http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/sw/index.htm

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    fantastic answer, kudos to you sir – ihtkwot Mar 22 '12 at 12:41
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    IIRC, Lenin also propagated turning a Bourgeois revolution into a Communist one, never mind that Marx was thinking of a worker's revolution. I am a bit hazy on this, though, it's long ago that I had to learn that. – sbi Apr 4 '12 at 19:09
  • @sbi Absolutely. I've been reading John Reed's "Ten Days that Shook the World", and he goes into great detail on the conflict between the mensheviks and so-called moderate socialists against the bolsheviks. This goes back to the concern of having to proceed through each "historical stage" as the former factions felt that Russia needed to complete a (bourg.) political revolution before proceeding to a (comm.)social revolution. Yet, in the face of the reactionary pressure on the Petrograd Soviet by the cadets, the mensheviks declared they would not support the former in repressing the latter. – BrotherJack Apr 4 '12 at 19:45

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