The history of Russian modern politics can be confusing. To that end, here is a basic overview to clarify some of the main -isms of Russian left wing politics of the 20th century:
- Communism is a political philosophy. It is a redistribution of wealth, capital and all the means of production away from the capitalists and to the workers.
- Marxism is a philosophy. It is a critique and analysis of capitalism; the analysis of history through the lens of class struggle, and application of Hegelian dialectics to labour and economics, known as dialectical materialism.
- Leninism is a historical style of government. It is a socialist revolution led by the working class under the strong leadership of a Revolutionary Party – a style of government which became known as Democratic Centralism.
- Stalinism is a historical style of government. It is the rule of an authoritarian vanguard party which represses opposition and free speech, frequently purges dissidents, and mainly implements state centralization and collectivization of industry.
- Trotskyism is a political theory. It is the idea of permanent revolution in which the needs of the worker are central to everything. As opposed to Stalinism, it holds that the cause of the proletariat is universal.
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” – Hélder Câmara