What Is to be Done?

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What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement is a pamphlet by Vladimir Lenin written in 1901 and published in 1902.[1] Its title is taken from the 1863 novel of the same name by the Russian revolutionary Nikolai Chernyshevsky. In the pamphlet, Lenin argues that the working class will not spontaneously become political simply by fighting economic battles with employers over wages, working hours, and the like. To educate the working class on Marxism, Lenin insists that Marxists should form a special political party, or "vanguard party", of dedicated revolutionaries in order to spread Marxist political ideas among the workers. The pamphlet, in part, precipitated the split of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party between Lenin's Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, the latter of which instead sought a more Western-style party whose membership would be open to the masses and its leadership electable; so that ultimately its policies and decisions are determined by a consensus of its members.[2][3]

External links


  1. Le Blanc, Paul. 2008. Revolution, Democracy, Socialism: Selected Writings of Lenin. London: Pluto Press. pp. 9, 128.
  2. Malia, Martin (1994). The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917–1991. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-919795-0.
  3. "The Mensheviks". Alpha History. 5 Jun 2019. Retrieved 30 Jul 2023.