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Encyclopedia > What is to be Done

What Is to Be Done? (Russian: Что делать?) was a political pamphlet, written by Vladimir Lenin at the end of 1901 and early 1902. The title is inspired by the novel of Nikolai Chernyshevsky with the same name. The piece called for the formation of a revolutionary vanguardist party that would direct the efforts of the working class. Lenin thought that, left to their own devices, workers would be merely satisfied with "trade unionism," and that only a revolutionary party could direct a "scientific" socialist revolution. The piece partly precipitated the split of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks became Lenin's revolutionary party, while the Mensheviks preferred to take a more moderate path to liberal government that would eventually lead to socialist revolution. Lenin redirects here. ... Nikolai Chernyshevsky Nikolai Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky (Russian: Николай Гаврилович Чернышевский) (July 12, 1828 - October 17, 1889) was a Russian revolutionary democrat, materialist philosopher, critic, and socialist. ... The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, or RSDLP (Росси́йская Социа́л-Демократи́ческая Рабо́ча&#1103... Bolshevik Party Meeting. ... Leaders of the Menshevik Party at Norra Bantorget in Stockholm, Sweden, May 1917. ... Bolshevik Party Meeting. ... Leaders of the Menshevik Party at Norra Bantorget in Stockholm, Sweden, May 1917. ...

However it has recently been argued in a book on the pamphlet by Lars Lih that it has been widely misinterpreted, based partly on mistranslations of key terms used by Lenin.

External links

Socialist Democracy is a fragment of Peoples Democracy, a left wing nationalist current which emerged in Belfast in the 1960s and which subsequently affiliated to the USFI. Peoples Democracy held 2 seats on Belfast City Council in the 1980s during a period when Sinn Féin were boycotting...


Malia, Martin The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991. New York: The Free Press, 1994.

Lih, Lars Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done? in Context



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