The bug of plague

Marx and Engels would be astonished to know where their theories produced their first bloody fruits. It was not a highly industrialised country with a strong proletariat, which they regarded as a fundamental revolutionary factor. The agricultural and reactionary Russia of the self-governing tsars, one of the main pillars of the European order at that time, was not only unsuitable, in their opinion, for the homeland of the revolution, but with its anachronistic social order was seen as one of the greatest obstacles to its putting into practice. At the turn of the century, however, the tsarist state was one of the fastest growing world powers, rapidly assimilating the principles of the capitalist system. Suffice it to say that its oil industry was responsible for extraction of more than 90% of the oil produced at the time, that its grain production was equal to the United States, Canada and Argentina taken together, and that on the eve of the outbreak of World War I it ranked first in terms of industrial production.

However, the situation in 1917 was far from the same as in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The pre-war rapid economic development dramatically deepened social stratification and the Great War which lasted for three years, mostly turned out to be a series of terrible disasters for Russia, which drastically undermined the authority of the omnipotent tsar. It was the first country where as a result of the world war, a mature revolutionary situation emerged, which was reflected in the revolution that deprived the tsar of power, transforming the country into a republic. In a short-sightedness way, the Germans who fought against Russia decided to use it. They sent the leader of the smaller Bolshevik fraction of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and an ardent Marxist, to Petrograd (today St. Petersburg). Lenin, which was his pseudonym, turned out to be a kind of “bug of the plague”, as Winston Churchill put it picturesquely years later.