The Soviet Union has always been seen as the enemy of democracy. This was of course to those who misunderstood the true motives behind the introduction of Communism. Western Governments would have liked everyone to believe that the USSR was the enemy of the free world, when in actual fact; their primary concern lay with the Capitalism that they held so dear. Capitalism allowed democratic governments to have power over their own people by controlling resources and most importantly, money. The people with the most money were the “rich”, the upper class, those with assets, experiencing a good standard of life. The “poor” were the lower class, the working class, blue collar workers who worked at steel-works and brought home little money. The democratic governments of the world, and even the monarchist governments, tried to preserve this way of life by oppressing the working class. For 65 years these Western governments were unsuccessful in breaking down the most successful Communist Government in the world, one which believed in equality amongst all persons. At least this was what Vladimir Lenin originally intended, but through the advent of Stalin the communist government digressed from this original idea and in turn protected its own idealisms. A loss of control set in and the downward spiral began. Indeed, Vladimir Lenin’s revolution and subsequent takeover of Russia was considered by some as the darkest day for democracy. Although others see it as the victory for the working class against the rich and the breaking of the class structure.
Vladimir Lenin came from a decent family; his father was a School Inspector and his mother the daughter of a wealthy land owner. He had proven himself intelligent in school and excelled in his studies. He became outcast as a result of his brothers execution for plotting to assassinate the Tsar. Attending a university and then a protest, Lenin was expelled. He studied law on his own and then passed top of a class of 124 in 1891. Over the next 26 years, Lenin would practice law, form a Marxist Movement (Marx being another philosopher), start a revolutionary paper, be sent to jail for 15 months, marry his love, observe the 1905 revolution from Switzerland, barter with the Germans for safe passage into Russia and ultimately be the leader of the October Revolution in 1917. These events would seal Vladimir Lenin’s name into history as “a man of the people”. Indeed the Social Democrat Party he was a member of wished to only revolt with the middle class in mind. Lenin had the Proletariat in focus, the lower classes of Russia. The Social Democrats split into Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, with the latter winning in the end. This view is what would make Lenin so famous amongst the working class of the world then and even now
The 1917 revolution was concocted as a method of removing the powers of the rich, or the bourgeois, and making every man, woman and child of every class equal. In effect, the system worked, the Tsar lost his power, the rich lost their land and their money, and the poor were given food on their table. It was truly the victory of the working class. What made it so significant was the fact that Lenin was a nobleman. He and his family and had money, they owned land, and therefore he had a lot to lose. The difference being was that Lenin was not hungry and outcast and as a result of this he could not stand to live in a world where other men suffered this fate. This fact alone was the key aspect of his moral and ethical view that all people looked up to, his power to have everything and to throw it away for the love and respect of his fellow man.
Vladimir Lenin was a philosopher in politics. The essential thing that set him apart from other philosophers was his ability to prove his own theory and apply it himself, thus creating a form of government called “Leninism”. In the beginning, as the famous cliché goes, the Leninist Government worked, his policy and philosophy applied in such a fashion that he had the support of the people. When Lenin died in 1924, and his successor Stalin took over, the government took a turn for the worse, Stalin taking control and aligning himself with a more “Fascist” approach, ironically coined “Stalinism”. Lenin has been analysed and interpreted by many psychoanalysts and psychologists throughout the last century. One definitive discourse can be aligned to him that he rose against the social doctrines and normality of the time to ultimately change a situation for everyone around him.
Abraham Maslow was emphatically a psychologist and philosophised on the Hierarchy of Needs and created a motivation theory of hierarchy of needs that could be related to human needs. This theory seems to exemplify Lenin’s philosophies. Indeed it seems that the theory that he developed was in essence achieved and followed by Lenin twenty years prior to its inception. The key motivators in human action that he developed are:
1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.
3. Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.
4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
5. Cognitive needs - knowledge, meaning, etc.
6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
7. Self-Actualization needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualization.
Originally there were five separate things humans are motivated by to achieve certain things. Indeed later, these five were expanded to eight, which can all be used to assess the morality and ethicality of Lenin’s revolutionary action. Maslow’s Theory is applicable to the life of Lenin in that all five original and even the eight modern stages have held some part in his short and interesting life. Lenin had achieved up to Level Seven. He was a successful lawyer, he came from a good family, he had a wife, and it seemed he had all a man could want. Now, all he had left was the one thing incomplete, transcendence. Vladimir Lenin would now use his good situation to help his fellow man, men who were not even reaching Level One, let alone Seven. Through Lenin’s revolutionary action of 1917, and the subsequent takeover and conversion of government to Communism, Lenin was able to achieve his goal of helping the Proletariat overcome the Bourgeois. The people of Russia and even the whole of Eastern Europe were now guaranteed Level Three, with the ability to go further if they so wished. Lenin had explored all eight levels of Maslow’s Theory over 50 years, before passing away in 1924.
At about the same time that Maslow developed his theory another psychologist Erik Erikson developed a theory based on Freudian Ego-Psychology. His theory explored the progressions of children to adults, the psychological perception of the world and the needs of people through different stages of their lives. As with Maslow, Erikson’s theory was developed over different levels. Erikson explicitly stated that humans must go through certain psychosocial situations and circumstances to progress through life and these stages will ultimately alter the outcomes of a person’s decisions and life in general. For example, if a person takes a negative aspect of the psychosocial crisis model, decisions they make will be influenced by this.
This theory too can be likened to Lenin as a person, relating to any other on a primal level. Lenin’s upbringing had allowed him to explore the positive aspects of Erikson’s philosophy and the decisions he encountered through his entire life were made in accordance with the theory of Erikson. The theory of Erikson is far too complex to assess Lenin in his youth but the later stages of his theory can be used to explore the more mature stages of Lenin’s behaviours and the steps he took to ensure the best for himself and more importantly, others. These primal behaviours were been experienced by him, but on a shorter time frame. For example, by the time Lenin was in his 20’s, he was already well into the wisdom stage, a stage usually only reached by those who are in their 50’s and beyond. When someone takes isolation over intimacy, the 6th stage of Erikson’s Model, then that person will make decisions based on their feeling of isolation. He had reached stage seven when he had supposed to, in his 20’s to 50’s, and all other stages had progressed equally as he got older. When Lenin was in his fifties he had explored the final stage of Erikson’ theory. However what had set Lenin apart from others when compared to Erikson’s theory was the speed at which he achieved stage eight, thought to be only attainable by those beyond 50. Lenin had proven his trust (trust in his people), autonomy (his ability to stand up for himself), initiative (pursuing a strong career), industry (independent thinker), ego-identity (Lenin as the liberator), intimacy (love of his wife to be in exile) and generativity (selflessness towards his people) throughout his life.
As a generally excepted by psychologists, Erikson’s model clearly defines the wisdom stage as one that is achieved as the age of fifty and beyond. Lenin therefore followed the path of a positive Erikson theory, one where he had been able to live a good life. These positives were of course the better side of the psychological crisis sets that Erikson explores in his theory.
The final stage, wisdom, was thought to be a trait that was attainable with age. Upon reaching the ago of 50 and beyond a person has developed and attained a certain amount of wisdom to share with the world. Their experience in the previous seven stages of their life has allowed them to make the right decisions and achieve their goals. Indeed, they became people of integrity if they followed the positive Erikson model or one in despair if they followed the negative aspects of Erikson’s model.
Vladimir Lenin was unique. While persons of his age were experiencing issues of intimacy and isolation, a classic stage six behaviour, Lenin was already exploring that of stage eight, 30 years before the development of the theory of Erikson. In the 1890’s, Lenin began his revolutionary thinking, a thinking which required much wisdom and integrity to apply. Indeed, revolution of a country is not something that can be achieved by the weak-minded or hearted. It requires much intelligence and much planning to muster the support of the nation and overcome the government. Therefore, Lenin experienced the eighth stage of Erikson’s theory, by demonstrating his wisdom in times of need. Vladimir Lenin was a liberator; he came to the service of his people when his people needed it the most. He achieved what many would not even be able to comprehend. It is through this action that Lenin is a great example of the ways in which Maslow’s and Erikson’s theories are applicable to his life and his actions. Lenin truly was the person of the people, the moral and ethical crusader.