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Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924) aka Vladimir Lenin, was a Russian Communist and dictator. Though he was still in exile in Switzerland when the monarchy was overthrown, he arrived to take command of the second and more important phase of the 1917 Russian Revolution. It was on his orders that the Tsar and his family were executed.
Notwithstanding his world history making role, Lenin was punished in death by having his funeral requests denied and his wax filled corpse put on eternal display in Moscow.
Lenin, as the first person to put Karl Marx's ideas into practice on a large scale, is especially revered among leftists, despite founding the SS-like Cheka (secret police), mercilessly executing the Romanoffs, militarizing labor, bringing about the Red Terror, and brutally crushing anarchist uprisings. He nominated the slightly less insane Leon Trotsky as his successor, but Josef Stalin took power. Trotsky later mysteriously turned up with an ice pick in the back of his head after fleeing to Mexico.
Further departing from Marx, Lenin dropped the ideal of direct democracy. He also nationalized companies, instead of letting the workers run them (as they'd started to do before he took over). This led to the total control of the economy and government by one person, who could not be accused of corruption (due to fear of execution or imprisonment). The differences between Marxism and Leninism are massive indeed. Stalin later cranked these up to 11, especially with the cult of personality Stalin constructed around Lenin. Lenin was adamant that a personality cult should not be constructed around him due to Marxist doctrine which dictates that classes, not "Great Men," led history.
While Leninism usually refers to Lenin's Bolshevik revolutionary model, Marxism-Leninism is the ideological/political platform developed by Stalin during his ascendency and rule. Marxism-Leninism, with its Stalinist tweaking, became the most influential form of Marxism, spread to the Communist parties of the world through the Third International.
Lenin is also widely credited with articulating one of the first strong critiques of imperialism. Note however that his theorization bears a remarkable similarity to that in an earlier work by the liberal J.A. Hobson.
Conservatives in the United States are extremely fond of quoting Lenin, either to tie his words to the tactics of their opponents or to gloat how smart their own tactics are (by saying they come from Lenin). Many non-conservatives find this
extremely puzzling completely understandable.
He was not the Walrus.