I'm slowly getting through my e-mail, anyway I had a question e-mailed to me a few days ago from a chap called Nathan.

Could you please make a list of differences between leninism and marxism i cant find one anywhereand you seem to know alot, it would be greatly appreciated.

This is one of those questions you can ask 10 different socialists and get 10 different answers, unfortunately there is no such thing as the Communist Check-list, where everything is neatly divided up and we can just quickly run down and decide what is what.

I've already written a bit on this topic on the request of one of my readers, but it looks like Nathan is after a more direct answer and so I will try to be brief which I know will simply and overlook many concepts.

Marxism I suppose could be summed up as a broad set of ideas on how capitalism works, on how working people must liberate themselves from capitalism and on how history is driven, namely through class struggle.

Lenin, in my opinion brought forward two key additions.

1) Updates on how capitalism functions, from 1900 onwards, through imperialism, what he called the highest stage of capitalism. Where the imperialist countries maintain their control of, and exploitation of 3rd world countries by owning their means of production, allowing them to buy off a layer of workers in their own countries to attempt to offset revolution. Like so many aspects of Marxism, it is truer today then when it was written.

2) How in police states and under-developed countries like Russia at the time, the final act in a revolution needs to be led by a dedicated group of activists in a relatively small party.

Time and time again throughout history even in developed countries we've seen the working class led to the top of a hill by a social-bourgeois party, only to be led back down once the leaders are either brought off, or chicken out. A dedicated revolutionary party should help take them the extra step.

3) Some would also include Trotsky's work on making revolution in 3rd world countries by the small number of workers leading the peasantry to take power, and then carrying out the reforms that would of taken place in a democratic, developed country themselves, instead of sitting back and waiting for the capitalists to struggle to do them - if ever. Which essentially the Bolshevik Party adopted in the middle of 1917.

A lot of people would chuck all of that under Marxism, after all Marxism is a body of ideas and many people have contributed to it. Marxism-Leninism has I believe been widely misused by Stalinists and Maoists for their own nationalistic agendas, completely opposite to the internationalism of Marx and Lenin.

I also recommend having a look at the FAQ on YfIS.