Leninism is a political and economic theory which builds upon Marxism; it is therefore a branch of Marxism. Leninism was developed mainly by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, and it was also put into practice by him after the October Revolution. The term "Leninism" itself did not exist during most of Lenin's life. It came into widespread use only after Lenin ended his active participation in the Soviet government due to health problems (strokes), shortly before his death. Grigory Zinoviev popularised the term at the fifth congress of the Communist International. Since the mid-1920s, Leninism has arguably become the dominant branch of Marxism.
In his book "What is to be Done?" (1903), Lenin argued that the proletariat can only achieve a successful revolutionary consciousness through the efforts of a Communist party that assumes the role of "revolutionary vanguard." Lenin further believed that such a party could only achieve its aims through a form of disciplined organization known as democratic centralism, where Communist Party officials are elected democratically, but once they are elected and other decisions are made through voting, all party members must follow those decisions.
Lenin argued that the proletariat can only achieve revolutionary consciousness through the efforts of a communist party that assumes the role of "revolutionary vanguard". Lenin further believed that such a party could only achieve its aims through a form of disciplined organization known as democratic centralism. Leninism holds that capitalism can only be overthrown by revolutionary means (i.e. that any attempt to reform capitalism from within is doomed to fail). According to Lenin, the revolution should be followed by a period of dictatorship of the proletariat (a system of workers' democracy, in which workers would hold political power through councils known as soviets; see also soviet democracy).
One of the central concepts of...