The All-Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was formed in 1898. It was a Marxist Party, which means it accepted the theories of the German revolutionary Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx believed history was a continuous series of class struggle. He wrote that everyone belonged to one of two classes. Firstly, there were a small group of capitalists. These were people with capital (money) who built and owned the factories. They were rich and lived in luxury. Everyone else belonged to another class – the ‘proletariat’ or working class. Marx said that the workers were exploited by the factory owners to make them wealthy. They worked long hours for poor pay and would never be in a position to own anything.
Marx believed that there would come a time when the workers would stand this no longer. They would unite, revolt against the capitalists and defeat them. He called this the ‘proletarian revolution’ (the revolution of the workers). After this revolution there would be no rich or poor people. The poor would take over all the land, the factories and businesses. The land would be divided up among the peasants; the factories would be run by the workers and the profits would be shared by everyone. This was Communism.
Marx said that not everyone would be ready for such great change so there might have to be ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ for a while. Leaders would issue orders while the workers were being educated. This would protect the revolution from its enemies. After a while, the workers would then run the government themselves. Then, everyone would be treated as equals.