Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Research Article: 2019 Vol: 22 Issue: 1

Brainchild of the Marxist-Leninist Theory of Human Rights in Russia

Dmitriy Y. Tumanov, Kazan Federal University

Rinat R. Sakhapov, Kazan Federal University


The purpose of this article is to analyze the concepts introduced by K. Marx and V.I. Lenin, who gave their own ideas about a person’s role in society. K. Marx was one of the first scientists, who revealed the nature of human rights and divided human and citizen rights. V.I. Lenin considered that K. Marx and F. Engels have the greatest merit because of their views on current socioeconomic structure and their infinitely various actions. He created the system where a person has lost his/her individuality becoming a part of a group. He/she had to play a role according to the system of industrial relations, working environment, own living conditions and interests defined by these conditions. Social classes were shaping society development. However, such system contradicts the standard concept of human rights and personal freedoms because it turns out to be in line with violence over the person, as class development aspires to turn all people into grey mass.


Human Rights, Lenin, Marx, Engels, Bolshevik Party.

JEL Classifications

A11, A22, A31, B14, B24, B31, B51.


In the first half of ?I? century, Marxism doctrine as a common goal was used to build a system based on the principles of original democracy, justice and oppression relief. Marxism is based on the theory of class struggle that should come to the end with a proletariat victory, market-based system destruction and private property abolition as a source of exploitation. Violent proletarian revolution and dictatorship have formed a social class of peer and free people. This process had many supporters and huge influence on humanity.

The main features of the Marxist-Leninist Theory of Law and State are the following:

1. State and Law as super-structural phenomena of economy are characterized by conditioned origin, nature and production relations (economic basis of socio-economic formation). If we do not exaggerate the significance of this principal or evaluate it only when everything is said and done, then in theory, Marxism historico-materialist approach to the State and Law is right (Kubálková & Cruickshank, 2015; Murphy, 2015).

2. Their origin and essence are attributable to society split into antagonistic classes. According to Marx, nature of the State and Law cannot be understood outside the context of class struggle. Bolshevism theorists attach paramount significance to this thesis. In their opinion, State is primarily a machine of class suppression (Lenin & Chretien, 2015; Heywood, 2017).

3. The idea of applying force to eliminate previous society organization. In Bolshevism Theory and Practice, this idea is known to have been brought to extreme (Aronowitz, 2016; Anderson, 2016).

4. Denying the power separation principle. The idea of uniting legislative and executive branches is one of the theoretical postulates underlying the Soviet state formation (Anderson, 2016; Eastman, 2017; Pashukanis, 2017).

5. Withering away of the State is one of the most important concepts: the State must disappear together with society split into classes. At the same time, Law has to die with the State (Jones, 2016).

Thus, Marxism-Leninism doctrines were put in the basis of Soviet state formation. The purpose of this article is to consider how Marxism-Leninism concepts were adapted in Soviet Russia.


Our choice of research methodology is predetermined by the current level of humanitarian and socio-economic sciences. The methodological basis of this research involves the historicist principle, which application is premised on the comprehensive study regarding all aspects of Marxism-Leninism concepts in conjunction with other elements of social, economic and political life of that time.


K. Marx was one of the first scientists, who divided human and citizen rights, revealed their nature, similarities and differences. He started with a priority of economic life, and accordingly, social and economic human rights. K. Marx was aspired to learn conditions aliening a person from means of production, and draw his attention to social classes and associations that could reconstruct the social world based on social equality.

He has determined the grave-digger for a market-based system “blue-collar workers” and introduced to proletarians the most simple, effective and quickly achievable way “direct force” in public: “Communists find it grubby to hide the sights and intentions. They openly declare that their goals can be achieved only by violently overthrowing the existing social order. May the governing class scream before the Communistic Revolution! Proletarians have nothing to lose in it except the chains. They will get the whole world (Marx & Engels, 1959)”.

K. Marx deserves credit for revealing how human rights depend on a market-based socio-economic structure, as well as for introducing a transitional approach to this problem. However, he rejected the concept of natural and eternal human rights treated as an untied embodiment of divine will or abstract reason (Rudinsky, 2006).

His criticism of “so-called human rights” existing in a civil society is poised to nationalize people, to blend them with the State and various public associations. Such theory has been realized in socialist countries keeping personal interests under public ones was the main slogan. Thus, the State has dot the better of civil society while the person imposed with standardized principles and values was absorbed by the group with no right to originality and independence.

“Each individual person will perceive himself (herself) as an abstract citizen only when (s) he will become part of community in life, work and relations. Human emancipation will be possible only when the person learns and puts efforts as public force, and consequently, does not alienate the public force as an actor (Marx & Engels, 1955)”.

Marxist Doctrine Postulates have been added to political toolkit by the Bolshevik Party and grounded Soviet state formation, as well as the formation of socialist society in Russia.

Bolsheviks (Russian Marxism supporters) have identified themselves as supporters of unique orthodox and totalitarian Marxism. Thus, they have enriched the toolkit containing attitudes expressed early by K. Marx and F. Engels. According to those attitudes, “Marxism as an ideology was expressing proletariat’s thinking and interests during the period of early industrial capitalism (Oyzerman, 2003)”.

In Russia, Marxism has been transformed first into axiomatic ideology of party, and then lifted up to indisputable state ideology. “Marxist opposition to other doctrines and the statement that Marxist Doctrine is omnipotent because it is (Lenin, 1997)” will lead finally to dogmatization and system’s inability to react to time changes adequately.

V.I. Lenin considered K. Marx and F. Engels as the greatest merit that:

“Infinitely various and probably non-ordered actions of live people within each socio-economic structure have been generalized by a group of people differing by roles they played in the system of industrial relations, by working environment, living conditions and interests defined by these conditions, namely by classes struggling to shape society development (Lenin, 1958)”.

Considering a man only in the framework of public relations is a wrong approach. Undoubtedly, social relations and life conditions have huge impact on personality formation. However, both socially-typical and individually-original people can appear under the same conditions. There are also life aspects that cannot be and should be subordinate to any collective (society, class, social group), as it suppressed originality and personal features.

N.A. Berdyaev has noticed that alienation of people within the collective “creates false totalitarian religion, religion of an authoritative collectivism (Berdyaev, 1997a)”. The last is always goes hand in hand with violence as the system is turning all people into grey mass. This system will not comply with standard concept of human rights and personal freedoms either.

According to K. Marx, concept of human rights is a result of historical production development determined by the market system. Based on own practice, K. Marx and F. Engels have formulated the idea about human rights being dependant on economic phenomena (Marx & Engels, 1971)

Nevertheless, Marxism-Leninism concepts were not implemented in a strict sense. There was a totalitarian state with a powerful repressive apparatus formed on their basis.


The Marxism puts forward a society problem, but not human issues, since any person is a society agent and technical function of economy. We agree with N.A. Berdyaev at the point that:

“Society is above all things and the Man is on the second place. The New Man can be formed only if he/she treats society as a supreme value. If any individual is considered exclusively as a brick for society building, we should refer not so much to the New Man phenomenon, but to its disappearance. Personality transforms into a two-dimensional being a public function, which purpose justify any means justify: he/she is not a person, but new society organization. Personality is a means for new society organization, but new society organization is not a means for personality (Berdyaev, 1997b)”.

The history has visually shown that Marxist-Leninist Theory failed to fit the system of State organization, as its application has led to serious deformations in human rights and freedoms in Russia during the Soviet period when constitutionally-legal policy was designed to increase the significance of state and public interests over personal. Therefore, issues regarding the development of human rights and freedoms were non-essential, had not priority. At the same time, world historical experiment shows that it is the most successful system, as society capable of creating conditions for all-round personal fulfillment is constantly developing. Any person can become a force for social progress.


As the official ideology of the Soviet totalitarian system, Marxist-Leninist Teaching was a Marxism doctrine supplemented by theoretical studies of Bolshevism supporters (Lenin, 1997). Although Marxism has lost its official format, it remains one of areas touched upon by social science and doctrines of Law and State. However, it requires serious thought based on new theoretical position and with due account for realization procedure.

Based on the above, we come to the conclusion that one should preserve theoretical positions of the Marxist-Leninist Theory of Law and State that have passed the test of time and are valuable for modern legal science and social science in general. First and foremost, we apply for general methodological principles and approaches: historicist principle, dialectic principle, approach to Law and State as social phenomena dependent on the material life of society and its split into large social groups, etc.