- Oct 25, 2017
Lenin perceived of himself as a Marxist trying to work out a revolutionary program. The specific "official" ideology of Marxism-Leninism was introduced after his death and used by Stalin as a means to enforce what was acceptable and what was not.
Lenin was internationalist, anti-Russian chauvinist, and wanted the dismantling of the state to spread world revolution. To that end he turned the party into a weapon and used it to seize power from the provisional government, then went about transforming the workers' councils (the Soviets) into the organizational structure of the revolution. The particularities of the revolution, civil war, and subsequent collapse forced the Bolsheviks to turn to a one-party state and state capitalism out of desperation. That said, this does not absolve Lenin of his faults (tendency towards power consolidation, unnecessary brutality at times like when he ordered a bunch of prostitutes to be killed). But it was largely a theory of how to win power + ad hoc maneuvers to keep the revolution going.
Marxism-Leninism consolidated this into a massive bureaucracy, subverting all the democratic elements (like the Soviets and democratic centralism) and turning them into predetermined guarantors of party power. The transitional state became the established state, the workers lost control to the nomenklatura, and international proletarian revolution was set aside and replaced with socialism in one country. It also presents itself as being "pragmatic", which really just means you can do anything under ML so long as you can link it to a Marx or Lenin quote, which is how Stalin's planned economy and Xi Jinping's blatant authoritarian capitalism can both be called Marxist-Leninist - because it's less about theory and more about adherence to the party, which promises that it's very slowly inching along towards communism.
The seeds of Marxism-Leninism are certainly there in Lenin's thoughts, just like they also led to Trotsky's theories. So it's unfair to say that ML is a total aberration. But it's an outgrowth, and some would say a bastardization.