“Sukhanov’s memoirs were published in 1922. Lenin comments on them early in 1923 and discusses the allegation ‘learned from West European social democracy’ that ‘the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country’. The way he tries to meet the argument is highly significant. Men who purport to be Marxists and make this sort of charge have a conception of Marxism which is ‘impossibly pedantic’. He goes on: ‘They have completely failed to understand the decisive feature of Marxism, namely its revolutionary dialectics’; nor do they understand that ‘in times of revolution the utmost flexibility is demanded’. Although it was true, Lenin continued, that history followed general laws, there were certain periods with unique features, and a revolution emerging from such an enormous upheaval as the imperialist war had been bound to reveal peculiarities. The special situation in Russia had enabled the bolsheviks to combine ‘a peasant war’ with the working class movement – Marx himself had written of this possibility in 1856. It was claimed that a definite level of culture was necessary for building socialism, but why not seize power first and then proceed to create the prerequisites? As Napoleon had said, one had first to commit oneself and then see what happened. How else could there be revolutions? (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol VI, pp. 509-12. Lenin is referring to Marx’s letter to Engels of April 16, 1856)” [J.C. Rees, Lenin and Marxism] [in ‘Lenin. The Man, the Theorist, the Leader’, a cura di Leonard Schapiro e Peter Reddaway, 1967]