I'd like to know in simple terms, if possible - because my background isn't very rock solid -, if it's possible to separate Marxism Non-Leninism from Marxism-Leninism and what are the main differences, as the information I find on the web is in a wording and phrasing I cannot comprehend?

I read about a person on the paper who said he was Marxist Non-Leninist and I was intrigued, but I cannot find a way to understand what are the main differences. I already read another post here, but it wasn't any more clear to me.

  • You should link to the post you read, as a minimum to prevent people repeating what was said in that post. It would be even better if you explained what you don't understand from it.
    – SJuan76
    Jul 14, 2017 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


Marxist, in general refers to someone who studies, learns, analyses, accepts and acts according to a wide socio-economico-politico-philosophical range of ideas & theories that were introduced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, mainly on their analysis of the capitalistic system and their introduction of scientific socialism & their analysis towards the communist society.

As you mentioned, there are several Marxist currents, due to the fact that Marx's analysis & thoughts has affected many economists, politicians, analysts, etc. Thus, there were certain groups that accepted parts of it, or further analysed it, or went to different directions or even denied it, leading to different schools.

The most influential one was of course Lenin's approach, who is also considered the orthodox one. Lenin was a Marxist and as a Marxist, he further analysed how the capitalistic state —controlled by the ruling class— oppresses the working class, how ruling classes of other countries oppress the working classes of different countries through imperialism and also gave more emphasis to the practical aspect as to how to battle capitalism and to build a socialist society, which will in turn lead to a communist society in the future. His ideas and actions were also the inspiration for the Russian revolution and afterwards towards the building of the socialist Russia -->USSR. In a simple and quick description, this is mainly referred as Marxism-Leninism or orthodox-Marxism, or "the practical view of Marx's ideas".

A Marxist-non-Leninist, will be in one hand close to Marx's ideas, but denies/argues with/has a different view than Lenin's approach. Examples of this can be Anarcho-communists or certain Trotskyist groups.

Usually, the main point of conflict is the way true communism can be achieved. While Lenin definitely puts the socialist state as a prerequisite and sets a great number of analysis on the subject, there are Marxist groups who totally deny it and aim towards a free-communist society as an end-target.

  • +1. Would be great if you could expand on why did Trotsky disagree with Lenin's approach and on what points. From what I know, his main rivalry was with Stalin, not Lenin. IIRC, Trotsky identified as a Leninist and he was against what is called Stalinism
    – NSNoob
    Jul 17, 2017 at 8:39
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    Trotsky was indeed identified as Leninist and was very close to Lenin's ideology, with the exception of their quarrel on the way socialism should be established, first internationally and then to each country (Trotsky) or the other way round (Lenin-Stalin). That's I why I mentioned "certain Trotskist groups" and not Trotskyism as a whole. Perhaps, not a great example in any case as a Marxist-Non-Leninist, but to give an idea Jul 17, 2017 at 9:06
  • This has a beginning of a good answer but if possible can you add more specifics?
    – user4012
    Jul 17, 2017 at 16:01
  • Specifics towards what direction exactly? Lenin's ideas or other anti-Leninist groups? Jul 18, 2017 at 6:21

Marxism is the body of work by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and covers subjects like economics,Socialism/Communism.philosophy ,the working class , women and children , art , the state etc together they amassed a body of work containing 7-8 million words (no mean feat).

Marxism-Leninism is an oxymoron , no one can deny Lenin didn't understand Marxism but he distorted Marx whenever it suited his own ends , for instance Socialism became the interim stage to Communism for Lenin only when he realised Communism was an impossibility in Russia , infact Lenin admitted that's all that had been achieved in Russia was state Capitalism(1918) and Lenin himself thought Socialism/Communism wouldn't be established by the working classes for 500 years if left to their own devices.Sadly Socialism and the Russian workers have paid a heavy price for Lenin's distortions of Marxism.


Libertarian Marxism is in opposition to Marxism-Leninism.

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    I'm still at a loss as to how to reconcile libertarianism with Marxism in the first place (I think the movement is rather mis-labeled; based on cursory reading). I'll probably ask on the site as a separate question.
    – user4012
    Jul 14, 2017 at 15:13
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    Also, -1 mostly because this wasn't quite what the OP asked - they asked what the platform differences Leninism had with general Marxism, not examples of non-Leninist Marxists.
    – user4012
    Jul 14, 2017 at 15:14

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