What is the context?

The roots of growing mutual distrust between the USSR and the Western powers (1917-1947)

The October Revolution in 1917 in Russia

Karl Marx

The roots of the Cold War can be traced back to the October Revolution in 1917, through which the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. They founded a state based on Marxist ideology, supplemented with Leninism.



Karl Marx (1818-1883) had predicted with scientific pretensions that each country must move through feudalism and capitalism in order to reach socialism, with each phase set up by a revolutionary outburst. According to Marx, capitalism would lay the economic foundations needed for socialism, but it would do so by exploiting the labour of the people. Therefore, the people had to overthrow the capitalist system and take all political and economical power under socialism.


Because Russia was not yet into the normal capitalist stage at the beginning of the twentieth century, Lenin introduced the “vanguard” party concept. The vanguard consisted of a group of leading revolutionaries who were to guide the people through a triumphant revolution. The Bolsheviks adopted this concept and described themselves as the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”