'What Is Happening in Russia' was one of many documents written and published by Vladimir Lenin while he lived outside of Russia; these were distributed throughout his home country and eagerly awaited by the activists and Communist thinkers he had left behind. It was with this chapter that Lenin first publicly commented on the events that had occurred prior to publishing; specifically the worker protests that had occurred in Russia between the self-declared proletariat and the Czarist forces. The military forces triumphed, but Lenin and the rest of the world looked on the Russian activists as the instigators to a revolution that was only just beginning.
Students of the Russian Revolution have always read reflective essays and texts concerning the events that led up to the Russian Revolution, but rarely do they have a glimpse of first-hand doctrine and commentary from that era, specifically in the years before the major conflicts. Not only do primary sources heighten the learning experience and give first-hand context to historical events, but to read the words and thoughts of someone as integral to the Russian Revolution as Vladimir Lenin gives an entirely new slant to basic course studies. Through this piece of writing, one can get a feel not only for the attitude of Russians at the time, but of foreign countrymen as well.
At the time Lenin wrote this piece, he had been a victim of prejudice for his political views for so long and to such an extreme extent that he didn't feel safe living in Russia anymore. His writing was a way for him to stay connected with the Communists at home in Russia and to continue inspiring them to want change. Lenin believed that the masses in Russia were largely unaware of their poor position in the strict class society, but that with persuasion they were slowly coming to terms with it and looking for a way out. The worker protests that occurred in the early 20th century clearly gave Lenin hope and a small sense of pride in his countrymen for their efforts. He did believe, however, that the failure of these protests called for pause and reflection so that future revolts might be more successful.
When 'What Is Happening in Russia' was published, it was before the major events of the Russian Revolution had yet occurred; because of the timing of this piece of writing, students will be able to cultivate an excellent knowledge of the atmosphere of the times. Lenin references the growing unrest among Russian workers towards their classist, Czarist system, as well as their growing willingness to become proactive in changing their own lives and the lives of millions of disenfranchised Russians across the entire country. He refers to the Communist activists as "taking their first tentative steps" towards change and equality, "defining their objectives" in protest.
Because of his position outside the country at the time, Lenin makes several references to international misunderstandings of the Russian state of mind, explaining that although foreign newspapers were mixing up their terms in reference to Russia and its protests, the basic opinion of the international community was that these outbursts of the public were the beginning of something bigger. He