Functionally, the Leninist vanguard party was to provide the working class with the political consciousness (education and organisation) and revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in Imperial Russia. After the October Revolution of 1917, Leninism was the dominant version of Marxism in Russia, and, in establishing soviet democracy, the Bolshevik régime suppressed socialists who opposed the revolution, such as the Mensheviks and factions of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. The Russian Civil War (1917–22) thus included left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks (1918–1924) that were suppressed in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), before incorporation to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922.
Leninism was composed as and for revolutionary praxis, and originally was neither a rigorously proper philosophy nor a discrete political theory; after the Russian Revolution, in History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics (1923), György Lukács developed and organised Lenin's pragmatic revolutionary practices and ideology into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution (Leninism). As a political-science term, Leninism entered common usage in 1922, after infirmity ended Lenin's participation in governing the Russian Communist Party. Two years later, in July 1924, at the fifth congress of the Communist International, Grigory Zinoviev popularized the term Leninism to denote "vanguard-party revolution".
From 1917 to 1922, Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, effected and realised by the Bolsheviks, the vanguard party who led the fight for the political independence of the working class. In the 1925–29 period, Joseph Stalin established Leninism as the official and only legitimate form of Marxism in Russia, by amalgamating the political philosophies as Marxism–Leninism, which then became the state ideology of the Soviet Union.
In the 19th century, The Communist Manifesto (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, called for the international political unification of the European working classes in order to achieve a Communist revolution; and proposed that, because the socio-economic organization of communism was of a higher form than that of capitalism, a workers' revolution would first occur in the economically advanced, industrialized countries. Marxist social democracy was strongest in Germany throughout the 19th century, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany inspired Lenin and other Russian Marxists.
Yet, in the early 20th century, the socio-economic backwardness of Imperial Russia (1721–1917)—uneven and combined economic development—facilitated rapid and intensive industrialization, which produced a united, working-class proletariat in a predominantly rural, agrarian, peasant society. Moreover, because the industrialization was financed mostly with foreign capital, Imperial Russia did not possess a revolutionary bourgeoisie with political and economic influence upon the workers and the peasants (as occurred in the French Revolution, 1789). So, although Russia's political economy principally was agrarian and semi-feudal, the task of democratic revolution therefore fell to the urban, industrial working class, as the only social class capable of effecting land reform and democratization, in view that the Russian propertied classes would attempt to suppress any revolution, in town and country.