Vladimir Lenin popularized political vanguardism as conceptualized by Karl Kautsky, detailing his thoughts in one of his earlier works, What is to be done?. Lenin argued that Marxism's complexity and the hostility of the establishment (the autocratic, semi-feudal state of Imperial Russia) required a close-knit group of individuals pulled from the working class vanguard to safeguard the revolutionary ideology within the particular circumstances presented by the Tsarist régime at the time. While Lenin wished for a revolutionary organization akin to the contemporary Social Democratic Party of Germany, which was open to the public and more democratic in organization, the Russian autocracy prevented this.
Leninists argue that Lenin's ideal vanguard party would be one where membership is completely open: "The members of the Party are they who accept the principles of the Party programme and render the Party all possible support." This party could, in theory, be completely transparent: the "entire political arena is as open to the public view as is a theater stage to the audience". A party that supposedly implemented democracy to such an extent that "the general control (in the literal sense of the term) exercised over every act of a party man in the political field brings into existence an automatically operating mechanism which produces what in biology is called the "survival of the fittest"". This party would be completely open to the public eye as it conducted its business which would mainly consist of educating the proletariat to remove the false consciousness that had been instilled in them.
In its first phase, the vanguard party would exist for two reasons. Firstly, it would protect Marxism from outside corruption from other ideas as well as advance its concepts. Secondly, it would educate the proletariat in Marxism in order to cleanse them of their "false individual consciousness" and instill the revolutionary "class consciousness" in them.
If the party is successful in this goal, on the eve of revolution, a critical mass of the working class population would be prepared to usher forth the transformation of society. Furthermore, a great number of them, namely their most dedicated members, would belong to the party cadres as professional revolutionaries and would be elected to leadership positions by the mass party membership. Thus the organization would quickly include the entire working class.