Marxism-Leninism is an economic theory based on economic determinism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels first theorised Marxism, Marxism was further developed by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Vladimir Lenin thoroughly studied Marxism and created Marxism-Leninism as a form of orthodox Marxism more suited to the material conditions of the modern era. Lenin argued that the proletariat can only achieve revolutionary consciousness through the efforts of a communist party that assumes the role of "revolutionary vanguard". Lenin further believed that such a party could only achieve its aims through a form of disciplined organization known as democratic centralism. Other beliefs of Lenin included the need to spread the communist revolution to other countries, a belief that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, and the exclusion of any compromise with the bourgeoisie.
Another chief difference between earlier Marxism and Lenin's views was that Lenin believed a revolution could occur in a country which had not passed through the full development of industrial capitalism. Marx viewed the socialist revolution as arising out of the industrial proletariat. Yet Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution was not primarily an industrial country; its common populace were primarily agricultural peasants, not industrial workers and there was little sign of revolution in the advanced industrial nations.
Lenin argued that Marx had failed to consider the effects of imperialism and that the advanced industrial nations were avoiding revolution by forcing their excess production into captive colonial markets and exploiting those colonies for their resources. This strengthened capitalism to the point that the revolution would not occur in the most advanced nations but rather in the weakest imperialist state, that being Russia.
Marxism-Leninism is the most successful of the orthodox marxist ideologies, being the only one to have had successful revolutions. Marxism-Leninism believes in the necissity of a strong state organised by the communist party to safeguard the socialist country from reactionary forces. This state, run by the communist party, is called the Dictatorship of the proletariat, that meaning: a state owned and controlled by the proletariat, as opposed to the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (a state owned by the bourgeoisie)