After several false starts (most notably the Paris Commune), Vladimir Lenin began work on the first successful communist revolution. He started a secret, communist political party and gained many followers. A split occurred in 1903 when approximately half the party left due to Lenin's idea of decision making. He felt that democracy within the party would only hinder it; decisions should be debated among the leaders and then adhered to by all party members.
Lenin's faction was the Bolsheviks, or majority; the other half was the Mensheviks or minority. Leon Trotsky, later a Lenin supporter who would strive for world domination, harshly criticised Lenin's committee policy as a slippery slope to dictatorship. Lenin's idea of forgoing democracy in order to ensure equality was emblematic of his philosophy that the end justifies the means. Simply put, all that matters is that the goal is achieved, no matter how one arrives at it. This would later explain Lenin's acts of robbery, fraud, and extortion used to increase the party's wealth.
Lenin and his predecessors would commit violent and treacherous acts supposedly to build a society free of such things.
Lenin and his followers made a desperate attempt at a coup d'état during the Russo-Japanese War - it failed rather quickly. Three years into World War I, angry Russian peasants and a mutinous army took tsar Nicholas II out of power. In February 1917, he was replaced by a provisional government which also refused to take Russia out of the war. In November, the Bolsheviks, under Lenin, seized control of the country. They achieved mass popularity by giving all farmland to the peasants and negotiating an end to Russia's fighting in the war. They renamed Russia, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR.
Lenin faced a decision. To stay in power, he had to either cooperate with the liberal democrats or rule with an iron fist. At first, Lenin allowed a small liberal party to participate in the government, but they were phased out in a few months. From there, it was a small step to censorship of newspapers and other restrictions on freedom which led to civil war between the Bolsheviks or Reds with the more democratic Mensheviks and other non-communist parties also known as the Whites. Lenin won, largely thanks to Trotsky's terrific leadership of the Red Army and a powerful revolutionary who later became Lenin's enforcer, Joseph Stalin. The Bolshevik regime introduced concentration camps, or GULAGS, to the world and hunted down peasants who hoarded food for survival.
Lenin next allowed some capitalist concessions such as the sale of crops on the free market to encourage economic growth and prevent starvation. The Russian economy was recovering slightly by the mid-1920s. Lenin's appointment of Stalin to general secretary brought to light his corruption and abuse of power and that of several others. Lenin decided to fire Stalin, but he suffered several strokes and died before he had the chance.