In reply to the charge that historical materialism offers a determinism that turns individuals into marionettes pulled by invisible strings, Lenin writes:
The idea of determinism, which postulates that human acts are necessitated and rejects the absurd tale about free will, in no way destroys man’s reason or conscience, or appraisal of his actions. Quite the contrary, only the determinist view makes a strict and correct appraisal possible instead of attributing everything you please to free will. Similarly, the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures. The real question that arises in appraising the social activity of an individual is: what conditions ensure the success of his actions, what guarantee is there that these actions will not remain an isolated act lost in a welter of contrary acts? Collected Works, vol. 1, p. 159.
This is the first appearance of a theme that will reverberate in different ways throughout his writings: the dialectic of revolution. In this case the dialectical problem takes the following form: how do you make sense of the individual act of rebellion within the larger scale of things, ensuring that such an act is not futile, or that it doesn’t run off into some reactionary position? On another level, it opens to the question as to how you negotiate the unexpected spontaneity of revolution? How do you organise and what conditions ensure that you are both ready for that moment and can direct it in the path you want?