Lenin transposed Marx’s analysis of capitalism from the advanced capitalist economies to the dependent colonial countries. He combined political economy, geopolitics, political organisation and a sociology of social structure to form an innovative revolutionary praxis. The expansion of Western capitalism shifted the social and political contradictions to countries moving from feudalism to capitalism. Lenin was correct in his appraisal of the social forces in support of a bourgeois revolution. But he provided an over-optimistic prediction for the disintegration of monopoly capitalism and only a partial analysis of the working classes in the advanced capitalist countries. His political approach requires a redefinition of countervailing forces and class alliances and a shift of focus from the semi-periphery to the ‘strongest links’ in the capitalist chain. A ‘return to Lenin’ is not to adopt his policies but a prompt to reinvent a socialist sociological vision derived from the expectations of the Enlightenment and Marx’s analysis of capitalism.