Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Russian Marxist Revolutionary and Communist Politician who led the October Revolution of 1917

"It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws."

"It is in prison … that one becomes a real revolutionary."

"It is logical to assert that all matter possesses a property which is essentially akin to sensation, the property of reflection."

"It is more pleasant and useful to go through the 'experience of the revolution' than to write about it."

"It is necessary — secretly and urgently to prepare the terror. And on Tuesday we will decide whether it will be through SNK or otherwise."

"It is not for nothing that Skaldin in one part of his book quotes Adam Smith: we have seen that both his views and the character of his arguments in many respects repeat the theses of that great ideologist of the progressive bourgeoisie."

"It is not difficult to be a revolutionary when revolution has already broken out and is in spate, when all people are joining the revolution just because they are carried away, because it is the vogue, and sometimes even from careerist motives. It is far more difficult—and far more precious—to be a revolutionary when the conditions for direct, open, really mass and really revolutionary struggle do not yet exist."

"It is necessary to be able to withstand all this, to agree to any and every sacrifice, and even—if need be—to resort to all sorts of stratagems, manoeuvres and illegal methods, to evasion and subterfuges in order to penetrate the trade unions, to remain in them, and to carry on Communist work in them at all costs."

"It is not done in modern socialist parties to talk or even think about the significance of this idea, — the “withering away” of the state."

"It is obvious that a white-guard insurrection is being prepared in Nizhni. You must strain every effort, appoint three men will) dictatorial powers (yourself, Markin and one other), organize immediately mass terror, shoot and deport the hundreds of prostitutes who are making drunkards of the soldiers, former officers and the like."

"It is not our immediate task to “introduce” socialism, but only to bring social production and the distribution of products at once under the control of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies."

"It is not national interests we are upholding — we claim that the interests of socialism, the interests of world socialism, rank higher than national interests, higher than the interests of the state. We are defenders of the socialist fatherland."

"It is particularly necessary to arouse in all who participate in practical work, or are preparing to take up that work, discontent with the amateurism prevailing among us and an unshakable determination to rid ourselves of it."

"It is stupid to tolerate "Nikola;" all Chekists have to be on alert to shoot anyone who doesn't turn up to work because of "Nikola.""

"Just as the Economists would, by repeating the truism that politics are subordinated to economics, cover up their incapacity to understand urgent political tasks, so the newIskra-ists, by repeating the general truism that struggles will take place in a politically emancipated society, cover up their failure to understand the urgent revolutionary tasks of the political emancipation of this society."

"It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed."

"It is the duty of the revolution to put an end to compromise and to put an end to compromise means taking the path of socialist revolution."

"It is, of course, much easier to shout, abuse, and howl than to attempt to relate, to explain."

"Literature must become party literature. Down with unpartisan litterateurs! Down with the superman of literature! Literature must become a part of the general cause of the proletariat."

"Let the “socialist” snivelers croak, let the bourgeoisie rage and fume, but only people who shut their eyes so as not to see, and stuff their ears so as not to hear, can fail to notice that all over the world the birth pangs of the old, capitalist society, which is pregnant with socialism, have begun."

"It would be the greatest mistake, certainly, to think that concessions mean peace. Nothing of the kind. Concessions are nothing but a new form of war."

"Let us...take the most concrete example of state capitalism...It is Germany. Here we have the 'last word' in modern, large-scale capitalist engineering and planned organization, subordinated to Junker-bourgeois imperialism. Cross out the words in italics and [substitute] a Soviet state, that is, a proletarian state, and you will have the sum total of the conditions necessary for socialism."

"Man’s consciousness not only reflects the objective world, but creates it."

"Marx said that the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat lies between capitalism and communism. The more the proletariat presses the bourgeoisie, the more furiously they will resist. We know what vengeance was wreaked on the workers in France in 1848. And when people charge us with harshness we wonder how they can forget the rudiments of Marxism."

"Marxists are absolutely convinced of the bourgeois character of the Russian revolution. What does this mean? It means that the democratic reforms in the political system and the social and economic reforms, which have become a necessity for Russia, do not in themselves imply the undermining of capitalism, the undermining of bourgeois rule; on the contrary, they will, for the first time, really clear the ground for a wide and rapid, European, and not Asiatic, development of capitalism; they will, for the first time, make it possible for the bourgeoisie to rule as a class."

"Modern militarism is the result of capitalism. In both its forms it is the vital expression of capitalism—as a military force used by the capitalist states in their external conflicts and as a weapon in the hands of the ruling classes for suppressing every kind of movement, economic and political, of the proletariat."

"Materialism is the recognition of "objects in themselves", or outside the mind; ideas and sensations are copies of images of those objects."

"Modern monopolist capitalism on a world-wide scale — imperialist wars are absolutely inevitable under such an economic system, as long as private property in the means of production exists."

"Monopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most powerful nations — all these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism."

"Modern natural scientists (if they know how to seek, and if we learn to help them) will find in the Hegelian dialectics, materialistically interpreted, a series of answers to the philosophical problems which are being raised by the revolution in natural science."

"No Bolshevik, no Communist, no intelligent socialist has ever entertained the idea of violence against the middle peasants. All socialists have always spoken of agreement with them and of their gradual and voluntary transition to socialism."

"No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses"

"Napoleon, I think, wrote: “On s’engage et puis ... on voit.” rendered freely this means: “First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens. ” Well, we did first engage in a serious battle in October 1917. And now there can be no doubt that in the main we have been victorious."

"No mercy for these enemies of the people, the enemies of socialism, the enemies of the working people! War to the death against the rich and their hangers-on, the bourgeois intellectuals; war on the rogues, the idlers and the rowdies!"

"No natural science can hold its own in the struggle against the onslaught of bourgeois ideas and the restoration of the bourgeois world outlook unless it stands on solid philosophical ground. In order to hold his own in this struggle and carry it to a victorious finish, the natural scientist must be a modern materialist, a conscious adherent of the materialism represented by Marx, i.e., he must be a dialectical materialist."

"No support for the Provisional Government; the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear, particularly of those relating to the renunciation of annexations. Exposure in place of the impermissible, illusion-breeding demand that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government."

"No revolution is worth anything unless it can defend itself."

"Nothing will raise the revolutionary energy of the world proletariat so much, nothing will shorten the path leading to its complete victory to such an extent, as this decisive victory of the revolution that has now started in Russia."

"Notwithstanding all the differences in the aims and tasks of the Russian revolution, compared with the French revolution of 1871, the Russian proletariat had to resort to the same method of struggle as that first used by the Paris Commune — civil war. Mindful of the lessons of the Commune, it knew that the proletariat should not ignore peaceful methods of struggle — they serve its ordinary, day-to-day interests, they are necessary in periods of preparation for revolution — but it must never forget that in certain conditions the class struggle assumes the form of armed conflict and civil war; there are times when the interests of the proletariat call for ruthless extermination of its enemies in open armed clashes."

"Not a single problem of the class struggle has ever been solved in history except by violence. When violence is exercised by the working people, by the mass of exploited against the exploiters — then we are for it! ... The class struggle did not accidentally assume its latest form, the form in which the exploited class takes all the means of power in its own hands in order to completely destroy its class enemy, the bourgeoisie..."

"Once we accept the point of view that human knowledge develops from ignorance, we shall find millions of examples of it just as simple as the discovery of alizarin in coal tar, millions of observations not only in the history of science and technology but in the everyday life of each and every one of us that illustrate the transformation of “things-in-themselves” into “things-for-us.”"

"One man with a gun can control 100 without one."

"One cannot live in society and be free from society."

"One must not count in thousands, like the propagandist belonging to a small group that has not yet given leadership to the masses; in these circumstances one must count in millions and tens of millions."

"One of the basic conditions for the victory of socialism is the arming of the workers (Communist) and the disarming of the bourgeoisie (the middle class)."

"One of the biggest and most dangerous mistakes made by Communists is the idea that a revolution can be made by revolutionaries alone. On the contrary, to be successful, all serious revolutionary work requires that the idea that revolutionaries are capable of playing the part only of the vanguard of the truly virile and advanced class must be understood and translated into action."

"Only an armed people can be the real bulwark of popular liberty."

"Only by abolishing private property in land and building cheap and hygienic dwellings can the housing problem be solved."

"Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are free to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!"

"Only the most ignorant people can close their eyes to the bourgeois nature of the democratic revolution which is now taking place. Whoever wants to reach socialism by any other path than that of political democracy will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense."