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

"Only the voluntary and conscientious co-operation of the mass of the workers and peasants in accounting and controlling the rich, the rogues, the idlers and the rowdies, a co-operation marked by revolutionary enthusiasm, can conquer these survivals of accursed capitalist society, these dregs of humanity, these hopelessly decayed and atrophied limbs, this contagion, this plague, this ulcer that socialism has inherited from capitalism."

"Our business is to help get everything possible done to make sure the "last" chance for a peaceful development of the revolution, to help by the presentation of our programme, by making clear its national character, its absolute accord with the interests and demands of a vast majority of the population."

"Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism"

"Our aim is to achieve a socialist system of society, which, by eliminating the division of mankind into classes, by eliminating all exploitation of man by man and nation by nation, will inevitably eliminate the very possibility of war."

"Our schoolteacher should be raised to a standard he has never achieved, and cannot achieve, in bourgeois society. This is a truism and requires no proof."

"Pacifism, the preaching of peace in the abstract, is one of the means of duping the working class."

"Peaceful surrender of power by the bourgeoisie is possible, if it is convinced that resistance is hopeless and if it prefers to save its skin. It is much more likely, of course, that even in small states socialism will not be achieved without civil war, and for that reason the only program of international Social-Democracy must be recognition of civil war, though violence is, of course, alien to our ideals."

"Our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks themselves share, and instill into the minds of the people, the false notion that universal suffrage “in the present-day state” is really capable of revealing the will of the majority of the working people and of securing its realization."

"Perhaps the profoundest cause of disagreement with the Narodniks is the difference in our fundamental views on social and economic processes. When studying the latter, the Narodnik usually draws conclusions that point to some moral; he does not regard the diverse groups of persons taking part in production as creators of various forms of life; he does not set out to present the sum-total of social and economic relationships as the result of the mutual relations between these groups, which have different interests and different historical roles."

"People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be, until they have learned to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises."

"Philosophical idealism is only nonsense from the standpoint of crude, simple, metaphysical materialism. From the standpoint of dialectical materialism, on the other hand, philosophical idealism is a one-sided, exaggerated, development (inflation, distension) of one of the features, aspects, facets of knowledge, into an absolute, divorced from matter, from nature, apotheosized."

"Political institutions are a superstructure resting on an economic foundation."

"Politics begin where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is where serious politics begin."

"Quantity has a quality all its own."

"Recovery proceeding excellently. Am sure that the crushing of the Kazan Czechs and whiteguards, as well as of the kulak extortioners supporting them, will be exemplarily ruthless."

"Present-day society is wholly based on the exploitation of the vast masses of the working class by a tiny minority of the population, the class of the landowners and that of the capitalists. It is a slave society, since the free workers, who all their life work for the capitalists, are entitled only to such means of subsistence as are essential for the maintenance of slaves who produce profit, for the safeguarding and perpetuation of capitalist slavery."

"Russians are too kind, they lack the ability to apply determined methods of revolutionary terror."

"Shame on America for the plight of the Negroes!"

"Shame on accursed tzarism which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations."

"Rectilinearity and one-sidedness, woodenness and petrification, subjectivism and subjective blindness — voilà the epistemological roots of idealism."

"Russia achieved Marxism—the only correct revolutionary theory—through the agony she experienced in the course of half a century of unparalleled torment and sacrifice, of unparalleled revolutionary heroism, incredible energy, devoted searching, study, practical trial, disappointment, verification, and comparison with European experience."

"Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology formulated by the working masses themselves in the process of their movement, the only choice is – either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a “third” ideology)."

"Sensation is a subjective image of the objective world."

"Socialism, by organizing production without class oppression, by ensuring the well-being of all members of the state, gives full play to the “sympathies” of the population, thereby promoting and greatly accelerating the drawing together and fusion of the nations."

"Social-Democracy, however, wants, on the contrary, to develop the class struggle of the proletariat to the point where the latter will take the leading part in the popular Russian revolution, i.e., will lead this revolution to a the democratic-dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry."

"Socialists cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of nations."

"Socialists must explain to the masses that they have no other road of salvation except the revolutionary overthrow of “their” governments, and that advantage must be taken of these governments’ embarrassments in the present war precisely for this purpose."

"That today, when the wave has ebbed, there remain and will remain only real Marxists, does not frighten us but rejoices us."

"Thanks to the political emigration caused by tsarism, revolutionary Russia acquired a wealth of international links and excellent information on the forms and theories of the world revolutionary movement, such as no other country possessed."

"The "democratization" of the ownership of shares, from which the bourgeois sophists and opportunist so-called "Social-Democrats" expect (or say that they expect) the "democratization of capital", the strengthening of the role and significance of small scale production, etc., is, in fact, one of the ways of increasing the power of the financial oligarchy."

"The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind into small states and all-national isolation, not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them."

"Terrorists bow to the spontaneity of the passionate indignation of intellectuals, who lack the ability or opportunity to connect the revolutionary struggle and the working-class movement into an integral whole. It is difficult indeed for those who have lost their belief, or who have never believed, that this is possible, to find some outlet for their indignation and revolutionary energy other than terror."

"Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead."

"The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves."

"The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive."

"The basic mistake made by those who now criticize “What Is To Be Done?” is to treat the pamphlet apart from its connection with the concrete historical situation of a definite, and now long past, period in the development of our Party."

"The Bolshevik slogans and ideas on the whole have been confirmed by history; but concretely things have worked out differently; they are more original, more peculiar, more variated than anyone could have expected."

"The Bolsheviks will do everything to secure this peaceful development of the revolution."

"The Bolsheviks could not have retained power for two and a half months, let alone two and a half years, without the most rigorous and truly iron discipline in our Party."

"The bourgeoisie are today evading taxation by bribery and through their connections; we must close all loopholes."

"The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in the endeavour to keep them disunited. Class-conscious workers, realizing that the break-down of all the national barriers by capitalism is inevitable and progressive, are trying to help to enlighten and organize their fellow-workers from the backward countries."

"The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

"The capture of Simbirsk, my home town, is a wonderful tonic, the best treatment for my wounds. I feel a new lease of life and energy."

"The bourgeois court, which claimed to maintain order, but which, as a matter of fact, was a blind, subtle instrument for the ruthless suppression of the exploited, and an instrument for protecting the interests of the moneybags."

"The bourgeoisie is many times stronger than we. To give it the weapon of freedom of the press is to ease the enemy’s cause, to help the class enemy. We do not desire to end in suicide, so we will not do this."

"The chief distinguishing feature of Russia in regard to the point we are examining is that the very beginning of the spontaneous working-class movement, on the one hand, and of the turn of progressive public opinion towards Marxism, on the other, was marked by the combination of manifestly heterogeneous elements under a common flag to fight the common enemy (the obsolete social and political world outlook)."

"The case of the Russian Social-Democrats manifestly illustrates the general European phenomenon (long ago noted also by the German Marxists) that the much vaunted freedom of criticism does not imply substitution of one theory for another, but freedom from all integral and pondered theory; it implies eclecticism and lack of principle."

"The civil war which was started by the Cadet-Kaledin counter-revolutionary revolt against the Soviet authorities, against the workers’ and peasants’ government, has finally brought the class struggle to a head and has destroyed every chance of setting in a formally democratic way the very acute problems with which history has confronted the peoples of Russia, and in the first place her working class and peasants."

"The class-conscious proletariat can give its consent to a revolutionary war, which would really justify revolutionary defensism, only on condition: (a) that the power pass to the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants aligned with the proletariat; (b) that all annexations be renounced in deed and not in word; (c) that a complete break be effected in actual fact with all capitalist interests."

"The concentration of capital and the growth of their turnover is radically challenging the significance of the banks. Scattered capitalists are transformed into a single collective capitalist. When carrying the current accounts of a few capitalists, the banks, as it were, transact a purely technical and exclusively auxiliary operation. When, however, these operations grow to enormous dimensions we find that a handful of monopolists control all the operations, both commercial and industrial, of capitalist society. They can, by means of their banking connections."