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

"The war of 1914-18 was imperialist (that is, an annexationist, predatory, war of plunder) on the part of both sides; it was a war for the division of the world, for the partition and repartition of colonies and spheres of influence of finance capital."

"The worker is becoming impoverished absolutely, i.e., he is actually becoming poorer than before; he is compelled to live worse, to eat worse, to suffer hunger more, and to live in basements and attics."

"There are at present 300,000 bourgeois in the Crimea. These are a source of future profiteering, espionage and every kind of aid to the capitalists. However, we are not afraid of them. We say that we shall take and distribute them, make them submit, and assimilate them."

"The workers and peasants are still timid, they have not yet become accustomed to the idea that they are now the ruling class; they are not yet resolute enough. The revolution could not at one stroke instill these qualities into millions and millions of people who all their lives had been compelled by want and hunger to work under the threat of the stick."

"The working class must break up, smash the “ready-made state machinery,” and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it."

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen."

"The working class cannot play its world-revolutionary role unless it wages a ruthless struggle against this renegacy, spinelessness, subservience to opportunism and unexampled vulgarization of the theories of Marxism."

"These parts of the work should be called: “a best means for getting a headache!”"

"They will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide."

"They have got themselves in a mess, these poor Russian social-chauvinists—socialists in word and chauvinists in deed."

"To be a materialist is to acknowledge objective truth, which is revealed to us by our sense organs."

"Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old."

"This fear of criticism displayed by the advocates of freedom of criticism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness. No, the majority of the Economists look with sincere resentment upon all theoretical controversies, factional disagreements, broad political questions, plans for organizing revolutionaries, etc."

"This struggle must be organized, according to “all the rules of the art”, by people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity. The fact that the masses are spontaneously being drawn into the movement does not make the organization of this struggle less necessary. On the contrary, it makes it more necessary."

"To accept anything on trust, to preclude critical application and development, is a grievous sin; and in order to apply and develop, "simple interpretation" is obviously not enough."

"Those who are opposed to armed uprising ... must be ruthlessly kicked out as enemies, traitors and cowards."

"To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism."

"To belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneousdevelopment of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology; for the spontaneous working-class movement is trade-unionism, and trade unionism means the ideological enslavement of the workers by the bourgeoisie. Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democracy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social Democracy."

"To call a fight for the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation, for the federal principle of Party organization, a “fight for the equality of the Jews in the world family of the proletariat” is to degrade the struggle from the plane of ideas and principles to that of suspicion, incitement and fanning of historically-evolved prejudices. It glaringly reveals a lack of real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle."

"To become a power the class-conscious workers must win the majority to their side.As long as no violence is used against the people there is no other road to power. We are not Blancists, we do not stand for the seizure of power by a minority."

"To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted and complex than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to renounce in advance any change of tack, or any utilization of a conflict of interests (even if temporary) among one’s enemies, or any conciliation or compromise with possible allies (even if they are temporary, unstable, vacillating, or conditional allies)—is that not ridiculous in the extreme?”"

"To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament–this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary- constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic republics."

"To hoard surpluses of grain and other food products at a time when the people in Petrograd, in Moscow, and in dozens of non-agricultural uyezds are not only suffering from a shortage of bread, but are cruelly starving, is an enormous crime deserving the most ruthless punishment."

"To picture world history as advancing smoothly and steadily without sometimes taking gigantic strides backward is undialectical, unscientific and theoretically wrong"

"To rely upon conviction, devotion, and other excellent spiritual qualities; that is not to be taken seriously in politics."

"To the socialist it is not the horrors of war that are the hardest to endure ... but the horrors of the treachery shown by the leaders of present day socialism, the horrors of the collapse of the present-day International."

"To reject compromises “on principle,” to reject the permissibility of compromises in general, no matter of what kind, is childishness. A political leader who desires to be useful to the revolutionary proletariat must be able to distinguish concrete cases of compromises that are inexcusable and are an expression of opportunism and treachery."

"Trade unions and strikes cannot help in times of crisis when there is no demand for this “commodity”, they cannot change the conditions which, convert labor-power into a commodity and which doom the masses of working people to dire need and unemployment. To change these conditions, a revolutionary struggle against the whole existing social and political system is necessary; the industrial crisis will convince very many workers of the justice of this statement."

"Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing."

"Under such capitalism, competition means the incredibly brutal suppression of the enterprise, energy and bold initiative of the mass of the population, of its overwhelming majority, of ninety-nine out of every hundred toilers; it also means that competition is replaced by financial fraud, nepotism, servility on the upper rungs of the social ladder."

"Victory will belong only to those who have faith in the people, those who are immersed in the life-giving spring of popular creativity"

"Tsar Nicholas the Bloody, who has dispersed the First and Second Dumas, who has drowned Russia in blood, enslaved Poland and Finland, and is in alliance with out — and-out reactionaries conducting a policy of stifling the Jews and all “aliens”, the tsar whose loyal friends shot down the workers on the Lena and ruined the peasants to the point of starvation all over Russia — that tsar pretends to be the champion of Slav independence and freedom!""

"Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism."

"We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighboring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. 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!"

"War cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and Socialism is created."

"We are opposed to national enmity and discord, to national exclusiveness. We are internationalists."

"We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us."

"We do not have time to play at “oppositions” at “conferences.” We will keep our political opponents… whether open or disguised as “nonparty,” in prison."

"We cannot jump out of the bourgeois-democratic boundaries of the Russian revolution, but we can vastly extend these boundaries, and within these boundaries we can and must fight for the interests of the proletariat, for its immediate needs and for the conditions that will make it possible to prepare its forces for the future complete victory."

"We fully regard civil wars, i.e., wars waged by the oppressed class against the oppressing class, slaves against slave-owners, serfs against land-owners, and wage-workers against the bourgeoisie, as legitimate, progressive and necessary."

"We have invited and continue to invite the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries to share power with us."

"We have the following of the majority of a class, the vanguard of the revolution, the vanguard of the people, which is capable of carrying the masses with it."

"We must display determination, endurance, firmness and unanimity. We must stop at nothing. Everybody and everything must be used to save the rule of the workers and peasants, to save communism."

"We love our language and our country, and we are doing our very utmost to raise her toiling masses (i.e., nine-tenths of her population) to the level of a democratic and socialist consciousness."

"We know that an unskilled laborer or a cook cannot immediately get on with the job of state administration."

"We must not depict socialism as if socialists will bring it to us on a plate all nicely dressed. That will never happen. 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!"

"We must follow the rule: Better fewer, but better. We must follow the rule: Better get good human material in two or even three years than work in haste without hope of getting any at all."

"We must fight against the old habit of regarding the measure of labor and the means of production from the point of view of the slave whose sole aim is to lighten the burden of labor or to obtain at least some little bit from the bourgeoisie."

"We need the real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country and through which the Great French Revolution achieved glory."

"We must pursue the removal of church property by any means necessary in order to secure for ourselves a fund of several hundred million gold rubles (do not forget the immense wealth of some monasteries and lauras). Without this fund any government work in general, any economic build-up in particular, and any upholding of soviet principles in Genoa especially is completely unthinkable. In order to get our hands on this fund of several hundred million gold rubles (and perhaps even several hundred billion), we must do whatever is necessary. But to do this successfully is possible only now. All considerations indicate that later on we will fail to do this, for no other time, besides that of desperate famine, will give us such a mood among the general mass of peasants that would ensure us the sympathy of this group, or, at least, would ensure us the neutralization of this group in the sense that victory in the struggle for the removal of church property unquestionably and completely will be on our side. One clever writer on statecraft correctly said that if it is necessary for the realization of a well-known political goal to perform a series of brutal actions then it is necessary to do them in the most energetic manner and in the shortest time, because masses of people will not tolerate the protracted use of brutality. … Now victory over the reactionary clergy is assured us completely. In addition, it will be more difficult for the major part of our foreign adversaries among the Russian emigres abroad, i.e., the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Milyukovites, to fight against us if we, precisely at this time, precisely in connection with the famine, suppress the reactionary clergy with utmost haste and ruthlessness. Therefore, I come to the indisputable conclusion that we must precisely now smash the Black Hundreds clergy most decisively and ruthlessly and put down all resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for several decades.… The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and the reactionary bourgeoisie that we succeed in shooting on this occasion, the better because this "audience" must precisely now be taught a lesson in such a way that they will not dare to think about any resistance whatsoever for several decades."