Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Nikolai Lenin, aka Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, born Vladimir llyich Ulyanov

Russian Communist Leader, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union

"Even if for every hundred correct things we did we committed ten thousand mistakes, our revolution would still be - and it will be in the judgment of history - great and invincible; for this is the first time that not a minority, not the rich alone, not the educated alone, but the real masses, the overwhelming majority of the working people are themselves building a new life and are by their own experience solving the most difficult problems of socialist organization."

"While the state exists there is no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no state."

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

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

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation."

"It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws. But when it come it moves irresistibly."

"There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel."

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs."

"Communism is Soviet government plus the electrification of the whole country."

"Imperialism, in a sense, is the transition stage from capitalism to Socialism. . . . It is capitalism dying, not dead."

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

"In the end, one or the other will triumph - a funeral dirge will be sung over the Soviet republic or over world capitalism."

"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."

"The Congress decisively rejects terrorism, i.e., the system of individual political assassinations, as being a method of political struggle which is most inexpedient at the present time, diverting the best forces from the urgent and imperatively necessary work of organisation and agitation, destroying contact between the revolutionaries and the masses of the revolutionary classes of the population, and spreading both among the revolutionaries themselves and the population in general utterly distorted ideas of the aims and methods of struggle against the autocracy."

"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."

"Everyone is free to write and say whatever he likes, without any restrictions. But every voluntary association (including the party) is also free to expel members who use the name of the party to advocate anti-party views. Freedom of speech and the press must be complete. But then freedom of association must be complete too. I am bound to accord you, in the name of free speech, the full right to shout, lie and write to your heart’s content. But you are bound to grant me, in the name of freedom of association, the right to enter into, or withdraw from, association with people advocating this or that view. The party is a voluntary association, which would inevitably break up, first ideologically and then physically, if it did not cleanse itself of people advocating anti-party views."

"We want to achieve a new and better order of society: in this new and better society there must be neither rich nor poor; all will have to work. Not a handful of rich people, but all the working people must enjoy the fruits of their common labour. Machines and other improvements must serve to ease the work of all and not to enable a few to grow rich at the expense of millions and tens of millions of people. This new and better society is called socialist society. The teachings about this society are called socialism."

"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."

"The reflection of nature in man’s thought must be understood not lifelessly but in the eternal process of movement, the arising of contradictions and their solution."

"Human thought by its nature is capable of giving, and does give, absolute truth, which is compounded of a sum-total of relative truths."

"The sole "property" of matter with whose recognition philosophical materialism is bound up is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside the mind."

"If the world is eternally moving and developing matter (as the Marxists think), reflected by the developing human consciousness, what is there “static” here? The point at issue is not the immutable essence of things, or an immutable consciousness, but the correspondence between the consciousness which reflects nature and the nature which is reflected by consciousness."

"Human reason has discovered many amazing things in nature and will discover still more, and will thereby increase its power over nature."

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

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

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

"What caused the war? The greed of the Italian money bags and capitalists, who need new markets and new achievements for Italian imperialism. What kind of war was it? A perfected, civilised blood bath, the massacre of Arabs with the help of the “latest” weapons."

"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."

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

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

"International unity of the workers is more important than the national."

"An end to wars, peace among the nations, the cessation of pillaging and violence — such is our ideal, but only bourgeois sophists can seduce the masses with this ideal, if the latter is divorced from a direct and immediate call for revolutionary action."

"Disarmament is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved. But whoever expects that socialism will be achieved without a social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a socialist. Dictatorship is state power based directly on violence. And in the twentieth century — as in the age of civilisation generally — violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops. To put “disarmament” in the programme is tantamount to making the general declaration: We are opposed to the use of arms. There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: We are opposed to violence!"

"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 programme of international Social-Democracy must be recognition of civil war, though violence is, of course, alien to our ideals."

"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."

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

"Where and when have riots and anarchy been provoked by wise measures? If the government had acted wisely, and if their measures had met the needs of the poor peasants, would there have been unrest among the peasant masses?"

"In the two months following the revolution the industrialists have robbed the whole of Russia."

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

"It is essential to grasp the incontestable truth that a Marxist must take cognisance of real life, of the true facts of reality, and not cling to a theory of yesterday, which, like all theories, at best only outlines the main and the general, only comes near to embracing life in all its complexity."

"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."

"The government considers it the greatest of crimes against humanity to continue this war over the issue of how to divide among the strong and rich nations the weak nationalities they have conquered, and solemnly announces its determination immediately to sign terms of peace to stop this war on the terms indicated, which are equally just for all nationalities without exception."

"We shall not bind ourselves by treaties. We shall not allow ourselves to be entangled by treaties. We reject all clauses on plunder and violence, but we shall welcome all clauses containing provisions for good-neighbourly relations and all economic agreements; we cannot reject these."

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

"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!"

"The war is relentless: it puts the alternative in a ruthless relief: either to perish, or to catch up with the advanced countries and outdistance them, too, in economic matters."

"All the marvels of science and the gains of culture belong to the nation as a whole, and never again will man’s brain and human genius be used for oppression and exploitation."

"Does not the whole history of socialism, particularly of French socialism, which is so rich in revolutionary striving, show us that when the working people themselves take power in their hands the ruling classes resort to unheard-of crimes and shootings if it is a matter of protecting their money-bags."

"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 shall not achieve socialism without a struggle. But we are ready to fight, we have started it and we shall finish it with the aid of the apparatus called the Soviets."