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

"History does not move in a straight line, but by zigzags."

"While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State."

"There is no morality in politics; there is only expediency."

"So long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there is freedom, there will be no state."

"Democracy is indispensable to socialism. "

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth. "

"The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. "

"Sometimes - history needs a push. "

"The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses."

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

"The progressive historical role of capitalism may be summed up in two brief propositions: increase in the productive forces of social labour, and the socialisation of that labour. But both these facts manifest themselves in extremely diverse processes in different branches of the national economy. "

"Revolutionary Social-Democracy has always included the struggle for reforms as part of its activities. But it utilises “economic” agitation for the purpose of presenting to the government, not only demands for all sorts of measures, but also (and primarily) the demand that it cease to be an autocratic government."

"Fascism is capitalism in decay. "

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

"Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle."

"‘The revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’ has already become a reality in the Russian revolution, for this “formula” envisages only a relation of classes, and not a concrete political institution implementing this relation."

"1) Things exist independently of our consciousness, independently of our perceptions, outside of us, for it is beyond doubt that alizarin existed in coal tar yesterday and it is equally beyond doubt that yesterday we knew nothing of the existence of this alizarin and received no sensations from it. 2) There is definitely no difference in principle between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself, and there can be no such difference. The only difference is between what is known and what is not yet known. And philosophical inventions of specific boundaries between the one and the other, inventions to the effect that the thing-in-itself is “beyond” phenomena (Kant), or that we can and must fence ourselves off by some philosophical partition from the problem of a world which in one part or another is still unknown but which exists outside us (Hume)—all this is the sheerest nonsense, Schrulle, crotchet, invention. 3) In the theory of knowledge, as in every other branch of science, we must think dialectically, that is, we must not regard our knowledge as ready-made and unalterable, but must determine how knowledge emerges from ignorance, how incomplete, inexact knowledge becomes more complete and more exact."

"A bourgeois revolution is absolutely necessary in the interests of the proletariat. The more complete and determined, the more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more assured will be the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie for Socialism. Only those who are ignorant of the rudiments of scientific Socialism can regard this conclusion as new or strange, paradoxical."

"A bourgeois revolution is a revolution which does not go beyond the limits of the bourgeois, i.e., capitalist, social and economic system. A bourgeois revolution expresses the need for the development of capitalism, and far from destroying the foundations of capitalism, it does the opposite, it broadens and deepens them."

"A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organization of comprehensive political exposure."

"A full 'definition of an object must include the whole of human experience, both as a criterion of truth and a practical indicator of its connection with human wants."

"A party is the vanguard of a class, and its duty is to lead the masses and not merely to reflect the average political level of the masses."

"A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer."

"A good man fallen among Fabians."

"A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution."

"A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power."

"A revolutionary class cannot but wish for the defeat of its government in a reactionary war."

"A United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists ... but to what end? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe"

"Abolition of the police, the army and the bureaucracy. The salaries of all officials, all of whom are elective and displaceable at any time, not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker."

"After retaining power for two months and ten days, the workers of Paris, who for the first time in history established the Commune, the embryo of Soviet power, perished at the hands of the French Cadets, Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries of a Kaledin type. The French workers had to pay an unprecedentedly heavy price for the first experience of workers' government, the meaning and purpose of which the overwhelming majority of the peasants in France did not know."

"A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie."

"All official and liberal science defends wage-slavery, whereas Marxism has declared relentless war on that slavery."

"All efforts and all attention should now be concentrated on the next step — the search after forms of the transition or the approach to the proletarian revolution."

"All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all. I am just like everybody else."

"All over the world, wherever there are capitalists, freedom of the press means freedom to buy up newspapers, to buy writers, to bribe, buy and fake public opinion for the benefit of the bourgeoisie."

"America has become one of the foremost countries in regard to the depth of the abyss which lies between the handful of arrogant multimillionaires who wallow in filth and luxury, and the millions of working people who constantly live on the verge of pauperism."

"Although the Russian bourgeois revolution of 1905-07 displayed no such “brilliant” successes as at time fell to the Portuguese and Turkish revolutions, it was undoubtedly a “real people’s” revolution, since the mass of the people, their majority, the very lowest social groups, crushed by oppression and exploitation, rose independently and stamped on the entire course of the revolution the imprint of their own demands, their attempt to build in their own way a new society in place of the old society that was being destroyed."

"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."

"Among the masses of the people, we (the communists) are but drops in the ocean, and we will be able to govern only when we properly express that which the people appreciate. Without this the communist party will not lead the proletariat, the proletariat will not take the lead of the masses, and the whole machine will fall to pieces."

"And so in capitalist society we have a democracy that is curtailed, wretched, false, a democracy only for the rich, for the minority. The dictatorship of the proletariat, the period of transition to communism, will for the first time create democracy for the people, for the majority, along with the necessary suppression of the exploiters, of the minority."

"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."

"And, indeed, there could not be any other grouping among our students, because they are the most responsive section of the intelligentsia, and the intelligensia are so called just because they most consciously, most resolutely and most accurately reflect and express the development of class interests and political groupings in society as a whole."

"And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of those classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, the forces which can—and, owing to their social position, must—constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new, and to enlighten and organize those forces for the struggle."

"Any army which does not train to use all the weapons, all the means and methods of warfare that the enemy possesses, or may possess, is behaving in an unwise or even criminal manner. This applies to politics even more than it does to the art of war."

"Any cook should be able to run the country."

"At all costs we must break the old, absurd, savage, despicable and disgusting prejudice that only the so-called upper classes, only the rich, and those who have gone through the school of the rich, are capable of administering the state and directing the organizational development of socialist society."

"Are we to build the Party on the basis of that already formed and welded core of Social-Democrats which brought about the Party Congress, for instance, and which should enlarge and multiply Party organizations of all kinds; or are we to content ourselves with the soothing phrase that all who help are Party members?"

"Behind the epistemological scholasticism of empirio-criticism one must not fail to see the struggle of parties in philosophy, a struggle which in the last analysis reflects the tendencies and ideology of the antagonistic classes in modern society."

"As long as the bourgeois parliament remains a means of duping the workers, and phrases about “democracy” are used to cover up financial swindling and every kind of bribery (the particularly “subtle” brand of bribery the bourgeoisie practice with regard to writers, N.P.s, lawyers, and others is nowhere to be seen on so wide a scale as in the bourgeois parliament), we Communists are in duty bound to be in this very institution (which is supposed to express the people’s will but actually covers up the deception of the people by the wealthy) to untiringly expose this deception, and expose each and every case of the Renners and Co.’s desertion to the capitalists, against the workers"

"Attention, must be devoted principally to raising the workers to the level of revolutionaries; it is not at all our task to descend to the level of the “working masses.”"