V. I. Lenin

The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat[1]

Written: September-October 1919
First Published: 1925
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 93-104
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup:
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

For treatment in the pamphlet the question falls into 4 main sections:

(A) The dictatorship of the proletariat as new forms of the class struggle of the proletariat (in other words: its new stage and new tasks).

(B) The dictatorship of the proletariat as the destruction of bourgeois democracy and the creation of proletarian democracy.

(C) The dictatorship of the proletariat and the distinguishing features of imperialism (or the imperialist stage of capitalism).

(D) The dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power. Plan for the elaboration of these 4 sections:

I (A) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat as New Forms of the Class Struggle of the Proletariat

1. The chief reason why the “socialists” do not understand the dictatorship of the proletariat is that they do not carry the idea of the class struggle to its logical conclusion (C f. Marx, 1852) .[2]

The dictatorship of the proletariat is the continuation of the class struggle of the proletariat in new forms. That is the crux of the matter, and that is what they do not understand.

The proletariat, as a special class, alone continues to wage its class struggle.

2. The state is only a weapon of the proletariat in its class struggle. A special kind of cudgel, rien de plus! Nothing more.—Editor.]

Old prejudices regarding the state (cf. The State and Revolution). New forms of the state the subject of section B; here only the approach to it.

3. The forms of the class struggle of the proletariat, under its dictatorship, cannot be what they were before. Five new (principal) tasks and correspondingly five new forms:
4. (1) Suppression of the resistance of the exploiters.k This, as the task (and content) of the epoch, is entirely forgotten by the opportunists and the “socialists”.


(αα) the special (higher) severity of the class struggle
(ββ) new forms of resistance corresponding to capitalism and its highest stage (plots + sabotage + influence on the petty bourgeoisie, etc., etc.) and, in particular.
The resistance of the exploiters begins before their overthrow and afterwards becomes intensified from two sides. A fight to a finish, or “talk one's way out” (Karl Kautsky, the petty bourgeoisie, the “socialists").
5. (2) (ΥΥ) Civil war. Revolution in general and civil war (1649, 1793) (cf. Karl Kautsky, 1902, in The Social Revolution). Civil war in the epoch of the international ties of capitalism. Civil war and the “destruction” of the party (Karl Kautsky).
Terror and civil war.
Transformation of imperialist war into civil war. (Ignorance and despicable cowardice of the “socialists”.)
Cf. Marx, 1870[3]: give the proletariat practice in arms. The epoch 1871-1914 and the epoch of civil wars.
(α Russia, Hungary,
Finland, Germany.
(β Switzerland and America.

+Inevitability of a combination of civil war with revolutionary wars (cf. Programme of the R.C.P.).
6. (3) “Neutralisation” of the petty bourgeoisie, especially the peasantry. Communist Manifesto (reactionary and revolutionary “only in view of").
Karl Kautsky in the Agrarfrage. The same idea of neutralisation, only verballhornt.[Bowdlerised.—Editor.]

in practice means
| (suppression by force
| (Engels, 1895)
| example
| persuasion, etc., etc
enlisting + suppression, “on-
ly in view of”.
The “ruling class”. Rule precludes “liberty and equality”.
"To head”, “to lead”, “to take with”, the class meaning of these concepts.




 | Peasant and worker.
 | The peasant as a
 | toiler and the peas-
 | ant as an exploiter
 | (profiteer, property-
 | owner). “Only in view
 | of.” Vacillations in
 | the course of the
 | struggle. Experience
 |  of the struggle.

"One reactionary mass": Engels, 1875, in respect of the Commune.[4]
7. (4) “Ulilisation” of the bourgeoisie.
“Specialists.” Not only suppression of resistance, not only “neutralisation”, but setting them to work, compelling them to serve the proletariat.
Cf. Programme of the FLC.P. “Military Specialists."
8. (5) Inculcation of a new discipline.
(α) The dictatorship of the proletariat and the trade unions.
(β) Bonuses and piece rates.
(γ) Party purge and its role.
(δ) “Communist subbotniks."

II(B) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat
as the Destruction of Bourgeois Democracy and the
Creation of Proletarian Democracy

9. Dictatorship and democracy as “general” (“pure”, according to Karl Kautsky) concepts.
Dictatorship as the denial of democracy. For whom?
Abstract (petty-bourgeois) democratic view and Marxism (class struggle).
Definition. Force (Engels).
State and “liberty” (cf Engels, 1875)[5]
10. “Liberty.” = Liberty for the commodity owner.
Real liberty for the wage-workers, for the peasants.
Liberty for the exploiters.
Liberty for whom?
from whom? from what?
Liberty in what?
11. “Equality.” Engels in Anti-Dühring (prejudice, if it goes beyond the abolition of classes).[6]
Equality between the exploited and the exploiter.
Equality between hungry and satiated.
Equality between worker and peasant.
Equality between whom? In what?
Equality of the commodity owners.



12. Decision by majority..
Its conditions; real equality (culture).
real freedom.
Cf. press, assembly, etc..
All are equal, leaving out of account, money, capital, land ....
13. Decision by majority. Another condition for it= “conscientious” subordination.
Utopia of reformism.
Gilding of capitalism.
First throw off the yoke of money, the power of capital, abolish private property, then the slow growth of “conscientiousness” on this new basis.
14. Reality of the bourgeois-democratic republic.
Engels on the connection of the government with the stock exchange and capital [7]
  pressure of capitalt
  (public opinion, etc.).
Formal equality while bourgeois oppression, the yoke of capital, and wage-slavery are preserved.
15. The imperialist war of 1914-18 as the “last word” in bourgeois democracy.
The “peace” of 1918-19.
Foreign policy.
Army and Navy.
16. The bureaucracy. The courts. Militarism.
Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie masked by parliamentary forms.
17. Decision by majority and strength of majority. 51 per cent of the “proletariat”.. Decision of “all”? despite waverers and excluding exploiters.
 | Imperialist
 | influence,
 | status of
 | petty
 | bourgeoisie,
 | etc., “semi-
 | proletariat”.
 | versus 20
 | per cent+401/2
 | percent?
Motives of referendums (bourgeois surroundings).
18. Peaceful voting and sharpened class struggle.  | First “decide”, then
 | quietly vote?
 | First the
 | development of
 | the class struggle.
Economic and political conditions for sharpening of class struggle. Destruction of the bourgeois surroundings, their real conditions of motivation of will.
19. Reality of democracy under proletarian democracy.
Achievements of democracy: congresses, meetings, press, religion, women, oppressed nations.
20. The historical change from bourgeois democracy to proletarian democracy.
“Growing over”, “creeping into”, or the break-up of the former and birth of the latter? = Revolution, or without revolution? Conquest of political power by the new class, overthrow of the bourgeoisie, or a deal, a compromise between classes?

III (C) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Distinguishing Features of Imperialism

21. Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.
Résumé of my book.
22. The colonies and dependent countries.
Revolt of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie of its own country+revolt of the nations in the colonies and dependent countries.
Revolutionary proletarian wars and national wars (cf. Programme of the R.C.P.).
23. Seizure of territory by the League of Nations.
A “single” oppressor. Concentration of the struggle.
Variety of stages.
24. The bourgeois upper layer of the proletariat.
8852-92, Engels and Marx [8]
1872, Marx on the leaders of the British trade unions.[9]
Labour lieutenants of the capitalist class. [This expression written by Lenin in English Social-chauvinism.]
Two chief “streams”: the corrupt and the philistines.



Split of 1915-17, “Centre”.
” ” 1917-19 (cf. Programme of the R.C.P.).




Vorwärts (“Radikalisierung der englischen Arbeiter")... “eine gewisse Grösse” [Radicalisation of the British workers ... a certain numher.-Ed.] of Bolsheviks.
Wiener Arbeiter Zeitung No. 180 (July 2, 1919)
Friedrich Adler in his speech. ΣΣΣ [in its totality]—the sophistry of a turncoat.
25. Two Internationals. Dictatorship of the revolutionary elements of the class.
One country and the whole world.

IV (D) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Soviet Power

26. Origin of the Soviets.
1905 and 1917.
27. Peculiarities of Russia.
Kautsky: “Slavs and Revolution.”
28. Soviets and “compromise”
March-October 1917.
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.



 | (1894 (Struve) and 1899
 | (Bernstein)
 | Mensheviks and Socialist
 | Revolutionaries
 | (1917)-1918-19-20
 | …(in Europe).
29. Ignorance and stupidity of leaders of the Second International. Nothing about Soviets.
Kautsky in his pamphlet, August 1918.
Soviets for the struggle, but not for state power!
30. But the proletarian masses see it differently: class instinct!
31. Triumphal march of the Soviet idea through the world.

The form of the dictatorship of the proletariat discovered (by the mass movement of the proletariat)!
The Third International.
Direct and indirect (inclusion in the German Constitution) victory of the Soviet idea.

The idea has won over the masses.
32. Soviet Constitution of the R.S.F.S.R.
N.B. its § 23[10]
1793-94 versus 1917-19.



[1] This article is apparently a draft of a pamphlet planned but not written by Lenin.

[2] Lenin refers to Karl Marx’s letter to Joseph Weydemeyer of March 5, 1852 (see Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 85).

[3] Lenin refers to Karl Marx’s letter to Ludwig Kugelmann of December 13, 1870 (see Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 307).

[4] Lenin refers to Engels’s letter to August Bebel of March 18-28 1875 (see Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 353).

[5] Lenin refers to Engels’s letter to August Bebel of March 18-28 1875 (see Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 356-57).

[6] See Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1954, Part I, Philosophy. Chapter X, pp. 134-49.

[7] See Frederick Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Moscow, Chapter IX, Barbarism and Civilisation, pp. 307-27.

[8] Lenin refers to statements by Marx and Engels in the period between 1852 and 1892 concerning the development of the upper stratum of the working class into bourgeois (references are given in Note 15).

[9] Lenin refers to Marx’s address to the Hague Congress of the First International in September 1872. Engels wrote about it in letters to Sorge of September 21 and October 5, 1872.

[10] The Constitution of the R.S.F.S.R. was adopted on July 10, 1918 by the Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets. Its Clause 23 reads as follows, "Prompted by the interests of the working class as a whole, the R.S.F.S.R. deprives of rights certain individuals and certain groups who use such rights to the detriment of the socialist revolution." This clause remained in force till the Eighth Extraordinary) Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. which in 1036 adopted a new Constitution according to which all citizens were granted equal rights to elect and be elected to the Soviets.