Do not deny the Terror.
Don't minimize the evils of a Revolution.
V.I. Lenin, to Lincoln Steffens
"Lincoln Steffens, a Biography"
"Propaganda or agitation in an organization
or co-operation with organizations having the effect... of helping
in the slightest way that part of the international bourgeoisie which
does not recognize the equal rights of the Communist system coming
to take the place of capitalism, and which is endeavoring to overthrow
it by force, whether by intervention or blockade or by espionage
or by financing of the press or by any other means - is punishable
by death or imprisonment."
"Freedom is a bourgeois prejudice. We repudiate all morality which
proceeds from supernatural ideas or ideas which are outside the class
conception. In our opinion, morality is entirely subordinate to the interests
of the class war. Everything is moral which is necessary for the annihilation
of the old exploiting order and for uniting the proletariat. Our morality
consists solely in close discipline and conscious warfare against the
"To put it briefly: the dictatorship of the proletariat
is the domination by the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, untrammeled
by the law and based on violence and enjoying the sympathy and support
of the toiling and exploited masses."
speech of April 24, 1924
"Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our
enemies in scores of hundreds, let them be thousands, let them drown
themselves in their own blood... let there be floods of blood of the
Red Army Newspaper proclamation
September of 1918
"The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police"
"Proletariat coercion, in all its forms, from executions to forced
labor, is, paradoxical as it may sound, the method of molding humanity
out of the human material of the capitalist period."
back to Thoughts Worth
"This is the essence of the Red Terror..."
The Extraordinary Commission is neither an investigating commission
nor a tribunal. It is an organ of struggle, acting on the home front
of a civil war. It does not judge the enemy: it strikes him... We are
not carrying out war against individuals. We are exterminating the
bourgeoisie as a class. We are not looking for evidence or witnesses
to reveal deeds or words against the Soviet power. The first question
we ask is - to what class does he belong, what are his origins, upbringing,
education or profession? These questions define the fate of the accused.
This is the essence of the Red Terror.
senior official in the "All-Russian Extraordinary Commission"
better know as the "CHEKA", or Soviet political police
quoted in Harrison Salisbury's
Black Night, White Snow: Russia's Revolutions, 1905-1917
"...one thought, one aim - merciless destruction."
Hard towards himself, he must be hard towards others also. All the
tender and effeminate emotions of kinship, friendship, love, gratitude,
and even honor must be stifled in him by a cold and single-minded passion
for the revolutionary cause. There exists for him only one delight,
one consolation, one reward and one gratification - the success of
the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim
- merciless destruction. In cold-blooded and tireless pursuit of this
aim, he must be prepared both to die himself and to destroy with his
own hands everything that stands in the way of its achievement.
Catechism of a Revolutionary
"Comrades! ... Hang (hang without fail, so that
people will see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich
men, bloodsuckers ... Do it in such a way that ... for hundreds
of versts around, the people will see, tremble, know, shout:
'They are strangling and will strangle to death the sucker
kulaks'... Yours, Lenin."
As Edmund Wilson put it:
"As for the aims and ideals of Marxism, there
is one feature of them that is not rightly suspect. The taking over
by the state of the means of production and the dictatorship of the
proletariat can by themselves never guarantee the happiness of anybody
but the dictators themselves. Marx and Engels, coming out of authoritarian
Germany, tended to imagine socialism in authoritarian terms; and Lenin
and Trotsky after them, forced as they were to make a beginning among
a people who had known nothing but autocracy, also emphasized this
side of socialism and founded a dictatorship which perpetuated itself
as an autocracy."
from "Modern Times" by Paul Johnson:
"The stages by which Lenin created [the] autocracy are worth describing
in a little detail because they became the grim model, in essentials,
for so many other regimes in the six decades which have followed. His
aims were fourfold. First, to destroy all opposition outside the party;
second, to place all power, including government, in party hands; third,
to destroy all opposition within the party; fourth; to concentrate
all power in the party in himself and those he chose to associate with
"Once Lenin had abolished the idea of personal guilt, and had started
to 'exterminate' (a word he frequently employed) whole classes, merely
on account of occupation or parentage, there was no limit to which
this deadly principle might be carried. Might not entire categories
of people be classified as 'enemies' and condemned to imprisonment
or slaughter merely on account of the colour of their skin, or their
racial origins or, indeed, their nationality? There is no essential
moral difference between class-warfare and race-warfare, between
destroying a class and destroying a race. Thus the modern practise
of genocide was born."
Sir Isaiah Berlin also put it poignantly:
"The divisions of mankind into two groups - men proper, and some
other, lower, order of beings, inferior races, inferior cultures,
subhuman creatures, nations or classes condemned by history - is
something new in human history. It is a denial of common humanity
- a premise upon which all previous humanism, religious and secular,
had stood. This new attitude permits men to look on many millions
of their fellow men as not quite human, to slaughter them without
a qualm of conscience, without the need to try to save them or warn
them. Such conduct is usually ascribed to barbarians or savages -
men in a pre-rational frame of mind, characteristic of peoples in
the infancy of civilisation. This explanation will no longer do.
It is evidently possible to attain to a high degree of scientific
knowledge and skill, and indeed, of general culture, and yet destroy
others without pity, in the name of a nation, a class, or history
itself. If this is childhood, it is the dotage of a second childhood
in its most repulsive form. How have men reached such a pass?"