V. I. Lenin
ON THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION
(Collection of texts - arranged by Wolfgang Eggers)
Wireless Message Of Greeting On Behalf Of The Congress To The Government Of The Hungarian Soviet Republic
March 22, 1919
The Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) instructed Lenin to send greetings in the name of the Congress to the Hungarian Soviet Republic in connection with the information received to the effect that a Soviet Republic had been formed there on March 21, 1919 and the dictatorship of the proletariat had been established. The Hungarian Soviet Republic continued in existence until August 1919.
To the Government of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, Budapest
The Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party sends ardent greetings to the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Our Congress is convinced that the time is not far distant when communism will triumph all over the world. The working class of Russia is making every effort to come to your aid. The proletariat throughout the world is watching your struggle with intense interest and will not permit the imperialists to raise their hands against the new Soviet Republic.
Long live the world communist republic!
Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) March 18-23, 1919
Report On Work In The Countryside
Only the dictatorship of the proletariat can defeat the bourgeoisie. Only the proletariat can overthrow the bourgeoisie. And only the proletariat can secure the following of the people in the struggle against the bourgeoisie.
It is natural that at the beginning of the revolution—the proletarian revolution—the whole attention of its active participants should be concentrated on the main and fundamental issue, the supremacy of the proletariat and the securing of that supremacy by a victory over the bourgeoisie— making it certain that the bourgeoisie cannot regain power.
The bourgeoisie internationally are still stronger than we are. Their supremacy is being rapidly undermined, they are being confronted with such facts as the Hungarian revolution—about which we were happy to inform you yesterday and are today receiving confirming reports—and they are beginning to understand that their supremacy is shaky. They no longer enjoy freedom of action. But now, if you take into account the material means on the world scale, we cannot help admitting that in the material respect the bourgeoisie are at present still stronger than we are.
That is why nine-tenths of our attention and our practical activities were devoted, and had to be devoted, to this fundamental question—the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of the power of the proletariat and the elimination of every possibility of the return of the bourgeoisie to power. That is perfectly natural, legitimate, and unavoidable.
If during the first few months that followed the October Revolution there were many naïve people who were stupid enough to believe that the dictatorship of the proletariat was something transient and fortuitous, today even the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries ought to understand that there is something logically necessary in the struggle that is being waged because of the onslaught of the whole international bourgeoisie.
Our road is determined above all by considerations of class forces. A struggle is developing in capitalist society between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As long as that struggle has not ended we shall give our keenest attention to fighting it out to the end. It has not yet been brought to the end, although in that struggle much has already been accomplished. The hands of the international bourgeoisie are no longer free; the best proof of this is that the Hungarian proletarian revolution has taken place.
But we also know that this war is being fought with redoubled vigour and dauntless courage only because for the first time in world history, an army, an armed force, has been created, which knows what it is fighting for; and because, for the first time in world history, workers and peasants are making incredible sacrifices in the knowledge that they are defending the Soviet Socialist Republic, the rule of the working people over the capitalists; they know that they are defending the cause of the world proletarian socialist revolution.
We are convinced that this will be the last difficult half-year. This conviction of ours is greatly strengthened by the news we announced to the Congress the other day—the news of the success of the proletarian revolution in Hungary. Up to now Soviet power has been victorious in only one country, among the peoples which once constituted the former Russian Empire; and short-sighted people, who found it exceptionally difficult to abandon routine and old habits of thought (even though they may have belonged to the socialist camp), imagined that this surprising swing towards proletarian Soviet democracy was due entirely to the peculiar conditions prevailing in Russia; they thought that perhaps the specific features of this democracy reflected, as in a distorting mirror, the peculiar features of former, tsarist Russia. If there was ever any foundation for such an opinion, there is certainly none whatever now. Comrades, the news received today gives us a picture of the Hungarian Revolution. We learn from today’s news that the Allied powers have presented a brutal ultimatum to Hungary demanding free passage for their troops. The bourgeois government, seeing that the Allied powers wanted to move their troops through Hungary, seeing that Hungary would be subjected to the frightful sufferings of a new war—this government of bourgeois compromisers voluntarily resigned, voluntarily opened negotiations with the Communists, our Hungarian comrades, who were in prison, and voluntarily admitted that there was no way out of the situation except by transferring power to the working people. (Applause.)
It was said that we were usurpers. At the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918, the only words with which the bourgeoisie and many of their followers described our revolution were “violence” and “usurpation”. Even now we hear statements to the effect that the Bolshevik government is holding on by force, although we have repeatedly demonstrated that this is absurd. But if such absurdities could be uttered in the past, they have now been silenced by what has occurred in Hungary. Even the bourgeoisie has realised that there can be no government authority except that of the Soviets. The bourgeoisie of a more cultured country sees more clearly than our bourgeoisie did on the eve of October 25 that the country is perishing, that trials of increasing severity are being imposed on the people, and that, therefore, political power must be transferred to the Soviets, that the workers and peasants of Hungary, the new, Soviet, proletarian democracy must save her.
Comrades, the difficulties which face the Hungarian revolution are immense. Hungary is a small country compared with Russia and can be stifled by the imperialists much more easily. However great the difficulties which undoubtedly still face Hungary, we have achieved a moral victory in addition to a victory for Soviet power. A most radical, democratic and compromising bourgeoisie realised that at a moment of extreme crisis, when a new war is menacing a country already exhausted by war, a Soviet government is a historical necessity, that in such a country there can be no government but a Soviet government, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Comrades, behind us there is a long line of revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the emancipation of Russia. The lot of the majority of these revolutionaries was a hard one. They suffered the persecution of the tsarist government, but it was not their good fortune to see the triumph of the revolution. A better fortune has fallen to our lot. Not only have we seen the triumph of our revolution, not only have we seen it become consolidated amidst unprecedented difficulties, create new forms of government and win the sympathy of the whole world, but we are also seeing the seed sown by the Russian revolution springing up in Europe. This imbues us with the absolute and unshakable conviction that no matter how difficult the trials that may still befall us, and no matter how great the misfortunes that may be brought upon us by that dying beast, international imperialism, that beast will perish, and socialism will triumph throughout the world. (Prolonged applause.)
Wireless Message of Greeting to the
Government of the Hungarian Soviet Republic
March 22, 1919
First published in Hungarian to the newspaper Népszara No. 70, March 23, 1919;
Lenin’s Collected Works,, Volume 29, page 226
This is Lenin.
Sincere greetings to the proletarian government of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and especially to Comrade Bela Kun. I conveyed your greetings to the Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). They were received with tremendous enthusiasm. We shall send you the decisions of the Moscow Congress of the Third, Communist International, as well as a report on the military situation, as soon as possible. It is absolutely necessary to maintain constant radio communication between Budapest and Moscow. Accept my communist greetings and hearty handshake,
Record Of Wireless Message To Béla Kun
March 23, 1919
Lenin’s Collected Works, , Volume 29, page 227
Lenin to Béla Kun in Budapest
Please inform us what real guarantees you have that the new Hungarian Government will actually be a communist, and not simply a socialist, government, i.e., one traitor-socialists.
Have the Communists a majority in the government? When will the Congress of Soviets take place? What does the socialists' recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat really amount to?
It is altogether beyond doubt that it would be a mistake merely to imitate our Russian tactics in all details in the specific conditions of the Hungarian revolution. I must warn you against this mistake, but I should like to know where you see real guarantees.
So that I may be certain that the answer has come to me from you personally, I ask you to indicate in what sense I spoke to you about the National Assembly when you last visited me in the Kremlin.
With communist greetings,
V. I. Lenin
SPEECHES ON GRAMOPHONE RECORDS
Communication On The Wireless
Negotiations With Béla Kun
Recorded: End of March 1919;
First Published: Published according to the gramophone records; Organization of these speeches was accomplished by Tsentropechat the central agency of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee for the Supply and Distribution of Periodicals between 1919 and 1921. 13 of Lenin’s speeches were recorded.
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 29, pages 242-243
I knew Comrade Béla Kun very well when he was still a prisoner of war in Russia; and he visited me many times to discuss communism and the communist revolution. Therefore, when news of the Hungarian communist revolution was received, and in a communication signed by Comrade Béla Kun at that, we wanted to speak to him and ascertain exactly how the revolution stood. The first communication we received about it gave us some grounds for fearing that, perhaps, the so-called socialists, traitor-socialists, had resorted to some deception, had got round the Communists, the more so that the latter were in prison. And so, the day after the first communication about the Hungarian revolution was received, I sent a wireless message to Budapest, asking Béla Kun to come to the apparatus, and I put a number of questions to him of such a nature as to enable me to make sure that it was really he who was speaking. I asked him what real guarantees there were for the character of the government and for its actual policy. Comrade Béla Kun’s reply was quite satisfactory and dispelled all our doubts. It appears that the Left Socialists had visited Béla Kun in prison to consult him about forming a government. And it was only these Left Socialists, who sympathised with the Communists, and also people from the Centre who formed the new government, while the Right Socialists, the traitorsocialists, the irreconcilables and incorrigibles, so to speak, left the Party, and not a single worker followed them. Later communications showed that the policy of the Hungarian Government was most firm and so Communist in trend “that while we began with workers” control of industry and only gradually began to socialise industry, Béla Kun, with his prestige, his conviction that he was backed by vast masses, could at once pass a law which converted all the industrial undertakings in Hungary that were run on capitalist lines into public property. Two days later we became fully convinced that the Hungarian revolution had at once, with extraordinary rapidity, taken the communist road. The bourgeoisie voluntarily surrendered power to the Communists of Hungary. The bourgeoisie demonstrated to the whole world that when a grave crisis supervenes, when the nation is in danger, the bourgeoisie is unable to govern. And there is only one government that is really a popular government, a government that is really beloved of the people-the government of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.
Long live Soviet power in Hungary!
Extraordinary Plenary Meeting
Of The Moscow Soviet Of Workers’ And Red Army Deputies
April 3, 1919
They are digging their own grave, and there are people over there who will lower them into this grave and pile plenty of earth over them. (Applause.) This is because the Soviet movement is growing in all countries. And the Hungarian revolution has shown that when we say that we are fighting not only for ourselves, but for Soviet power all over the world, that blood of the Red Army men is being shed not only for the sake of our starving comrades, but for the victory of Soviet power all over the world—the example of Hungary has shown that this is not merely prophecies and promises, but the most actual and immediate reality.
In Hungary the revolution was most unusual in form. The Hungarian Kerensky, who over there is called Kdrolyi, voluntarily resigned, and the Hungarian compromisers—the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries—realised that they must go to the prison where our Hungarian comrade Bela Kun, one of the best of the Hungarian Communists, was confined. They went to him and said: “You must take power!” (Applause.) The bourgeois government resigned. The bourgeois socialists, the Hungarian Mensheviks and SocialistRevolutionaries, merged with the Hungarian Bolshevik Party and formed a united party and a united government. Comrade Bela Kun, our comrade, and a Communist who had trodden the whole practical path of Bolshevism in Russia, said to me when I spoke to him by wireless: “I have not got a majority in the government, but I shall win because the masses are behind me, and we are convening a congress of Soviets.” This is a revolution of world—historical importance.
Up to now all the European workers have been told lies about Soviet Russia. They have been told that there is no government but sheer anarchy in Russia. The Bolsheviks are just a crowd of quarrelsome people. Recently, the French Minister, Pichon, said about Soviet Russia, “It is anarchy, they are violators, usurpers!” “Look at Russia,” said the Gerluau Mensheviks to their workers. “War, famine and ruin! Is this the sort of socialism you want?” And in this way they have been intimidating the workers. But Hungary was a example of a revolution born in a different way. Hungary will undoubtedly have to go through a severe struggle against the bourgeoisie—that is inevitable. But the fact is that when those beasts, the British and French imperialists, foresaw the possibility of revolution in Hungary they wanted to crush it, to prevent its birth. The difficulty of our position was that we had to give birth to Soviet power in opposition to patriotism. We had to break down this patriotism and conclude the Brest peace. This was a most desperate, furious and sanguinary operation. The bourgeoisie in the neighbouring countries realised who would have to govern. Who, if not the Soviet? It was like the old days when kings, kinglets and princes saw that their power was waning and they said, “We must have a constitution; let the bourgeoisie come and govern!” And if the king was feeble, he was given a pension, or a sinecure. What the kings or kinglets experienced fifty or sixty years ago, the world bourgeoisie is now experiencing. When the British and French imperialists submitted unprecedented demands to the Hungarian capitalists, the latter said, “We cannot fight. The people will not follow us; but we are Hungarian patriots and we want to resist. What kind of government should we have? A Soviet government.” The Hungarian bourgeoisie admitted to the world that it had resigned voluntarily and that the only power in the world capable of guiding the nation in a moment of crisis was Soviet power. (Applause.) That is why the Hungarian revolution, owing to its having been born in a totally different way from ours, will reveal to the whole world that which was concealed in Russia—i.e., that Bolshevism is bound up with a new, proletarian, workers’ democracy, that is taking the place of the old parliament. Time was when the workers were deceived and enslaved by capital. Today, world Soviet power is coming into being to take the place of the old bourgeois parliament; and this Soviet power has won the sympathies of all workers because it is the power of ,the working people, the power of millions who rule and govern themselves. Perhaps they govern badly, as we do in Russia, but our conditions are exceedingly difficult. In a country where the bourgeoisie will not offer such furious resistance, the tasks of the Soviet government will be easier; it will he able to operate without the violence, without the bloodshed that was forced upon us by the Kerenskys and the imperialists. We shall reach our goal even by this, more difficult, road. Russia may have to make greater sacrifices than other countries; this is not surprising considering the chaos that we inherited. Other countries will travel by a different, more humane road, but at the end of it lies the same Soviet power. That is why the example of Hungary is of decisive importance.
People learn from experience. It is impossible to prove merely by words that Soviet power is just. The example of Rusia alone was not sufficiently intelligible to the workers of all countries. They knew that there was a Soviet there, they were all in favour of the Soviet, but they were daunted by the horrors of the sanguinary struggle. The example of Hungary will be decisive for the proletarian masses, for the European proletariat and working peasants. In a moment of difficulty there is no one to rule the country but the Soviet government.
We remember what old people say, “The children have, grown up, they have made their way in the world, now we can die.” But we do not intend to die. We are marching to victory. But when we see children like Hungary, where Soviet power already exists, we say that we have done our work not only on a Russian, but also on an international scale; that we shall surmount all our desperate difficulties and win full victory, so that we shall live to see the day when the world Soviet republic will be added to the Russian and the Hungarian Soviet Republics. (Applause.)
Only the greatest effort can save us. Victory is nevertheless fully possible. The revolution in Hungary provides conclusive proof of the rapid growth of the Soviet movement in Europe, and of its impending victory. We have more allies in all countries than we ourselves imagine. To achieve the final victory we must hold on for another four or five months, which, perhaps, will be the bitterest and most dangerous. And in days like these, reckless men and adventurers who call themselves Mensheviks and Left and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, while paying lip-service to Soviet power and protesting against the armed intervention of the Entente, are fomenting strikes or agitating for concessions to freedom to trade or for the cessation of the Civil War, forgetting that we have offered peace to all, and that our war is a just, legitimate and unavoidable war of defence. Obviously, by this sort of agitation they give most active and effective assistance to the whiteguards, who are making a last effort to force us into disaster. The meeting condemns these masked enemies of the people.
The Universal Military
May 25, 1919
Izvestia No. 113, May 27, 1919;
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 29, pages 383-384
Up to now, matters military have been an instrument of the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists and landowners. And to this day capitalists all over Europe are holding out with the aid of the remnants of their old armies, commanded by bourgeois officers. But this most reliable prop of the bourgeoisie will collapse when the workers take up the rifle, when they begin to form their own, vast proletarian army, when they begin to train soldiers who know what they are fighting for, who will defend the workers and peasants, their factories and workshops, and prevent the landowners and capitalists from coming back to power.
Today’s festival demonstrates the successes we have achieved, the new force that is springing up from the working class. This parade convinces us that Soviet power has won the sympathies of the workers of all countries, that the fraternal alliance of world Soviet republics will take the place of world wars.
Permit me to introduce to you a Hungarian comrade, Tibor Szamuely, Commissar for Military Affairs of the Hungarian Soviet Republic.
Long live the Hungarian proletariat!
Long live the world communist revolution!
Postscript to the Appeal to Hungarian Internationalists
April 23, 1919
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 42, pages 135c-136a.
This postscript was written to Bela Kun’s appeal on behalf of the Soviet Government of Hungary to the Hungarian soldiers serving in the Red Army. “You, Hungarian internationalists,” the appeal stated, “who are fighting on Russian soil against the bands of Kolchak and counter-revolution, are also fighting for the Hungarian Soviet Republic just as your comrades are doing in Hungary, for Hungary and Russia today form a single whole.” This appeal was issued in April 1919 in Hungarian and promulgated on the civil war fronts.
The Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U. have the text of the postscript in Russian in the handwriting of L. M. Karakhan. It runs: “I whole-heartedly support the appeal of our Magyar comrades. I hope the interests of the international cause will come first with our Magyar comrades, We must hold out another few months and victory will be assured. Lenin”.
I fully subscribe to the text of the appeal and believe that the Hungarian proletarians at the fronts will bear in mind that another few months of struggle for the interests of the international proletariat will bring us victory—a victory that will be decisive and real.
Greetings to the Hungarian Workers
27 May, 1919
Pravda No. 115, May 29, 1919;
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 29, pages 387-391
the news we have been receiving from the Hungarian Soviet leaders fills us with enthusiasm and pleasure. Soviet government has been in existence in Hungary for only a little over two months, yet as regards organisation the Hungarian proletariat already seems to have excelled us. That is understandable, for in Hungary the general cultural level of the population is higher; further more, the proportion of industrial workers to the total population is immeasurably greater (in Budapest there are three million of the eight million population of present-day Hungary), and, lastly, in Hungary the transition to the Soviet system, to the dictatorship of the proletariat, has been incomparably easier and more peaceful.
This last circumstance is particularly important. The majority of the European socialist leaders, of both the social-chauvinist and Kautskyite trends, have become so much a prey to purely philistine prejudices, fostered by decades of relatively “peaceful” capitalism and the bourgeois parliamentary system, that they are unable to understand that Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat mean. The proletariat cannot perform its epoch-making liberating mission unless it removes these leaders from its path, unless it sweeps them out of its way. These people believed, or half-believed, the bourgeois lies about Soviet power in Russia and were unable to distinguish the nature of the new, proletarian democracy—democracy for the working people, socialist democracy, as embodied in Soviet government—from bourgeois democracy, which they slavishly worship and call “pure democracy” or “democracy” in general.
These blind people, fettered by bourgeois prejudices, failed to understand the epoch-making change from bourgeois to proletarian democracy, from bourgeois to proletarian dictatorship. They confused certain specific features of Russian Soviet government, of the history of its development in Russia, with Soviet government as an international phenomenon.
The Hungarian proletarian revolution is helping even the blind to see. The form of transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat in Hungary is altogether different from that in Russia—voluntary resignation of the bourgeois government, instantaneous restoration of working-class unity, socialist unity on a communist programme. The nature of Soviet power is now all the clearer; the only form of rule which has the support of the working people and of the proletariat at their head that is now possible anywhere in the world is Soviet rule, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This dictatorship presupposes the ruthlessly severe, swift and resolute use of force to crush the resistance of the exploiters, the capitalists, landowners and their underlings. Whoever does not understand this is not a revolutionary, and must be removed from the post of leader or adviser of the proletariat.
But the essence of proletarian dictatorship is not in force alone, or even mainly in force. Its chief feature is the organisation and discipline of the advanced contingent of the working people, of their vanguard; of their sole leader, the proletariat, whose object is to build socialism, abolish the division of society into classes, make all members of society working people, and remove the basis for all exploitation of man by man. This object cannot be achieved at one stroke. It requires a fairly long period of transition from capitalism to socialism, because the reorganisation of production is a difficult matter, because radical changes in all spheres of life need time, and because the enormous force of habit of running things in a petty-bourgeois and bourgeois way can only be overcome by a long and stubborn struggle. That is why Marx spoke of an entire period of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the period of transition from capitalism to socialism.
Throughout the whole of this transition period, resistance to the revolution will be offered both by the capitalists and by their numerous myrmidons among the bourgeois intellectuals, who will resist consciously, and by the vast mass of the working people, including the peasants, who are shackled very much by petty-bourgeois habits and traditions, and who all too often will resist unconsciously. Vacillations among these groups are inevitable. As a working man the peasant gravitates towards socialism, and prefers the dictatorship of the workers to the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. As a seller of grain, the peasant gravitates towards the bourgeoisie, towards freedom of trade, i.e., back to the “habitual”, old, “time-hallowed” capitalism.
What is needed to enable the proletariat to lead the peasants and the petty-bourgeois groups in general is the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rule of one class, its strength of organisation and discipline, its centralised power based on all the achievements of the culture, science and technology of capitalism, its proletarian affinity to the mentality of every working man, its prestige with the disunited, less developed working people in the countryside or in petty industry, who are less firm in politics. Here phrase-mongering about “democracy” in general, about “unity” or the “unity of labour democracy”, about the “equality” of all “men of labour”, and so on and so forth—the phrase-mongering for which the now petty-bourgeois social-chauvinists and Kautskyites have such a predilection—is of no use whatever. Phrase-mongering only throws dust in the eyes, blinds the mind and strengthens the old stupidity, conservatism, and routine of capitalism, the parliamentary system and bourgeois democracy.
The abolition of classes requires a long, difficult and stubborn class struggle, which, after the overthrow of capitalist rule, after the destruction of the bourgeois state, after the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, does not disappear (as the vulgar representatives of the old socialism and the old Social-Democracy imagine), but merely changes its forms and in many respects becomes fiercer.
The proletariat, by means of a class struggle against the resistance of the bourgeoisie, against the conservatism, routine, irresolution and vacillation of the petty bourgeoisie, must uphold its power, strengthen its organising influence, “neutralise” those groups which fear to leave the bourgeoisie and which follow the proletariat too hesitantly, and consolidate the new discipline, the comradely discipline of the working people, their firm bond with the proletariat, their unity with the proletariat—that new discipline, that new basis of social ties in place of the serf discipline of the Middle Ages and the discipline of starvation, the discipline of “free” wage-slavery under capitalism.
In order to abolish classes a period of the dictatorship of one class is needed, the dictatorship of precisely that oppressed class which is capable not only of overthrowing the exploiters, not only of ruthlessly crushing their resistance, but also of breaking ideologically with the entire bourgeois-democratic outlook, with all the philistine phrase-mongering about liberty and equality in general (in reality, this phrase-mongering implies, as Marx demonstrated long ago, the “liberty and equality” of commodity owners, the “liberty and equality” of the capitalist and the worker ).
More, classes can be abolished only by the dictatorship of that oppressed class which has been schooled, united, trained and steeled by decades of the strike and political struggle against capital—of that class alone which has assimilated all the urban, industrial, big-capitalist culture and has the determination and ability to protect it and to preserve and further develop all its achievements, and make them available to all the people, to all the working people—of that class alone which will be able to bear all the hardships, trials, privations and great sacrifices which history inevitably imposes upon those who break with the past and boldly hew a road for themselves to a new future—of that class alone whose finest members are full of hatred and contempt for everything petty-bourgeois and philistine, for the qualities that flourish so profusely among the petty bourgeoisie, the minor employees and the “intellectuals”—of that class alone which “has been through the hardening school of labour” and is able to inspire respect for its efficiency in every working person and every honest man.
Hungarian workers! Comrades! You have set the world an even better example than Soviet Russia by your ability to unite all socialists at one stroke on the platform of genuine proletarian dictatorship. You are now faced with the most gratifying and most difficult task of holding your own in a rigorous war against the Entente. Be firm. Should vacillation manifest itself among the socialists who yesterday gave their support to you, to the dictatorship of the proletariat, or among the petty bourgeoisie, suppress it ruthlessly. In war the coward’s legitimate fate is the bullet.
You are waging the only legitimate, just and truly revolutionary war, a war of the oppressed against the oppressors, a war of the working people against the exploiters, a war for the victory of socialism. All honest members of the working class all over the world are on your side. Every month brings the world proletarian revolution nearer.
Be firm! Victory will be yours!
May 27, 1919
The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat
Written: September-October 1919
|Transformation of imperialist war into civil war. (Ignorance and despicable cowardice of the “socialists”.)
Cf. Marx, 1870: give the proletariat practice in arms. The epoch 1871-1914 and the epoch of civil wars.
|(α Russia, Hungary,
(β Switzerland and America.
+Inevitability of a combination of civil war with revolutionary wars (cf. Programme of the R.C.P.).
Of The Berne International
25 May, 1919
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 29, pages 392-401
Capitalism would not be capitalism if it did not keep millions of working people, the vast majority of them, in a state of oppression, wretchedness, want and ignorance. Capitalism cannot collapse except fis a result of a revolution which, in the course of struggle, rouses masses who had not hitherto been affected by the movement. Spontaneous outbreaks become inevitable as the revolution matures. There has never been a revolution in which this has not, been the case, nor can there be such a revolution.
Mistakes are inevitable when the masses are fighting, but the Communists remain with the masses, see these mistakes, explain them to the masses, try to get them rectified, and strive perseveringly for the victory of class-consciousness over spontaneity. It is better to be with the fighting masses, who, in the course of the struggle, gradually learn to rectify their mistakes, than with the paltry intellectuals, philistines, and Kautskyites, who hold aloof until “complete victory” is achieved.
But while in 1914, failure to understand that the imperialist war must inevitably be transformed into civil war was only philistine stupidity, today, in 1919, it is something worse. It is treachery to the working class; for the civil war in Russia, Finland, Latvia, Germany and Hungary, is a fact. Kautsky admitted hundreds and hundreds of times in his former writings that there are periods in history when the class struggle is inevitably transformed into the civil war.
Seventh All-Russia Congress Of Soviets
December 5-9, 1919
Pravda Nos. 275, 276, 277, December 7, 9. 10, 1919; Published according to Seventh All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, Red Army and Cossack Deputies. Verbatim Report, Moscow, 1920, verified with the shorthand notes
Lenin’s Collected Works,Volume 30, pages 205-252
Both prior to October and during the October Revolution, we always said that we regard ourselves and can only regard ourselves as one of the contingents of the international proletarian army, a contingent which came to the fore, not because of its level of development and preparedness, but because of Russia’s exceptional conditions; we always said that the victory of the socialist revolution, therefore, can only be regarded as final when it becomes the victory of the proletariat in at least several advanced countries.
Had the Entente countries, who hated us as only the bourgeoisie can hate the socialist revolution, then been able to fling even a tenth part of their armies against us with any success, there cannot be the slightest doubt that Soviet Russia would have been doomed and would have met the same fate as Hungary.
A Publicist’s Notes
14 February, 1920
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 30, pages 352-362
The evil is this: the old leaders, observing what an irresistible attraction Bolshevism and Soviet government have for the masses, are seeking (and often finding!) a way of escape in the verbal recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet government, although they actually either remain enemies of the dicta-torship of the proletariat, or are unable or unwilling to understand its significance and to carry it into effect.
The fall of the first Soviet Republic in Hungary (the first, which fell, will be followed by a second, which will be victorious) shows clearly how vast, how immense is the danger of this evil. A number of articles in the Vienna Rote Fahne, ’ the Central Organ of the Austrian Communist Party, have revealed one of the chief reasons for its fall, namely, the treachery of the “socialists”, who went over to Bela Kun verbally and proclaimed themselves Communists, but who actually did not pursue a policy consonant with the dictatorship of the proletariat; they vacillated, played the coward, made advances to the bourgeoisie, and in part directly sabotaged and betrayed the proletarian revo-lution. Naturally, the powerful brigands of imperialism (i.e., the bourgeois governments of Britain, France, etc.) that surrounded the Hungarian Soviet Republic made good use of these vacillations within the Hungarian Soviet government and used the Rumanian butchers to crush it.
There can be no doubt that some of the Hungarian socialists went over to Bela Kun sincerely, and sincerely proclaimed themselves Communists. But that changes nothing essen-tial: a man who “sincerely” proclaims himself a Communist, but who in practice vacillates and plays the coward instead of pursuing a ruthlessly firm, unswervingly determined and supremely courageous and heroic policy (and only such a policy is consonant with recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat) —such a man, in his weakness of character, vacillations and irresolution, is just as much guilty of treachery as a direct traitor. As far as the individual is concerned, there is a very great difference between a man whose weakness of character makes him a traitor and one who is a deliberate, calculating traitor; but in politics there is no such difference, because politics involves the actual fate of millions of people, and it makes, no difference whether the millions of workers and poor peasants are betrayed by those who are trailers from weakness of character or by those whose treachery pursues selfish aims.
We cannot yet say which of the Longuetists who signed the resolutions we are discussing will prove to belong to the first category, which to the second and which to some third, and it would be idle to speculate on it. The important thing is that these Longuetists, as a political trend, are now pursuing exactly the same policy as the Hungarian “social-ists” and “Social-Democrats” who brought about the fall of the Soviet government in Hungary. It is precisely this policy that the Longuetists are pursuing, for verbally they proclaim themselves supporters of the dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet government, but actually they con-tinue to behave in the old way and to defend in their resolutions and to carry out in practice the old policy of petty concessions to social-chauvinism, opportunism and bour-geois democracy, the policy of vacillation, irresolution, evasiveness, subterfuge, suppression of facts, and the like. In their totality, these petty concessions, this vacillation, irresolution, evasiveness, subterfuge and suppression of facts inevitably constitute a betrayal of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Dictatorship is a big, harsh and bloody word, one which expresses a relentless life-and-death struggle between two classes, two worlds, two historical epochs.
Such words must not be uttered frivolously.
Recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean undertaking an assault, an uprising, at all costs and at any moment. That is nonsense. A successful insurrec-tion demands prolonged, skilful and persistent preparations, preparations entailing great sacrifice.
Recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat means making a determined, relentless, and, what is most important, a fully conscious and consistent break with the oppor-tunism, reformism, equivocation and evasiveness of the Second International—a break with the leaders who cannot help carrying on the old tradition, with the old (not in age, but in methods) parliamentarians, trade union and co-oper-ative society officials, etc.
A break with them is essential. To pity them would be criminal; it would mean betraying the fundamental inter-ests of tens of millions of workers and small peasants for the paltry interests of some ten thousand or hundred thou-sand people.
Recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat requires the fundamental reconstruction of the day-to-day work of the Party, it means getting among the millions of workers, agricultural labourers and small peasants whom only Soviets, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, can save from the miseries of capitalism and war. The dictatorship of the proletariat means explaining this concretely, simply, clearly, to the masses, to tens of millions of people; it means telling them that their Soviets must take over state power in its entirety, and that their vanguard, the party of the revolutionary proletariat, must lead the struggle.
Speech at a Meeting of the Moscow Soviet in
Celebration of the First Anniversary of the Third International
March 6, 1920
Communist International No. 10, 1920;
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 30, page 417-425
After the experience gained, after what has happened in Russia, Finland and Hungary, after a year’s experience in the democratic republics, in Germany, one cannot object to, and write disquisitions about, the need for a central authority, for dictatorship and a united will to ensure that the vanguard of the proletariat shall close its ranks, develop the state and place it upon a new footing, while firmly holding the reins of power. Democracy has completely exposed itself; that is why signs of the strengthening of the communist movement for Soviet rule, for the dictatorship of the proletariat, have increased tremendously in all countries and have taken on the most diverse forms.
Europe is not moving towards revolution the way we did, although essentially Europe is going through the same experience. In its own way, every country must go through, and has begun to go through, an internal struggle against its own Mensheviks and against its own opportunists and Socialist-Revolutionaries, which exist under different names to a greater or lesser degree in all countries.
And it is because they are experiencing this independently that we can be sure the victory of the communist revolution in all countries is inevitable and that the greater the vacillations in the enemies’ ranks, and the uncertainty in their declarations that the Bolsheviks are criminals and that they will never conclude peace with them, the better for us.
The Communist International is strong because it is based on the lessons of the world imperialist slaughter. In every country the correctness of its position finds increasing confirmation in the experience of millions of people, and the movement towards the Communist International is now a hundred times wider and deeper than before. It has brought about the complete breakdown of the Second International in one year.
In every country (even the most undeveloped) in the world, all thinking workers are aligning themselves with the Communist International, and are accepting its ideas. Therein lies the full guarantee that the victory of the Communist International throughout the world, in the not very distant future, is assured. (Applause.)
Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
Delivered: 16 March, 1920
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 30, pages 439-490
If, after all, we give some thought to the reason we were able to win, were bound to win, we shall find that it was only because all our enemies—who were formally tied by all sorts of bonds to the most powerful governments and capitalists in the world—however united they may have been formally, actually turned out to be disunited. Their internal bond in fact disunited them, pitted them against each other. Capitalist property disintegrated them, transformed them from allies into savage beasts, so that they failed to see that Soviet Russia was increasing the number of her followers among the British soldiers who had been landed in Archangel, among the French sailors in Sevastopol, among the workers of all countries, of all the advanced countries without exception, where the social-compromisers took the side of capital. In the final analysis this was the fundamental reason, the underlying reason, that made our victory certain and which is still the chief, insuperable and inexhaustible source of our strength; and it permits us to affirm that when we in our country achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat in full measure, and the maximum unity of its forces, through its vanguard, its advanced party, we may expect the world revolution. And this in fact is an expression of will, an expression of the proletarian determination to fight; it is an expression of the proletarian determination to achieve an alliance of millions upon millions of workers of all countries.
The bourgeoisie and the pseudo-socialist gentry of the Second International have declared this to be mere propagandist talk. But it is not, it is historical reality, borne out by the bloody and painful experience of the Civil War in Russia. For this Civil War was a war against world capital; and world capital disintegrated of itself, devoured itself, amidst strife, whereas we, in a country where the proletariat was perishing from hunger and typhus, emerged more hardened and stronger than ever.
In this country we won the support of increasing numbers of working people. What the compromisers formerly regarded as propagandist talk and the bourgeoisie were accustomed to sneer at, has been transformed in these years of our revolution, and particularly in the year under review, into an absolute and indisputable historical fact, which enables us to say with the most positive conviction that our having accomplished this is evidence that we possess a world-wide basis, immeasurably wider than was the case in any previous revolution. We have an international alliance, an alliance which has nowhere been registered, which has never been given formal embodiment, which from the point of view of “constitutional law” means nothing, but which, in the disintegrating capitalist world, actually means everything. Every month that we gained positions, or merely held out against an incredibly powerful enemy, proved to the whole world that we were right and brought us millions of new supporters.
This process has been a difficult one; it has been accompanied by tremendous defeats. In this very year under review the monstrous White terror in Finland was followed by the defeat of the Hungarian revolution, which was stifled by the governments of the Entente countries that deceived their parliaments and concluded a secret treaty with Rumania.
It was the vilest piece of treachery, this conspiracy of the international Entente to crush the Hungarian revolution by means of a White terror, not to mention the fact that in order to strangle the German revolution they were ready for any understanding with the German compromisers, and that these people, who had declared Liebknecht to be an honest German, pounced on this honest German like mad dogs together with the German imperialists. They exceeded all conceivable bounds; but every such act of suppression on their part only strengthened and consolidated us, while it undermined them.
More than any other, our revolution has proved the rule that the strength of a revolution, the vigour of its assault, its energy, determination, its victory and its triumph intensify the resistance of the bourgeoisie. The more victorious we are the more the capitalist exploiters learn to unite and the more determined their onslaught. For, as you all distinctly remember—it was not so long ago when judged by the passage of time, but a long time ago when judged by the march of events—at the beginning of the October Revolution Bolshevism was regarded as a freak; this view, which was a reflection of the feeble development and weakness of the proletarian revolution, very soon had to be abandoned in Russia and has now been abandoned in Europe as well. Bolshevism has become a world-wide phenomenon, the workers’ revolution has raised its head. The Soviet system, in creating which in October we followed the traditions of 1905, developing our own experience—this Soviet system has become a phenomenon of world-historic importance.
TELEGRAM TO BELA KUN
Written on May 13, 1019
Published in full in Hungarian in 1954 in the book Lenin, “ Magyarorsz&awhatthe;grol. Szemelv&ewhatthe;nyek Lenin Müvelböl”, Budapest. Published in part on May 16, 1919 in Hungarian in the newspaper Vörös Ujs&awhatthe;g No. 83, Budapest.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, page 509.
Bela Kun, Budapest
Received your letter of April 22 only on May 13. I am sure that in spite of the vast difficulties the proletarians of Hungary will retain power and consolidate it. Greetings to the growing Red Army of the Hungarian workers and peasants. The Entente’s ferocious peace will everywhere strengthen sympathy with the Soviet power. Yesterday the Ukrainian forces defeated the Rumanians and crossed the Dniester. I send best greetings to you and to all Hungarian comrades.
TO BELA KUN
Written on June 18, 1919
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, page 512.
Bela Kun, Budapest
We have had a special discussion at the Central Committee of the Party, as a separate item on the agenda, of the question you raised about sending you the comrade you named. We found it impossible to send him, and have sent another who has already left, and is being delayed only for technical reasons; he should soon reach you.
By the way, let me add for myself that you are, of course, right in beginning negotiations with the Entente. They should be begun and carried on; it is necessary to make the fullest possible use of every opportunity to obtain a temporary armistice or peace, in order to give the people a breathing space. But do not trust the Entente powers for a moment. They are deceiving you, and are only attempting to gain time in order to be able to crush you and us.
Try and organise postal communications with us by air.
Comrade Chicherin, please have this translated and sent to Bela Kun.
June 18, 1919
TO BELA KUN
Written in reply to a communication from Bela Kun about the serious situation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, against which an armed intervention had been started, and to his request for urgent aid from Soviet Russia.
Dear Comrade Bela Kun,
Please do not worry too much and do not give way to despair. Your accusations or suspicions against Chicherin and Rakovsky have absolutely no foundation whatever. We are all working in full accord. We are aware of Hungary’s grave and dangerous situation and are doing all we can. But speedy assistance is sometimes physically impossible. Try to hold out as long as you can. Every week is of value. Build up supplies in Budapest, fortify the city. I hope you are adopting the measures I recommended to the Bavarians. Warmest greetings and a firm handshake. Hold on with all your might, victory will be ours.
 See “Message of Greetings to the Bavarian Soviet Republic” (present edition, Vol. 29, pp. 325–26).—Ed.
No Communist should forget the lessons of the
Hungarian Soviet Republic.
The Hungarian proletariat paid dearly for the
Hungarian Communists having united with the
Terms of Admission into Communist International
Written: July, 1920
Second Congress of the Communist International