All Russias Home Tsarist Russia Soviet Russia Russian Federation Learn Russian Images & Video
        A L L R U S S I A S . C O M
Russia from A to Z Russia on YouTube Best Student Essays Jokes about Rulers Russia with Laugh Useful Links

Šóńńźą˙ āåšńč˙


Political Jokes

Russian Music Samples

When Putin Retires...


Dictatorship of the Proletariat

"Gorbachev Factor"

Lenin’s chief contribution to the Marxist canon was the development of Marx’s concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the writings of Marx and Engels the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat was most clearly elaborated with regard to the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871. 


The founders of Marxism viewed it as the first proletarian revolution in human history because it brought to power a government of the working class, represented by the bloc of proletarian and petit bourgeois revolutionaries. This was government of a new type—the first example of a dictatorship of the proletariat in history. The main conclusion that the two founders of Marxism reached in their analysis of the lessons of the Paris Commune was that the chief reason for its downfall was an insufficient toughness on the part of the proletarian government. It was hesitant to suppress the counterrevolutionary forces, adopting the tactics of “passive defense.” 

Lenin attached great importance to the study of the lessons of the defeated Paris Commune and insisted on the form of an iron dictatorship that would be utterly ruthless and merciless toward the enemies of a workers’ republic of the future. Lenin left no doubts about what he meant by dictatorship:


Dictatorship is rule based directly upon force and unrestricted by any laws.

The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is rule won and maintained by the use of violence by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, rule that is unrestricted by any laws.


Lenin used the phrase “the dictatorship of the proletariat” to describe a government representing the majority of the population, but prepared to use force to control the minority that opposed it. According to him, immediately after the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism there would be an intermediate period on the road to socialism. During that transitional stage, the dictatorship of the proletariat would perform the function of suppression of the exploiting classes. It would include the destruction of the very foundations on which the activity of exploiters was based, such as private property, and even the physical annihilation of the exploiters themselves. But the new government would be more democratic than any that had existed previously, as it would represent for the first time in history the interests of most Russians, rather than those of a privileged minority.

In Lenin’s view, the new proletarian government would need to build and maintain a coercive machinery of power and use it not just against its internal enemies, but also to repel “attempts on the part of the bourgeoisie of other countries to destroy the victorious proletarian socialist state.” Only with the triumph of the proletarian-socialist revolution on a worldwide scale would class struggle finally be over, society become classless, and the coercive apparatus of the state no longer be needed. The state would die out (or, to use Friedrich Engels’s famous phrase, simply “wither away”). The dictatorship of the proletariat would come to an end.

If the Paris Commune of 1871 was the first attempt in history to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, then Russia in 1917 became the first country in the world where the dictatorship of the proletariat triumphed and consolidated under the determined leadership of Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

Copyrighted material
We Are Partners
Bookmark This Site ││Site Map ││Send Feedback ││About This Site
Lecture Bullet Points
Copyright 2007-2017 — Alex Chubarov — All Rights Reserved


The Soviet System


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

Models of Soviet Power

Tables and Statistics

Images & Video


Russia from A to Z

Learn Russian with Us