Vladimir Ilyich Lenin once said that you couldn’t make a revolution in white gloves, and he was right. If we truly want to make a change, we have to get our hands dirty.
The founder of the Bolsheviks and the leader of the Communist Party is still a very controversial figure in Russian history. Although he single-handedly reformed one of the biggest countries in the world and fought against the corruption of power, he also paved the way for dictatorship.
Whether you think Lenin was a great leader or a misguided idealist, his quotes still have a lot of merits. Here are the best Lenin quotes that I like to read when I’m feeling particularly rebellious.
30 Best Thought-Provoking Lenin Quotes
Lenin Quotes on Progress and the Proletariat
#1. “We are not utopians — we do not ‘dream’ of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination. These anarchist dreams, based upon incomprehension of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship, are totally alien to Marxism. As a matter of fact, they serve only to postpone the socialist revolution until people are different. No, we want the socialist revolution with people as they are now, with people who cannot dispense with subordination, control, and ‘foremen and accountants.’”
#2. “The intellectual forces of the workers and peasants are growing and getting stronger in their fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie and their accomplices, the educated classes, the lackeys of capital, who consider themselves the brains of the nation. In fact, they are not its brains but its shit.”
#3. “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.”
#4. “The feminine section of the proletarian army is of particularly great significance… the success of a revolution depends on the extent to which women take part in it.”
#5. “I am bound to accord you, in the name of free speech, the full right to shout, lie, and write to your heart’s content. But you are bound to grant me, in the name of freedom of association, the right to enter into, or withdraw from, association with people advocating this or that view.”
#6. “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”
#7. “Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle.”
#8. “Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? It cannot.”
Famous Lenin Quotes About Life
#9. “It is necessary sometimes to take one step backward to take two steps forward.”
#10. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
#11. “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.”
#12. “Sometimes, history needs a push.”
#13. “Trust is good; control is better.”
#14. “One man with a gun can control a hundred without one.”
#15 “Human knowledge is not (or does not follow) a straight line, but a curve, which endlessly approximates a series of circles, a spiral. Any fragment, segment, section of this curve can be transformed (transformed one-sidedly) into an independent, complete, straight line, which then (if one does not see the wood for the trees) leads into the quagmire, into clerical obscurantism (where it is anchored by the class interests of the ruling classes).”
#16. “You probe with bayonets: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.”
#17. “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.”
#18. “I can’t listen to music too often. It affects your nerves, makes you want to say stupid nice things and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell.”
Revolutionary Lenin Quotes That Inspire Rebels
#19. “Revolution can never be forecast; it cannot be foretold; it comes of itself. Revolution is brewing and is bound to flare up.”
#20. “Revolution consists not in the new class commanding, governing with the aid of the old state machine, but in this class smashing this machine and commanding, governing with the aid of a new machine.”
#21. “Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.”
#22. “The roots of modern religion are deeply embedded in the social oppression of the working masses.”
#23. “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
#24. “The task of a truly revolutionary party is not to declare that it is impossible to renounce all compromises, but to be able, through all compromises, when they are unavoidable, to remain true to its principles, to its class, to its revolutionary purpose, to its task of paving the way for revolution and educating the mass of the people for victory in the revolution.”
#25. “Capitalists can buy themselves out of any crisis, so long as they make the workers pay.”
#26. “Three keys to success: read, read, read.”
#27. “Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism.”
#28. “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”
#29. “There are no morals in politics; there is only experience. A scoundrel may be of use because he is a scoundrel.”
#30. “It is more pleasant and useful to go through the ‘experience of the revolution’ than to write about it.”
Lenin fought for his ideals until his last breath. Some of his views might be controversial and head-strong, but his tenacity and dedication were admirable. His wise words are still relevant even for those of us who aren’t particularly active in the political sphere.
The Lenin quotes I chose are just some of his most pertinent arguments. They will hopefully give you a glimpse of what type of leader he was.