Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Lenin on the French Revolutions, 1919 Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

As he sought to measure progress of the Russian Revolution, Lenin often compared it to the Great 18th Century French Revolution. Speaking to a congress on adult education in May 1919, he said, "Take the great French Revolution. It is with good reason that it is called a great revolution. It did so much for the class that it served, for the bourgeoisie, that it left its imprint on the entire nineteenth century, the century which gave civilisation and culture to the whole of mankind. The great French revolutionaries served the interests of the bourgeoisie although they did not realise it for their vision was obscured by the words “liberty, equality and fraternity”; in the nineteenth century, however, what they had begun was continued, carried out piecemeal and finished in all parts of the world."

"Everybody who studies history seriously will admit that although it was crushed, the French Revolution was nevertheless triumphant, because it laid down for the whole world such firm foundations of bourgeois democracy, of bourgeois freedom, that they could never be uprooted."

The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen was quoted later by the revolutionaries of Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh, when they made their own "Declaration of Independence from French colonialism in 1945.

Lenin emphasized that in Russia they had carried the process of revolution a big step further: "In a matter of eighteen months our revolution has done ever so much more for our class, the class we serve, the proletariat, than the great French revolutionaries did."

The difference, to Lenin, was due to the development during the intervening century of a the working class (proletariat), and a revolutionary theory based on the proletariat. As he said in November 1918 to a meeting of poor peasants' committees, "Every European revolution ended in failure because the peasants could not cope with their enemies. In the cities the workers overthrew their kings (in England and France they executed their kings several centuries ago; it was only we who were late with our tsar), yet after a certain interval the old order came back. That was because in those days even in the cities there was no large-scale industry which could unite millions of workers in the factories and weld them into an army powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the capitalists and the kulaks even without peasant support ... Now the situation is different. During the last two hundred years large-scale production has developed so powerfully and has covered all countries with such a network of huge factories employing thousands and tens of thousands of workers that today everywhere in the cities there are many organised workers, the proletarians, who constitute a force strong enough to achieve final victory over the bourgeoisie, the capitalists."

Writing in a pamphlet, The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government" in March 1919, Lenin emphasized the struggle to defend the revolution, which at that time was fighting back against invading armies on all sides, and he recalled the example of the French Revolution: "The French revolution, against which the old powers hurled themselves at the beginning of the nineteenth century in order to crush it, we call great precisely because it succeeded in rousing the vast masses of the people in defence of its gains and they resisted the whole world; this was one of its greatest merits."

Like Marx and Engels before him Lenin also appreciated the great significance of the French Revolution of 1871, the Paris Commune. Speaking to the Second All-Russia Trade Union Congress on January 20, 1919, he said "The Soviet movement has ... become the second step in the world-wide development of the socialist revolution. The first step was the Paris Commune, which showed that the working class cannot arrive at socialism except by way of dictatorship, by the forcible suppression of the exploiters. That is the first thing the Paris Commune showed, namely, that the working class cannot get to socialism via the old, bourgeois-democratic parliamentary state, but only via a new type of state, which will smash both parliamentarism and the bureaucracy from top to bottom."

In 1921, commenting on the Theses on the Agrarian Question adopted by the Communist Party of France, Lenin supported the call for a new socialist revolution in France, "The workers and peasants of France proved that they were capable of waging a legitimate, just and revolutionary war against their feudal aristocracy when the latter wanted to crush the great French Revolution of the eighteenth century. They will be able to wage a similarly legitimate, just and revolutionary war against the French capitalists..."

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Vladimir Lenin on the Discussion Board:

discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

- - -

More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines