Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Revolutionary organization 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

Lenin was the greatest specialist on revolutionary organization, devoting several major books to the topic, including What Is To Be Done and Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. The first book, written in 1902, provided strategy which helped guide the Russian Revolution in 1917. The second, written in 1920, looking back at the revolution, confirms that the strategy was successful.

Lenin emphasizes the importance of the revolutionary party. It "unites into one inseparable whole the assault on the government in the name of the entire people, the revolutionary training of the proletariat, and the safeguarding of its political independence, the guidance of the economic struggle of the working class, and the utilisation of all its spontaneous conflicts with its exploiters which rouse and bring into our camp increasing numbers of the proletariat."

Unity of the struggle requires a full appreciation and support for all the complex aspects of national culture as emphasized by Franz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral and it requires overcoming the racism used by the capitalist to divide and weaken workers' movements.

A revolutionary party must have "political force" and operate on a national level. Lenin explains in a paragraph just before the one quoted above. "In our time only a party that will organise really nation-wide exposures can become the vanguard of the revolutionary forces. The word "nation-wide" has a very profound meaning. The overwhelming majority of the non-working-class exposers (be it remembered that in order to become the vanguard, we must attract other classes) are sober politicians and level-headed men of affairs. They know perfectly well how dangerous it is to "complain" even against a minor official, let alone against the "omnipotent" Russian Government. And they will come to us with their complaints only when they see that these complaints can really have effect, and that we represent a political force. "

A revolutionary party must educate the people. As Lenin put it in State and Revolution: "By educating the workers' party, Marxism educates the vanguard of the proletariat, capable of assuming power and leading the whole people to socialism, of directing and organizing the new system, of being the teacher, the guide, the leader of all the working and exploited people in organizing their social life without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie."

Looking back after the revolution, Lenin emphasizes that the revolutionary movement must engage the broad masses of the people: "link up, maintain the closest contact, and - if you wish - merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people - primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people."

Depending on the circumstances, a wide range of tactics are necessary. Lenin recalls that the movement in Russia employed a "rapid and varied succession of different forms of the movement - legal and illegal, peaceful and stormy, underground and open, local circles and mass movements, and parliamentary and terrorist forms." As discussed elsewhere in this website, there are problems associated with underground and terrorist forms.

Even under the most repressive circumstances, the revolutionary movement must strive to maintain some public presence through legal activity. As Lenin said to the Second International in 1920 (point 12): "in all cases without exception, the parties should not restrict themselves to illegal work, but should conduct legal work as well, overcoming all obstacles, starting legal publications, and forming legal organisations under the most varied names, which should be frequently changed if necessary."

Lenin's advice is summed up brilliantly in the conclusion to Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder: "History as a whole, and the history of revolutions in particular, is always richer in content, more varied, more multiform, more lively and ingenious than is imagined by even the best parties, the most class-conscious vanguards of the most advanced classes ... Two very important practical conclusions follow from this: first, that in order to accomplish its task the revolutionary class must be able to master all forms or aspects of social activity without exception (completing after the capture of political power — sometimes at great risk and with very great danger—what it did not complete before the capture of power); second, that the revolutionary class must be prepared for the most rapid and brusque replacement of one form by another."

Mao Tse-Tung also stresses the importance of the revolutionary party. It must be in good communication with the people: "before any action is taken, we must explain the policy, which we have formulated in the light of the given circumstances, to Party members and to the masses. Otherwise, Party members and the masses will depart from the guidance of our policy, act blindly and carry out a wrong policy."

Mao insists that the party must ensure democratic participation. Lenin has been criticized by other revolutionaries for failing to put more emphasize on this (see, for example Rosa Luxembourg and Joe Slovo.

The revolutionary party, according to Mao, must be unified, yet open to criticism": "It is only through the unity of the Communist Party that the unity of the whole class and the whole nation can be achieved, and it is only through the unity of the whole class and the whole nation that the enemy can be defeated and the national and democratic revolution accomplished." Unity does not mean lack of criticism and self-criticism, however: "This democratic method of resolving contradictions among the people was epitomized in 1942 in the formula "unity, criticism, unity". To elaborate, it means starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle and arriving at a new unity on a new basis. In our experience this is the correct method of resolving contradictions among the people."

Party unity requires great discipline. It is important in this regard to take seriously the teaching of Gandhi to "hate the sin and not the sinner." Rules and enforcement procedures should ensure the organization against the behaviors that agents are paid to do, such as inciting violence, accusing others of being enemy agents, and otherwise promoting disunity and dissension. But disciplinary action should be aimed at specific behaviors, not at persons, so that you don't fall into the trap of accusations and disunity you are trying to avoid.

Mao follows this principle of educating instead of punishing in his advice on how to deal with comrades who fail to work in the interest of party unity. "We must oppose the tendency towards selfish departmentalism by which the interests of one's own unit are looked after to the exclusion of those of others ... We must intensify our efforts to educate such persons and to make them understand that selfish departmentalism is a sectarian tendency that will become very dangerous, if allowed to develop."

Mao agrees with Lenin that party organization must put a priority on education and training: "Our Party organizations must be extended all over the country and we must purposefully train tens of thousands of cadres and hundreds of first-rate mass leaders. They must be cadres and leaders versed in Marxism-Leninism, politically far-sighted, competent in work, full of the spirit of self-sacrifice, capable of tackling problems on their own, steadfast in the midst of difficulties and loyal and devoted in serving the nation, the class and the Party."

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on Revolutionary Leadership and Organization:

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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

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Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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on Nonviolence

on Communism

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People-power revolution in the Philippines