- Capitalism and Alternatives -

That Lenin quote

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 20, 19100 at 09:47:01:

In Reply to: A mistake posted by David on February 19, 19100 at 23:11:27:

: (How does that Lenin quote go again? Something about hanging 100 kulaks per day regardless of their alleged crimes in order to send a message, my copy of Lenin's biography is somewhere else).

Not sure about that quote, I've never seen it. What biography are you reading? It would be interesting to see how that 'quote' is cited.

Regarding the kulaks, keep in mind that they were the subject of attacks prior to the October Revolution (and, hence, the Bolsheviks' government). Trotsky documents innumerable instances in The History of the Russian Revolution of 'agrarian terror' (volume three, Simon & Schuster 1934, p. 9 cf.). You know the bit: drunken crowds armed with pitchforks and burning staves... As Trotsky dryly commented: '[O]ne thing is beyond doubt; namely, that the leading role in the peasant movement was played by the soldier, who brought home from the front and from the city barracks a spirit of initiative' (volume one, op. cit., p. 392).

The Bolsheviks simply brought class focus to what was already occuring throughout society. *

Once in power, however, the Bolsheviks unapologetically used force and terror against all representatives of the bourgeois class who attempted to subvert them. Regarding 'the rich, the rouges and the idlers,' Lenin advocated a random sentencing of prison, latrine-cleaning, or shooting of every one of of ten offenders.(1)

Those were truly oppressive measures. But consider what sort of conditions brought forth such desperate actions:

They argue like this: if people are starving, grain prices will rise; if the towns are starving, I will stuff my pockets; and if the starvation becomes worse, I will make thousands more.(1)

There are many ways to inflict harm. Raising food prices to the point people die in the streets is no more 'civilized' than executing someone with a gun. Unless your 'morality' says otherwise, that is...

* Consider Marx's advice to the Communist League: 'Far from coming out against the so-called excesses (instances of popular revenge against hated individuals or public buildings which are bound up with hated reminscences) it is not merely necessary to tolerate these examples, but it will be necessary to take them into the... hands [of the Communist League] and direct them' (Marx, 'First Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League to its Members in Germany,' Engels' Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution, International 1933, p. 141.


1. Lenin, 'How To Organize Competition,' Collected Works volume 26, Progress Publishers 1964, p. 414.

2. Lenin, 'Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers, Peasants, Soldiers and Red Army Deputies,' Collected Works volume 27, Progress Publishers 1965, p. 520.

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