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The Communists As They Really Are

Compiled by Paul Bogdanor

“… there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.”
- Karl Marx
(“The Victory of the Counter-Revolution in Vienna,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, November 7, 1848)

“We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”
- Karl Marx
(“Suppression of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, May 19, 1849)

“All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm… The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.”
- Friedrich Engels
(“The Magyar Struggle,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, January 13, 1849)

“... in history nothing is achieved without violence and implacable ruthlessness…”
- Friedrich Engels
(“Democratic Pan-Slavism,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung, February 15, 1849)

“By destroying the peasant economy and driving the peasant from the country to the town, the famine creates a proletariat... Furthermore the famine can and should be a progressive factor not only economically. It will force the peasant to reflect on the bases of the capitalist system, demolish faith in the tsar and tsarism, and consequently in due course make the victory of the revolution easier... Psychologically all this talk about feeding the starving and so on essentially reflects the usual sugary sentimentality of our intelligentsia.”
- V. I. Lenin
(Michael Ellman, “The Role of Leadership Perceptions and of Intent in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1934,” Europe-Asia Studies, September 2005, p. 823)

“We would be deceiving both ourselves and the people if we concealed from the masses the necessity of a desperate, bloody war of extermination, as the immediate task of the coming revolutionary action.”
- V. I. Lenin
(“Lessons of the Moscow Uprising,” Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 174)

“Not a single problem of the class struggle has ever been solved in history except by violence... The class struggle did not accidentally assume its latest form, the form in which the exploited class takes all the means of power in its own hands in order to completely destroy its class enemy, the bourgeoisie...”
- V. I. Lenin
(“Report on the Activities of the Council of People’s Commissars,” Collected Works, Vol. 26, pp. 459-61)

“Surely you do not imagine that we shall be victorious without applying the most cruel revolutionary terror?”
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 57)

“... carry out merciless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guards; unreliable elements to be locked up in a concentration camp outside the town.”
- V. I. Lenin
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 103)

“Hang (hang without fail, so the people see) no fewer than one hundred kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers... the people will see, tremble, know, shout: they are strangling and will strangle to death the bloodsucker kulaks.”
- V. I. Lenin
(Richard Pipes, ed., The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive [Yale University Press, 1996], p. 50)

“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.”
- V. I. Lenin
(The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky [Foreign Languages Press, 1972], p. 11)

“When we are reproached with having established a dictatorship of one party... we say, ‘Yes, it is a dictatorship of one party! This is what we stand for and we shall not shift from that position...’”
- V. I. Lenin
(“Speech to the First All-Russia Congress of Workers in Education and Socialist Culture,” Collected Works, Vol. 29, p. 535)

“Russians are too kind, they lack the ability to apply determined methods of revolutionary terror.”
- V. I. Lenin
(Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin: Life and Legacy [HarperCollins, 1994], p. 203)

“It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables... The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeoisie we succeed in executing for this reason, the better.”
- V. I. Lenin
(Richard Pipes, ed., The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive [Yale University Press, 1996], pp. 152-4)

“There is nothing immoral in the proletariat finishing off the dying class... in one month at most this terror will assume more frightful forms, on the model of the great revolutionaries of France. Our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine...”
- Leon Trotsky
(Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution [Vintage, 1990], pp. 791-2)

“Root out the counterrevolutionaries without mercy, lock up suspicious characters in concentration camps... Shirkers will be shot, regardless of past service...”
- Leon Trotsky
(Dmitri Volkogonov, Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [HarperCollins, 1996], p. 213)

“These Cains [Don Cossacks] must be annihilated...”
- Leon Trotsky
(Dmitri Volkogonov, Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary [HarperCollins, 1996], p. 156)

“More and more we hear the voice of the workers and peasants, saying: ‘we must exterminate all Cossacks, then peace and calm will come to South Russia!’”
- Leon Trotsky
(Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 [Harvard University Press, 2002], p. 178)

“As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the ‘sacredness of human life.’”
- Leon Trotsky
(Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [New Park Publications, 1975], p. 82)

“The bourgeoisie today is a falling class... We are forced to tear it off, to chop it away... If the White Terror can only retard the historical rise of the proletariat, the Red Terror hastens the destruction of the bourgeoisie.”
- Leon Trotsky
(Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [New Park Publications, 1975], p. 83)

“All the parties of capitalist society, all its moralists and all its sycophants will perish beneath the debris of the impending catastrophe. The only party that will survive is the party of the world socialist revolution…”
- Leon Trotsky
(“Moralists and Sycophants Against Marxism,” New International, August 1939)

“We must carry along with us 90 million out of the 100 million of Soviet Russia’s population. As for the rest, we have nothing to say to them. They must be annihilated.”
- Grigori Zinoviev
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 114)

“But couldn’t this correlation [of political and social forces] be altered? Say, through the subjection or extermination of some classes of society?”
- Feliks Dzerzhinsky
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 252)

“[The Red Terror is] the extermination of enemies of the revolution on the basis of their class affiliation or of their pre-revolutionary roles.”
- Feliks Dzerzhinsky
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 114)

“We do not wage war against individuals. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class... This is the essence of the Red Terror.”
- Martin Latsis, Cheka commander
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 114)

“As far as the bourgeoisie are concerned, the tactics of mass extermination must be introduced.”
- Martin Latsis
(Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War [Simon and Schuster, 1989], p. 160)

“Sooner or later we will have to exterminate, simply physically destroy, the Cossacks, or at least the vast majority of them.”
- I. I. Reingold, Bolshevik official
(Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 [Harvard University Press, 2002], pp. 166, 194-5)

“Considering the experience of a year of civil war against the Cossackry, we must recognize the only proper means to be a merciless struggle with the entire Cossack elite by means of their total extermination... Therefore it is necessary to conduct merciless mass terror against wealthy Cossacks, exterminating them totally...”
- Bolshevik order
(Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 [Harvard University Press, 2002], p. 181)

“... the complete, immediate and decisive destruction of the Cossackry as a specific cultural and economic group... and the formal liquidation of the Cossackry.”
- Bolshevik order
(Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 [Harvard University Press, 2002], p. 192)

“... anyone who dares to agitate against Soviet authority will be arrested immediately and confined in a concentration camp.”
- Bolshevik order
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 179)

“It is essential to safeguard the Soviet Republic from its class enemies by isolating them in concentration camps.”
- Bolshevik order
(George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police [Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 179)

“1. Citizens who refuse to give their names are to be shot on the spot without trial; 2. The penalty of hostage-taking should be announced and they are to be shot when arms are not surrendered; 3. In the event of concealed arms being found, shoot the eldest worker in the family on the spot and without trial; 4. Any family which harboured a bandit is subject to arrest and deportation from the province, their property to be confiscated and the eldest worker in the family to be shot without trial; 5. The eldest worker of any families hiding members of the family or the property of bandits is to be shot on the spot without trial.”
- Bolshevik order
(Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin: Life and Legacy [HarperCollins, 1994], pp. 343-4)

“In order to oust the kulaks as a class, the resistance of this class must be smashed in open battle and it must be deprived of the productive sources of its existence and development... That is a turn towards the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class.”
- Joseph Stalin
(“Concerning the Policy of Eliminating the Kulaks as a Class,” Krasnaya Zvezda, January 21, 1930, Works, Vol. 12, p. 189)

“... the peasant is adopting a new tactic. He refuses to reap the harvest. He wants the bread grain to die in order to choke the Soviet government with the bony hand of famine. But the enemy miscalculates. We will show him what famine is.”
- Stanislav Kossior, Ukrainian communist leader
(Petro Grigorenko, Memoirs [Harvill Press, 1983], p. 36)

“We know that millions are dying. That is unfortunate, but the glorious future of the Soviet Union will justify that.”
- G. I. Petrovsky, Ukrainian communist leader
(Fred E. Beal, Proletarian Journey [Hillman-Curl, Inc., 1937], p. 310)

“A ruthless struggle is going on between the peasantry and our regime... It took a famine to show them who is master here. It has cost millions of lives, but the collective farm system is here to stay.”
- M. M. Khatayevich, Ukrainian communist leader
(Victor A. Kravchenko, I Chose Freedom [Transaction Publishers, 1989], p. 130)

“Political impostors ask contributions for the ‘starving’ of Ukraine. Only degraded disintegrating classes can produce such cynical elements.”
- Mikhail Kalinin, Soviet head of state
(William Henry Chamberlin, Russia’s Iron Age [Little, Brown and Company, 1934], p. 369)

“Better that ten innocent people should suffer than one spy get away. When you cut down the forest, woodchips fly.”
- Nikolai Ezhov, NKVD commander
(Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge [Columbia University Press, 1989], p. 603)

“[It is] better to condemn a hundred innocent persons than let one guilty person escape.”
- Dolores Ibarruri (“La Pasionaria”), Spanish communist politician
(Victor Alba, The Communist Party in Spain [Transaction Publishers, 1983], p. 256)

“Whoever protests against Jewish capitalism, gentlemen, is already a class-warrior, whether he knows it or not. You are against Jewish capitalism and want to beat down stock exchange jobbers. That’s all right. Stamp on the Jewish capitalists, string them up from the lamp-posts, trample them underfoot...”
- Ruth Fischer, German communist leader
(Mario Kessler, “Leon Trotsky’s Position on Anti-Semitism, Zionism and the Perspectives of the Jewish Question,” New Interventions, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1994)

“... the revolt of the oppressed peoples in the colonies against imperialism has always been accompanied by destructive attacks against the national minorities when they aided the imperialist regime... the revolt of the Arab masses in Palestine against the imperialists had been and would in the future be accompanied by a war of annihilation against the Jewish minority, as long as it cooperated with the British imperialists.”
- Palestine Communist Party
(Resolution of the 7th Party Congress, 1932; quoted in Zachary Lockman, “The Left in Israel: Zionism vs Socialism,” MERIP Reports, July 1976, p. 8)

“Look at World War II, at Hitler’s cruelty. The more cruelty, the more enthusiasm for revolution.”
- Mao Zedong
(New York Times, August 31, 1990)

“If we were to add up all the landlords, rich peasants, counterrevolutionaries, bad elements and rightists, their number would reach thirty million... Of our total population of six hundred million people, these thirty million are only one out of twenty. So what is there to be afraid of? ... We have so many people. We can afford to lose a few. What difference does it make?”
- Mao Zedong
(Li Zhisui, The Private Life of Chairman Mao [Random House, 1994], p. 217)

“It is a very good thing, and a significant one too, to exterminate the bourgeoisie and capitalism in China.”
- Mao Zedong
(Philip Short, Mao: A Life [Henry Holt, 1999], p. 447)

“You’d better have less conscience. Some of our comrades have too much mercy, not enough brutality, which means that they are not so Marxist. On this matter, we indeed have no conscience! Marxism is that brutal.”
- Mao Zedong
(Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story [Jonathan Cape, 2005], p. 411)

“Let’s contemplate this, how many people would die if war breaks out. There are 2.7 billion people in the world. One-third could be lost; or, a little more, it could be half... I say that, taking the extreme situation, half dies, half lives, but imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist.”
- Mao Zedong
(Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story [Jonathan Cape, 2005], p. 428)

“We are prepared to sacrifice 300 million Chinese for the victory of the world revolution.”
- Mao Zedong
(Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story [Jonathan Cape, 2005], pp. 457-8)

“Don’t make a fuss about a world war. At most, people die... Half the population wiped out – this happened quite a few times in Chinese history... It’s best if half the population is left, next best one-third...”
- Mao Zedong
(Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story [Jonathan Cape, 2005], p. 458)

“People say that poverty is bad, but in fact poverty is good. The poorer people are, the more revolutionary they are.”
- Mao Zedong
(Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story [Jonathan Cape, 2005], p. 428)

“When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”
- Mao Zedong
(Frank Dikötter, Mao’s Great Famine [Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010], pp. 88, 134)

“... we had to make the people suffer, suffer until they could no longer endure it. Only then would they carry out the Party’s armed policy.”
- Senior Viet Cong defector
(Jeffrey Race, War Comes to Long An [University of California Press, 1972], p. 112)

“I propose the immediate launching of a nuclear strike on the United States. The Cuban people are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the destruction of imperialism and the victory of world revolution.”
- Fidel Castro
(Fedor Burlatsky, “Castro Wanted a Nuclear Strike,” New York Times, October 23, 1992)

“If they attack, we shall fight to the end. If the [Soviet nuclear] rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York, in our defence against aggression.”
- Che Guevara
(Jorge G. Castañeda, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara [Bloomsbury Publishing, 1997], p. 231)

“What we affirm is that we must proceed along the path of liberation even if this costs millions of atomic victims... advancing fearlessly towards the hecatomb which signifies final redemption.”
- Che Guevara
(Hugh Thomas, Cuba, or the Pursuit of Freedom [Da Capo Press, 1998], p. 1417)

“... if any person has a good word for the previous government, that is enough for me to have him shot.”
- Che Guevara
(Hugh Thomas, Cuba, or the Pursuit of Freedom [Da Capo Press, 1998], p. 1470)

“Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine... How close we could look into a bright future should two, three or many Vietnams flourish throughout the world with their share of deaths and their immense tragedies...”
- Che Guevara
(Message to the Tricontinental [OSPAAAL, 1967]).

“In the new Kampuchea, one million is all we need to continue the revolution. We don’t need the rest. We prefer to kill ten friends rather than keep one enemy alive.”
- Khmer Rouge slogan
(Pin Yathay, Stay Alive, My Son [Touchstone, 1987], p. 148)

“Lenin taught us to be merciless towards the enemies of the revolution, and millions of people had to be eliminated in order to secure the victory of the October Revolution.”
- Nur Muhammad Taraki, Afghan communist dictator
(Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World [Penguin, 2006], p. 389)

“We’ll leave only 1 million Afghans alive – that’s all we need to build socialism.”
- Sayyed Abdullah, Afghan communist prison governor
(Sylvain Boulouque, “Communism in Afghanistan,” in Stephane Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism [Harvard University Press, 1999], p. 713)

“We are doing what Lenin did. You cannot build socialism without Red Terror.”
- Asrat Destu, Ethiopian army political commissar
(Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World [Penguin, 2006], pp. 467-8)

“[In a civil war] whole classes of people will disappear. The people will obliterate some classes and then these classes will know the fury of the public.”
- Daniel Ortega, Sandinista leader
(Wall Street Journal, October 12, 1984)

“The triumph of the revolution will cost a million deaths.”
- Shining Path slogan
(Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Peru, August 28, 2003, General Conclusions, para. 21)

Q: In 1934, millions of people are dying in the Soviet experiment. If you had known that, would it have made a difference to you at that time? To your commitment? To being a communist?
A: ... Probably not...
Q: What that comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of 15, 20 million people might have been justified?
A: Yes.
- Eric Hobsbawm, British communist historian
(Times Literary Supplement, October 28, 1994)

“If I win, I don’t want any positions or honors. I just want the job of getting rid of our enemies, all those who have to be got rid of. It’ll be a difficult task because there will be millions of people who have to be eliminated.”
- Italian Red Brigades militant
(Sergio Zavoli, La notte della Repubblica [Mondadori, 1995], p. 221, quoted in Alessandro Orsini, Anatomy of the Red Brigades [Cornell University Press, 2011], p. 5)

“We would be better off with only 6 million people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle. We don’t want all these extra people.”
- Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwean ruling party official
(Washington Post, January 1, 2003)

“Absolute power is when a man is starving and you are the only one able to give him food.”
- Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean dictator
(The Times, UK, July 9, 2004)

[Last updated April 22, 2015]